Tuesday, September 04, 2007



The Rt. Rev. Peter Jensen, Australia's Archbishop of Sydney, is making headlines for denying a heretic access to the pulpits of the churches under his care. The heretic is the retired bishop of Newark, New Jersey, The Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong -- a man who has denied virtually every major Christian doctrine.
Heretics are rarely excommunicated these days. Instead, they go on book tours. Bishop Spong is visiting Australia at the invitation of Australia's Anglican Primate Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane. When Archbishop Jensen denied Bishop Spong access to the pulpits of Sydney, Archbishop Aspinall extended an invitation for Spong to preach in Brisbane's St. John's Cathedral.
As the The Australian reports: A row has erupted within the Anglican Church over a visit to Australia by an American cleric who has being accused of modernising Christ to the point of stripping him of all divinity.
Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen has taken the extraordinary step of banning John Shelby Spong, a fellow member of the Anglican communion who arrives in Sydney this morning, from churches in his diocese.
By contrast, Anglican Primate Phillip Aspinall has invited Bishop Spong, a leader of the church's liberal wing, to deliver two sermons in Brisbane's St John's Cathedral.
John Shelby Spong has written a series of books attacking the central doctrines of the Christian faith. As a matter of fact, he has basically run out of doctrines to deny. He has repudiated the Christian faith as treasured by the faithful Church for two thousand years -- the faith of biblical Christianity.
The Sydney Morning Herald noted that Spong has denied that Jesus was born of a virgin, that Joseph ever existed, that Jesus performed miracles, that He died for our sins, and that He was raised from the dead. He also denies the deity of Christ and the nature of God as a personal being, much less the only true God.
So how would Archbishop Aspinall defend his decision to allow a heretic to preach two sermons in this cathedral? Here is his answer: Dr Aspinall defended his decision to welcome the American bishop. "Bishop Spong speaking at St John's Cathedral is not particularly extraordinary," he said. "That Bishop Spong holds views which some Anglicans might find challenging is no reason to exclude him from speaking. "Our church has thousands of members and widely diverse views on a wide variety of subjects. I am sure Anglicans will listen respectfully to the bishop's views and make their own minds up."
Peter is a bit more direct than Aspinall. He makes it clear that these guys are false teachers.
In our politically correct age, it’s those like Peter Jensen who are vilified in the media for being too narrow.
One summer a few years ago sharks started getting through the defense barriers that lie off the New South Wales coastline in Australia. This meant some sharks were coming in very close to the famous surfing beaches of Sydney, with obvious risk to those who enjoy life on the water.
The authorities having become aware of the situation put up notices; "Beware of the sharks" they said & had a picture of a gruesome shark with vicious pointed teeth.
One mother seeing these signs complained that they were frightening her children as they played on the beech & paddled in the water & she asked if the signs could be made less scary.
She had missed the point - these notices were meant to be scary, they were a warning & no empty warning, as anyone who has encountered a shark will tell you!
Sometimes serious warnings are not just necessary they are words of care & concern. Warnings can be loving words that the thing warned about can be avoided.
It is that kind of warning that we have before us this evening as we continue to learn from the 2nd letter of the Apostle Peter
False teachers: With their lips & lives they lie about God.
There is a whole science these days of identifying criminals. Detectives gather together all sorts of data from eyewitness & many skilled people who use technology & psychology to try & identify or "profile" the person they want to bring to justice. You may be aware that Derek Percy 58 Percy, 58, is currently in Victoria's Port Philip Prison and is considered one of Australia's most violent sex criminals.
He was ordered to remain in custody indefinitely after he was found unfit to plead on the grounds of insanity to the murder of 12-year-old Yvonne Tuohy at Warneet beach, south-west of Melbourne, in 1969.
He is also a suspect in the murders of Christine Sharrock and Marianne Schmidt on Sydney's Wanda Beach in January 1965; the disappearance of the Beaumont children, Jane, 9, Arnna, 7, and Grant, 4, in Adelaide in January 1966; the murder of Allen Redston, a six-year-old grabbed in Canberra in September 1966; Simon Brook, 3, killed in Sydney in May 1968; and Linda Stilwell, 7, abducted from the St Kilda foreshore in August 1968. Hopefully this will bring closure to some terribly disturbing murders that occurred so long ago.
Peter here in the course of his warning shows us the kinds of characteristics that should help Christians in any age identify in order to be aware of, those who would try & lead them astray.
