The Good Thing About Heresy
by David J. Stewart | May 2015
1st Corinthians 11:19, “For
there must be also heresies among you,
that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
I was listening to the King James Bible today while driving, as read by Alexander Scourby on MP3 disks (“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17). If you don't have the King James Bible on audio disk, please GET IT!
And as I drove, I head an amazing passage of Scripture (our text verse from 1st Corinthians 11:19), which teaches that the existence of heresies makes it possible to identify those skilled Bible teachers (non-heretics), who rightly divide the word of truth and are approved unto God. 2nd Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” A Bible teacher is only approved unto God if they rightly dissect the Scriptures, teaching sound doctrine.
I had never thought about it before, until I heard this passage of Scripture, but without heretics we wouldn't know who the approved Bible teachers are. In other words, how can you have excellence without mediocrity by which to compare it? How can you identify truth without error by which to contrast it? How can a painter express himself without the contrast of colors on a canvas? No one can ever know true joy until you've experience true sorrow. No one can ever know true comfort until they've endured inexplicable pain and suffering. Great peace can only follow great distress. No one can truly enjoy great wealth who hasn't been raised in utter poverty. Those who know the sweetness of forgiveness from God are those who have been forgiven for committing the most sins. God is a good God!!! And likewise, it is the presence of doctrinal error that makes it easier to teach sound doctrine from the Scriptures.
The Bible does not say that God desires heresies; but rather, that the presence of heresies make it possible to see the truth more clearly. I have been writing and publishing thousands of webpage articles since 2002, by God's grace to help others in the Lord, exposing heresies and proclaiming the truths of God's Word to the world. It is the abundance of heresies published all over the internet which give me the never-ending opportunity to preach and uphold the truth for God. So in this sense, we need heretics! When someone butchers the Scripture, it gives an opportunity for learned Bible students to kindly, but stedfastly, refute that heresy and teach instead sound doctrine from the Holy Bible.
Heresy is a work of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-20, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies...” Telling the truth is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
What is Heresy?
When you study the Scriptures you have a text and you have a context. You cannot take and make a text out of the context and separate the two. You have to keep them together if you want the correct interpretation. Many well-meaning false prophets have absolutely manipulated the Scriptures, wrestling the Bible and leading people into Hell.
We've all heard the saying: "Everyone has an opinion..." Interestingly, the word "heresy" in the Bible comes from the Greek word hairesis. Here is what VINE'S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS (Page 303) states concerning the word "hairesis" ...
..."a choosing, choice"; (from haireomai, "to choose") then, "that which is chosen," and hence, "an opinion," especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects...
SOURCE: VINE'S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS; ISBN 0-7852-1160-8
The word "heresy" in the Bible simply means, "an opinion." Many of the doctrines circulating in today's churches are merely opinions, not based upon the Word of God. In John 5:39 Jesus commanded His disciples to... SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES!!! It is dangerous to form one's opinions apart from the Bible. People who express teachings not taught in the Scriptures are guilty of spreading heresy. There are sincere people in every church, who attempt to help others by offering unsought advice. Unfortunately, much of this advice is heresy, even damnable heresy.
Any expressed opinion that is not in agreement with God's expressed opinion in His Word is heresy.
A Biblical Attitude Toward Heresy
The reason why God put 1st Corinthians 11:19 in the Bible, is to ease our minds as Christians concerning the prevalence of heresies in the world, so that we may view them as stepping stones to preach the truth instead of being threats to our faith. Adopting this Biblical attitude will help us to love those who teach heresy, instead of harboring hatred towards them. So instead of viewing a false prophet as an enemy, we can actually view them as a friend of sorts; not that we would buddy-buddy with them, but that we would view them as a competitor in a spiritual war. We are in fact at war as Christians in the world. 1st Timothy 1:18-19, “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.”
I think this is a wonderful truth from 1st Corinthians 11:19, 1st Corinthians 11:19, “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” By adopting this Biblical philosophy, it will revolutionize your attitude toward others with whom you disagree. Instead of viewing them as a nuisance evil, you will begin to view them as a necessary evil. Those heretics who teach Lordship Salvation are enemies of the cross of Christ. I have no doubt they are sincere. Albeit, I view them as a necessary evil, making it much easier to proclaim the free grace view of the Gospel. The abundance of heretics teaching Lordship Salvation has enabled doctrinally sound believers to contend greater for the faith. As a result, many more people are getting saved and forsaking the heresy of Lordship Salvation.
As an example, I detest the demonic Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) religion. SDA's deny the existence of Hell. SDA's teach that Michael the archangel became Jesus. SDA's teach that self-righteous works are required for salvation. Yet, I do not hate anyone in the SDA religion. Quite the contrary. Instead, I view SDA as giving me a platform and opportunity to preach the truth of God's Word. When SDA leader Doug Batchelor teaches that Hell does not exist, it makes it easier for me to refute his heresies and preach the Word of God.
I have had many people write to me over the years, saying that it was the abundance of Satanic symbols, 666 signs, devil-worship and the occultism in the world that convinced them God must also be real. And that led to their salvation. Amen! Many people have been steered toward Christ because of a life of wicked sin. When they came to a low place in their life, where they couldn't take it anymore, they repented toward God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Please don't misunderstand, I wish there were no heresies; but without those heresies it would be much more difficult to shine the light of the truth. Without darkness how could we shine the light? Without bad restaurants how could we truly appreciate good cooking? Without the wicked Devil how could we truly appreciate God's holiness? Those who preach and teach heresy concerning salvation are the enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ; yet, in a way they are helping Christians by providing us with the opportunity to refute all works of darkness and preach the truth of the Gospel.
So the next time you run across some heresy (or heretic), look at it as an opportunity, so that we may say with Jude (the servant of Jesus Christ): “it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). END
hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;
(for he is faithful that promised)” —Hebrews 10:23
love God who doesn't love sinners!”
(a quote by Dr. Jack Hyles classic MP3 sermon, “The Happiest Man” (happiest is the man who will not impute sin to others!)
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