Deut 13 Preserving pure doctrine
Preserving sound doctrine
Purge the evil from among you
God’s Word in our midst
Call to worship
The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:10-11)
Grace to you from God our Father, and Jesus Christ our Lord, and the holy Spirit, our Comforter.
Doxology Hymn No 112: ”All creatures of our God and King” (verses 1 & 5 only, with “AMEN”)
Prayer of Adoration, Invocation and Thanksgiving Lord’s Prayer
Hymn No 53: “All people that on earth do dwell”
Prayer of Confession of sin
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)
Scripture Reading Galatians 1:6-10
Tithes, offering and dedication
While the stewards wait on the tithes and offerings, all remain seated and sing:
Hymn No 612: ”As men of old their first fruits brought”
Prayer for others
My dear brother and sister and young friends in the Lord Jesus Christ, let me ask our younger members a few questions.
Look at the screen. What sort of tree do you see? What sorts of fruit do you see?
Let look at this particular plant. What is it? To me it looks like a banana plant. Let’s put these fruit and hang them up in the banana plant. See, we have changed the banana plant: it is an apple tree now. Do you believe that? It easy, next time you don’t like the banana plant in your back yard, just put some apples in it. You might even take oranges and turn your banana into an orange. What do you say?
But, and this might be a slight problem, what is going to happen with your converted banana plant next year when it is time for fruit? Do you expect bananas or apples or oranges? I think you know. Why? Because a tree can actually just bear fruit which is of the nature of the tree.
So it is with people. And more so with church leaders who pretend to be very good preachers and prophets of the Lord, and yet, they have not turned to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and a new life. They may outwardly bear fruit which may remind us of a certain tree, but inwardly they are liars and enemies of the kingdom of God. The Bible tells us to be careful and on the watch for such people. They pretend to be disciples of the Lord, but actually they are like a wolf dressed as a sheep. Remember that. The only way we can tell the true from the false, is by testing them and what they say against the Word of God. If what they say is not what the Word teaches, they are false teachers. We should listen to them.
Someone made this remarked: History has shown that once a church compromises its position and sells short the fundamental doctrines of the World, there is no chance of their going back to retrieve that which they originally adhered to. Not in one instance has there been an apostate body that returned to fundamentalism.
Beginning with rationalism in Germany and with Deism in England, Modernism and Post Modernism now permeates every major denomination. So-called Christian leaders boldly and blatantly deny the Virgin Birth of Christ, the Inspiration of the Scriptures, and Atoning of Christ, the Literal Resurrection of Christ, and of course they ridicule the Second Coming of Christ.
A minister declared, “We have closed our minds to such trivial considerations as the question of the resurrection of Christ. If you fundamentalists wish to believe that nonsense, we have no objections, but we have more important things to preach than the presence or absence of an empty tomb 20 centuries old.”
Our study of Deuteronomy brings us to thus very point this morning. This chapter is divided in three sections. Each section starts with the word “if” and presupposes different scenarios, all of them having the purity of doctrine in mind. The first has to do with official worship and involves prophets and dreamers or seers. The second paragraph takes us to the private worship within family circle. The third describes civil life where towns and cities come under the spell of a deceiver and deception of apostate teaching. In all circumstances the scenario is: “Let us follow other gods”, and in all cases the instruction of the Lord is remove the evil from the midst of the people, even if it means harsh steps and methods.
We will concentrate more on the first paragraph this morning. The Lord might give us the grace to look at the other paragraphs somewhat later down the track.
Official worship and doctrine
Let is right in the beginning make this remark: Worship and doctrine can not be separated. The way you worship influences the way you understand doctrine; vice versa, the way you understand doctrine determines the way you worship. You cannot worship without an underlying doctrine; you cannot adhere to a certain doctrine and not have that influence the way you worship.
Depart from the doctrine, and you depart from Christ. Or, better, keep watch over your doctrine and "you will save . . . yourself" as the apostle says in 1 Timothy 4:16. That's high praise for good doctrine. You would think evangelicals would agree. And that is precisely what the Bible wants us to understand this morning. There is the cry to not preach doctrine, but rather lead people in “meaningful worship”.
But we are more likely to hear things like, "Christ unites; doctrine divides," or ask, “Whom do you trust?” not “What do you believe?" The minimization of biblical doctrine has become common.
Well known preacher and theologian Josh MacDowell writes:
Many pastors don't preach doctrine because they claim it's divisive. You talk about truth, and it is divisive. Instead pastors say, "We have a lot of praise and worship." But I respond, "If you don't talk about doctrine, how do you know who you are worshiping?" You don't. We need to teach truth, or we will be worshiping the figment of our imagination. Ten years ago someone would tell me, "I just can't believe in Jesus Christ." So I would share the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I would shoot down every argument this person had. Two hours later, I would ask, "Would you like to trust Christ as Saviour?" He would respond, "Yes." Today I sit down with young people and present the evidence, showing that Christ is God. I ask, "Do you want to accept Christ?" "Nah." Why? Truth is not the issue any more.
