The word heresy needs to be reintroduced into the vernacular of the common Christian. There are some who will find that to be a shocking statement. Nevertheless, in recent weeks I have come to feel that it is true. There are a great many false doctrines out there masquerading as Biblical teaching. If Christians do not learn how to identify a heresy and label it as such with boldness, they put themselves at great spiritual peril.
There are those who teach Jesus is not the Son of God. He was just a good man. This is a heresy. If Jesus is not Divine, then we are lost. If Jesus is not Divine, then John 1 is a lie.
There are those who teach that God requires man. They teach the will of man can thwart the plan of God. They teach that without the cooperation of man, God's will cannot come to fruition. This is a heresy. If God depends on us, then He is not omnipotent. If God requires us, then Job 35: 6-8 is a lie.
A variation on this teaching is that God never forces anyone to do anything they don't want to. My assumption is that these people have not read Jonah.
Some teach that Christ did not die to atone for our sins. Such a death would be indicative of a vindictive, bloodthirsty God. Instead they teach that Christ's death merely shows us God's willingness to forgive. They teach that man has the ability within himself to follow the whole law, never sin and as a result is ultimately responsible for his own salvation. They also teach that we did not inherit Adam's sin. One wonders if they have ever read the book of Romans.
A variation on this teaching is that salvation can be lost one day but regained the next.
Others teach that salvation is merely intellectual assent to the fact that Christ died for salvation from sin. They teach that spiritual fruits are not a necessary aspect of the Christian walk. They also teach that repentance is unnecessary. Clearly, they have never read Mark 1:15. Incidentally, part of this teaching includes the notion that Jesus can be your Saviour, but not your Lord. One does not have to make Him Lord of their life, as though that is what actually happens.
There are those that teach God created and ordains evil. This is not only heresy, but blasphemy. To suggest that God has anything to do with evil is to impugn the character of God. All of Scripture speaks to the contrary. In fact, there is no Scripture that suggests God created evil or has anything to do with it. I came across this belief a few weeks ago, much to my dismay. I was saddened by the fact that anyone claiming to be a Christian could ever suggest such a thing. Sadness eventually gave way to anger and then sheer outrage.
There are those that teach Scripture cannot be understood by the common man. It can never really be known. One cannot know for sure that their interpretation is correct. Furthermore, they teach that Scripture does not stand alone. It can only be understood if one has the correct tool. This heresy is perhaps the most subtle of them all. It is the least obvious to detect and in someways the most dangerous. This particular heresy allows all the others to go unchallenged, thereby allowing them to spread. The words "that's what you believe" or "that's what you were taught" or "that verse doesn't really mean that" (when really it does) not only shut down useful conversation and debate, but they prohibit anyone from pointing out a heretical belief.
If no one can understand and interpret Scripture, then no one can be right. If no one can be right, then no one can be wrong either. Our sword is suddenly very blunt. How can we combat something unscriptural if we can't know what is Scriptural?
In fact, we must be able to know and discern what Scripture says. If we cannot, then the Bible cannot be God's revelation to us. It cannot be His inspired Word. Paul wrote to Timothy that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16,17) How could he say this if Timothy could not expect to know what the Scriptures mean? Of course he could expect to know!
The Bible is one of the few books in the world that interprets itself, perhaps the only book. If one does not immediately understand a particular concept, simply search for it elsewhere in Scripture. Want proof that God didn't create sin? Search for sin and God. There are probably hundred of verses that indicate God has no part of sin. Want to know if the Bible permits illicit lifestyles? Look it up. Can't find the exact word? Search for a related concept. I guarantee you'll find it. In fact, I am prepared to say that almost any behaviour can be argued for or against with Scripture.
How do we learn what Scripture says?
One first begins with prayer. Then, study, study, study.
You can know what the Bible says. You can understand the meaning of Scripture.
That's why it exists.
Anton Bosch Ministries has an excellent series on discernment, by the way. I found it through Herescope, another excellent site.