Defending the Gospel: Heresy Abounds in the Last Days

Defend the Gospel

Defending the Gospel: Heresy Abounds in the Last Days

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables, II Tim. 4:3-4.

We indeed live in perilous times. Not only is this the age of international terrorism where religion is promoted at the barrel of a gun, we live in a time where spiritual terrorism abounds. The Messiah warned those who lived during His earthly ministry, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force,” Matt. 11:12.

The Bible teaches that the last days began with the resurrection of the Messiah and the initial fulfillment of the New Covenant, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe, Heb. 1:2. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires, II Peter 3:3.

The warning in, I Tim. 4:1-3; II Tim. 3:1-5, 4:3-4 tells us that in the last days they (those who profess to be Christ followers or Christians) will not endure sound doctrine. In order to understand the seriousness of this warning, we need to explain the concept of sound doctrine. Sound doctrine is the reliable teaching from the Word of God, the Bible. When attempting to rightly divide the Scriptures, sound hermeneutical principles should be followed. A major principle of proper biblical study is as follows:

“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise” (Cooper, 1947).

The Word of God explains itself. The Holy Spirit is the Teacher, John 14:26, of all who have placed their faith in the God who is the Creator, John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2, and  the Savior, Eph. 5:23; II Tim. 1:10. Before we can address some of the more disconcerting false teachings that plague the body of believers in these last days, we need to understand that God does not play favorites, even where His chosen people are concerned.

God is no respecter of persons
Abraham was born a Gentile, a Chaldean from the ancient land of Ur, Gen. 11:27-28, 15:7. He was justified (declared holy and blameless in the sight of God) because he believed God, Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3, 5:1. Abram took God at His Word! The Bible indicates believing in God has no merit associated with it whatsoever by itself. In fact, if we say we believe in God but do not obey what He says we are liars and the truth is not in us, I John 2:4. Taking God at His Word where the Gospel is concerned, “believing God,” is how we enter into the New Covenant, Jer. 31:31-37. While the New Covenant is promised first and foremost to Israel, those who have placed their faith in the Messiah of Israel become beneficiaries of the New Covenant. In every generation since the Messiah’s resurrection, God has always keep a remnant of Jewish believers in Messiah Jesus as part of the overall body of Christ:

I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, “LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace.[c] But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. Rom. 11:1-4.

The apostle Paul was a Jewish man, his lineage and pedigree was clearly known. He explains this to the body of believers as Philippi:

For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless, But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Phil. 3:3-9.

The Apostle Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, Rom. 11:14; Eph. 3:8. This was a very high calling considering that he used to persecute other Jewish believers in Jesus and was a willing participant in the first martyrdom of a New Covenant believer recorded in Acts 7:58-8:1.Yet Paul considered everything about his previous life worthless garbage in comparison to the righteousness that comes by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8-9.

Paul was attacked by the enemies of the gospel relentlessly. He was accused by other Jewish believers (some false and some true believers) of preaching a gospel of “easy believism” to the Gentiles for not insisting that they convert to the Judaism of the first century CE. He was also attacked for not observing the traditions of the Fathers and had to perform a vow from the Law of Moses to prove he was not hostile to Temple worship or the traditions of Judaism, Acts 21:17-26.

Too Jewish or not Jewish enough?
Paul faced this dilemma during his ministry. On the one hand, Paul understood that the Gospel sets people free. He battled those who would impose their own legalistic views upon others, i.e. their own traditions and legalistic teachings. The entire letter to the predominantly Gentile body of believers at Galatia was written to refute the false teaching of the Judaizers. Those men who were following Paul around telling Gentiles, “If you really want to be good Christians, you should follow in the footsteps of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I am certain the argument went something like this, “Jesus kept the Jewish Holy days and Feasts; Jesus was circumcised on the 8th day according to Gen. 17:11-2, so you should also do what he did.”

