This Sunday, Stephen Spanjer will be with us to bring God’s Word. Stephen is one of our mission partners who is church planting in Neuenburg, Germany. He originally went to play baseball, and through baseball, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to the German people. While there, he quickly realized that the people not only needed to hear the gospel, but that they also needed Bible believing churches where they could grow in the faith. So, he returned to the US, attended and graduated from seminary, and then went back to plant churches. Some of you will remember Stephen’s time with us a couple of years ago when he powerfully spoke of the need for true Biblical proclamation in Western Europe, a once vibrant but now dead spiritual landscape…owing in large part to a legacy of false teaching. With that memory, we go this week to 2 Peter and the warning against the false teachers in our midst.
Wednesday, September 4th
Larger Portion of Scripture - 2 Peter 1-2
Focused Passage for Reflection - 2 Peter 1:16 - 2:3
Reflecting on the Text:
They say there is nothing new under the sun. They say those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it. They, who ever “they” is, could have been referring to the threat of false teachers in the Church.
Maybe Peter was dealing with skeptics in 2 Peter 1:16-21. If so, don’t miss the fact that he is pastoring them. He is not sending the skeptics packing, but rather is caring for them, teaching them the doctrine of Scripture. In essence he is telling the people, even those who may be questioning his claims, “we didn’t make this gospel up!” He reminds the people that he was an eye witness, and an ear witness, to Jesus’ ministry and to the very voice of God. But then he goes on to tell them that they have something more certain than his memory. They have the Scriptures. In 2 Peter 1:20-21 he writes “…no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
His was first an encouragement. Then, it was a warning. In Chapter 2, he speaks of the false prophets, or false teachers. They’ve been there and they’ll be back again, bringing with them a variety of false teachings. The same is true for us. Maybe some of these false teachings are intentionally motivated by greed. Maybe they arise from the teachers lack of learning. Maybe they are meant to divide. Maybe they are trying to unite. Whatever their motivation was, or is, it does not come from the Holy Spirit, and thus will lead to destruction.
Peter describes destructive heresies which deny the Master (Jesus Christ). These heresies might deny Jesus outright, or they might deny elements of his birth, life, death, and resurrection. They might (and often do) deny the truth of sin, of judgment, and of the authority of God’s Word and His Kingdom.
Many in Peter’s day left to follow the sensuality of these teachers and their teaching. Many in our day do the same. Perhaps one of the reasons is that false teachers are rarely dressed in red dragon suits carrying pitchforks. Often times, there is a certain ring of truth to their teaching. And therein lies the danger. Maybe they speak of God’s love, but then falsely deny the reality of sin and the need for atonement. Maybe they speak of His love and then teach earthly prosperity and wealth as the tangible outcome of His love, denying the sanctifying effect of suffering. Whatever the particular brand of teaching, they will seek to entice you with false words. But their destruction will come.
So why the warning? Because there is nothing new under the sun. Because false teachers will abound until Jesus returns. Because Peter saw it in his day. Because we’ve seen it in Western Europe. And because it has a very real, very present manifestation in the Bible Belt. So Peter warned us. But again, Peter pastored us. In this letter where he speaks so clearly of the dangers of false teachers and false teaching, he concludes with blessing. So let us go there. In 2 Peter 3:17-18 he concludes:
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
Questions for personal reflection:
Just as the best way to learn to recognize counterfeit money is to learn to recognize an authentic dollar bill, we learn to recognize counterfeit teaching by learning the authentic Word. How are you growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by learning His Word?
Do you have a trusted mentor who can help teach you the Word? If not, please seek out your elders and ask for help. Please make Sunday School a priority in your weekly worship plan.