Peter begins ch 2 with ideas from ch 1 still in his mind. He has just spoken of how as Apostles the message of the OT prophets is confirmed & the testimony of Jesus underlined. He is deeply aware of the danger his hearers are in, he remembers that the great prophets of the past bringing God's word to the people also had rivals v1But there were also false prophets among the people" & so his warning begins. What was true then is true now; "there will be false teachers among you."
When Christ Returns there is-- Global False teaching, and Deceptive signs and wonders.
Matthew 24:24 For false christs [pseudo-christs] and false prophets [pseudo-prophets] will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Note the following identifying marks of those who are false, unreal, and not of God. 2 Peter 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.
They are Arrogant and Immoral
A. They Are Arrogant
Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
• UNGODLY (v. 12a): they are described as being “like natural brute beasts”. There is no god-likeness in them. They do not have God as their father, rather they are of their father the devil—so they act like him—killing spiritual life, stealing spiritual truth, and destroying spiritual power.
• UNRESTRAINED (v. 12b): they are described as those who “speak evil of the things they do not understand”. Before they even hear or understand something they are so unrestrained that they just blurt out disagreement and evil.
• UNENLIGHTENED (v. 12c): they are described as “they do not understand”. The things of God are foolishness to them. They can’t understand, won’t understand, and do not want to seek and find the truth. They do not love the truth—they hate it and go away from it.
• UNRIGHTEOUS (v. 13a): they are described as “receive the wages of unrighteousness”. They earn the judgment of God because they work at being unrighteous. They work at not being like God, they don’t want Him or His ways—but they work at the opposite.
B. They Are Sexually Immoral
• UNASHAMED (v. 13b): they are described as “as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime”. They aren’t ashamed of sin—they love it. They don’t run from sin—they run at it. They don’t grieve over their sin—they revel in it, brag about it, show it off and try to entice others into their sin.
• UNFORGIVEN (v. 13c): they are described as “They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you” They look like a black spot on a while cloth in God’s sight when they get around believers. God sees us clothed in Christ's righteousness, we are washed and forgiven. They are lost and unforgiven—they ooze uncleansed sins. They are spots of contamination when near the chaste, pure and white bride of Jesus. They flaunt their sins in the face of holiness. They mock and scoff and laugh at the ways of God’s servants. But note they “feast with you” they come to be around God’s people, share in worship, sit side by side with the saints but are never changed, never cleansed, never forgiven, never filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
• UNREPENTANT (v. 14a): they are described as “having eyes full of adultery”. They never turn away only toward their sin. They seek evil to the max, they go for it and live it up in the ways of this work. There is no change of heart, mind, or direction. No remorse, no regret, no retreat from sin. They keep their tanks filled with sins of their pleasing. The word full is the same as in John 21:11 when Jesus made the nets of the disciples to bulge near breaking with an overflowing catch of fish—these sinners are bursting with evil desires, their eyes and minds bulge to overflow with sin.
• UNSATISFIED (v. 14b): they are described as “and that cannot cease from sin”. They are addicted to sin. They are drawn by the cords of the flesh and can’t seem to stop. In one form or another they are constantly seeking and finding their own way. And as God says, they have less and less return on their sin so they have to chase it harder each day. They get emptier and they get more and more unsatisfied by their sin—so they have to seek out, invent, and try more and more ways to satisfy their cravings—until it is too late to ever stop.
• UNDISCIPLINED (v. 14c): they are described as “enticing unstable souls”. They can’t keep to themselves. Sin loves company. They want to feel better by being sure others are doing what they are doing so they entice others to share in their sins. They are emissaries of the devil by leading other blind ones into the deep ditches of their sins.
They are Covetous and Cursed
C. They Are Covetous
• UNHEEDING (15-16): they are described as “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet”. This is a man who got into a debate with a jackass and the jackass won the debate (Numbers 22)!! The jackass had more sense than Balaam. No one can stop them, they won’t listen. They can’t hear. They shut out the truth, they resist conviction, and they get more and more unresponsive and hardened towards the things of God.
False teachers might get their financial reward in time but they will get another reward in eternity.
Inordinate love of money causes some people to distort the truth. This is an issue of money motivation.
By using his spiritual gift for monetary gain, Balaam entered lawlessness. His lawlessness continued by luring young Israeli men into a situation where young girls paraded in front of them. He said in effect, "Let nature take its course." Baalam encouraged the Moabites to trick Israelite men into illicit relationships with Moabite women (Numbers 31:16). He led these young Jewish men into immorality.
