It just might be false teaching if … It is an addition to Scripture, a deletion from Scripture, or a twisting of Scripture, even if it was taught by:
- Church fathers
- Church Councils
- Historical confessions, formularies, or books of prayer
- Man-made systems
- Seminaries or universities
- Christian “big-wigs”, whether evangelical or fundamentalist
- Pharisees, Judaizers, mind control cults and money-sucking “ministries”
- Your favorite author, televangelist, or radio pastor
- Modern-day apostles, charismatics or neo-charismatics like SGM
- Joseph Smith, Mohammed, or Charles T. Russell
- Catholics or Protestants like C.S. Lewis, the Grace Coalition, N.T. Wright, the Pope, John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other “means of grace” teachers who teach that baptism is a means of grace and therefore a way to merit salvation, whether as an infant or as an adult
Scripture claims inspiration (“breathed by GOD”) and it is higher than any man. If it says “means of grace” salvation brings a curse of anathema (damnation), then it is so. Only GOD can say who is damned, since He is the Judge. However, we can designate what is condemned by Scripture as false teaching. The Bible is a sealed canon. The apostles who wrote the New Testament, like the prophets who gave the Old Testament, were shown to be legitimate by amazing miracles like that of raising people from the dead and other signs. Those miracles and signs are no longer seen and revelation ceased from the testimony of early church history. The canon of Scripture was sealed around A.D. 95 around the time that Revelation was written. Revelation 22 warns that nobody should add or subtract from its contents, just as Deuteronomy warns against adding or deleting the Words of GOD as well. No council is needed to decide this. Most of those who have “dreams and prophetic visions” are sharing nothing “new” or valuable beyond what GOD has already revealed in Scripture or if they are revealing something “new”, it is heresy. We are also warned by the apostle Peter to not twist the Scriptures. Both Testaments of the Bible, Old and New, warn of pseudo-prophets and the New Testament additionally warns of heretics (sects who teach contrary to Scripture and divide the Body of Christ).
A ministry named CARM and one called Contender Ministries both do a great job at pointing out many of the false teachers that are leading men astray today. I realize to some it is not popular to mark heretics and that some “ministries” avoid doing so and disobey this Scriptural command in order to get more donations, but keep in mind that pointing out such false teachers is commanded by Scripture. Romans 16:17 says to mark such false teachers and avoid them.
We are never told that all heretics are damned, but we are told they should be admonished twice, then rejected, marked, and avoided. We are also told that some false teachers are anathema (which implies damnation) by the apostle Paul in Galatians 1. He says this twice in that passage. This implies that it is very important to avoid preaching a false gospel of salvation by works (which is the subject of Galatians). He states that nothing but GOD’s grace and your repentant faith in Jesus Christ can save you. He mentions that symbolic acts like circumcision have nothing to do with salvation either. Thus, baptism, a symbolic act, and the LORD’s Supper, a memorial service, are never to be treated as a “means of grace”. The only means of grace is Jesus, which is exactly the Gospel that Paul taught. The only covenant for believers in Scripture is the New Covenant which Jesus mentioned at His Last Supper, Paul mentioned to the Galatians and the writer of Hebrews mentioned to the Jews. There are no other covenants in the New Testament outside of THE Covenant with us all through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Mediator, for our sin. A great website exists where you can study the Bible yourself and look into the Hebrew and Greek text on your own without a pastor, priest, or bishop doing your thinking for you. Along those lines, the Bible tells us that we, as believers, are all part of a royal priesthood of believers. Jesus also promised that the Spirit would lead us into all Truth and convict us of sin. GOD’s Word, spoken by the apostle John, says it best:
“These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, you shall abide in him.” – 1 John 2:26-27
Speculation such as the Calvinistic T.U.L.I.P. or the Arminius explanation of grace or explanations of the Virgin Birth that go beyond Scripture or any other teaching that goes beyond Scripture are additions to the Bible. These are heresies. When someone adds to the Gospel of repentant faith in Christ through additional requirements such as Baptism, the LORD’s Supper, or other works, they are to be “anathema” according to Apostle Paul. If we all left the mysteries and secrets of GOD to Him to explain in eternity, we might just all get along a whole lot better. What do you think?
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29