Shallow Worship At The Altar Of Semantics

I once took a college spring trip to Key West, FL. A buddy from church and I left out on a Friday and made our way down to the tip of the Continental United States. We stopped off at Marathon Key and got a campsite for the first night. Being college students, this was going to have to be a budget trip. If I recall, that campsite cost us $70 a night (and this was back in the 90’s). We both realized quickly that we didn’t have the money to last a full week down in the Keys. On Sunday morning we got up and, having nothing else to do, we went to church. I recalled seeing an Assemblies of God church on the main drag so we stopped in there, arriving just a little late for the first service. With nothing to do and nowhere to go (we were after all college students flying by the seat of our pants), we stayed for the second service as well. During the second service I remember hearing the pastor mention the name of their sister church down in Key West. When he mentioned the name of that church, I knew within myself, that’s where we need to head next. Long story short, we made great friendships that week with some beautiful Assemblies of God brethren and even got to spend the rest of the week sleeping in one of the Sunday school rooms. God provided housing for us at no cost. At the nudging of God’s Spirit, we went down there to have fun, but God did so much more. During that divinely appointed Spring Break, I had the honor of personally leading 25 people to Christ through simple street evangelism. My friend led two people to the Lord. We came back a week later with 27 salvations under our collective belt (that’s far better than what most college kids do on Spring Break).

 

Upon our return, we were so excited to tell everyone what God had done (this was the 90’s, we didn’t have cellphones, and Zuckerburg would have been in middle school). In those days, the group of believers I ran with called the positive fruit of evangelism, “getting someone born-again.” And so that’s we said when we returned from the Keys. Them: “How was Spring Break?” Us: “Awesome! We got 27 people born-again.” Most people were so excited to hear such a testimony, but inevitably there was Brother Semantic ready to extinguish young college zeal. His retort would have sounded something like this, “Brother, you didn’t get anybody born-again. It is Jesus that saves, by the power of the Holy Spirit. You were either sowing, or watering. It is God that gives the increase. You sound so prideful when you talk that way.” Eh, maybe we did sound prideful. Or maybe it was just shear excitement and exuberance at such a wonderful Spring Break.

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Mark T. Barclay–Heretic? Pt. 2

In my last article, we began to define doctrine, sound doctrine, and heresy. We determined from the Scriptures that the only way we as Christians are permitted to build doctrine is from the Word of God, and more specifically, from the witness of two or three verses. The intention of these articles is to scrutinize the doctrines of television preacher, Mark T. Barclay, to determine whether they are heresy or sound doctrine. If the doctrines of Mark T. Barclay can be proven to be heresy, then we can, with all humility and without a critical spirit, call him a heretic. However, if his doctrines are proven to be merely doctrinal differences and not heresy, then we must leave him and his ministry alone and obey the Scriptures that command us to, “know them that labor among you and esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13). Paul didn’t encourage us to love the Gospel Preacher because we agreed with all their doctrine, for doctrine is not even mentioned in the verse, rather, it is for their work’s sake that we love and esteem them.

 

So, What is Heresy?

So, what is heresy? According to the sum of the New Testament verses addressing the subject, heresy is a doctrine or system of teaching designed to deceive and lead people away from a holy life serving Jesus Christ. Heresy is designed to remove the love of God from a believer’s heart, callous their soul against sin, and turn them against truth by providing an easier standard. In short, any opinion or teaching that is repugnant to the doctrines of the Bible is heresy.

 

When does a mere doctrinal difference qualify to be labeled as a heresy? Doctrine can earn the label of heresy when it produces the following perverse fruit:

  • Deception in the minds of believers (Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 24)
  • Lawlessness in the hearts of believers (Matthew 24:12)
  • Remorselessness in the hearts of believers (Matthew 24:12)
  • A perversion of the Gospel (Galatians 1:7)
  • Bewitching the hearer out of the Gospel and back into spiritual slavery (Galatians 3:1)
  • Causing people to depart from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1)
  • Producing an attractive alternative Gospel to follow (2 Peter 2:2)
  • Causing the Gospel to be slandered and mocked by others (2 Peter 2:2)

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