We are looking at seven reasons that we ought to preach. So far, we have explored four reasons: (1)God commands us to preach; (2) God speaks to us through our preaching; (3) Faith comes from hearing; (4) The Church frows when the Word of God spreads; and (5) The Holy Spirit uses preaching to sanctify believers. Today we will examine a sixth reason to preach:
(6) If We Fail to Preach Christ, False Teachers Will Preach Heresy
There have been false teachers in the Church since the very beginning. In fact, there has never been an age when there has not been false teachers spreading false doctrine. Paul was forced to defend his ministry and message of the Gospel against false “super apostles” in Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:1-6). He battled false legalism in Galatia (Galatians 3:1-9). He warned the Thessalonians about false signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). He exhorted Timothy to teach sound doctrine in Ephesus, lest the Church there fall into myths and old wives’ tales (1 Timothy 1:4,4:7). He also acknowledged that divisions because of doctrine were bound to creep into the Church if only to make the truth more clear (2 Timothy 3:8-9). Likewise, Peter passionately warned the Church about false teachers who secretly bring in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1). John and Jude also warned us to be on guard against false teachers who have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1, Jude 14-19). Were we to stop preaching Christ faithfully, these false teachers would not stop.
We ought to be concerned about false teaching, because it is the truth, and only the truth, that sets us free (John 8:32). Distortions about God and His Gospel have an eternal impact on those who hear and embrace such lies. For the end of false doctrine is judgment. Preaching Christ is our best offence and defence against the lethal spreading of heresy and blasphemy. There are many examples of heresies and blasphemies that are alive and well in North America today. The prosperity gospel teaches that God wants us to be healthy, wealthy, and successful in this life by taking certain prooftexts from the Bible, which speak of blessings from God, out of context. Many have capitalized on this message deceiving countless millions of people to abandon the true Gospel, which encourages endurance in suffering and unity with Christ through Cross-bearing. The ancient heresy of Arianism, which teaches that Jesus is not the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, is a cornerstone doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witness movement, which continues to grow all around the world. Gnosticism, which teaches that Jesus escaped His body and is no longer human, is growing in popular theology as a result of shallow and incomplete teaching even in orthodox evangelical churches. Tragically but truly, wrong beliefs about Jesus deprive a person of salvation in Christ and are therefore extremely serious for the Church.
Preaching Christ is a strong offence when we reach people with the truth first so that they can be rooted in it and thus be able to ignore or refute false teaching. It is also our greatest defence in that by preaching we can correct misunderstandings and false beliefs that have come into the Church. This is exactly the reason that Paul told Titus that elders must be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also be able to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9).
If the preaching of false doctrine were not a constant threat to the Church then we might be able to let down our guard a little. However, this is not the case. With the explosion of communication through radio, television, internet, and pod-casting, the need to preach Christ has never been so great. Therefore, we preach the Word in order to protect our people from lies that eternally kill.