One True Doctrine, Hold Fast The Faith, Restore People Who Have Fallen Into Doctrinal Error, Grave Responsibility Of Being Bible Teachers, Do Not Doctrinally Stumble The Weak, Closing Remarks, Reading List
Continuing our discussion from part three, this One Fold which Jesus prays for in John chapter ten is united by the Love of God, by their faith in Jesus Christ, and by the one true doctrine which was taught by the Lord and all His holy Apostles. As the following verses reveal, the doctrine of Jesus Christ is powerful, it is astonishing, it is good, it is sound, and it is to be obeyed, cherished, guarded and held fast by those people to whom it has been entrusted, including by us modern Christians as well:
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:"
Matthew 7:28, KJV
"And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine."
Matthew 22:33, KJV
"And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes . . . And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him."
Mark 1:22, 27, KJV
"And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine."
Mark 11:18, KJV
"And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power."
Luke 4:32, KJV
"Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
John 7:16-17, KJV
"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Acts 2:42, KJV
"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
Acts 4:13, KJV
"Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
Acts 5:28, KJV
"Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord."
Acts 13:12, KJV
"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
Acts 26:28, KJV
"But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you."
Romans 6:17, KJV
"If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained . . . Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."
1 Timothy 4:16, KJV
"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 1:13, KJV
"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
Titus 1:9, KJV
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)"
Hebrews 10:23, KJV
"But that which ye have already hold fast till I come."
Revelation 2:25, KJV
Sadly, despite the fact that the Founding Fathers of our faith gave their very lives in order to preserve, protect and promote the Truth which was taught to them by Jesus Christ, as we have now seen, Christ's sound doctrine is being corrupted, perverted, twisted and changed more and more each day by those people who are either novices with the Word of God, or who lack the initiative to faithfully and prayerfully study the Word in order to gain a proper understanding of it, or by those people who are purposely seeking to lead the Lord's sheep astray for whatever their reasons. So, I believe that some people do it out of ignorance, while others do this intentionally.
It seems that very few Christians today are holding fast to the sound doctrine with which we have been entrusted. And when we do strive to do this, we are often accused of being narrow-minded, and haters, because we don't agree with their worldly, ungodly ways, and we expose their sins through our preaching. Just look at the nonsense that is currently being preached and going on in some churches, in the cults, on the television set, on the Internet, etc. I discuss some of this in my other articles. As we saw earlier, both Jesus Himself and Paul foresaw a time when there would be a great falling away from the faith as more and more people become deceived by the lies of the enemy. In His message that is found in the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the Lord said the following:
". . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8, KJV
What a sad testimony for those of us who are now living at this current time, and watching as this apostasy happens all around us. Clearly, the children of darkness are increasing in numbers, and becoming more blatant in their defiance against God and His holy Laws with each passing year.
Now, while I have once again found myself in the position of having to expose a false doctrine, I ask you the reader to please understand that I do not do this with any degree of malice in my heart toward Reverend Graham. As I mentioned earlier in this series, I have no doubt that Billy Graham did a great deal of good during his many years of faithfully walking with and serving the Lord. Graham plainly preached Salvation through Jesus Christ. I am sure that many lives worldwide -- millions in fact -- have been touched and also transformed by his inspiring sermons. By comparison, my own ministry is but a small speck in the sea of humanity, and hardly worth mentioning. But we each have our calling.
I should also add that while I do not know if Billy Graham ever made a public reversal concerning his 1978 and 1997 comments, I do know that many years later in 2013, at the age of ninety-five, he gave what has been labeled as his final public sermon. It was actually a taped video sermon called "The Cross", which was part of a larger program that was called "My Hope With Billy Graham". In that 2013 sermon, Mr. Graham offers a very clear Salvation message in which he laments the backslidden spiritual condition of the United States, and points to Jesus' Death on the Cross as the Way to Salvation. If you never had an opportunity to watch it, you can watch it below.
This browser does not support the video element.
If for some reason the above video does not play in your web browser, you can likewise watch it on YouTube at the URL below. This is the extended 28:52 minute, official version that was uploaded to YouTube by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:
Or, if you just wish to watch the edited 8:54 minute version which was uploaded by another user, and which does not have all of the surrounding extra material -- in other words, only Billy Graham's core message -- you can also go to the URL below. This is a lower quality video, but it is still worth watching This is in fact the video which you are watching above. I merely increased the video dimensions:
Whether or not the message Graham delivered in that video means that he actually forsook his misguided ideas from decades earlier, I honestly do not know. However, it is my personal belief that at the time of his death, Graham was -- and still remains -- saved. He did not turn against Christ, as some of his vicious detractors would have us to believe. This video totally contradicts their claims. Billy Graham most certainly did point the way to Christ. He did a lot of good for the Kingdom of God, and led many millions to Jesus Christ, and that is something which I don't believe God will take away from him. I was just reminded of the following two verses:
"If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
1 Corinthians 3:14-15, KJV
I was quite appalled when I discovered online that there are some ignorant people who are making some extremely cruel and callous comments regarding Reverend Graham, now that he has passed on, even claiming that Graham is now burning in Hell. Instead of looking at his dedication to the Lord for so many years of his life, and the millions of souls which he helped to lead to the Lord, such people only seem to be interested in criticizing and condemning him, due to Graham's alleged involvement with the Freemasons, and supposedly with the New World Order.
