Title: Kong Hee, Peter Tan-chi & Lawrence Khong’s Biblical View of Repentance Vs Joseph Prince’s Heresy of No-Repentance
Don’t miss my personal and honest sharing,
John Maxwell’s perceptive quote
and the insightful views of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, JC Ryle & John MacArthur,
especially on Athanasius,
one of our Church Fathers who fought the heretics of his day at great personal cost.
(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)
Both Kong Hee and Peter Tan-chi
teach that repentance is not an option but a command
by both the Lord Jesus and Father God,
without which there is no forgiveness of sins and true salvation.
In a sermon, Kong Hee said;
“Now this (repentance) is a very big subject in the Bible.
John the Baptist, right at the beginning of the gospels, he says,
‘Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.’
Repentance is the first command of Jesus Christ.
It was the first sermon He ever preached.
In fact, you go all the way to his last sermon, the Great Commission,
He commanded His disciples to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the nations, Lk 24:47.
From the first sermon to the last sermon.
Then, on the Day of Pentecost in the message that Peter gave in the first church service in history, the first church service, what did Peter say?
‘Repent and be baptised.’
Later on, the Apostle Paul, everywhere he went, he went to Athens, to the Gentile world, and he said,
‘God now commands all people everywhere to repent.’
When you come to the end of the New Testament, the end of the Bible,
John wrote to the seven churches of Asia, telling them that the Lord wanted them to repent.”
In a sermon, Peter Tan-chi said;
“What is repentance?
Do you know the first message of John the Baptist was repent?
John the Baptist said,
‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt 3:1-2).’
The first recorded message of John the Baptist.
The first recorded message of Jesus, guess what Matthew chapter 4:17,
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
The first message recorded in the Book of Acts by the apostles, chapter 2, repentance, chapter 3, repentance.
Let me give you an example.
(Acts) Chapter 3:19. Everybody, please read,
‘Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.’
Repentance is not an option.
It’s a command.
The Bible says you need to repent.”
As opposed to the view of Kong Hee and Peter Tan-chi,
Joseph Prince teaches the heresy that forgiveness of sins and salvation
can be obtained by just believing and without repenting from one’s sins.
In a sermon, Lawrence Khong said;
“I said you know why we are not making disciples because we are preaching the wrong gospel.
We are preaching a man-centred gospel instead of a Christ-centred gospel.
We preach a gospel that say if you don’t feel good, come here God touch you; you’re going to feel good.
If you are not successful, you just come to God, and God is going to provide everything you need.
Just visualise what you want to have and believe God and you’re gonna to have it.
We’re going to preach the gospel and I tell you what – people crowd to these churches.
But it’s a lie from the devil.
Don’t feel guilty.
God has forgiven all your sin.
So, don’t have to confess your sin anymore because all these has been forgiven.
Just be set free. Be free.
And anything that requires of you to discipline yourself, to sacrifice,
these are considered legalism and bondages of the law of the past.
And we nullify almost the whole Old Testament.
I tell you, we’ve a gospel that preach on just consumer-Christianity.
And it’s very palatable. You will fill your pews.
A man-centred gospel; it’s a gospel about ourselves.
How we can be more blessed by God;
about how we can find success in what we do;
about how prosperous we can become.
O this teaching, never mind,
now that you’re Christian, everything is taken care of.
Your future sin is taken care of.
Just no need to confess.
Just go and enjoy the love of God.
The Bible says do not be deceived.
God is not mocked.
That’s not to tell you
don’t worry all these things before happen
you will be raptured. Zoop.
And then the world will be left without Christians finally to testify to them.
As I study this book (Revelation) more and more,
I don’t believe in this.
You know, people who teach that Christians need not repent should read the Book of Revelation.
Every message to the 7 churches, except 2, the Bible says repent.”
Lawrence Khong not only taught about the importance of repentance,
he also highlighted the ingredients of a man-centred gospel,
all of which are exactly what Joseph Prince preached.
