Summary: The fundamentals of our faith are constantly under attack. This lesson considers the Christian’s response.
Faith Under Fire
The Shield And The Sword
1. The fundamentals of our faith are under constant attack: the virgin birth, Jesus’ death on the cross, and the resurrection. In the previous lesson, we warned of the danger of constant exposure to such attacks and the consequences to our faith should we accept their lies:
a. Because these (virgin birth, Jesus’ death on the cross, the resurrection) are foundational teachings, their denial inevitably leads to the collapse of the whole Christian system.
b. This inevitably leads to apostasy; which, of course, is the objective of such attacks.
2. In this lesson, we shall consider the Christian’s response to such attacks.
I. False Prophets Then And Now
A. Some people are under the impression that there were no false teachers until the 19th Century! But such is not the case, false teachers arose very early in the church.
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." (2 Peter 2:1)
2. The number of false teachers were “many” (1 John 2:18).
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)
3. The number of those who would be led astray by false teachers is said to be “many” :
"And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." (2 Peter 2:2)
B. Today, of course, false prophets and teachers abound more than ever. The following Scriptures apply to our day as to any other (2 Timothy 3:1-6):
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;" (2 Timothy 4:3)
II. The Shield And The Sword
A. Paul admonishes the Ephesians to “put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11). He then states the reason:
"11…that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:11-12)
1. The shield of faith. Faith, here, denotes unshakable trust in undeniable fact (Ehesians, Charles Caldwell).
a. Anything that would cause us to doubt and lead us astray, temporarily or permanently, may rightly be called a “fiery dart” (Quotes & Things, D. Collins). Only faith can protect us against such.
b. The only way to develop such an unshakable trust in God is by believing what He has said (Romans 10:17). Thus:
1) Christ gave gifts to the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the edification of the body (Ephesians 4:11-12). The greater our education, the less chance there is of being “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:13-14).
2) We do well to receive the teaching of inspired teachers but we also have a responsibility to increase and maintain our faith through personal study (1 John 4:1; 1 Corinthians 14:19; cp. Acts 17:11).
2. The sword of the Spirit. By this is meant the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (2 Timothy 3:16)
a. In many sermons the sword it is described as the only offensive weapon but in this lesson we say it is both an offensive and defensive weapon:
1) It is used in self defense: there were those, it seems, who criticized Paul for living off the gospel. He wields the word of God to defend such (1 Corinthians 9:1-14).
b. The degree to which one is able to effectively wield the sword corresponds to one’s knowledge (Hebrews 5:12-14).
1. We have seen that false prophets and false teachers have always been around and always will be.
2. In our day, false teachers are numerous and prevalent in almost every society. There is, therefore, a great danger of being seduced and led astray. How, then, can we protect ourselves? The following quote expresses the answer:
“Where the people dwell in ignorance, there reigns error and all kinds of evil. But knowledge dispels ignorance and light exposes evil deeds and righteousness rises like the phoenix” (Quotes & Things, D. Collins).