Saturday, December 8, 2012

When Heretics Come to Church

In every church I’ve been in, there have been those who came to the church with that worst of baggage—the combination of false teaching and unteachableness that makes every pastor face-palm.  They usually attempted to blend in with the congregation, and then began to spread their viral message. It’s happened at least 3 times since I’ve been pastor at Dayspring. God has been gracious to protect us and we have caught the problem quickly and only needed to address it publically once, and then it was public only for those of you who found yourself in the narthex following the Lord’s Day service a couple of weeks ago.

A kindly looking man approached me after the service and explained that he’d been told by the Holy Spirit to go from church to church and give a message of warning and judgment to the church and to the pastor. He explained that the Holy Spirit had told him that we (and all churches, he was traveling to them all) needed to restore altar calls to our services and if we refused the Holy Spirit, it revealed all sorts of problems in us.
I don’t know if I handled it perfectly—I certainly didn’t convince him he was wrong. But I started by asking him how his mission had been going. He explained that he’d been very disappointed in the responses of the churches. One that shocked me was from a liberal church pastor he’d visited recently. That pastor’s excuse for not doing altar calls? “The board only lets me present the gospel every fourth Sunday.” 

I explained that we would be glad to repent and do this every week if he could show it to us in the Bible. This led to a passionate discussion on the relatively recent history of the altar call, with him responding that there was no gospel where there was no true call to repentance, as the altar call is, so our church (and the others) clearly didn’t care about the gospel. At that point I quoted the rather passionate parts of Galatians 1 to him and left the conversation.

What is the best safe-guard against false teaching? J. C. Ryle reminds us that “the regular study of the word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit” is what we need to protect our families and churches. It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear. Stay in the Word this year. Do not neglect it. 

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