Paul would not compromise the Gospel. He cursed those who would preach another gospel and anything that contradicts the truth that is noted in the passage below is not the Good News:

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, I Cor. 15:1-4

This is the Gospel and anything other than this does not qualify as God’s good news. So why is this so important? Because there are many today who have added to this wonderful and beautiful message of God’s amazing grace. We live in a multicultural world. It was not any different in the first century CE. This does not mean that you must loose your cultural identity if you become a believer. It does not mean, as it once was preached and forced upon Jewish believers, that they needed to turn their backs on their Jewishness in order to be good Christians. What we should do is put off ungodliness and put on Messiah, Eph. 4:20-32.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all, Col. 3:1-11.

Different strokes for different folks
Here is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. There is only one body of believers, Eph. 4:4-5. The body of believers is made up of Jews and Gentiles who have become one in Christ. Paul tells the Gentile believers at Ephesus, In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Eph. 1:13, 2:14-22.

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, Eph. 3:1-6

Does the fact that Jews and Gentiles are made one in Messiah Jesus mean that we loose our cultural or ethnic identity? We are told in the same verse about our spiritual adoption. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal. 3:28-29. Do we cease to be men and women because we have are born again? The answer is no. The unity we have in the body of believers should indeed supersede all other categories, i.e. cultural, racial, social, economic, familial, etc. It is our spiritual adoption into God’s family that becomes the primary factor in all our relationships, Gal. 4:4-7. When we were born again, John 3:3, we became new creations in Messiah, II Cor. 5:17. We were translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, sinners who were transformed into saints. Not by virtue of what we have done, but because of what God did for us in Christ, Is. 53; II Tim.1:9; Titus 3:7-8.

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through  the  washing  of  regeneration  and  renewing  of  the  Holy  Spirit, whom  He  poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life, Titus 3:4-7.

Because of this truth, e.g. that Jews and Gentiles have become one in Christ; we are given the following instructions:

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God, I Cor. 10:31-32.

This verse clearly divides the entire human race into three distinct categories. These include Jews (the physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob), the Gentiles (all who are not the physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob), and the body of believers (Jews and Gentiles who have been made one in Messiah Jesus). Remembering that Abraham was a Gentile when he was declared righteous in God’s sight causes the Apostle Paul to remind the predominantly Gentile body of believers at Rome the following:

Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised Rom. 4:9-12.

At this point, we should take the time to explain a very important concept about false teaching and false teachers. They are not the same thing.

False teaching versus false teachers
I want to make this perfectly clear, there can be false teaching in the kingdom, but false teachers according to the biblical model, are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are not believers; they are make-believers. They pretend to be Christians; however they know that they are lying to others for personal gain and glory, II Peter 2:1-22; I Tim. 2:3. Why is this so important? Because we do not want to condemn those who might be lead astray by false teaching along with those who are clearly wolves in sheep’s clothing. You can be led astray with false teaching, just as Paul warned would happen in the last days, however false teachers should be identified and condemned. Others should be warned concerning false teaching, Matt. 16:12. A little bit of leaven (false teaching) leavens the entire lump, I Cor. 5:6.

The lamentations of a Hebrew Christian
This brings me to the real reason I am writing this article. I have been a believer since December, 1976. I was born a Jew and as the saying goes, I will die a Jew. When I came into the kingdom, God had to convince me that it was kosher for a Jewish person to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Evidently centuries of Gentile domination within the body of believers left me, and millions of other Jewish people, believing that Jesus Christ is the god of the Gentiles.

God has made it perfectly clear that He has sheep other than the sheep of the House of Israel, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd,” John 10:14-16. However, when the Gentiles become the dominant voice in the kingdom, Jews were   ostracized and excluded from the community of faith. For the most part, they Gentile leadership failed to heed the instructions of the Word of God and bring the gospel to the Jew first, Rom. 1:16.