DL Moody, JI Packer, John Calvin, John Wesley, John Stott, John Piper, JC Ryle, Billy Graham, Charles Spurgeon and Arthur Pink,
all of whom are well-regarded Bible teachers and Christian writers,
also taught on the indispensability of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
In ‘The Complete Works of JC Ryle,’
JC Ryle wrote:
“Let no man ever persuade you that any religion deserves to be called the Gospel,
in which repentance toward God has not a most prominent place.
That is no Gospel in which repentance is not a principal thing.”
Instead of shunning the false prophet, Joseph Prince,
who rejects the law and denies repentance as a condition for salvation as a deadly plague,
multitudes are drawn to him like a cult leader and a demi-god.
Kong Hee, Peter Tan-chi and Lawrence Khong’s view on the necessity of repentance for saving grace
represents the view of all Singapore evangelical Pastors and churches and the Historic Church:
which includes the Apostolic Church, the Early Church, the Reformation Church, the Puritan Church, etc.
The view of Kong Hee, Peter Tan-chi and Lawrence Khong is also the view held by every evangelical denomination:
Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Brethren, EFC, Assemblies of God, Charismatics and Pentecostals, etc.
So, Joseph Prince, who holds the view of an only-belief and a no-repentance gospel,
is clearly and doctrinally, the odd one out.
That is why I have always said that as far as the many heretical doctrines that Joseph Prince preaches,
he is indeed a Lone Ranger.
Please don’t misunderstand me.
I am not saying that there is no place to be a Lone Ranger for God.
Since 2017, I have been given the unenviable call of exposing the heretical teachings of Joseph Prince
– a call which I didn’t ask for
– a call I wanted to run away from
– a call for which I am the least to be chosen
– a call that is thankless and unappreciated
– a call that nobody would have wanted
– a call that would result in plenty of closed doors to my itinerant preaching ministry, and finally, its total death
(and, I have absolutely no regrets; in fact, I glory in it as I have the glorious privilege of obeying God’s call)
– a call that would result in friends becoming strangers
– a call that would leave me ‘alone’
like Martin Luther,
who contended alone against the whole church,
who prophesied alone against the whole nation,
who stood alone against the whole world.
Will you dare to be so radical that you are willing to be the one and only person in the whole world
to follow God and go against the tide, criticisms and opinions of the whole world?
Well, Noah did.
One man was right;
the whole world was wrong.
One man saved his whole family of eight;
the whole world perished in the judgement of the flood.
Let me share a quotation from John Maxwell.
In his Book, “Be all you can be,” he said these words:
“The greatest days of your life are the days when you sense your commitment to its highest degree.
Your greatest days are not your days of leisure.
Your greatest days are not even times when you have your closest friends around you.
When something has seized you and caused you to have a high level of commitment to it, those are your greatest days.
They may be your days of struggle, they may be your days of suffering, and they may be the days of your greatest battles in life, but they will be your greatest days.
If I could choose only one word to describe what it’s like to be committed, I think I would choose the word alone.
If you become a person who is deeply committed to a cause, the world won’t understand you; you will be alone.
It’s human to stand with the crowd; it’s divine to stand alone.”
What do you think how almost all the Singapore Pastors would respond
when I rebuke the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) unprecedentedly and publicly for not acting against Joseph Prince, the heretic?
As you can guess, almost all the Pastors under the various denominational heads kept away from me.
I’ve paid a heavy price to obey God’s call to contend against the heresies of Joseph Prince.
“The cry for the approval of the majority is the refuge of the insecure.” (George Ong)
“The authenticity of one’s conviction is his preparedness to stand alone with God against the whole world and His readiness to die for it.” (George Ong)
Yes, I am ‘alone’,
and yet, I am not really alone from another perspective
– when you have 76 Bishops/Pastors/Believers who wrote against the heresies of Joseph Prince.
If you wish to view these 76 write-ups,
Please click on the link below:
And yet, I am not really alone,
when you have 500 YouTube comments targeted against Joseph Prince’s heresies.
