Christianity Today 3

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jeremiah 7:4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. 23:26 “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

The Scriptures are replete with words about deception of the souls of men and of those who deceive them, that is, false prophets or false teachers. In the nation of Israel during Old Testament times it seemed as if the nation was full of false prophets who spoke positive things and tickled the ears of the people, yet the true prophets were few and far between. During the time that Jesus walked on this earth it seemed as if He stood against the flood of false teachings set out by the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It did not take long before Athanasius had to stand virtually alone against what seemed to be the whole world in his stand for the truth of Christ. We had Augustine who stood against the flood of Pelagianism and then during the time just prior to the Reformation it seemed as if the Gospel was rare in that time.

It seems that in the providence of God that for the majority of time (perhaps even vast majority of time) error has ruled in the professing churches of the time. Could it be that we have wonderful statements of doctrine and yet true Christianity is rare on the earth today? Could it be that we have many denominations and many professing churches alive with religious activities and yet without Christ Himself? Could it be that once again the pulpits are full of men with much knowledge (and those without) and yet do not know Christ? Could it be that we are so intent on our organizations, our historical beliefs, and our historical practices that we have virtually forgotten what it is to seek Christ Himself?

The Scriptures tell us that Paul’s heart burned within him as he walked around and saw the idols on display in Athens. While there were physical idols in Athens, not all idols are physical. The Scriptures teach us that greed is idolatry. Pride is the idol of self. Yet we see so much of greed, pride, and self within the professing church that we have to wonder if Paul’s heart would burn within him as he went around to our professing churches of today. A false gospel comes from proud hearts and as such is a form of idolatry as well. A false gospel can come from the mouth of orthodox men and very learned men. A false gospel can be declared from the pulpits of conservative denominations. A false gospel can be declared by men who seem to burn with zeal for the souls of men, yet that can be a zeal without knowledge. A false gospel can be “preached” by those who speak highly of Christ and talk about Him a fair amount. One can even talk about the Gospel and use the word “gospel” but that is not the same thing as preaching the true Gospel.

If it is true that for the majority of history there have been more false prophets than true ones, and if it is also true that not only have there been more false prophets than true ones but most of the time there has been but few true prophets, then why do we think we are free from that in our day? We have men who do fairly good jobs of talking about the doctrines in terms of history and others who do a fairly good job of exposition of the Scriptures, but were are those who set forth Christ and the glory of the Father shining in and through Him? Where are those who are set on humbling the pride of men so that men can see the wonders of Christ? Could it be that in our day many that think they are on the narrow path are actually on the broad road and that men and women are content to tickle their minds with historical doctrines while their hearts are dead in the sin of pride and self? Could it be that our nation is primarily hearing the deception of the preachers own hearts?

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