By the third century CE, the teaching that the Jews were a rejected people and no longer in God’s grace was well established. Taking their cues from the church fathers, i.e. Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (98-117 CE) in his Epistle to the Magnesians writes:

For if we are still practicing Judaism, we admit that we have not received God’s favor…it is wrong to talk about Jesus Christ and live like Jews. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism is Christianity (Hay, 1981).

Another example is the “Epistle of Barnabas” Chapter 4vs 6-7 (between 130A CE. and 138 CE) where he writes:

Take heed to yourselves and be not like some piling up your sins and saying that the covenant is theirs as well as ours. It is ours, but they lost it completely just after Moses received it (Hay, 1981).

Origen of Alexandria (185-254 CE) an ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed to the early formation of Christian doctrines contributed the following:

We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election (Hay, 1981).

John Chrysostom (344-407 A.D.) – One of the "greatest" of church fathers; known as "The Golden Mouthed."
A missionary preacher famous for his sermons and addresses wrote:

The synagogue is worse than a brothel…it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts…the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults…the refuge of brigands and dabauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews…a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ… a house worse than a drinking shop…a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and a abyss of perdition.… I would say the same things about their souls… As for me, I hate the synagogue…I hate the Jews for the same reason… (Hay, 1981).

These are only a few of the less vulgar comments concerning the Jewish people. Although Martin Luther originally was friendly to the Jews, his failures in converting them to Christianity hardened his heart. His later writings continued to fuel the fires of anti-Semitism. They were quoted by Hitler’s propagandists in their successful effort to garner the support of Germany’s Protestant Churches for their diabolical “final solution.” He is an excerpt from Martin Luther’s pamphlet concerning the Jewish people entitled “On the Jews and Their Lies:”

What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we cannot tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. In this way, we cannot quench the inextinguishable fire of divine rage nor convert the Jews. We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. Perhaps we may save a few from the fire and flames [of hell]. We must not seek vengeance. They are surely being punished a thousand times more than we might wish them. Let me give you my honest advice.

First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.

Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, but miserable captives, as they complain of incessantly before God with bitter wailing.

Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught.

Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more...

Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews. For they have no business in the rural districts since they are not nobles, nor officials, nor merchants, nor the like. Let them stay at home...If you princes and nobles do not close the road legally to such exploiters, then some troop ought to ride against them, for they will learn from this pamphlet what the Jews are and how to handle them and that they ought not to be protected. You ought not, you cannot, protect them, unless in the eyes of God you want to share all their abomination...

To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden - the Jews...

Let the government deal with them in this respect, as I have suggested. But whether the government acts or not, let everyone at least be guided by his own conscience and form for himself a definition or image of a Jew. When you lay eyes on or think of a Jew you must say to yourself: Alas, that mouth which I there behold has cursed and execrated and maligned every Saturday my dear Lord Jesus Christ, who has redeemed me with his precious blood; in addition, it prayed and pleaded before God that I, my wife and children, and all Christians might be stabbed to death and perish miserably. And he himself would gladly do this if he were able, in order to appropriate our goods...

Such a desperate, thoroughly evil, poisonous, and devilish lot are these Jews, who for these fourteen hundred years have been and still are our plague, our pestilence, and our misfortune.

I have read and heard many stories about the Jews which agree with this judgment of Christ, namely, how they have poisoned wells, made assassinations, kidnapped children, as related before. I have heard that one Jew sent another Jew, and this by means of a Christian, a pot of blood, together with a barrel of wine, in which when drunk empty, a dead Jew was found. There are many other similar stories. For their kidnapping of children they have often been burned at the stake or banished (as we already heard). I am well aware that they deny all of this. However, it all coincides with the judgment of Christ which declares that they are venomous, bitter, vindictive, tricky serpents, assassins, and children of the devil, who sting and work harm stealthily wherever they cannot do it openly. For this reason, I would like to see them where there are no Christians. The Turks and other heathen do not tolerate what we Christians endure from these venomous serpents and young devils... next to the devil, a Christian has no more bitter and galling foe than a Jew. There is no other to whom we accord as many benefactions and from whom we suffer as much as we do from these base children of the devil, this brood of vipers, (Bertram, 1971).