If you wish to view these 500 comments,
Please click on the link below:
And yet, I am not really alone,
when God is on your side.
Remember the oft-quoted saying, “One and God is a majority.”
And when you are in the majority, what is there really to fear?
“Only with God can so much be accomplished by so few for so many. (Jn 6:9; Matt 14:17-21; Acts 2:41; 1 Sam 17 especially V51-53; Jud 7:1-8, 16-22; 2 Sam 23:8-12, 18-21; Est 4:12-16; 7:1-10, Jonah 3:1-10; Lev 26:7-8; Jos 23:9-11; Jud 14:5-6, 19; 15:14-16; 16:27-31.)” (George Ong)
Let me make it clear that we are not to be alone or a Lone Ranger as Joseph Prince is
because he had embraced heresies that are diametrically opposed to the doctrines of the Historic Church.
But we must be prepared to be alone or a Lone Ranger because we fought the heretics and their heresies, or because of any other worthy call that God has laid upon your life.
Athanasius is one excellent example.
As you read through the insightful views of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, JC Ryle and John MacArthur,
the name Athanasius, keeps popping up.
Athanasius, like Martin Luther, had the God-given guts to stand up to the whole Church
because heretic teachings, such as Arianism, had infiltrated the Church.
John MacArthur gives a good historical account of the battles of Athanasius against Arius, the heretic.
In ‘An Exposition of Ephesians 4:1-16, Christian Unity,’
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said:
“To believe that numbers, or the size of the Church, is what counts is a contradiction of the whole teaching of the Bible.
In the Old Testament, we find one doctrine which seems to run through from beginning to end – the doctrine of the remnant.
God works repeatedly through a remnant, sometimes through one man.
How worldly we have become in our thinking, how mechanical!
The Lord Jesus Christ left the Church in the hands of twelve men, a mere handful of nobodies.
We seem to have forgotten that!
And as we read the history of the Church since the end of the New Testament canon, we find precisely the same thing.
One thinks of ‘Athanasius contra mundum’
– how that one man stood against the whole world for vital doctrine and prevailed!
The explanation is that the power of Christ was in him; he was linked and joined to the Head.
Martin Luther also stood alone after all the centuries of deadness, and of Catholicism, and in spite of all the material power of the Roman Church,
he prevailed because the power of the Head was in him.”
In ‘The Complete Works of JC Ryle,’
JC Ryle wrote:
“II. I now pass on to the second lesson that we learn from Antioch
That lesson is, that to keep Gospel truth in the Church is of even greater importance than to keep peace.
I suppose no man knew better the value of peace and unity than the Apostle Paul.
He was the Apostle who wrote to the Corinthians about charity.
He was the Apostle who said,
“Be of the same mind one toward another;”
“Be at peace among yourselves;”
“Mind the same things;”
“The servant of God must not strive;”
“There is one body and there is one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”
He was the Apostle who said,
“I become all things to all men, that by all means I may save some.” (Romans 12:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; Philippians 3:16; Ephesians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 9:22)
Yet, see how he acts here!
He withstands Peter to the face.
He publicly rebukes him.
He runs the risk of all the consequences that might follow.
He takes the chance of everything that might be said by the enemies of the Church at Antioch.
Above all, he writes it down for a perpetual memorial, that it never might be forgotten, that, wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the world,
this public rebuke of an erring-Apostle (Peter) might be known and read of all men.
Now, why did he (Paul) do this?
Because he dreaded false doctrine,
because he knew that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,
because he would teach us that we ought to contend for the truth jealously,
and to fear the loss of truth more than the loss of peace.
St. Paul’s example is one we shall do well to remember in the present clay.
Many people will put up with anything in religion, if they may only have a quiet life.
They have a morbid dread of what they call
They are filled with a morbid fear of what they style, in a vague way, “party spirit,” though they never define clearly what party spirit is.
They are possessed with a morbid desire to keep the peace, and make all things smooth and pleasant,
even though it be at the expense of truth.
So long as they have outward calm, smoothness, stillness, and order,
they seem content to give up everything else.
