Molly and I had a fun time in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan on Tuesday this week. It would take several days to truly appreciate this museum. One piece that really spoke to me was this almost 600 year old limestone sculpture of St. John the Baptist.
As I gazed at the statue I saw something that deeply relates to the posts I’ve been doing on the roots of false teaching.
Look at the photo and see if you can tell what John is holding. It might be a bit difficult from the photo, but John is holding a book which represents the Scripture (the Law and Prophets). And resting in the middle of the book is a small lamb. Unfortunately the head of the lamb was at some point broken-off, as was John’s right arm and hand.
The point of the statue? That John came preaching that Jesus was the Lamb of God and that He was the fulfillment and focus of God’s special revelation to mankind.
Jesus had this to say about Himself and the Scriptures:
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life…Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:39-40, 45-47, emphasis mine)
And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:25-27, emphasis mine)
The Pharisees deemed Christ a lunatic. For He was making claims that no man had ever made! They understood full well what Jesus was claiming: “The Bible is book about Me. If you understand it rightly, you will come, bow down, serve and worship Me.” He was making Himself equal to God.
It is precisely here that we find a safeguard against much false teaching. It is simply this:
Always keep it about Jesus – pure and simple.
It’s when we lose sight of the stated goal of the Scriptures and begin to promote other agendas that we are in danger of falling into false teaching. The Bible, first and foremost, is a revelation of God. This unfolding revelation is gloriously completed in the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Here are some quick examples of those who got off-base by taking their attention off of Jesus:
- Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) – they saw prosperity as a way to establish themselves among the leadership of the church.
- Simon Magus (Acts 8) – though apparently accepting Christ as the Savior, he subsequently became enamored with miracles and spiritual experiences.
- The Judaizers (Acts 15) – these zealous Jews accepted that Jesus was the Messiah but felt that new converts had to go on to keep all of the Law to be saved.
- The Corinthians (1 Cor. 3/14) – this church began to focus on leadership personalities and on certain sign gifts of the Spirit, rather than on Christ.
Let me finish with this quote from the Apostle Paul as he expressed a concern for the Corinthian believers that is similar to the concern I’m addressing in these posts:
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2 Cor 11:3)
- Can you think of other examples from the New Testament of those who were led astray and away from the simplicity and purity of focusing on Jesus?
- What about current day examples?