John Calvin wrote concerning the Jews:

Their [the Jews] rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone, (Hay, 1981).

All the vicious lies noted by Luther concerning the Jewish people had been circulating since the early days of Christianity. So why do I lament?

I have seen an influx of false teaching and much of it comes from the messianic movement of the last 20 years. I have witnessed re-emergence of what can only be characterized as a new movement of Judaizers. When I say this, I need to be perfectly clear. I am not lamenting the legitimate expression of messianic Judaism that is characterized by worshipping the Savior from a culturally Jewish perspective.

Indeed, the celebration of the Holidays with the understanding that the Holy days, the sacrifices and offerings, etc. all point to the coming Messiah and all are indeed fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. The commemoration of the Lord’s Passover has been, and always will be, a commemoration of sacrifice of the Messiah. Just as the blood of the Passover exempted God’s people from judgment during the Exodus 3,500 years ago, today the blood of Messiah our Passover has been sacrificed for us, I Cor. 5:7.

I am a Hebrew Christian, e.g. a messianic or completed Jew, etc. The labels are only useful so that you will understand that I am in complete agreement with my Gentile brothers and sisters in Christ. I would be in agreement with almost every evangelical Christian organization’s statement of faith available today. I believe that true Christianity is biblical Judaism. I am in total accord with the apostles who were also Jewish believers. Long before the term “Christian” was coined at Antioch, Acts 11:26, the body of believers was predominantly Jewish and they called followers of the Way and/or Nazarenes. Even the word Christian means Messiah-person from the original Greek.

So what has transpired since I was discipled at an independent Baptist church called Beth Yeshua (House of Jesus in Hebrew) over 30 years ago? Well, the establishment of messianic synagogues became popular. One of the oldest in my lifetime was established as an outreach to the Jewish people in South Florida called Temple Aron Hakodesh. It was originally created by the Assemblies of God, a mainline Protestant charismatic denomination. The pastor that discipled me, Raymond Cohen, worked for the old Jewish missionary organization, the American Board of Missions to the Jews (ABMJ). A wonderful missionary outreach begun by a Jewish rabbi, Leopold Cohn, who came to the United States in 1892, settled in Brooklyn, New York. Over the years Moise Rosen, the founder of Jews for Jesus was affiliated with them before he began his own missionary outreach. By 1982, ABMJ had a staff of 92 missionaries and 17 clerics. This ministry has undergone a name change and today is known as Chosen People Ministries.

Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater
Today, there are many bodies of believers that worship the Lord by acknowledging Him as the Messiah, the Holy One of Israel. There are others who attend messianic synagogues and do not entertain some of the false teachings listed below. However, there are many of these messianic synagogues have begun to resemble Christian cults. While they may appear to be evangelical Protestant in their statements of faith, many are teaching things that are not compatible with sound doctrine. I will list a few disturbing features of the new messianic movement.

  • Saturday worship is no longer a matter of personal preference; failure to worship on Saturday is disobedience to the Word of God. Failure to worship the Messiah through the holy days of the Tanakh (Old Testament) is sin. This belief is a false teaching and it is contrary to Scripture. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind, Rom. 14:5.

  • All believers are Jewish. If you are ethnically Jewish, you are from the tribe of Judah, if you are from a Gentile background and you are a believer in Jesus, you are not truly a Gentile, you are a Jew (or as they might call you a “Joe” from the house of Joseph, i.e. from the Northern kingdom of Israel.

  • If you are not confused already, wait until you get the “Joseph’s coat of many colors” analogy they used to justify the different ethnic groups that make up the Gentile believers who are really Jews or Joes. This is yet another false teaching that is both divisive and completely untrue. If they actually tested the phenotypes of these allegedly Jewish people the false teaching of the “Two House theory” would fall like a house of card.