I believe they would have thought with Ahab that Elijah was a troubler of Israel,
and would have helped the princes of Judah when they put Jeremiah in prison, to stop his mouth.
I have no doubt that many of these men of whom I speak, would have thought that Paul at Antioch was a very imprudent man, and that he went too far!
I believe this is all wrong.
We have no right to expect anything but the pure Gospel of Christ, unmixed and unadulterated,
– the same Gospel that was taught by the Apostles – to do good to the souls of men.
I believe that to maintain this pure truth in the Church
men should be ready to make any sacrifice,
to hazard peace, to risk dissension,
and run the chance of division.
They should no more tolerate false doctrine
than they would tolerate sin.
They should withstand any adding to or taking away
from the simple message of the Gospel of Christ.
For the truth’s sake,
our Lord Jesus Christ denounced the Pharisees,
though they sat in Moses’ seat, and were the appointed and authorized teachers of men.
“Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,”
He says, eight times over, in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew.
And who shall dare to breathe a suspicion that our Lord was wrong?
For the truth’s sake,
Paul withstood and blamed Peter, though a brother.
Where was the use of unity when pure doctrine was gone?
And who shall dare to say he (Paul) was wrong?
For the truth’s sake,
Athanasius stood out against the world to maintain the pure doctrine about the divinity of Christ,
and waged a controversy with the great majority of the professing Church.
And who shall dare to say he was wrong?
For the truth’s sake,
Luther broke the unity of the Church in which he was born,
denounced the Pope and all his ways, and laid the foundation of a new teaching.
And who shall dare to say that Luther was wrong?
For the truth’s sake,
Cranmer, Bidley, and Latimer, the English Reformers,
counselled Henry VIII and Edward VI. to separate from Rome, and to risk the consequences of division.
And who shall dare to say that they were wrong?
For the truth’s sake,
Whitefield and Wesley, a hundred years ago,
denounced the mere barren moral preaching of the clergy of their day,
and went out into the highways and byways to save souls,
knowing well that they would be cast out from the Church’s communion.
And who shall dare to say that they were wrong?
Yes, peace without truth is a false peace;
it is the very peace of the devil.
Unity without the Gospel is a worthless unity;
it is the very unity of hell.
Let us never be ensnared by those who speak kindly of it.
Let us remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
“Think not that I came to send peace upon earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
Let us remember the praise He gives to one of the Churches in the Revelation:
“Thou canst not bear them which are evil. Thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” (Revelation 2:2)
Let us remember the blame He casts upon another:
“Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel to teach.” (Revelation 2:20)
Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth
upon the altar of peace.
Let us rather be like the Jews, who, if they found any manuscript copy of the Old Testament Scriptures incorrect in a single letter,
burned the whole copy, rather than run the risk of losing one jot or tittle of the Word of God.
Let us be content with nothing short of the whole Gospel of Christ.
In what way are we to make practical use of the general principles which I have just laid down?
I will give my readers one simple piece of advice.
I believe it is advice which deserves serious consideration.
I warn, then, everyone who loves his soul, to be very jealous as to the preaching he regularly hears, and the place of worship he regularly attends.
He who deliberately settles down under any ministry which is positively unsound, is a very unwise man.
I will never hesitate to speak my mind on this point.
I know well that many think it a shocking thing for a man to forsake his parish church.
I cannot see with the eyes of such people.
I draw a wide distinction between teaching which is defective and teaching which is thoroughly false,
between teaching which errs on the negative side and teaching which is positively unscriptural.
But I do believe, if false doctrine is unmistakably preached in a parish church,
a parishioner who loves his soul is quite right in not going to that parish church.
To hear unscriptural teaching fifty-two Sundays in every year is a serious thing.
It is a continual dropping of slow poison into the mind.
I think it almost impossible for a man wilfully to submit himself to it, and not take harm.
I see in the New Testament we are plainly told to
“prove all things,” and “hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
I see in the Book of Proverbs that we are commanded to
“cease to hear the instruction which causeth to err from the paths of knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:27)
… Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion.
