There are so many Christian denominations, and we often hear people insist that the denomination they belong to be "authentic" while all other religious groups are "heretical." What on earth is heresy?
From a religious point of view, “heresy” is an idea or doctrine that goes against the true faith. Discerning heresy is very important for our salvation. Even though we have believed in God fervently for a long time, if we belong to a heretical denomination, we cannot be saved. Then, which denomination is a heretic?
Standard of heresy
People have a tendency to think that the church which has a long history and many followers is authentic and that the church which has not is heretical. However, the length of a church history or the number of followers cannot be a standard for distinguishing the true Church from false churches. If these kinds of standards were right, it would mean that the early Church which Jesus established and the apostles attended was heretical.
2,000 years ago, many people followed Judaism which had a long history and tradition. On the other hand, there was a small number of followers in the early Church which had just been established, and it was not well-known to the public.
Ac 24:1-5 『Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. . . . “We have found this man to be a troublemaker [a pestilent fellow, KJV] stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect . . .”』
It was the religious leaders in those days who said that the Apostle Paul was a pestilent fellow spreading heresies. The people, who boasted most of their knowledge of the Bible and received respect and trust from the Jews, judged the early Church as heretical.
Although it is a judgment of religious leaders or theologians who have much authority and knowledge, it cannot be a standard for distinguishing the truth from heresy. We can judge between the truth and falsehood only through the Bible given by God.
Heresy defined in the Bible
2 Pe 2:1-3 『But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.』
The Bible defines the characteristics of heresy as follows: Heresy surely brings
destruction and it hinders the truth with man-made stories, which are not found in the Bible. Whether or not a church follows the Bible—this is a criterion for discerning a true church from a heretical one.
If we just take a look at the fundamental truths written in the Bible, we can easily understand what heresy is.
Lk 4:16 『He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.』
Lk 22:14-15 『When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”』
Jesus personally set us an example of keeping the Sabbath and the Passover, and the early Church followed the example of Jesus.
Ac 17:2 『As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, . . .』
1Co 5:7-8 『For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.』
Jesus and the apostles kept the Sabbath. So, if a church forsakes the Sabbath and worships on Sunday which is not found in the Bible, that church is a heretic. Jesus also kept the Passover, so the church that celebrates Christmas (December 25)—the birthday of the sun god, which is not in the Bible, is a cult.
Keeping the laws that are not found in the Bible is following the pagan customs which are futile (Lev 18:3-4; Eze 11:9-12). Although those customs have been considered natural for a long time, if they are not found in the Bible, they are nothing but stories people have made up.
God who came in the flesh, and heresy
God came to this earth in the flesh for our salvation 2,000 years ago. However, the Jews did not believe in Jesus, who came as the son of a humble carpenter, a man just like one of us, who had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him.
Jn 10:30-33 『“I and the Father are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”』
“God never comes in human form.”
This is also a man-made lie, which is not found in the Bible. The Bible clearly prophesied that God would come as a person.
Isa 9:6 『For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.』
Those who do not acknowledge that Christ has come in the flesh are the ones who have received the spirit of the antichrist (1 Jn 4:2-3). The Jews took offense at Jesus and labeled the apostles, who preached the Savior who came in human form, as heretics. In actuality, however, the heretics were the Jews who denied Jesus who came in the flesh.
The true Church holds fast to the truth
Those who ignore the Bible and blindly regard something as heretical if it is different than what they think are just like the Jews who falsely accused the Apostle Paul of being a ringleader of the Nazarene sect. If we truly want to receive God’s salvation, we must correctly distinguish the truth from heresy—truth and falsehood—according to God’s standards in the Bible, not man’s opinions.
The Bible clearly testifies to the truth of the early Church that kept the feasts of the new covenant, including the Sabbath and the Passover, and believed in God who came in the flesh. In this age, the Church of God is the only Church that holds fast to the truth of the early Church which Jesus and the apostles kept according to the Bible.
Being proud of the fact that our Church is the true Church which has the truth and giving thanks to Elohim, we should hurry to preach the gospel of the new covenant to the souls who are longing for the true faith.
Copyright(c) WORLD MISSION SOCIETY CHURCH OF GOD. All rights reserved.
No part of this website may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means(printed, written, photocopied,
visual electronic, audio, or otherwise) without the prior written consent of the Church of God, World Mission Society.
Any such action will be in direct violation of copyright laws.