A. Little bits of error hurts.
Disciples of Divinity must caution themselves in two areas in reference to self-inflicted spiritual harm:
- Lordship discipleship: Paul saw something coming in the future of the church in Ephesus. On his last visit there, he warned the elders of Ephesus, “From your own selves will men arise, speaking perverse things …” (At 20:30). When men start leading others away from total commitment to the Lord to commitment to themselves as lords over the flock, then perverse things are being spoken. When leaders start standing between the Head of the body and the members, then new lords are rising up.
Apostasy to a worldwide system of church control among the disciples arises when individuals would speak perverse things. Diotrephes was an individual disciple who assumed control over those whom he had direct influence (3 Jn 9,10). He spoke perverse things in order to maintain his control. John called such behavior evil (3 Jn 11). What Paul saw was coming in autocratic leadership in Ephesus, Diotrephes practicing. Peter realized such leadership was in existence at the time he wrote. Peter rebuked the would be lords in 1 Peter 5:1-3: “Shepherd the flock that is among you … not under compulsion … nor being lords ….”
When just one leader is allowed to be a lord over any other member of the body, then a little bit of apostasy is arising, that if not checked, will eventually lead to a worldwide hierarchy of leadership. We must never forget that we are fellow servants in the kingdom. We work with one another as servants. We do not function as one disciple over another (See Mk 10:35-45). There is no hierarchy among slaves. Once discipleship involves one disciple working over another disciple, then we are on the road to an apostasy of lordship leadership.
- Bits of error: Paul’s warning in Galatians 1:8 was stark: “But even if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Paul’s warning was harsh because he knew that “the time will come when they will not endure sound teaching” (2 Tm 4:3). Because all of us have a little “Athenian” in us, we are always searching for some “new thing” (At 17:21). And because we are always searching, we are often “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of teaching” (Ep 4:14). When our searching turns from searching the Scriptures to searching the vain philosophies of the world, then we are in trouble.
Following after doctrines of demons will cause one to loose his discipleship. Being a disciple means that we are a disciple of Divinity, and being a disciple of Divinity means that we seek to follow the teachings of God. It is as simple as what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21:
“Not every one who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
Those who do not follow the “will of the Father” are certainly not disciples of the Father. Those who allow their discipleship to be eroded by every wind of doctrine that passes through will lose what they have in their relationship with Divinity, which relationship is based on a knowledge of and obedience to the word of God. We must be cautious about losing that which we have, as the Hebrew writer cautioned:
“Looking carefully least any man falls short of the grace of God; least any root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hb 12:15).
[Lecture continues April 2.]