The Surprising Power of False Doctrine

11 Feb
Lies we believe - 3

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Jesus had been seeking to prepare his disciples for the shock of his death that would occur in the near future. The problem was that the death of the Messiah had no place in the disciples’ understanding, nor in the understanding of anyone who looked for his coming in the first century AD (cf. John 12:32-34). Each time the Apostles showed any sign that they were listening to the voice of God within them (cf. Matthew 16:17), Jesus revealed that he would be taken from them, tortured, killed and rise the third day. Such was the case in Matthew 20:17-19 (cf. Luke 18:28-30 and 31-33).

Luke tells us that the Apostles simply didn’t understand what Jesus said, although Jesus’ words couldn’t have been more clear. Neither Matthew nor Mark are as clear as Luke, but their accounts cannot be construed to mean that the Apostles understood Jesus, because, immediately following Jesus revelation about his death, they record how James and John asked Jesus to give them a place of authority next to his in the Kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 20:20-22; Mark 35-39). Scheming for authority behind the backs of the other Apostles (cf. Matthew 20:24; Mark 10:41) expresses the hardness of their hearts with respect to Jesus’ words about his own death.

Luke also tells us that, not only didn’t the Apostles understand Jesus’ revelation about his soon coming death, but the meaning of Jesus’ words was hidden from them (Luke 18:34). This has led some to believe that God withheld the meaning of Jesus’ words from them. However, consider what this idea means. Why would Jesus (God in the flesh) seek to warn the disciples about his death, if God (the Father) withheld the meaning of his Son’s words from those to whom he spoke? Wouldn’t God (in heaven) be undoing the work of God (on earth)? If Jesus can do only what the Father does (cf. John 5:19), why would Jesus seek to get the Apostles to understand what he knew the Father didn’t want them to understand? Therefore, it is illogical to believe, from a scriptural point of view, that Jesus and the Father were working against one another.

Why, then, couldn’t the Apostles understand Jesus’ plain words about his death and resurrection? If the proposition is logical that Jesus and the Father always work together as one, who or what withheld the meaning of Jesus’ words from the Apostles (cf. Luke 18:34)? One of the big surprises in my studies has been the spiritual power of false doctrine. False doctrine is not similar to an error in math. An error in math can be easily recognized and corrected once it is explained to the one who made the error, not so false doctrine. People are willing to believe a lie, if they truly believe the lie is correct or, conversely, if they don’t wish to believe the truth. Neither telling them they are wrong, nor explaining to them how they are wrong helps them to see their error. They have to have “ears to hear” (cf. Matthew 13:9; Mark 7:14-16; Luke 14:35). It is not a matter of understanding with the mind, but a matter of the willingness of the heart (Matthew 13:15). One must desire to truly understand the truth (Matthew 13:16), not merely seek to substantiate his own ideas. This understanding came not only as a surprise to me, but a glaring self revelation of my own inclination to believe what either I or others think we have figured out on our own.

Although the Apostles did have eyes to see and ears to hear (Matthew 13:16), this did not mean believing came easily for them. If they believed a lie, and the lie hid the truth. As I said above, one simply doesn’t reject lies in favor of the truth by having the truth explained like one would explain a math problem. When one trusts darkness as his light (i.e. a lie for the truth), the darkness has great power over his understanding (cf. Matthew 6:23). This was no less true for the Apostles. If they rejected Jesus’ words (which they did) in favor of another teaching (cf. John 12:32-34), which, no doubt, came from the Pharisees (cf. Matthew 16:6-12), then the truth had no power over them. They simply didn’t understand Jesus, because the false idea they embraced as truth hid the truth of Jesus’ words.



Posted by on February 11, 2018 in Gospel of Luke


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4 responses to “The Surprising Power of False Doctrine

  1. Eddie

    February 12, 2018 at 13:01

    Lord bless you Dave.

  2. Dave White

    February 12, 2018 at 09:04

    Thank you for your thoughtful and honest response. At this point in my walk I am still holding onto the reality of the Holy Spirit, however, it would not be ruinous to my beliefs if that is a manifestation of Christ! Our church is a charismatic and even though I have attended there for nearly 30 years, it is an issue I still struggle with. On the one hand, I see an attempt to manipulate God for him to ‘move’, yet on the other hand I have personally experienced the breath of his lips pushing me to the floor. In that case, no one touched me, I did not seek it, yet down I went! I did go forward however, because God told me to and I obeyed; but I sure didn’t want to! When something like this happens to you, it is difficult to deny; especially to a stoic baptist like me!

    Like you, I do not want my understanding to be based only on church tradition, but on the Word. I am very careful in our church because I do not want to sew any seeds of confusion; makes teaching Sunday School a challenge for sure!

    You are correct, these manifestations are sporadic in nature. But in Acts, I believe they were exceptions and not the rule, which is why they were pointed out by Dr. Luke.

