Contending for the Faith Delivered Once for All :: By Gene Lawley

The single chapter epistle of Jude, the brother of James and thus the half-brother of Jesus, was written between 70 and 80 A.D., and it is quite a charge that false doctrines had permeated the church in such a relatively short time. You will note that both Peter and Jude describe doctrinal deviations that had invaded the body of believers in the churches that had been established. False prophets and false teachers were constantly mentioned in the letters of the Apostle Paul as well.

Thus, Jude’s change of purpose of his epistle to that of concern for the ongoing of the true faith was timely. It is also very timely today, for there are many false doctrines that have endured, even from those days, and more have been added. The great deceiver never sleeps, day or night.

“Simplicity” is a word Paul uses in his letters to the churches, emphasizing that knowing how to be saved is not that hard. When the Philippian jailer cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul replied instantly, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” There are several who call themselves “Christian” who reject that exclusive statement of Jesus that He is “the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Him” (John 14:6). But of course, they have no answer for “that other way.” Most often the answer is that “you must join our church and be baptized there.” Actually, there are some who end up in churches who do not deny that Jesus is the only way, yet the gospel that changes their life has never reached their inner heart so that they are born again.

Therefore, let’s look at what the gospel must do in a person’s life to create a born-again person. First, one is not lost because he sins, but he is lost because he is a sinner – born with the legacy of Adam, who introduced to humanity the condition of separation from God and being bound for the judgment of hell for all eternity. Because he is a sinner at heart, an unsaved person sins. Those sins are but symptoms of that root problem he has inherited from Adam. Therefore, Jesus said, “You must be born again!” Opening the door to your heart and life and letting Jesus in is the simple answer, as Revelation 3:20 so vividly illustrates: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and live with him and he with Me.” He, Jesus, takes up the throne of your life, and no longer are you on that throne.

John 1:11-13 further explains how that simple reaction to His knocking on your heart’s door makes such a change in your life: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him, but to as many as received Him, to them He gave eternal life, even to them that believe on His name, who were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

That is the plan of God, and the only thing one has to do is believe in Christ and submit to Him. To add works of righteousness to that is false doctrine.

It seems that a false doctrine or practice gets its start from a preconceived idea of how something should fit together, generally. That arises when a person does not accept the Word of God as absolute truth, or there is no regard for the Word of God at all. Coming to be a foundational bit of Solomon’s wisdom that has multiple implications is Proverbs 9:10: “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Considering all of the attributes of God is the background one must have for determining the truth of a doctrine. The whole counsel of God must come into focus regarding a matter, and a recognition that “all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God.”

Paramount above all of these things, however, is believing with an honest submission to the truth of John 16:13, which says, “However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will lead you into all truth, for He does not speak on His own authority, but what He hears, He speaks, and He will show you things to come.” (May that truth undergird this article.)

Now let’s look at some deviant doctrines that have been prominent in the world for many centuries. The passage in Matthew 16:13-18 tells of the beginning of the Christian church. In that passage Jesus asked the disciples who people were saying He was, then He asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, the quick-speaking one, exclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”

Jesus replied that this truth did not come to him from any human directive but from His Father in heaven. He congratulated Peter on his expression of that truth. He then said that on the rock (of the truth Peter had expressed) Jesus would build His church, “and the gates of hell would not prevail against it!” Flesh and blood, that is, human endeavor, would have no part in its foundation. (I relate these truths as a preface to the discussion of one of the earliest and continuous false doctrine-embedded entities of all time, the Roman Catholic Church.)

Over and over the Scriptures are violated in order to develop a doctrine that satisfies the flesh, that is, mortal mankind, yet not really reach into the grace and mercy of God. When a person visits a Catholic Church, he sees two things that smack of the work of Satan. He sees a statue of a woman holding a baby in her arms. It appears innocent enough, touching the hearts of all mothers as well as men who never forget their own mothers, and then, also the children. Yet, looking further into the center of the stage at the front of the sanctuary, there stands a cross with a figure of a man hanging on it, not the risen Christ known as just that, the risen Christ, for all these centuries. What is wrong with those two pictures?