They weaken the cause of true Christianity.
They give occasion to the enemies of all godliness to blaspheme.
But before we blame people for them,
we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved.
False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism.
If people separate themselves from teaching which is positively false and unscriptural,
they ought to be praised rather than reproved.
In such cases, separation is a virtue and not a sin.
… Unity which is obtained by the sacrifice of truth is worth nothing.
It is not the unity which pleases God.
The Church of Rome boasts loudly of a unity which does not deserve the name.
It is unity which is obtained by taking away the Bible from the people, by gagging private judgment, by encouraging ignorance, by forbidding men to think for themselves.
… It was the false prophets who cried “Peace” when there was no peace.
Controversy in religion is a hateful thing. It is hard enough to fight the devil, the world, and the flesh, without private differences in our own camp.
But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy,
and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation.
It was controversy that won the battle of Protestant Reformation.
If the views that some men hold were correct,
it is plain we never ought to have had any Reformation at all?
For the sake of peace,
we ought to have gone on worshipping the Virgin, and bowing down to images and relics to this very day!
Away with such trifling!
There are times when controversy is not only a duty but a benefit.
Give me the mighty thunder storm rather than the pestilential malaria.
The one walks in darkness and poisons us in silence, and we are never safe.
The other frightens and alarms for a little season. But it is soon over, and it clears the air.
It is a plain Scriptural duty
to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3)
I am quite aware that the things I have said are exceedingly distasteful to many minds.
I believe many are content with teaching, which is not the whole truth, and fancy it will be “all the same” in the end.
I am sorry for them.
I am convinced that nothing but the whole truth is likely, as a general rule, to do good to souls.
I am satisfied that those who wilfully put up with anything short of the whole truth,
will find at last that their souls have received much damage.
Three things there are which men never ought to trifle with, a little poison, a little false doctrine, and a little sin.
“Unity in the abstract is no doubt an excellent thing:
but unity without truth is useless.
… Let us remember the praise He gives to one of the Churches in Revelation,
“I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false” (Revelation 2:2).
Let us remember the blame He casts on another,
“You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess” (Revelation 2:20). Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace.
In ‘The Truth War, Fighting for Certainty in an age of Deception,’
John MacArthur wrote:
“THE RISE OF ARIANISM AFTER ITS INITIAL DEFEAT
The fact that the council finally passed such a strong resolution against Arius was remarkable.
Several of the bishops at Nicea apparently remained sympathetic to Arius’s views. Many others (led by Eusebius) continued trying to hammer out a compromise that would accommodate both parties and restore Arius to his teaching position.
Constantine (emperor), who had no doctrinal agenda in the first place, revealed through his subsequent behavior that his concerns remained almost completely pragmatic.
Nonetheless, Arius’s adversaries clearly understood the real magnitude of the issues, and they were determined.
It was wise of them to let Arius’s own words, taken mostly from his published works, provide the strongest evidence against his view.
The council’s decision, though sudden, surprising, and in the view of some observers, premature, was the right decision, secured by God’s providence for the preservation of Christ’s true church.
Both the clear teaching of Scripture and the practically unanimous affirmation of every subsequent generation of believers gives testimony to that fact.
Arius was a wily (cunning) false teacher. Although the council’s condemnation of his views did not persuade him to change his mind, it did seem to motivate him to redouble his efforts.
With behind-the-scenes support of several influential church leaders, Arius staged an unrelenting campaign to plead for formal reinstatement to his ecclesiastical office.
More important, the unfavorable ruling of the council provoked Arius to alter his strategy in a significant way.
Without actually modifying his views, he worked hard to refine his language to make himself sound as orthodox as possible.
He insisted that he had been misunderstood and misrepresented.
He continued to profess his adherence to all the major creeds and apostolic doctrinal formulae.
He even occasionally claimed that he had no major disagreement with the Nicene Council’s position.
The actual difference between them was very slight, he insisted.
Of course, the Arian heresy was no insignificant matter at all.
