Contending for the Faith Against the Heresies of our Times

Shaun Willcock
Bible Based Ministries
www.biblebasedministries.co.uk

 

In addition to preaching the Gospel to the lost (Mk.16:15), and teaching all the Word of God to the saved (Matt.28:20), it is also the solemn duty of the Lord’s servants to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3); for they are “set for the defence of the gospel” (Phil.1:17). Thus, not only are they to be “holding forth the word of life” (Phil.2:16), but also, they are to be “holding fast the faithful word” as they have been taught, that they “may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Tit.1:9). They are to actively and vociferously stand against the heretical errors of the age. When a servant of the Lord does this, then only will it be truly said of him, as it was of David of old, that he “served his own generation by the will of God” (Acts 13:36).

Every age has its heresies with which the Church must contend. Some are perennial — they are faced by the Church in almost every age. Romanism, for example, and Arminianism, are evils against which the Church of Christ has had to contend for centuries. Others, however, are peculiar to certain periods in the Church’s history.

At the Reformation, Romanism was the great heretical evil of the age, and the English Reformers met this monster head-on, opposing it at every turn, exposing its vile errors, and thereby earnestly contending for the faith. During the time of the eighteenth-century Evangelical Awakening, the men of God had to contend for the faith against the formal, cold, dead ritualism of Anglicanism, against Deism, etc. The nineteenth century saw the rise of such evils as higher criticism, naturalistic textual criticism, and evolutionism, against which the Lord’s servants of that age had to contend.

In our own day, the battle rages on a number of fronts. Some of the enemies the Church faces today are the old perennial ones, which are making more rapid progress than they have for centuries. Others began in the nineteenth century and have snowballed since then; and still others are their degenerate offspring, or what could be described as the mature growth of the weeds that were planted back then. It behoves us, living at this critical time in history, to be well acquainted with the primary evils of the age, and to do battle with them. Let none say, as the Israelites of old did, “there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Num.13:33). Giants these evils may be, but where there are giants, there Davids are called for!

In our day, the greatest heresies against which we must earnestly contend are the following:

1. ROMANISM: the denial of the Gospel of grace, of justification by faith, of the true doctrine of the Trinity, of the uniqueness of Christ, etc., etc. This is the great evil against which the saints of almost all ages have had to contend. Even in the very earliest centuries of Christianity, this “mystery of iniquity” was already at work in embryonic form (2 Thess.2:7). It is indeed the greatest enemy of the Lord’s Church and of the Gospel (Rev.13:5-7; 17:6; 19:2), and it has given birth to a number of other heresies, both in the past, and in our day (Rev.17:5).

And yet today, this vile system, this vast counterfeit of the true Church, this monstrous persecutor of the saints of God, is considered, by the vast majority of professing “Christians”, to be a branch of the true Christian Church — in fact, by many it is considered to be, not just a branch (that would be bad enough), but the very root and stem of the Christian Church! And worldwide, almost without exception, once-Protestant churches and denominations are falling over themselves to embrace the Papal Harlot, and to receive her smile, while she continues to propagate her soul-damning, Christ-denying heresies and to persecute true believers wherever she has the opportunity.

Against this giant, the Lord’s remnant must rise up, and lift up their voice! Say not, “It would be nothing but a voice crying in the wilderness.” However lonely the voice may be, if it is not raised in protest it sins against its Lord. Are we only to raise our voices when there are many other voices to join with us? What if the prophets of old had taken that stance? Or are we only to raise our voices when success is guaranteed? Ezekiel stands as a rebuke to all who think so (Ezek.3:10,11). There may be only a few voices raised in this wilderness; but take them away, and there would be none at all. And for all you know, perhaps your voice, lifted up and contending for the faith against Popery, will give courage to other fainting hearts, and they will be emboldened to join with you! Over a billion souls are ensnared by Popery in our day, and this giant is striding across the earth with more confidence than it has done for centuries. It remains what it has ever been — the Great Whore, sitting upon peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues, making the inhabitants of the earth drunk, full of names of blasphemy, the Mother of harlots and abominations, drunk with the blood of the saints (see Rev.17:1-6). What was to be done, in a physical sense, to the literal Babylon of old, must be done to the mystical Babylon of today in a spiritual sense: “Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the Lord” (Jer.50:14).