Deuteronomy 13 pictures a scenario where a prophet could arise. This arise means “to take office”. He is the official representative of God to the people and of the people to God. It is true that God in the Old Testament times used dreamers and prophets in the sense of making known his revelation:
He [God] said, “Listen to my words: “When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. (Numbers 12:6)
But this was also true:
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. (Jeremiah 23: 16, 21)
The prophets and dreamers of Deuteronomy 13 actually saw dreams that came true. This was a real danger: people might say, look there must be truth in what he says, because what he said has come true. This is also what happens in our day. The point is not whether it came true, the point is: is it in accordance with the Word of God? Does it stack up with the revealed and declared will of God? Reality does not equal truth. The existence of something doesn’t make it the truth.
This is the way we must test the spirits of our day. Paul says in Galatians this morning: even if it is an angel from heaven and he preaches a different gospel, regard him as “anathema”: eternally condemned!
The Dan Brown’s of today presenting us with their codes and hidden truths stand condemned before God; more so the ministers of the Word of God, those who are supposed to feed the flock of God on the Word of the living God. How do we think will we survive the wrath of God if we make remarks like a certain archbishop who declared that the Holy Spirit has made very bad mistakes in the past, necessitating the help of the priests to make amends. Or those who declare certain parts of the Bible as fable. Or those who question certain doctrines of the Bible?
A certain clergyman was called by a church to become its pastor. Having been strongly influenced by critical scholars who downgrade portions of the Scripture as myths, he himself doubted the authenticity of the whole Bible.
About two years after his coming, the pastor visited one of his members who was very sick. When he learned that the man had a terminal illness, he suggested, “Perhaps you would like me to read and pray for you?” “Yes,” replied the man as he took his Bible and handed it to the minister. When he opened it, he was somewhat shocked at what he saw. Many of the pages were torn away, some of the chapters were missing, and a number of verses were actually cut! It was a terribly mangled volume.
Reluctantly the pastor asked, “Haven’t you got a better Bible than this?” The dying man replied, “When you came to our church, I believed the entire Book. But as soon as you told us that certain sections were not true, I removed them. When you said that some stories were probably fiction and referred to them as fables, I tore them out. I think if I had another year under your teaching, I would have nothing but two covers left.”
Why do these things happen?
The answer is to be found in Deut 13:3
The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:3)
This explanation lines up with what the Holy Spirit said many years later through the apostle Paul:
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
To combat this attack on the true Word of God Paul gave Timothy this advice:
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17)
Apostate preachers are a test to the church to stand firm in the Word of God. It is a test to see if the church will follow God with a complete heart and soul. This is the command of the Lord in circumstances like these:
It is the Lord your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:4)
Hear the commands: Follow Him, revere Him, keep is his commands, obey Him, serve Him, hold fast to Him!
Why? He is our Saviour. Listen:
That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 13:5)
False prophets can’t save. Those who come with a watered down gospel have no gospel at all. They don’t preach salvation in the Lord; they preach triumph over personal weaknesses, personal success over shortcomings and individual accomplishment and realisation and self-esteem. There is no salvation in these things. Salvation is from the same God who rescued his people from slavery and His Son Jesus Christ who saves from the bondage of sin. There is no place for the false teacher and prophet. The Bible commands us to get rid of them and not spare them with the so-called meaningless grace and mercy which has become so cheap these days. Let’s say it again and over and over: the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross was never cheap, and never should we make it cheap. God demands it of us.
Let’s remember the words of our Saviour:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
It want to read a poem of Dr. W.R. Crews which comes from a work “Playing Church”:
Preach a sermon, Preacher, but don't preach very long;
Just tell a heart-warming story, but don't condemn the wrong.
Say not a thing about specific problems,
Because that's something we don't want to know.
We're just here to feel real good, so don't mess up the show
Preach a sermon, Preacher, but don't preach doctrine plain.
Let others guess at what is meant; don't ever call a name.
We'll sing your praises loud and long, and keep you many a day,
But preach it clear and you will hear, "Brother, be on your way."
Preach a sermon, Preacher, but say nothing of our duty,
Tell us all about God's grace, and picture Heaven's beauty.
Leave out things that we must do, we're busy making money;
Keep it short and off the point, and make it sweet as honey.
Preach a sermon, Preacher, but say nothing of our sins;
Don't speak of hell, repentance, or other stuff that offends.
Tell us about how Jesus loves each and everyone,
And how He'll forgive us, no matter how our lives are run.
Preach a sermon, Preacher, but make sure we're entertained.
With the right technique, there's sure to be new converts to be gained.
Tell us about church youth programs and our gospel band,
With these we're sure to win more souls, and give our Lord a hand.
Preach a sermon, Preacher, and speak of the day we die,
Tell all the folks about our home beyond the starry sky.
Preach a sermon, Preacher, make it strong, preach us straight to Heaven,
Tell us that since we have church membership, we get eternal living.
Dr. W.R. Crews from 'Playing Church," third printing July 1982
Hymn: “Lord of the church” (Mission Praise 442)
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ (Numbers 6:24-26)
Mission Praise 460