It subtly suggests that humanity, and its driving energy, Satan, is saying, “Humanity has overcome deity.” That is the underlying theme of the Roman Catholic Church, in my opinion, after giving thought to these issues and the more than a dozen doctrines that always elevate the flesh and leave God out.

Upon that last thought, there is a doctrine that does just that, leaving God out. From James 5:16, perhaps, they learned to “confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another….” Then came the practice for members to confess their sins to a priest, who would offer forgiveness as the “representative of Christ.” This would allow the person no reason to face God with his sins. To the mortal man, it would seem reasonable to let those mortal men be responsible for their eternal destiny while they could get on with living this life to its (deadly) fullest.

One more high-level deviation from truth is the massive attention given to the false claim that Jesus is subjective to His mother, Mary. She is elevated to deity, alongside of Jesus, the Christ, and prayers to her as a co-redeemer are solid-rock beliefs of that body. Also, the falsehood that she was a continual virgin and had no other children is fully refuted by the Scriptures.

James, the patriarch of Jerusalem and writer of the book of James in the New Testament, is identified as a “brother of our Lord” by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:19; and Jude, in his epistle, tells us he is the brother of James. Then, in Matthew 13:55-56, they are named: James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, and He had sisters, also. Space is not available to relate the many other departures from Scriptural truth that are believed and practiced in that organization.

Am I saying that all members of the Roman Catholic Church have not been saved and are not kept by the power of God to salvation? No, I am not saying that, for I have seen and known some who have found a saving relationship with the Lord. I am only comparing doctrines and practices with Scripture, for God is the God of salvation and His Word is the guideline for that purpose.

Another apparent deviation from truth is the one called the Preterist belief that all things prophetic took place in the first century between the crucifixion of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. What a mess of disconnected and overlapping positions those deluded folks have developed for their foundational body of faith! It is a bag that does not hold water. Basically, they take the position that everything Jesus told those twelve disciples happened to those disciples, taking place in their lifetimes. Of course, some things cannot be fitted into that less than half of the first century, so those things are ignored and placed under the category of being merely “allegories,” not real events that will take place.

One key event that they cannot fit into that first century is the Second Coming of Christ. No one can portray that event better than Jesus, Himself. In Matthew 24:29-31:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

A historical event of that magnitude and effect would have left a clear and certain impact on mankind of that day and have changed the future of the world forever. Christ would have come to earth and begun His reign of one thousand years, for sure, then. But He did not come then. Note, too, that it will be “after the tribulation of those days,” the seven years of tribulation, and notice also, that the elect are called out of the four corners of heaven, not of the earth as it will have been in the Rapture. (Beloved, we are not waiting for the arrival of a new heaven and a new earth yet, but for “the Blessed Hope and glorious appearing our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!”)

Thus, they say Satan was bound and chained in the bottomless pit when Jesus was crucified, and we are now living in the millennium, that thousand-year period the Bible talks about in Revelation 20. They submit that Jesus is ruling the world from His throne in heaven. Actually, the Bible clearly says Satan is bound and thrown into the bottomless pit at the end of the tribulation period of seven years, and then the millennium begins, after Jesus returns to the earth at His Second Coming and rules the world from Jerusalem for a thousand years.

Incidentally, did you notice that more than a thousand years have passed since Jesus was crucified, and it appears there is no restriction of evil in the world today in contrast to the descriptions of life in those future thousand years? Also, since it doesn’t fit into that first century, there is no Rapture of the church, no indication of judgment of sin, so they are merely waiting for the coming of a new heaven and earth coming down from heaven. That is predicted in Revelation 21:1, after all things have been accomplished that the preceding Scriptures relate to us. Only by refusal to accept the Scriptures as the whole counsel of God can one come even close to their body of faith. Apparently, man has a better idea of how things are supposed to come to pass, not only in this array of false doctrines, but in the former one earlier in the article. May God have mercy upon those who promote these falsehoods.

Contending for the truths that once for all were given to the saints is not meant to be a soft touch, unoffensive and intolerant, for that is never the position of those pushing false doctrines. Contending is contentious, as Jesus was so many times in the face of His opponents to the truth He represented.

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