Beware of Wolves
In Matt. 7:6, Jesus said, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” These Words of Jesus have been true for as long as God has been revealing His will on earth. He knew from the beginning His Word would bring out both the best and worst in people. From the days of Noah to Abraham when He revealed His will through the fathers, to the days of Moses and the prophets when He revealed His will through them, to the days of Christ, Himself, and His apostles, and up until now as He is revealing His will through their written Word in the Bible, false teachers are trampling the Word of God under their feet for the sake of working their own will with anyone who will believe them.
Many people will only believe what they want to believe and will hate anyone who shows they are wrong, even when shown from the Bible. It is tragic because this is the very sin that crucified Jesus, and it prevents them from using the logic and reason that is necessary for understanding His Words. False teachers love to take advantage of this. They know how to make their words sound beautiful to people who love the world more than they do the Lord who made it (1 John 2:15-17). In 2 Tim. 4:2-4, Paul wrote, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the Truth, and will be turned aside to fables.”
The only way to recognize who is teaching false doctrine is by looking to the Word, which has been handed down to us by God, Himself. False teachers have trampled His Words under their feet with many modern translations, but the King James Version, the New King James Version, the American Standard Version,and the New American Standard Bible are just four of the translations that can still be trusted today to know God’s will.
The way to know who is teaching the “one faith” (Eph. 4:1-4) that saves is by comparing what the preachers and teachers are saying with what God says in the Bible. Yes, He says we are saved through faith, but not through faith only. Nowhere does the Bible say we are saved through faith only, like false teachers and Satan, himself, wants us to believe. This false doctrine scratches itching ears because it sounds easy, like nothing is required of us, and like God is an anything goes God, and like the whole world is going to heaven. If all who claim to believe are saved, why did Jesus say the gate to heaven is “narrow”, and only a few will find it, while the gate to “ destruction” is “broad”, and many are going through it? (Matt. 6:13-15). Why did He say, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt.7:21-23). Note here that these people had faith. They even believed they were saved. What made them different from anyone else who has faith? They didn’t believe they had to obey Jesus. He said they “practiced lawlessness”. They didn’t perfect (complete) their faith.
Acts of the Apostles is the book in the Bible that shows us the birth and growth of the church that Jesus built. It reveals God’s way to save us. Every example of conversion shows they heard the Word of God, believed what God tells us, repented of their sins, confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and were baptized to obtain forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:36-39; 10:43-48, etc.). When they were preaching to people who already believed, such as the Jews in Acts 2, they commanded them to “repent and be baptized for forgiveness”. When they preached to people who hadn’t believed, such as the Gentiles at the home of Cornelius in Acts 10, they first of all, commanded them to believe (Acts 10:43), because they didn’t know about Jesus. They needed to believe so they would obey. When they believed, Peter commanded them to be baptized (Acts 10: 48). That is the way it worked all the way through the New Testament, and no man on earth has the authority to change it.
Our choosing to obey God doesn’t merit, or earn, salvation anymore than choosing to believe, or have faith (which also is a work of obedience, since we do have to make the choice ourselves), can earn salvation. It simply accepts the gift. Obedience makes our faith complete for salvation. Don’t be taken in by false teachers who think they can change God’s Word and save people with their own “righteousness” (self-righteousness). Read 2 Peter 2. The word’s of false teachers are alluring, but only God’s Word saves (Romans 1:16, 17; 1 Peter 1:22-25).
Timothy Sundlie - Preacher and Evangelist for the La Crosse church of Christ