  • Failure to worship the Lord Jesus within the context of the requirements of kashrut (the dietary regulations) is disobedience to God and will adversely affect your ability to be used in ministry. This false teaching is also refuting by the Apostle Paul in the same passage that refutes the false teaching concerning the observance of holy days. Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand, Rom. 14:1-4.

  • Failure to worship the Lord through the Jewish holy days will adversely affect your walk with the Lord and could have an influence on your eternal destiny.

I believe that these false teachings are very much like the excesses of our Pentecostal/charismatic brothers and sisters. They often claim you cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit if you do not speak in tongues. A far worse but no less heretical teaching is that you are not really saved until you evidence your salvation by speaking in tongues. When they promote these false teachings, they never go back to the book of Acts chapter two where this particular spiritual gift is first described. Without getting into the particulars of what speaking in tongues is or isn’t, the teaching that you must manifest any spiritual gift in order to be saved is absolutely false and diametrically opposed to the teaching of Scripture.

Still, these false teachings abound. There are born again children of God who take pleasure in pointing out to Gentiles that some of the traditional Christian holy days were lifted from paganism. There are others who insist that communion has no relationship to the Last Supper or that Israel is eternally cursed and has been replaced by the Church. Others promote the Theory of Evolution and teach that it is compatible with the Bible. The warning of Paul is as appropriate today as it was in the first century CE.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving  heed  to  deceiving spirits  and  doctrines of  demons,  speaking  lies  in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;  for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer, I Tim. 4:1-5.

It is extremely important that the people of God take a stand against false teaching in the kingdom. The Messiah warned us that “the birds of the air,” explained as demons that snatch the gospel from the minds of men and women before it can take root, Matt. 13:4, 19. In this same teaching sequence, Jesus warns that the kingdom will be like a mustard seed that will grow (against the natural order of things, e.g. mustard seeds are extremely small but they grow into lush bushes), into a huge tree where the “birds of the air” will make their nests, Matt. 13:31-32. He follows that with a parable of hidden leaven, Matt. 16:33, that always symbolic of false teaching, Matt. 16:11-12.

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees
The false teaching of the these two sects of first century Judaism had to do with their belief that good deeds (mitzvoth) obtain righteousness. These religious leaders believed that their own self-righteous behaviors justified them in the sight of God. They misunderstood the reason for the Law of Moses and the spiritual depth of the Law (Torah). By the time the One who gave the Law to Moses, the living Word of God, appeared in the midst of His people and began to explain the written Word of God as recorded in the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 5:1-7:29, it was evident to all present that He was not like any other rabbi they had ever heard. And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes, Mat. 7:28-29.

Bible believing men and women must be careful not to major in the minors. The attitude of those who have entered into the New Covenant should always be one of unity with others of like precious faith. Paul explains:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all, Eph. 4:1-6.

Seeking to maintain unity in the body of believers allows to “agree to disagree” on certain relatively minor matters. However, this should not cause us to fail to defend the faith where the major doctrines of the Scripture are concerned, i.e. the inerrancy of God’s Word, the sovereignty of God, the deity of the Messiah, and salvation by grace through faith.

So whether it is the excesses of the messianic movement, the false teaching of replacement theology, or the inclusion of Darwinian evolutionary teaching in the Genesis account. A little bit of leaven (false teaching) leavens the entire lump, I Cor. 5:6.

Pastor Steven Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.


Bertram, Martin H. (Trans). (1971). On the Jews and Their Lies, Luther's Works, Volume 47; Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.

Bertram, Martin H. (Trans). (1971). Ibid.

Bertram, Martin H. (Trans). (1971). Ibid.

Bertram, Martin H. (Trans). (1971). Ibid.

Bertram, Martin H. (Trans). (1971). Ibid.

Cooper, David (1947). The Golden Rule of Interpretation. The Biblical Research Studies Group. Biblical Research Monthly. Retrieved at

Hay, Malcolm (1981). The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism. New York, NY: Freedom Library. 

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