I have mentioned before that it is simply not wise to judge the status of another person's Salvation. Yet there are some self-righteous Christians who do it all the time. Salvation is one issue which remains between each person and the Lord. We most certainly do not know the mind of God. Neither do any of us know what may have transpired between Graham and the Lord between the time that he fell into doctrinal error, and his death one week ago. Personally, I have to hope that Graham realized his mistake, and eventually repented of the same. He could have even done it up there alone with the Lord in his mountaintop retreat.
Jesus taught us "Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them" -- Matthew 7:20. To my knowledge, Graham never once denied God the Father, or his faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. As I already said, his 2013 video sermon certainly seems to confirm this fact. The Reverend Graham clearly and openly confessed Jesus Christ, exactly as the Scriptures command us to do, and the good fruit in his long life is more than evident. I am also reminded of something that the Apostle Paul wrote in his first Epistle to the Church at Corinth. Consider this verse:
"Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."
1 Corinthians 12:3, KJV
There is no doubt in my mind that Billy Graham was filled with the Holy Ghost. He was a force to be reckoned with and a tremendous powerhouse of God's Spirit. If he was backslidden and on his way to Hell as these online detractors would have us to believe, then he most certainly would not have made the 2013 video where he uplifted and pointed to Jesus Christ. So I advise everyone to refrain from making harsh statements, such as claiming that Billy Graham is burning in Hell. If you are guilty of having said that, or of having made any similar statements, please repent of such foolish talk. Let God be Graham's judge.
To reiterate, Billy Graham's main error was that he brushed against other world religions -- false religions, mind you -- and apparently fell under the "many paths" deception, similar to Oprah Winfrey. As I pointed out earlier, in his many travels, Graham undoubtedly met many people and some cultures who had never heard of Jesus, or who at least did not understand God's Message of Salvation. Apparently, he wondered "What about these people, God?" That may have been when he came to the conclusion that God's Mercy is so great, that surely such people can be saved without knowing Jesus Christ. Again, it was a serious doctrinal error on his part.
As I mentioned in part one, I think it is important that we all remember that none of us understand God's Word perfectly or completely. We all have some fuzzy spots in regards to our understanding, although in our pride we may not be willing to admit it. I am sure there are a few things which I believe, or at least theorize about in my head, which would raise your eyebrows. In similar fashion, you have probably pondered thoughts about the Bible which I might likewise find a bit unusual. Perhaps Billy Graham's mistake is that he stated certain things out loud which he should have kept to himself. Are we to judge and condemn each other to Hell, just because we don't see eye to eye when it comes to certain doctrinal issues? We just have to trust that the Lord will eventually straighten us out if we happen to become doctrinally misled. He has done so in my personal life a number of times, and I am still learning.
I think one difference between us and Graham, is that most of us are just small-time online preachers, small-time street preachers, or maybe not even preachers at all. Our audiences are small, perhaps a few dozen of close followers/listeners at best. So our influence is also rather small. In contrast, Billy Graham impacted the world -- millions and millions of people -- with his message. So when he fell into doctrinal error, it probably affected a lot of people as well. That may have weighed heavily on him. I know that if the Lord reveals to me that I am in error regarding something that I teach, I try to correct it as soon as possible. I will then uploaded an updated version of my article to the BBB website.
On a final note concerning the Reverend Billy Graham, and the controversy which surrounded him for many years of his life, I was reminded of the following verses which the Apostle Paul wrote to the brethren at the Church in Philippi:
"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
Philippians 1:15-18, KJV
In this case, despite the controversy which surrounded his life, and the people who alienated themselves from him, and even condemned him due to his aforementioned beliefs, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was still preached. Not just to a few people here and there, but to millions worldwide. For that, I continue to respect the man. He was a bright light and an inspiration to many people around the world. Can any of his detractors make the same claim? Hardly.
While sometimes it is indeed necessary to expose the lies and deceptions of false brethren, or perhaps the errors of our true brethren who have been sincerely misled in their understanding of the Holy Scriptures, we really need to be careful and prayerful concerning what is motivating us to do this. Are we doing it simply to make ourselves look better or more spiritual by comparing ourselves to others? Or are we truly doing it in a spirit of love and meekness for the sake of protecting the Lord's precious sheep from error, and to restore a brother or a sister who has fallen from the Truth? Consider the following verses:
"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2 Corinthians 10:12, KJV
"Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."
