False Teachers – A Spiritual Coronavirus

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Like many of you, I have been tracking the latest news about the coronavirus. Specifically, this issue has become a point of discussion in the ethics course I teach at a local university. As of March 3, there have been over 90,000 confirmed cases in more than 70 countries, with more than 3,000 confirmed deaths. According to the CDC, there are now 100 confirmed cases in the United States with six people dying from the virus. While, to date, more people have died due to the annual flu, the fear of the unknown about the coronavirus has crippled the entire world.

While keeping up to date on the coronavirus, I am also doing a study on the book of Jude. This study has been a great reminder on the impact that false teaching can have in the church. What has stood out to me in this study is how false teaching spreads, since it does not come from outside the church but within. As Jude states, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation.”  The Greek word for crept literally means “enter in secretly by stealth.”  Thus, the deception of false teaching lies in the fact that it originates from those who appear to be genuine believers but, in reality, oppose the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, already entrenched inside the church, they can use this position to quickly and effectively spread their deceptive message. As the apostle Peter warned, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies… and many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:1, 2).

While we are still learning more each day about the coronavirus, aspects of how this virus spreads are similar to Jude’s warning about false teachers in the church. We know that the coronavirus can be spread by people who show no symptoms (asymptomatic and appear to be healthy), so too, false teaching is sometimes spread by those who outwardly appear to be a genuine follower of Jesus but on the inside are, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “ravenous/vicious wolves” (Acts 20:29).  

In addition, just as experts believe that the coronavirus had already been in the U.S. for several weeks prior to the first official confirmed case, false teachers are already implanted in the church, infecting others with their false teaching.    

At the advice of the CDC, many people have taken precautionary steps to address a potential outbreak of the coronavirus in their community. From having extra food, water, nutritional supplements and cleaning products, to a simple game plan if schools and other public facilities close down, the CDC advises people to be proactive rather than reactive to the potential impact that this may have on everyday life. So, too, Christians must be proactive and not reactive in dealing with the spread of false teaching in the church. In fact, this preparation is of greater significance than preparing for the coronavirus as it deals with issues of eternal significance. 

As we continue to watch and prepare for the coronavirus, may we also watch and prepare for false teaching in our churches. By being a student of God’s Word, and one who daily seeks God in prayer (Jude 1:20), we can be ready to contend for the faith against the virus of false teaching that attacks the very hearts and souls of those it infects.   

As believers in Jesus Christ, we can stand firm in the face of these threats because of WHO our faith rests in. As Jude concludes his letter, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jude 1:24, 25).”

End Times ~ People Won’t Repent of Four Abominations

by Bill Rudge

Humanity has always shown a bent toward arrogance, defiance, violence and immorality, but this generation is descending to new levels – unprecedented since the time of Noah’s Flood. Our culture is increasingly saturated with the very transgressions which God’s Word foretells will lead to its demise. Revelation 9:20, 21 reveals that people in the last days (during the Tribulation) will refuse to repent of four abominations:

1) Sorcery, Worshiping Demons and Idolatry – New Age spirituality, Eastern mysticism, occultism and demonic phenomena will be very prominent.

2) Sexual Immorality – People will be inflamed with unbridled lust and every sexual perversion imaginable.

3) Murders – It will be a very violent world – wars and rumors of wars, ethnic conflict, terrorism, hijackings, kidnappings, human trafficking, abortions, robberies, assaults, gang violence, bombings, assassinations, serial killers and mass murders, homicides and riots.

4) Thefts and Lies – Deception, fraud, corruption, scandals, slander and gossip will be widespread.

Revelation 21:7, 8 informs us:

He who overcomes will inherit all this [the New Jerusalem …], and I will be his God and he will be My son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

Revelation 22:14, 15 promises:

Blessed are those who … have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Spiritual Addiction

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Similar to those struggling with physical addiction there are those who struggle with spiritual addiction. They develop an unhealthy pattern of seeking spiritual highs through “experiences” and phenomena. An acquaintance of mine is on a spiritual “roller coaster” because her relationship with Jesus is solely dependent upon her feelings and emotions. Instead of focusing on the revelation and truth of God’s Word, she chases after dreams, visions, prophecies and mystical experiences. She freely admits to spending little or no time reading the Bible or praying.

Jesus used the term “deception” to describe the time before His return (see Matthew 24). Today, we often see people seeking after signs, wonders and spiritual experiences rather than seeking after God Himself. This was exactly the case when Jesus rebuked the crowd in Galilee:

Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe (John 4:48).

In the day and age we live, it is crucial to not let “experiences” or phenomena become a substitute for time in the Word of God and prayer. Christ’s Spirit, who abides in us and empowers us, cautions that in latter times some will depart from the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (1 Timothy 4:1). Therefore, we must exercise discernment and examine everything to determine truth from error and the genuine from the fake.

First John 4:1 clearly states:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

You can experience the peace of God, the joy of the Lord and the power of His Spirit and also avoid deception and the “roller coaster” of spiritual addiction. Build your faith and life on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, His immutable Word and the leading of His Spirit. In Christ and Scripture you will find true contentment, essential discernment and the unlimited power. A deep and abiding relationship with Him supersedes anything the world or false religion has to offer.

 

Beneath the Surface

Bill Rudge

The pages of history are laced with accounts of new movements generating such enthusiasm and momentum that a nation – and even the world – was swayed.

As a teen in the late 1960s many of my generation got caught up in the sexual revolution, race riots, and rebellion against authority. Very few of us really thought about why we were involved or where these movements were headed. We were seized by the emotion of the moment and went with the flow of the crowd.

Hitler’s media propaganda and hypnotizing speeches influenced a nation and changed the world. Today, terrorists use slick social media to motivate thousands of youth to join a regime that commits unbelievable atrocities.

The time is now at hand when two prominent individuals will arise on the world scene: Carnage from terrorism and the need to solve global problems is motivating an increasing number of voices to cry for a world president. The majority of people on our planet will blindly submit to this political/military leader, promising peace and prosperity, and will also embrace his cohort – a religious leader promoting love and unity.

There is no denying that like summer fruit on a tree, our world is ripe for such political/military and religious leaders. According to Scripture these two “rising stars” will be demonically energized. Their hypnotizing charisma, persuasive words, powerful speeches, pleasing promises, inspiring media visuals, moving testimonies, euphoric music, cheering supporters, and incredible influence, will mesmerize the masses!

According to Scripture however, their true intent will be concealed under a cloak of intrigue and deception. When the layers of glitz and glamour are peeled away, the shocking remains will be far removed from what was promised. Ultimately they will lead a world of biblically illiterate and undiscerning people down a path to global chaos and unprecedented destruction.

Jesus foretold that,

For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no-one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened (Matthew 24:21, 22).

Although the days in which we live are becoming increasingly dangerous, corrupt, and confusing, those who know the Lord in these end times will demonstrate wisdom and strength –

…the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand (Daniel 11:32; 12:10).

So do not be seduced by the spirit of this age – whether it is in the political arena, religious circles, or any other venue. Be discerning! Do not be impressed, influenced, or seduced by mere words and promises, or by surface appearances of those who may have ulterior motives and agendas.

Do not be a cultural Christian. Make certain you are, and remain, aligned with God’s Word and the genuine leading of His Spirit. Examine all things carefully. Hold fast to that which is good and true. Stand rock solid as a biblical Christian.