A few weeks ago I received an email from an internet reader who asked if I was a heretic. At first I got offended, but then I remembered what Charles Haun taught me, we cannot be offended if there is no offense in us. Is that not strange to know? We get offended when someone’s words reach out and touch the offense in our heart and we get upset. Then out of our mouth speaks the offense in our heart. When we get offended again and again this is a spiritual sign of us not allowing God to work in our heart and lives. Offense is a big deal in our lives. As a matter of fact, getting offended is the number one obstacle that prevents us from hearing from God as we need to. Let us guard against offense in our lives.

Now I never really thought about the word “heretic” until the Lord began to open up my understanding. As I think back now and apply what I have learned I guess I am a heretic, but that is okay Jesus and the disciples were heretics also. The word heretic is a very interesting word not so much for what it means, but for how it is used or rather misused. Actually, the word neither denotes anything bad or good. It is a neutral word applied to both good and bad. The adjective is used in Titus, “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” (Titus 3:9-11) applied to an unhealthy area. The verb form of heretic is used in “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen (“Hairetizo” (heretic) Strong’s #140, to choose); my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. 19He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. 20A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 21And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” (Matthew 12:18-20) in God choosing Jesus. In the second century Church centralization and control began to solidify. By the third century it was well enough in place for those in high power to begin to wield their power. In the fourth century saw the Church entrenched in the power of the state, now with the teeth to enforce its will. Those outside this organized and empowered Church were heretics. A new definition of the word comes and stays on the scene. A heretic was and still is one who simply disagrees with the Church. They were sought out and executed. In 384 Priscillian, because of his influence in teaching the word of God was beheaded, along with six of his followers. For over 1000 years this continued. John Huss was a heretic. He preached holiness, speaking out against the vices of the clergy. He was burnt at the stake in 1415. William Tyndale was a heretic. His crime was translating and distributing the New Testament. For this in 1536, he was strangled and his body burnt. Most of the people mentioned in Fox’s Book of the Martyrs were branded and labeled heretics. I guess I am in good company.

Strangely enough today we are more merciful. Heretics are still “those” (like me) who do not agree with the denominational structure of organized religion, but we do not physically kill them; we unobtrusively attempt to slay them with our tongue. This is a more deadlier form of death than being beheaded or burnt at the stake. “The wounds of a sword will heal, but the wounds of the tongue cut deeper than the flesh, and are not soon cured” wrote C.H. Spurgeon. And this is a destructive force in the spiritual life of the tongue wielder. Karen and I cannot begin to mention the number of people, in the last ten years, who have walked away from us because we hold fast to the traditional, Holy Ghost, Spirit-filled belief of God’s word. If the Bible does not say it then we must not be pushing it out there as being from God. Remember, what you use to win someone to Christ you have won them to that. If you use things like; contemporary Christian rock-n-roll music instead of hymns, a watered down humanistic (what is in it for me) sermon instead of a fresh message from God, or a bunch of feel good religious church activities that gives the people something to do while deceiving them into thinking they have been won to Christ instead of having true heartfelt repentance and a broken and contrite spirit conversion. We will not retreat, we will not compromise, we have come too far to turn back now. We do not care if everyone in our family or everyone who reads our website walks away from us, our desire is to continue to “grow grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” We know there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun, we know and it is our prayer, “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:11-12) If we are to be called a heretic for this desire and prayer, then so be it.

We often see this wrong thinking in the lives of the disciples. It is so easy to get caught up in all of the; looks right, feels right, everyone is doing it so it must be right, but when you critically look at it from the Scriptures you see it is wrong. Remember if the world is running after you, your writings, or your church God is not. In John we see how the disciples were caught up in this wrong thinking.   “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:1-3) Now the disciples walked and talked with Jesus, they saw the miracles, they even saw this miracle, but still they asked, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Where did this thinking come from? It sounds right, looks right, passes the religious common sense test, but where did this thinking come from? It came from the doctrine of the Pharisees. This is what the Pharisees (those who have spend their entire life in studying the Old Testament) would have asked, but it was in the hearts of the disciples. We must be careful not to take on the thinking of the Christian religious world nor of the world system into our lives for if we do we will be looking for some heretic to punish. After all, if we can find some sin in our brother or sister then we will feel better about ourselves. One of the classic signs of NOT being heretic is running from church to church and running after this Bible teacher (male or worst female) at this special conference. If we are going to run after something worth while let us run after knowing God in an intimate, simplistic, and holy way. When Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) He really meant it.

Sadly there is another use of the word heretic. A heretic also is one who denies the redemptive work of Christ and who introduces such doctrines. I am sure we all have been this before, because the Bible says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:6-9) Thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ. But the heretic here has no desire for truth and the real things of God. Their life is characterized by sin into which they entice others. Their goal is to take advantage, for personal gain and glory, as many people in name of Christianity and God. The real sadness in all of this is how the heretic affects the lives of others. Be careful who you follow, it does matter who your teacher is. I have seen this time and time again in my almost 50 years of being a Believer. Those who shout the longest and bow the lowest often are pretenders, actors, nothing more than a deceiver of the brethren. Let us keep ourselves pure from sin and denying the truth. Let us return to the purity of the Gospel where we can show mercy to all men and pray for the worst of them. The only adequate defense of the truth is the practice of the truth.

So I ask you, are you a heretic? I know what kind of heretic I am, one who is tired (and God said, “I am tired too”) of the religious manipulation and deception of people who desperately need to hear a word from God, but most of the Church leaders of today are too busy playing around not willing to dedicate themselves to the process in being able to deliver the word of God to a lost and dying world. I am one who is often shunned and ignored by my so called friends for what I believe and hold dear, but that is okay with me. Are you a heretic? If so, what kind are you?