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Rick Frueh

I agree. But now let us workout a clear but measured definition of a false teacher. I struggle with my own view. We all would agree that someone who denies the deity of Christ, or teaches salvation by works, or something along those lines is a false teacher.

But there are much more mercurial and murky doctrinal and methodological waters today, so, what defines a false teacher and what areas are untouchable and what areas have some boundaries?


The biggest problem is false teachers teaching things that lead to messing with or distorting the Gospel, and so can endanger a person's faith.

The Gospel is the central facet on which all other facets of doctrine hold together. Some incorrect teachings may seem small to some people; some may end up endangering the faith of some very little. But false teaching always has the potential to jeopardize faith and should be avoided. Faith clings to God's Word, so anything contrary to that word is harmful to faith.

Bob Cross

Dear Rick:

A false teacher is oe who teaches a false gospel message. What is a false gospel message? It is a gospel message that is preached contrary to what the Scriptures teach. God's Gospel Message is revealed from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. In this volume, Jesus Christ is revealed by the Holy Ghost to God's elect. Who are they? God's elect are the people God chose to be redemmed from their sins and to be found in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). God predetermined His elect and wrote their names in the Lamb's Book of Life. Jesus is the surety for the elect. He took on the form of a man so He could die, satisfy God's Law, appease God's wrath toward the elect, and thereby save His elect people from condemnatio to hell. After completing His labors and sacrificial death, Jesus rose according to the Scriptures and sits at the right hand of God. Jesus reigns over the nations of the world as Lord. He will come to judge the living and the dead. The elect will be declared not guilty, or justified before God do to the workings of their surety. The elect will receive the righteousness of God in Christ and dwell in the new heaven and new earth. The non-elect will die in their sin and God will be just in condemning them to the Lake of Fire along with Satan and the non-elect angels. Knowing this Gospel truth allows one to discern the false teachers. False teachers teach such heresies as man has a free-will to choose Christ or reject Christ, dispensationalism which teaches God will save the Jews due to their being of the same flesh as Abraham, ecumencialism which teaches unity and a passive tolerance for numerous false gospel works oriented religious groups, denominationalism which is a false form of gospel authority over churches instead of Christ alone ruling ove rHis people through the Word and Holy Ghost. Almost all the popular christain teachers are heretics and false teachers today. The ones who know the true Gospel Message according to the Scripture can be found at Sovereign-Grace.com. Read their teaches and you will discern that there are so many false teachers today you will conclude we are living in very dark times. I hope this helps answer your question.

Bob Cross

Rick Frueh

Bob - I agree with most of your assessment and I have culled out all the New Testament verses that mention False teachers and prophets and am constructing a post on the Scriptural teachings about false teachers.

I consider, for example, Joel Osteen to be a false prophet, but not because he believes in free will but because he doesn't preach the gospel. But I believe in free will as did Wesley, was Wesley a false prophet and are all false teachers unsaved?



how can a person, who is dead in their trespasses and sins, who is a slave to sin, whose will is in bondage, freely choose Christ prior to the new birth?

Here are two excellent articles by R. C. Sproul that, imho, really shine light on the subject, I do hope they are blessing to you and I hope that God opens the eyes of your understanding:

Free Will (pdf) By Dr. R. C. Sproul

"REGENERATION PRECEDES FAITH. This assertion that captures the heart of the distinctive theology of historic Augustinian and Reformed thought is the watershed assertion that distinguishes that theology from all forms of semi-Pelagianism.

The semi-Pelagian would argue that despite the ravages of the fall, man still has an island of righteousness left in his soul, by which he still can accept or reject God’s offer of grace. This view, so widely held in evangelical circles, argues that one must believe in Christ in order to be born again, and so the order of salvation is reversed in this view by maintaining that faith precedes regeneration.

However, when we consider the teaching on this issue as found in John’s record of Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus, we see the emphasis that Jesus places on regeneration as a necessary condition, a sine qua non, for believing in Him. He says to Nicodemus in John 3:3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The must-ness of regeneration of which Jesus speaks is necessary for a person to see even the Kingdom of God, let alone to enter it.

The weakness of all semi-Pelagianism is that it invests in the fallen, corrupt flesh of man the power to exercise faith. Here, fallen man is able to come to Christ without regeneration, that is, before regeneration. On the other hand, the axiom that regeneration precedes faith gets to the very heart of the historic issue between Augustinianism and semi-Pelagianism." Continued here: The New Birth

I think Wesley taught some wrong things, embraced the mystics and even distorted the truths of the Reformed Faith, for what reason it's unclear to me. Was he a Christian? I believe so. Are all false teachers unsaved? They are if they are not born again. Can a false teacher be born again and still teach falsehoods?

Calvin or Wesley: Part I
Steve Hays

Calvin or Wesley Part II
Steve Hays

Wrestling With Wesley
Douglas Wilson

Wesleyan & Keswick Models of Sanctification

Rick Frueh

Yes false techers can be saved and teach falsehoods, hence baptismal regeneration. See, it's all a matter of perspective.

Thanks for the honest exchange and for admitting Wesley was saved!


"The semi-Pelagian would argue that despite the ravages of the fall, man still has an island of righteousness left in his soul, by which he still can accept or reject God’s offer of grace." And, "The weakness of all semi-Pelagianism is that it invests in the fallen, corrupt flesh of man the power to exercise faith."

Bob and Douglas are coming from a Reformed standpoint, for all who are following along out there. Lutherans believe that man can reject God-- in fact, that's what they naturally do-- but we don't refer to this as "free will." On the contrary, our choosing to reject God indicates the bondage of our will to sin.