James 5:19-20, KJV
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one IN THE SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself."
Galatians 6:1-3, KJV
It is so easy for us to become lifted up in our pride when the Lord uses us to point out the error of another brother or sister in the faith. However, we all need to remember that we are all sinners. We have all committed our share of serious mistakes in this life, myself included. We have all become confused regarding some things which are stated in the Bible. We don't have it all worked out to perfection. For those of us who have felt called to be preachers and teachers of the Gospel, there is an even greater degree of responsibility. For as the Apostle James wrote in his Epistle:
"My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."
James 3:1-2, KJV
If we go off-track and teach false doctrine, God may very well hold us accountable. As I point out in other articles, the word "masters" in that verse is actually referring to spiritual teachers, and not to a slave master, as some people might possibly assume. It is derived from the Greek word "didaskalos". Pronounced did-as'-kal-os, in some other verses it is translated as "teacher". That is why Jesus was constantly referred to as "Master" in the Gospels. That is, because He was a teacher of God's Word.
As occurs in the Gospels, the word "offend" in the previous verse also has a slightly different meaning from its modern definition. In these verses, it is derived from the Greek word "ptaio", which is pronounced ptah'-yo. This word means to cause one to stumble or fall. It also means to err, to make a mistake, or to sin. In other words, James is saying that those people who seek to be teachers, are the most vulnerable to the danger of not only falling into doctrinal error themselves, but also of causing others to fall away from the Truth due to their erroneous teaching. Not only that, but the more we teach and preach, the more this is likely to happen. For as King Solomon wrote in his Proverbs:
"In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise."
Proverbs 10:19, KJV
As you may know, to cause one to fall away from belief in Jesus Christ is a very serious sin in God's eyes. This is quite evident from Jesus' own words in the Gospels when He states the following:
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!"
Matthew 18:6-7, KJV
In the previous verses, the word "offend" also means to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which one may trip and fall. However in this case, the word "offend" is derived from the Greek word "skandalizo". The Lord is issuing this warning to those false teachers who cause His followers to stop believing in Him as their Savior, through their deceptive false doctrines. This is evident by the fact that Jesus uses the phrase "which believes in me". In other words, the people who are falling into error, or stumbling, are people who actually believe in Him. One would think that such a serious warning from the Lord would be enough to stop anyone from intentionally leading His sheep astray. Sadly, as we all know, this is most certainly not the case.
Tragically, the world today is full of false prophets and teachers who are doing this very thing at a very alarming rate. As we discussed earlier in this series, some of these deceivers are found within our very own churches and Bible classes. Many others preach their false gospels on the TV set. Yet other wolves in sheep's clothing fill stadiums and auditoriums where they spew forth their spiritual poison. And with this relatively new medium of the Internet and the social networks, we have seen the deception spread at the speed of light.
The most alarming thing about this situation is that some of these deceivers seem like they are our very own Christian brethren. They blend in so easily. They say the right words. They make the right gestures. They smile and give handshakes. All the while, they are filling our minds and hearts with false doctrines. The other deceivers are more easy to spot. These include the New Age psychics and gurus; the Hindu and Buddhist monks; the so-called "Ascended Masters"; the LGBT militants and evolutionists who have infiltrated the public school system; the Native American shamans; and many other such individuals. This is why it is imperative that we fill our minds and hearts with the Truth of God's Word, so that we will recognize these deceivers and their false doctrines.
What about you? Are you a faithful student of God's Word? Do you depend upon the wise leading of His Holy Spirit as you carefully and prayerfully compare Scripture with Scripture? Do you rightly divide -- or balance -- the Word of Truth? I certainly hope so, because this is the only way to come to the knowledge of the Truth, and to guard yourself against deception. Without God's Spirit, you can read and study the Bible as much as you want, but you will never understand any of it properly; at least not very much of it. Consider the following verses:
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:"
1 Peter 2:2, KJV
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"
Isaiah 28:10, KJV
"A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight."
Proverbs 11:1, KJV
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
2 Timothy 3:7, KJV
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
Luke 11:13, KJV
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
James 1:5, KJV
With these verses, I will bring this series to a close. I hope that it has been an inspiration and an encouragement in your life. Most of all, I hope that it has been a sobering lesson which has alerted you to the fact that we must all be extremely careful and prayerful concerning what we believe, in whom we believe, and what we choose to teach and preach.
If you have been blessed by this article, I encourage you to please consider sharing its URL link with all of your online friends. Likewise, if you have a user account with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, etc., I would also appreciate if you would take the time to click on the corresponding share button that is found on this same page. Thanks so much, and may God bless you abundantly!
For additional information, you may want to refer to the list of resources below which were mentioned in this series, or which are related to this series, and which are likewise located on the Bill's Bible Basics website: