If we try to walk alone against a hurricane, it will blow us away. We stand a better chance of keeping our footing if we hold hands with others. However, even the strongest wind will not budge us if we join together around Jesus.
I grew up in the windy city of Port Elizabeth where it blows so often that the pigeons, accustomed to leaning into the wind, fall forward on their beaks when it stops – or so goes the tongue in cheek legend. Physical wind can be destabilising and sometimes lethal, but spiritual winds are no less destructive. In Ephesians 4:14 Paul writes of immature believers who are ‘blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming’.
From time to time, folk request me to write or speak about any number of ‘winds’ blowing into the face of the church. Some of these are obviously ‘ill winds’ and they are easy to identify, but some are not. For instance, Satanism is an unmistakably foul wind, but modern Gnosticism is harder to define yet also noxious.
You might be surprised at some of the things that I regard as malevolent winds blowing into the church. By the way, what makes aberrant teachings so dangerous is that they invariably contain a modicum of truth sufficient to disguise their fatal errors. Here are just some, possibly eyebrow-raising, examples:
- Calvinism with its fatal confusion of sovereignty with predeterminism – the key assumption that God can only truly be sovereign if He determines all things at all times, and if He does not, then He cannot really be God.
- Modern Gnosticism that presents a complex form of reincarnation and celestial rankings in the life between earthly lives.
- Roman Catholicism with its exclusive system of religious orders, rankings, rites, and rituals.
- Updated dominionism parading under the catchall ‘New Apostolic Reformation’.
- Extreme Word of Faith’ism together with its bastard child, Hypergrace.
In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul makes a series of connected points:
- ‘There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all’ Ephesians 4:4-6.
- The ascended Jesus has given to the church, ‘some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’ Ephesians 4:11-13.
- ‘Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work’ Ephesians 4:14-16.
Put in the simplest possible terms – Jesus is the source of truth and the central pillar of the church around which we gather like flesh around the skeleton of a living body. If we centre ourselves on Jesus – what He said, what He did, and who He is – then TOGETHER we will become mature enough to withstand even the strongest winds of deceitful false teaching.
I am always reluctant to write or speak about ill winds because I know that to withstand them we need to know Jesus and the communal strength of His church rather than know about the foulness of the winds.
Focus on Jesus. Be part of His church and benefit from the gifts He has given to us as members of His ‘body’. This is how we stand against even the strongest gales of deception.