A Question I Was Asked:

What is the Main Danger in Receiving Heretical Teachings?

I was recently asked the following question:

"...I have an unclear understanding of the dangers of heretical teachings and observance. Is the danger in the loss of salvation or the loss of demonstrating the true Gospel - and therefore not representing Christ as the true Messiah - the true Son of God - the one and only name who has allowed us sinners to receive eternal life."

My Reply:

Both can be a danger, but the danger is more the second one. The teaching of justification by works which is right at the centre of all false religion and is certainly at the centre of the theologies of the cults and sects, is very serious because it masks what the true Gospel message is all about. In the New Testament Christ says "I am the way to Eternal Life" - actually He never came to found yet another religion but to provide the antidote to all false religions. However, heretical groups will always say, 'No - Christ is not enough.' In this manner, they follow the error of Galatianism - they add to the Gospel, but the moment you add to it, you lose it. Justification by works denies the love of God because it teaches that there are a long list of things we must do in order for us to reach up to God, but the moment we start trying to reach up to God we quickly start to lose heart because we find that it is simply impossible - we are just too unworthy to accomplish the task. But Jesus came because God knew that we can NEVER reach up to God - He had to come down to us! Here is an article I wrote recently which you may find helpful:

How Jesus Used Religion to Destroy the Power of Religion

Works-based religions effectively deny the Gospel of Jesus which is based on faith and grace - and not works, but we have to admit that large areas of Christianity have tended to follow a works-based religious approach - at least, as far as appearances go. Their creeds, of course, deny the value of works and yet what people actually tend to witness in these places suggests that rituals, duties, observances and works can save people. Works-based religion also shows no Christian love because if one does not do the 'works' one is immediately judged. Of course, such 'works' can cover a wide area: in some places of worship an elaborate prophetic web is held up as a plan of "future events" by sincere but frequently misguided people who have been (effectively) taught that prophecy is the best astrology out there! In places like that, the 'works' will require acceptance of this often elaborate prophetic framework of "future events soon to befall the earth!" If one attends such a place and one is critical of such a 'future plan of world events' which (they will claim) is "100% scriptural", one will be immediately judged and probably very soon asked to leave! Such elaborate charts are highly regarded among the cults and sects - it came as a shock and disappointment to me a few years ago to discover that many fundamentalists - especially in north America - are also unwise enough to adopt such an approach.

Okay, so the point I am making here is that the first thing we have to understand about the biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ is that works-based religion undermines it. The creeds and confessions of the established denominations are very clear about this (even if their practices and observances often seem to point in a different direction!), but the cults and sects do not even hold to any such evangelical creeds and confessions but simply follow the doctrines of their founders - so they are very, very dangerous. Therefore the heretical cults and sects must always be opposed.

If (through our religious practices) we tend to show unbelievers that the message of Jesus is just another religion they are unimpressed. We Christians must ever be at work to demonstrate how different the dynamic Gospel is from religion.

'For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.'

(Ephesians 2:8-9, NKJV)

'Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood ('propitiation': to satisfy just anger by means of a sacrifice), through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness...that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus'

(Romans 3:24-26, NKJV - my insert)

Robin A. Brace, 2006.