2. ARMINIANISM: the denial of the Gospel of the free and sovereign grace of God; an attack upon the omnipotence and omniscience of God, and the extent of Christ’s work. In one form or another the Church of Christ has been confronted with this great error down the centuries, and it is still with us. But today, Arminianism is absolutely rampant throughout the professing Church. It is the dominant theology of the age. Never before has it been so widespread as it is today. At one time it was confined almost exclusively to Wesleyan Methodism and a few other institutions, but now it has spread like a cancer throughout churches and denominations that once upheld the doctrines of sovereign grace. Even many which still, on paper, claim to stand for the Gospel of the free and sovereign grace of God, in practice are Arminians, making use of Arminian-style evangelistic outreaches, altar calls, etc. These are worldly methods of soul-winning, and what is their result? Vast numbers of people who assume that they are Christians because they “walked the aisle”, or raised their hand when the preacher asked them to, or “repeated a prayer”; but who are, in fact, still dead in trespasses and sins, with no real love for God, or hatred for sin, in their hearts; “instant Christians”, stepping off the conveyor-belt with a “decision-card” in one hand and an offering envelope in the other, mass-produced in minutes by free-will “evangelists” who took them by the hand and led them in a “sinner’s prayer”; men and women who know nothing of true conviction of sin, brought into church membership before they are born from above, still bound for hell though now called “brethren”.

Am I being too harsh? He who would say so, knows nothing of the awful tragedy of this situation. Look around you! The churches are filled with unregenerate, worldly, pleasure-loving, holiness-hating souls, who are absolutely convinced that they are Christians because they once made a “decision for Christ”! It is a broad, broad way to destruction (Matt.7:13,14), and multitudes are rushing down it, blissfully singing hymns as they skip merrily on.

Against this perversion of the faith, we must earnestly contend! In earlier decades of this twentieth century, Arthur Pink raised his voice for the truth of Sovereign Grace, while all around him Arminianism held sway. Today, there are far more proclaiming the doctrines of grace than there were then; but, alas! in many circles it has become fashionable to proclaim oneself a “Calvinist”, even though there is no corresponding holiness of life, thus revealing that the doctrines of grace are merely held intellectually. Against this gross corruption of the truth, too, we must contend! — for it is as deadly as Arminianism.

3. NATURALISTIC TEXTUAL CRITICISM: the denial of the reliability and truthfulness of God’s Word; the basis of many other heresies, and the reason why we have such a confusing array of new Bible versions today. In the nineteenth century, the true text of God’s Word, known as the Received Text, came under assault; a new text was produced from depraved manuscripts, by naturalistic methods, a text which was radically different from the Received Text; and this, in turn, was used as the basis for new translations of the Scriptures, beginning with the Revised Version in 1881. This evil worsened with the passing of the years, and today we have the horrendous spectacle of dozens of new versions of the Bible, each one claiming to be an improvement over the last, but each one, in fact, altering the Word of God, or omitting chunks of it, or adding to it. This is nothing less than an all-out assault upon the Bible, the very foundation of our faith (Rev.22:18,19; 2 Cor.2:17; 4:2). And yet it is not even seen to be a minor skirmish, let alone a full-scale war, by most professing Christians! Ever since the seventeenth century, the King James Version has been loved and cherished as the Word of God in English by millions, and faithful servants of the Lord preached from it, knowing that it was based upon the true Hebrew and Greek texts, and that it was a faithful and accurate translation. It was the Bible of generation after generation of God’s people. But what is the situation today? In a word: confusion! Confusion over which version is the best; which words should be retained, and which should be removed; confusion in the churches, and confusion in the homes; a generation that is no longer familiar with the very words of Scripture; vast numbers of people tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, because doctrinal confusion is the natural and inevitable consequence of uncertainty regarding what is, and is not, the Word of God.

Without any doubt whatsoever, this is one of the major heresies of the age; and it calls for Christians to clearly understand the issues involved, and to stand up and be counted. This is the work of Satan himself, who delights in casting doubt upon the Word of God (Gen.3:1).

4. EVOLUTION: the denial of the biblical account of the creation, leading to doubt regarding all other aspects of the Word of God. In the nineteenth century the theory of evolution gained scientific respectability, and it was not long before men professing to be the shepherds of God’s flock had warmly embraced this “science falsely so called” (1 Tim.6:20), and “erred concerning the faith” (vs.21); and worse still, by teaching this heresy to their flocks, they caused many others to err as well. It was taught that “science” had “proved” that the Genesis account of creation was a myth, and thus was “science” exalted above the Word of God. The Bible was now interpreted in the light of “modern science” by these men. But the “light” of evolution was nothing but gross darkness, and men who claimed to be the ambassadors of him who is “the light of the world” were groping about in the darkness of unproven (and unprovable) theories of man’s origins, eagerly pointing to bits of bone dug out of the earth and claiming that these spoke with more clarity and authority about the origins of man than the inspired and majestic record of the Bible. The creation account in Scripture, it was taught, was written for the ignorant and primitive men of earlier ages, so as to provide them with an explanation of the origins of life which was suited to their intellectual development; but we (they asserted) live in a more enlightened age! Faith in the fossils must replace faith in the words of the Bible!

But deny the first few chapters of the Bible, and what then? You overthrow the foundation! If those first few chapters are in error, then how can anyone be certain that the rest of the Bible speaks the truth? If Adam and Eve were merely mythical creatures, then so was the Fall! And if there was no Fall, then what need was there of a Saviour? It was not in the least surprising that, as evolutionary heresy spread its tentacles, the Protestant denominations began to fill with men in leadership positions who denied the very foundational doctrines of the Christian faith!

The theory of evolution is at the root of all kinds of other heresies. And if man is no more than an evolved animal, the highest of the “higher primates”, then even the Christian religion is nothing more than the product of his own imagination. And if this is so, then it is on a level with all other religions, and each man may worship God in the way he chooses — for all religions lead to God in the end…or, perhaps, none of them do. Once-Protestant denominations are riddled with men in positions of leadership who do not believe the Bible to be the Word of God; they reject the doctrine of the Trinity; they do not believe that Jesus Christ is the only way, truth, and life; they deny the reality of sin, of an eternal hell, and proclaim that heaven is something that will occur on earth when a Marxist Utopia is ushered in.

Evolution is the basis of their creed.

Oh, let each and every Christian earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints, against this soul-damning heresy!

5. CHARISMATICISM: the denial of the sufficiency of the Word of God, leading to Romanism. What began, around the turn of the century, as a movement on the very fringes of Protestantism, rightly rejected as unscriptural by those sound in the faith, moved during the second half of the century into the older Protestant denominations. Of course, by this time what was termed “Protestantism” was, for the most part, a mere shadow of its former self, unscriptural at its very root, riddled with heresy, brim-full of unregenerate souls. Into this doctrinal smorgasbord the Charismatic heresy slithered, and like a rather bland meal that can be made more palatable by the addition of certain spices, cold and lifeless “Protestantism” suddenly seemed to come alive! It seemed as if a new spirit had been breathed into it! There was joy, and shouting, and clapping, and dancing, and strange new sounds as well.

Alas! What the Charismatics thought was “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2), was in reality the shrieking wind of false doctrine (Eph.4:14), which tossed them to and fro, finally dumping them at the entrance to the Vatican. For the very root of the Charismatic error, despite all their protestations to the contrary, is the denial of the sufficiency of the Word of God. And that has been Popery’s position for centuries.

This denial of the Bible’s sufficiency is why they are open to all kinds of supposed “new revelations” via tongues and prophecy. This is why they do not care whether these “new revelations” are even in accordance with Scripture or not. This is why experiences are more important than what the Scripture says. This is why one outrageous false doctrine after another has been eagerly embraced as the years have rolled by. And this is why the Charismatic Movement is sweeping multitudes into the Ecumenical Movement — or what can better be called the Romeward Movement.

For Romanism has always denied the sufficiency of Scripture! It has always insisted that there are “other revelations”: extra-biblical revelations. It has always said, “The Bible is not enough!” And now Charismatics are saying, “Forget what the Bible says! Doctrine is not important — experience is all that counts!” To which a pious “Amen” echoes around the corridors of the Vatican. Those in power there know very well that that kind of statement sounds the death-knell of Protestantism.

Charismaticism must be opposed for the heresy that it is! Though they will not endure sound doctrine, having itching ears (2 Tim.4:3), yet still sound doctrine must be proclaimed (vs.2)! For by this means, those whom the Lord has ordained to be recovered, will be! Against this ever-rising tide of chaos, we must contend!

6. ECUMENISM: the “Inter-Church” movement; the Romeward Movement; the denial of biblical separation, of sound doctrine. For centuries, Rome attempted to wipe out Protestantism by murdering Protestants. Fire, the sword, the rack, and a thousand other diabolical methods were employed to destroy Protestants. Today, Rome still persecutes whenever it has the opportunity; but it has hit on another method — in many ways far more effective than persecution — of establishing total control. This is ecumenism.