The first sentence I quoted, it talks about the island of righteousness which semi-Pelagians believe a man possesses to accept *or reject* God. I wouldn't call the ability to reject God an island of righteousness, nor an ability to "exercise faith." Quite the contrary.

By contrast, Lutherans teach that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. Just in case anyone was wondering or needed clarification...

Larry - KY

I think sometimes we stumble, not always, but sometimes because in normal conversation, even using the same words one man is thinking and using a word of phrase that is prescriptive while another descriptive.

E.g. Two men use the term “you must believe”. One man means this as a prescription for salvation the other a description for salvation, the later being the reality the former is just another ‘making faith a work’. And it quite often depends upon the state of the ear upon which it falls. Born again or regeneration is fraught with this problem. Thus, human language reaches its limits on this issue.

If you make, say, faith a prescription, then you arrive at faith as a work, something you must “drum up some how”. If you make faith a description then you are saying something different. To some people if you condition the Gospel with an “if you believe” you hold it at arms length but never arriving to the man (the majority disconnect between Lutherans and Calvinist).

From the most neutral point of view I can possible put myself in and these are general:

The Lutheran says, “Christ died FOR YOU”, the “for you” being crucial to the Good News actually BEING Good News TO YOU specifically. Can’t disagree there. They bring Christ to say, “For you Bob”, because neither my name and surname nor Bob’s nor anyone else’s is in the Scripture stating this. And Jesus doesn’t physically come up to us and say, “Your sins are forgiven you…”.

The Calvinist will generally caveat it a bit and say, “IF you believe…” Descriptively he’s 100% correct, prescriptively he’s 100% wrong else he’s really an Arminian guised as a Calvinist…because… This “if” can be right, but it can hold infinitely at arms length Christ from a person.

The Arminian would rankly prescribe faith in order to “get the Gospel” (God looks down the corridor of time…).

It matter very little that ANY say “God gives faith to believe”, because the question to the terrorized soul is – “is it for me” and a stray thoughtless “if” can kill it for him/her.

The Arminian is out to lunch, he preaches a pure “other (false) gospel” at least when his doctrine is ferreted out. He may accidentally and incidentally communicate the real Gospel, but its in spite of his doctrinal umbrella.

If the Lutheran hears the Calvinist speaking prescriptively, and some do speak that way, then he will see no functional difference than an Arminian on this issue. If he hears him being descriptive, then they agree. BUT the Lutheran will mostly remove all obstacles of ‘works’ in order to “get the Gospel” to the man. The Calvinist generally panics here thinking that’s too loosey goosey, because “you must believe”. But again we must ponder and ask, “Are you being prescriptive or descriptive from the human stand point?” Is faith a necessity of the Gospel or the outcome of it? This is very tricky! This is very distinctly shown in the benediction of the two. The Lutheran will say something like, “In the place of or authority of Christ I forgive you of your sins”, not meaning like Rome that he has the authority himself, but because of Christ’s authority he does so. The TO YOU/FOR ME comes TO you and FOR you. Most reformed that I’ve heard will throw the caveat of “faith” in there “if….”. But again it’s a matter of “description” Vs. “prescription”. If the hearer in the Reformed church comes from a Wesleyan or Baptist background, he’s just once again hearing an insurmountable legal condition in order to be forgiven from a Reformed pastor and thrown back upon his works, faith in this case. IF he’s aware of what the “if” means, a description, then he may actually hear absolution for himself, however, the lack of assurance I’ve seen in some Reformed circles makes me wonder about this. One can poor cold water on the Gospel of a smoking flax in this very way: Smoking Flax: “Pastor I’m not sure I’m saved…” Pastor: “Do you believe in the promises of God…”. Right there, that pastor has just quenched the smoking flax for his very area of doubt is his faith. Let’s look at it with a different answer: Smoking Flax: “Pastor I’m not sure I’m saved…” Pastor: “By the authority of Christ you are forgiven for Christ’s sake.” See, the later comes TO the MAN, the FORMER remains at arms length yet an infinity away. In a sense the later pours medicine into the dead body, while the later holds it just at the lips and awaits a pursing of the lips to slurp it up.

I know this because I’ve experienced it to the point of utter despair and lost Christ completely and it took Luther and some wonderful Lutheran pastors/theologians just simply giving Christ. I have no “particular beef” with any denomination just where is the merciful God that I/we need.

Part of this comes from understanding one crucial thing about fallen man, he in now way naturally sees nor receives the Gospel, you must pour it down his dead throat. We can, will and have turned EVERY aspect of the faith, including faith itself, into a precursor work or condition for the Gospel. The only pure 200 proof Gospel one CANNOT turn into a work is “Jesus died FOR YOU ‘John, Bob, Susan…etc…’ and Jesus gives you ‘John, Bob, Susan…etc…’ His righteousness. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to make that a work or prescription or imperative for you “TO DO”. Everything else from repentance, to faith, to the sacraments we can turn into a new work or “TO DO” to, well, DO.

But there can be a point in time for some that you have to say to them, “Stop not trusting it, just nakedly trust it…” “You mean no works at all, nothing?” “YES, YES, YES! Stopping spitting the Gospel back up.”

The bondage of the will really doesn’t lay in its utter bondage to the “negative sins”, though it includes this. It is primarily in the bondage of the will against FREE GRACE. The natural fallen man, the religious doer, who is defined by his/her very “doing”, being his/her own god, lay in that, especially “good things/works”, religious works, and even the Law of God. The bondage of the will lay in that the fallen will – will use the very holy Law of God against God and as a shield against the Grace of God and the Cross. NOTHING is harder to believe than absolute FREE GRACE, in fact it’s impossible to believe, its pure miracle. That’s why the message is rejected by fallen man.

Larry KY

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