    Regarding this, one small scripture reference, John 14:16-17; “…that He may abide with you forever…” referring to the Helper.

    Yet, certainly is the fulfillment of all prophesy was indeed in 70 A.D. that has major downstream effects in our theology. One caution for us as we go forward; that we can easily fall into legalistic thinking if we are not careful to maintain a proper balance. Thank you for responding and for being a partner with me as we seek His truth.

  3. Eddie

    February 11, 2018 at 16:41

    Hi Dave. That’s a good question, and one that I’m not entirely comfortable with. I believe the basics are very true, but I am hesitant to say the Holy Spirit isn’t available at all. I don’t believe the gifts are available to us, today. For example, I don’t know of anywhere in the world that Acts 5:12-16 works for anyone. To say that one has the **gift** of healing (a miracle power) would be to say that everyone he or she lays hands on gets healed, thoroughly and completely. This is not so anywhere in the world today. Do I mean that the miracle of healing **never** occurs? No, I’m not saying that. If I would say that, I would deny my own sudden healing and the healing of others that I know occurred, but these things are sporadic at best and occur only through prayer. The same would be true of all the gifts that occur through the laying on of hands. Does this mean there are no **gifted** evangelists? No, but their gift is more or less by birth and once that person follows Jesus, his natural gift is blessed by the Lord. He could have been a **gifted** corporate speaker, but he offered himself with all his natural talents to the Lord and became an evangelist. This is how I see the gifts.

    Colossians 1:27 tells me that it is **Christ** in me that is my hope of glory, not the Holy Spirit in me. The Holy Spirit was given in the absence of Christ (John 16:7), so, if Christ has come, what purpose would the Holy Spirit serve? Now, as I said above, I am not entirely comfortable with this doctrine, but I do believe that it cannot be as traditional Christianity teaches–Father, Son and Holy Spirit (the Trinity). The “Trinity” doctrine was forced upon the Church by Constantine. It was either that or Arianism, which is equally wrong in my opinion. The prayer of Christ in John 17 shows the Father dwells in Christ and he in us, and in this sense the Father dwells in us, i.e. through Christ, but it **IS** Christ who dwells in us. Nothing is mentioned about the Holy Spirit. John 14:28 tells us that if Jesus went away, **he** would come again. What does this mean? Does it mean that Jesus, in whom the Father dwells, is the Holy Spirit? I don’t know. Notice this little excerpt from my studies:

    After he helped formulate the doctrine of the Trinity, Hilary of Pointers, a Christian bishop of the fourth century wrote:

    “Nothing can be found lacking in that supreme Union which embraces, in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, infinity in the Eternal, His Likeness in His express Image, our enjoyment of Him in the Gift. But the errors of heretics and blasphemers force us to deal with unlawful matters, to scale perilous heights, to speak unutterable words, to trespass on forbidden ground. Faith ought in silence to fulfill the commandments, worshiping the Father, reverencing with Him the Son, abounding in the Holy Ghost, but we must strain the poor resources of our language to express thoughts too great for words. The error of others compels us to err in daring to embody in human terms truths which ought to be hidden in the silent veneration of the heart…” [Hilary of Pointers: The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers; “On The Trinity;” Book 2; Chapter 1-2].

    Hilary of Pointers was a Bishop who helped formulate the doctrine of the Trinity when Arianism was running rampant in the Church. He claimed he was being forced to err in order to combat the greater error. So, what does that make the Trinity doctrine?

    The problem with this doctrine is that it is man-made. That is, it doesn’t come from the Bible. God made an image of himself in Genesis 1:27 in creating the male and female. It is not the male alone who is the image of God, but the male AND the female. Now, if you can get a kind of “trinity” in man and woman, then perhaps the **Trinity** could be true, but I don’t see that happening.

    The point is, that if we really don’t really understand the Person of God, then we really should feel a little uncomfortable about the Trinity doctrine. I believe the Father is God, and I believe the One who became Jesus is God — ONE God, but I am uncertain about what the Holy Spirit is. Is this a Person, on the same level as the Father and the Son, or is the Holy Spirit a kind of vehicle through with the indwelling of the Father and Son is made possible? Nothing is set in stone here. I am treading on sacred ground and I am as ignorant as I can be. I’m just thinking out loud for your benefit. Just don’t try to make any of this a firm doctrine. I believe it is wrong to do so.

    And, by the way, Deism is nothing like this.

  4. Dave White

    February 11, 2018 at 08:05

    Eddie, a question: I understand that preterests like Don Preston believe that the spiritual gits ceased in 70AD (my experience would question that) but in their view does that also mean that we really don’t have the Holy Spirit available to draw us to God? IF that is the case, is that not moving close to deism? While most of the pieces have fallen into place for me, I am still struggling with this one.

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