D. They Are Cursed.. Useless
Prov 22:14 The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; He who is cursed of the LORD will fall into it. NASU
• UNREAL (v. 17a): they are described as “These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest”. When ancient thirsty travelers would see a well far off in the distance, they would anticipate the promise of water. They would hope to quench their thirst. But when they got to the well, they found it dry. A dry well is a great disappointment. False teachers are like dry wells. We look for spiritual refreshment from these false teachers. They look promising but are empty. They are driven and just crash on the rocks. Nothing lasts in their lives, nothing is useful for God or others—they just waste life in a flaming bonfire of their own vanities.
• UNSAVED (v. 17b): they are described as “for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Their teaching was dark, so they end in "darkness forever." "And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:30).
The place of the devil they earn for them selves. The abode of the damned they seek through life and finally find it. The light is forsaken and fled from instead of sin. The reservations in heaven are unwanted, unsought, and unfound—hell is their destination forever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Peter called these apostates natural brute beasts in verse 12. He is now talking of them as dogs and pigs. He wasn’t just showing his personal disdain for them. Rather he was teaching the basic lesson at the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is that these brute beasts were “natural”. They were not born again. They still had the same nature that they were born with. They had a profession of being Christians, but no possession of a real life from God.
They claimed religious experiences, which allowed them into the fellowship of believer’s, but inf act, they had never truly been born again. They would be able to explain the way of righteousness, but they never got on that way themselves. They had a knowledge of salvation but never knew the Saviour for themselves.
Peter had spoken of the reality of the new birth earlier:
2 Peter 1: Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
This was what a real experience with the Saviour produced.
The word "escaped" occurs three times in the New Testament and all three times in this little book (1:4; 2:18). Those who "escaped" here are people who were at one time positive to Christianity, but never embraced it. They had significant exposure to the gospel, but were never true converts. The Greeks used the word "pollutions" for the odors that came off a swamp. We get our English word "miasma" from this Greek word. The Greeks used "pollutions" especially for cultic pollution of pagan practices.
What is the nature of this sin? Some think that Christians can lose their salvation by reverting into the lifestyle they led before they became Christians. However, both the context and explicit statements (2:22) portray these people as those who really never knew Christ. through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
For a time, these people were exposed to the truth. The word "knowledge" implies that they had full exposure to the "Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." This unique word for "knowledge" means full and intimate knowledge. Ancient Greek uses "knowledge" in legal contexts referring to careful investigation and interrogation. It is amazing that these false teachers could gain a full dose of Jesus and His work and still reject Him as their Saviour.
Peter's point is that to receive a "full" exposure to Jesus and His work and to finally reject it, is a worse condition than having never heard of Jesus in the first place. False teachers repudiate the Lord Jesus in the face of knowing fully who He is and what He did.
The "beginning" here is the point of exposure to salvation in Christ. The "latter end" is the corruption of reversion to paganism. To receive a full exposure to Jesus and to reject Him in the end is worse because it flies in the face of truth. The more light we sin against, the more responsibility we carry. It is amazing how much of the Bible you can know an d still go to hell. To receive full exposure to Christ and yet reject him is worse than being fully culpable to that knowledge. Apostasy is worse than ignorance. Apostasy brings others into error.
Both the dog and the sow "return" to their former state. They revert to type. Note what Peter said in his first epistle, "For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1 Peter 2:25).
A true sheep returns to his Shepherd. There is a big difference between a reformed false teacher and a true Christian. There is all the difference in the world between a washed sow and dirty sheep! One returns to it's mire and the other to it's Shepherd.
Imagine the disappointment of the person who thinks that he ahs been delivered, only to discpover that n the end, he is in a worse shape than when he started. The apostates promise freedom, but in the end all they deliver is bondage. A pig can be no higher than a pig, a dog, no higher than a dog. The true nature is revealed by what it goes back to. How important it is to ask ourselves, “Has our spiritual experience been genuine?
2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
2 Corinthians 13 :5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Well false teaching with it's potential to injure people for eternity, needs to be opposed. The truth is, some things are false & must be countered. Some things are so dangerous (like sharks off the beach) that strong warnings have to be given.
And like Jesus who warned of false prophets & wolves in sheep's clothing Peter also warns us who live in the early 21st C; False teachers with their lips & lives will come & lie about God & we must not be taken in.

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