The Ecumenical Movement is the push for the union of all institutions calling themselves “churches”; for the removal of all doctrines that would stand in the way of the “churches” coming together as one. Jesus, in prayer to the Father for all believers, prayed, “That they all may be one” (Jn.17:21); and this verse has become the rallying-cry of the ecumenicals. “Poor Jesus,” they say, “longing to see us all united, and yet we’re all so divided!” As if that beautiful prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ has never been answered! Of course it has — for did not the Lord Jesus say on another occasion, in prayer to the Father, “thou hearest me always” (Jn.11:42)? His prayer was heard, and was answered. All true believers, although they have differing degrees of light, are one in the Father and the Son. So it has ever been, and so it ever will be. But the Ecumenical Movement is Satan’s work, whereby he seeks to destroy sound doctrine, and get all who merely profess to be Christians (whether they be Papists, liberals, Charismatics, or supposed “Evangelicals”) to come together. The Scriptures say categorically, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers”, but “come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Cor.6:14,17); but this command to true Christians to separate from unbelievers (including, of course, all who may profess to be “Christians” but who are not) is completely set aside, and all that one hears, from all quarters, are such statements as the following: “Don’t worry about doctrine! Doctrine divides — love unites! We must all come together in love and unity: Roman Catholics, Protestants, everyone! We must all be one!”

Thus we have the World Council of Churches, that diabolical organisation, made up of every type of Christ-denying, Bible-ignoring institution calling itself a “church” that one could imagine, and filled with every type of false doctrine too, from radical feminism to militant liberation theology, from sodomy to goddess-worship.

And behind it all, pulling the strings, is Popery — the Mother of Harlots, watching her harlot daughters dance to her music, as they cavort on their merry way towards the city on seven hills. For this road leads in only one direction: Rome. The more doctrinally confused Protestantism is, the more readily it stretches out its arms to Rome. The Bible having been laid aside, the various “Protestant” denominations are like ships without rudders, and Rome appears to them to be the only stable religious institution. “Romeward bound!” is the cry. To be a separatist is, as far as the ecumenicals are concerned, to be a narrow-minded, dogmatic, hate-filled, bigoted fanatic, holding on pathetically to archaic doctrines.

Let the unregenerate, heretical ecumenicals mock on! It is a very, very lonely walk for the true Christian in these dark days. But it was so for his Lord as well — and for his disciples. It is a broad way that leads to destruction, and only a very narrow one that leads to life (Matt.7:13,14). If the true Christian is branded as narrow-minded because he preaches that Christ is the only way, truth, and life (Jn.14:6), then so be it! If he is branded as dogmatic because he refuses to “accommodate” the serpent’s lies, then so be it! If he is labelled as hate-filled because he tells men the stark truth about the state of their souls, and of their eternal punishment in the lake of fire except they repent, then so be it! We must earnestly contend for the faith against what passes erroneously for “Christianity”.

The Ecumenical Movement is not going to simply go away. It is a monster that is growing larger by the day. Against it, the true believer must raise his voice!

7. SYNCRETISM: the “Inter-Faith” movement; the denial of the uniqueness of Christ and his Gospel; and a major step towards a universal religion — Popery. Not only is there a satanic attempt to unite all religious institutions calling themselves “churches” (the Ecumenical Movement), but there is also a satanic attempt to unite all religions in general (the Inter-Faith Movement). Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, “Christians”, and all others are moving ever closer together. And once again, behind the entire process is Popery. For the Roman Catholic institution believes itself to be the only true Church, and it sees the Inter-Faith Movement as a means to ultimately eliminate all opposition, by absorbing all opposition! Of course, the roots of Romanism are to be found in the religion of ancient Babylon, which was the worship of the god Baal and his mother. And this was the source of all the earth’s false religions. So Roman Catholicism has a lot in common with these other religions. The only real difference is in the names and terminology used. All of them proclaim a system of salvation by works.

The Inter-Faith Movement is gaining momentum worldwide. Increasingly, the similarities between the different religions are being emphasized, rather than the differences. “Dialogue” has replaced proselytisation. “We must talk to one another, instead of trying to win converts from one another.” There is much back-slapping, much mutual praising of one another’s charitable works, and much co-operative effort in matters such as the “war on poverty” and the “fight against oppression”.

The Inter-Faith Movement promotes the concept that there are many paths to God; that it does not matter too much which religion one adheres to, as long as one is sincere. But in stark contrast to the Inter-Faith Movement are these words of the Lord Jesus Christ: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn.14:6). Again the Word of God declares: “Neither is there salvation in any other [than Christ]: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). To the true Christian, then, the idea that all religions lead to God is absolutely abhorrent; and he will always firmly proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. There is no salvation in any other.

But, oh! how the world hates this! “Intolerant!” it cries. “Narrow-minded! Bigoted! Dogmatic!” Thus are true Christians despised, just as their Master said they would be. Speaking the truth in love, they are accused of sprouting hate-filled lies. How each and every Christian needs to pray to the Lord for holy boldness to stand against the tide and say with clarity and firmness: “Jesus Christ ALONE is the way, truth, and life!” Few will hear, and believe; but for those few, it must be done. And for the glory of God, it must be done!

8. CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY: the denial of the true purpose of the Gospel; an earthly message, proclaiming a political/earthly “salvation”. The very word, “contextual”, reveals what this so-called “theology” is all about. Its advocates seek to “contextualise” the Bible; to interpret the Bible in the context of political or social conditions prevalent at any given time. In other words, according to them, the Bible speaks to us today, not with the eternal Gospel of liberty for those in spiritual bondage to sin and Satan, but with a message of liberty for those who are “oppressed”, or perceived to be so, by prevailing laws or attitudes in society. Sin is perceived to be “structural” (i.e. within the existing structures of any oppressive society), rather than individual. And thus, incredibly, things which the Bible condemns as sinful are, by contextual “theologians”, exalted as good, if they overthrow what the Bible calls good, but which these men call evil! As an example: violence is exalted as being something good, if it is directed against a government perceived to be oppressive — even though the Bible calls violence against any government evil. Another example: exalting women to leadership positions within churches is seen as good, because women are thereby “liberated” from “archaic” and “sexist” restraints — even though the Bible declares that a woman in the ministry is something sinful! “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa.5:20). This is precisely what “contextual theology” does.

“Contextual theology” has different branches. For example, there is “liberation theology”, which has brought such immense suffering and bloodshed to various South American and African countries. This is the merger of Communism and supposed “Christianity” (the false “Christianity” of Romanism, the World Council of Churches, etc.); the heresy that Christ was a revolutionary, a political freedom fighter, a terrorist and Marxist guerilla, and that the real “gospel” is one of freedom from political oppression by violent means; the heresy that the real “Christians” are those who side with the “oppressed” against the “oppressors”, join guerilla armies, and wholeheartedly support Communist revolutions. Let no-one think that liberation theology is a mere flash in the pan, something on the outer fringes of ecclesiastical institutions that will soon pass away. It is an essential part of the activities of both the Papal, and corrupt “Protestant”, institutions in the Third World, the number one driving force behind the spread of Communism in countries where the populations are predominantly religious. It is directly responsible for the toppling of governments and the coming to power of Marxist thugs, from Port-Au-Prince to Pretoria, from Manila to Maputo.

Then there is Feminist Theology. This branch of contextual theology proclaims that women are in bondage to men, and are in need of “salvation” from male domination. Completely distorting, or ignoring, what the Bible says, feminist theologians vociferously and aggressively contend for women in the ministry, for women to be “free” to abort their unwanted babies, etc. Feminist theology is Women’s Lib with a religious face, and as with all aspects of contextual theology, the underlying motivation is rebellion: rebellion against what is God-ordained, because the unregenerate heart hates it.

Against all forms of contextual theology, the true Christian must boldly speak out! Contextual theology is a vile distortion of biblical truth, the horrible attempt to make use of God’s holy Word to support what in fact it condemns.

These are the greatest heresies the Church of God faces on the spiritual battlefield today. The clash of arms should be heard, as the Lord’s army charges into battle, and engages these enemies head-on, and as the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit (Eph.6:17), is upheld and proclaimed, from all corners of the field the cry should be going up: “The sword of the Lord!” (Judg.7:18,20). But do we hear a mighty roar like this arising from all across the plains of battle? Alas, no! Here and there a voice or two is thus raised, but in most places the Lord’s army is in retreat! Some cannot get their swords out of their sheaths — they are not sufficiently familiar with them, they do not know how to unlock them; others are a little more advanced, they know how to unsheathe them but not how to properly wield them; others, having unsheathed their swords, have found that these are different versions, they are shaped differently and they are blunt, not sharp; still others are being persuaded by the enemy to take a good look at their swords, and to see all kinds of supposed faults with their weapons, filling them with doubt as to their reliability; and then there are still others who have been persuaded by the enemy to sit down with him, laying their swords to one side for a moment, and to negotiate, all the while pointing out all kinds of supposed similarities between them.

Christian soldier! Rise up and be counted! “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Cor.16:13)! “Is there not a cause?” (1 Sam.17:29). Indeed there is! Go out against these enemies in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom they have defied (1 Sam.17:45). Know your enemy, and set the battle in array! Lift up your voice, and earnestly contend for the faith amidst the utter religious confusion of the times.

Shaun Willcock is a minister of the Gospel.  He runs Bible Based Ministries.  For other pamphlets (which may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, CDs, news articles, etc., please visit the Bible Based Ministries website.  If you would like to be on Bible Based Ministries’ electronic mailing list, please send your details.

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