Doctrinal Dangers

DR. Roger Copeland

January 2017 ISSUE

For many years Dr. L.D. Capell served with excellence as editor of the Missionary Baptist Searchlight. I remember Dr. Capell used to have a section in the Searchlight called “doctrinal dangers.” Dr. Capell understood what I hope our readers will understand in our generation: truth is only one generation thick. I know the Word of the Lord will endure forever. However, I also realize our Missionary Baptist churches must not assume we will always be biblically correct. We must intentionally teach truth and warn against error. 

The Lord Jesus warned His followers that false prophets would come on the scene. They would not come announcing their true character. Instead, they would come in “sheep’s clothing.” Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16). Deception and false prophets go together. The false prophet must ped-dle his heresy using deceit. If he didn’t no one would believe him. From the earliest days of Christianity, the Founder, Jesus Christ, sounded the warning about false prophets and their false teachings.

Paul specifically warned the Ephesian elders, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:28-29). The metaphor used by the apostle is like the one used by the Lord. False teachers are savage, ravenous wolves. Sometimes the false teachers slither their way in through the back door (Jude 4), while at other times they come from within the church (Acts 20:30). Whether the false teacher comes from within or without, they do in fact come. Their presence will be sooner or later. The doctrine of false teachers is like water from a well that has been poisoned. It promises refresh-ment but delivers death. It is like a doctor who provides false hope for the dying patient but the doctor proves to be an imposter. Their words are not wholesome words and neither do they provide hope. Indeed, they are clouds that provide no rain (Jude 12). Their false doctrine takes many differ-ent forms. The false doctrine courageously com-bated by the early churches is still prevalent today. 

Modern heresy most often has its roots in ancient paganism in some way or the other. The heresies of the past: legalism, antinomianism, mysticism, Arianism, Gnosticism, humanism, materialism etc. are issues still facing the church today. The souls of men hang in the balances, but the false teacher doesn’t care. He’s set on drawing away disciples after himself (Acts 20:30). His pride and ego propels, drives and motivates him to make converts, not for Christ, but for himself.

The Lord’s church today must be ever vigilant to make sure she is doctrinally correct. Her concern should never be about being politically correct. There are times when that which is contrary to the doctrine of Christ must be called out. The Lord commended the Ephesian church for trying “them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars” (Revelation 2:2). To this same assembly, He said, “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” (Revelation 2:6). Jesus said to the church at Smyrna, “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the syn-agogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9). He acknowledged that the church at Pergamos was dwelling “even where Satan’s seat is” (Revelation 2:13). He rebuked this same church “because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Ba-laam” (Revelation 2:14) and because they had “them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” (Revelation 2:15). Jesus wrote to the church at Thyatira, “Not withstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Rev-elation 2:20). Jesus said of the church at Sardis, “I have not found thy works perfect before God” (Revelation 3:2). To the church at Philadelphia, Jesus called out, “them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie” (Revelation 3:9). The Laodicean church re-ceived this rebuke from the Lord: “thou are neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15). In each of the seven letters, there was an issue of orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy. These churches of Asia Minor were only one generation away from the earthly life of Christ. Yet, they so quickly, so sub-tly drifted from the rule of faith and practice. Due to the untold value of truth and the damning nature of false doctrine, the faculty of the MBS will be writing about “doctrinal dangers” for the next several months. Our prayer is that you, the reader, will appreciate more and more bib-lical truth. We pray these articles will be informative and will enable you to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).