Why Can’t They Look Like Wolves instead of Poodles?

J.C. Ryle's 8 Symptoms of False Teaching

 

In conversation with a good friend of mine earlier this week discussing the tendency that we all have to listen to someone who is passionate, but not necessarily right, he asked the following brilliant question:  “Why can’t the wolves look like wolves instead of cute little french poodles”?

Why indeed- as much as it is frustrating, it is simple – the nature of a false teacher is that they will be passionate and persuasive.

Over 100 years ago, J.C. Ryle shared the following eight symptoms of false teaching that still has tremendous relevance for the church today.

Keep in mind that a ‘symptom’ is different than a ‘description.’ The list below shares the bad fruit of false teachers and are not necessarily signs of a false teacher—i.e. someone may be an earnest teacher (see #1 below) and not be a false one, but false teachers are often incredible zealous and passionate with their erroneous teaching. Many times, we are overwhelmed by their zeal and fail to measure their content against the standard of God’s word as we are commanded to do with all of our teachers.

1. There is an undeniable zeal in some teachers of error–their “earnestness” makes many people think they must be right.

2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge–many think that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe to listen to.

3. There is a general tendency to completely free and independent thinking today–many like to prove their independence of judgment by believing the newest ideas, which are nothing but novelties.

4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear kind, loving, and open-minded–many seem half-ashamed to say that anybody can be wrong or is a false teacher.

5. There is always a portion of half-truth taught by modern false teachers–they are always using scriptural words and phrases, but with unscriptural meaning.

6. There is a public craving for a more sensational and entertaining worship–people are impatient with the more inward and invisible work of God within the hearts of men.

7. There is a superficial readiness all around to believe anyone who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, forgetting that Satan often masquerades himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).

8. There is a wide-spread ignorance among professing Christians–every heretic who speaks well is surely believed, and anyone who doubts him is called narrow-minded and unloving.

Ryle continues: “All these are especially symptoms of our times. I challenge any honest and observant person to deny them. These tend to make the assaults of false doctrine today especially dangerous and make it even more important to say loudly, “Do not be carried away with strange doctrine!”

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Pea Sized Faith

Reflecting on this:

When Peter opposed Christ’s expressed mission to the cross (see Matt. 16:21Ͳ23 he was told:
“Get out of my way, Satan. You are a hindrance to me. You’re approaching this mission from a human perspective, not God’s.” Peter was still in his own box of pea sized Christianity. Peasized Christianity comes in boxes of many shapes and sizes, and at least one box can fit any Christian who allows it

. These boxes keep us from a discipleship and an evangelism that’s big enough
to fill a worldsized Gap. You don’t find very many sunrises in a box!


For example, there is a pea-sized box called convert Christianity—life in Christ gets no bigger than making it safely inside the Kingdom.

Or there’s character Christianity—life in Christ gets no bigger than pulling one’s own spiritual act together.

Not far behind this follows consumption Christianity—which boxes up life in Christ into meeting one’s own personal needs, and that’s all.


When life in Christ is no bigger than the warm, secure fellowship I have each week with my good Christian buddies, I’m in the box of cloister Christianity.

Or, when life in Christ is no bigger for me than getting nicely settled in a good paying job after graduation, then I’m trapped in career Christianity.

Many of us are groping around the box of church Christianity—our life in Christ has
grown no bigger than the Sunday School picnic, the choir’s Christmas pageant, the monthly finance committee meetings, or scouting out who’s absent from midweek prayer service.


A form of pea sized Christianity that affects all of us to some degree is culture Christianity. In this box our life in Christ grows no bigger than a North American, white, middleͲclass brand of worship and witness. We relish in our tried and true traditions, which we erroneously equate with the eternal ways of the Kingdom itself.


In summary, when my Christian experience expands no further than my salvation or small group, or church, or future, it’s pea sized.

When I compartmentalize my walk with Christ into neat packages
of prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, evangelism and (somewhere off to the side) missions, it’s pea sized. When my activities and interests don’t vitally link me to the reaching of earth’s unreached people, I’ve succumbed to pea sized Christianity.

  • David Bryant
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Building or Wrecking?

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam, and the side wall fell.
I asked the foreman: “Are these skilled–
And the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said: “No, indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.
I can wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do.”
And I thought to myself as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by a rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds to a well made Plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker, who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?
-Edgar A. Guest

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I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians 

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians- Mahatma Gandhi 
I was thinking about the dangerous truth in this quote, particularly as it relates to the ongoing struggle with hypocrisy in my life and the life of believers everywhere.  

As strange as it may sound, it is the hypocrisy of Christians in the Bible that encourages me more than anything else.  Moses’s doubt, Abraham and Isaac lying about their wives, David’s adultery, Jacob’s lies, Thomas’s doubt, Peter’s temper, the twistedness of the entire Corinthian church actually shout hope to me. 

These stories remind me that God’s relentless grip on me, not my feeble grip on God, keeps me in his love.  These stories remind me that if there is hope for prostitutes and crooks and audulterers and racists and elitists and murderers and terrible husbands and coveters, there is hope for someone like me. 

You see, being a Christian gives me the freedom to be honest about my own sins, shortcomings ( that’s a long list) and inconsistencies.  Because I have been forgiven of all of my past, present and future failures through the death and resurrection of Jesus, my fear of being found lacking by those around me is no longer a real threat, only a perceived one.  The more that I remember and realize that because of Jesus my advocate I will never have to face the full wrath of God’s judgment, the more I can let my hypocrisy be brought into the light by God and others. 

Then and only then, can I forsake my hypocrisy and see the peace, hope and purpose  for the hypocrite in all of us. 

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With Wings as Eagles

Some of you have asked for a copy of yesterday’s literal translation of Isaiah 40:27-31.  
Here you go:
How often, how many times, how long, do you assert and declare, O son of Isaac, and proclaim loudly, O Son of Jacob?

My journey, my conduct, my example, my path is actively hidden and concealed from the God and Lord of Israel, and my right, my claim, my decisions are disregarded and actively passed over/ignored by your shrunken perceptions of God daily.

Have you not clearly understood, acknowledged and declared?

But you, you most assuredly disregarded that the God of Israel is Lord and from ancient times and forward into eternity is the only divine God.

He is the one that who brought about and actively created the corners, edges and even the fringes of the countries and their lands.

He does not become exhausted or breathless or tired from the effort of His worries.

He Himself is the only source of His discernment and skill filled understanding that cannot be searched in the depths or recesses because it is unfathomable.

He apportions, brings down literally knock out power to the weary one

And to him who has no power or strength remaining, even the ones lacking maturity, he abundantly enlarges and gives great might and power.

Even though the children, the dependent, and the young shall become exhausted and weary from their work and efforts, even the vigorous young men get tired, stumble and fall.

But those who hopefully, expectantly and patiently wait for the One God of Israel shall watch and see springing and sprouting anew a charged knockout power.

They shall ascend and approach on the attack with wings like a great strong eagle.

They shall dash back and forth like messengers do, outrunning everyone, and are in capable of or fail at becoming tired or weary from their efforts.

They shall journey and cannot become exhausted.

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What Sort of Tale?

 

“I don’t like anything here at all,” said Frodo, “step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.” “Yes, that’s so,” said Sam. “And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on—and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same—like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?”

This Sunday at FMC- we are going to be looking at the “tale that really matters”, and considering what is important- what is visible, or what is real?  If you’ve got a few minutes this week- read Isaiah 37 and think about this question.

 

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Indeed 

  

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