The difference between Christ as God and a false christ who is merely a created being has enormous significance in every aspect of theology.
But Arius continued to defend his view, protest his excommunication, and fan the flames of controversy.
Over the course of time, he won much sympathy while managing to portray his adversaries as uncharitable obstructionists.
He succeeded in turning the politics of the dispute in his favor.
For one thing, the emperor himself grew wearier than ever of the argument and subsequently tried to use his power to persuade Arius’s critics to find a way to compromise and reinstate the heretic.
Within two years after Nicea, Constantine (emperor) apparently concluded that the hard-line position taken by the council was a mistake because it had not really settled the issue.
He declared amnesty for the Arian leaders and employed his enormous political clout against faithful bishops to try to enforce the amnesty.
He became frustrated when Athanasius refused to compromise with the Arians, and at one point, he forced Athanasius into exile.
Gradually, Constantine (emperor) grew increasingly contemptuous of Arian-ism’s adversaries.
When the emperor was finally baptized, it was an Arian bishop who performed the ritual.
As Arius grew more aggressive, what little opposition remained against his teaching gradually fell silent.
Within a decade after Nicea, popular opinion had clearly shifted toward sympathy for Arius, if not for his doctrine.
Over time, the campaign to receive him back into the church gained overwhelming popular support.
Meanwhile, public opinion against Arius’s adversaries became extremely severe.
Even when Arius died suddenly, eleven years after Nicea, popular sympathy for his doctrine continued to spread like leaven for several decades after that.
At one point, it seemed the whole church might become Arian.
In fact, much of the visible church in the fourth century (including a large number of bishops) did ultimately fall prey to Arianism in one way or another. (Even the bishop of Rome signed an Arian creed.)
Many who never formally affirmed the heresy were nonetheless perfectly willing to make peace with those who did.
Jerome, who lived and ministered when Arianism was at the peak of its popularity, recounted afterward that the whole world awoke with a groan, “astonished to find itself Arian.”
The voice in the church who continued to oppose Arianism most loudly was Athanasius.
He steadfastly refused, against intense political and ecclesiastical pressure, to settle the dispute by compromise.
He would not consent to the reinstatement of Arius.
He continued to write and preach about the deity of Christ.
When someone suggested to Athanasius that the whole world was against his unyielding, uncompromising stance in the controversy, he replied,
“Then I am against the world.”
To this day, the slogan “Athanasius contra mundum” (“Athanasius against the world”)
is the epitaph usually associated with his name.
He patiently and thoroughly refuted the Arian heresy point by point with Scripture.
He remained firm no matter what the cost to him personally.
In fact, over the course of his life, Athanasius was ultimately forced into exile no less than five times by a succession of emperors with strong Arian sympathies.
He died before seeing the full fruits of his labors,
but he is remembered today as one of the most courageous truth warriors the church has ever produced.
ARIANISM’S FINAL DEMISE
Even the sudden death of Arius did not instantly resolve the Arian crisis.
But perhaps it did mark the beginning of the end.
Arianism simply could not withstand biblical scrutiny in the long run.
Without Arius’s personal charisma, ability to shade word meanings, and skill at cleverly obscuring the seriousness of the error, Arianism’s real character became all too obvious.
The influence of this heresy soon began to decline and finally all but disappeared from mainstream Christianity.
The persistence and biblical commitment of Athanasius and a handful of others finally paid off.
A letter from Athanasius to a fellow bishop record how Arius met his end in Constantinople (emperor) in 336.
Arius had appealed directly to Constantine for formal reinstatement to the church.
By then, Constantine’s (emperor) eagerness to see Arius reinstated was well-known, and he agreed to a personal meeting with the heretic.
Constantine (emperor) listened to Arius swear that his faith was orthodox. The emperor then gave Arius a somewhat equivocal blessing:
“If your faith is orthodox, you have sworn well. But if your faith is impious and yet you have sworn, let God from heaven judge you.”
Although Constantine’s authority was civil and not ecclesiastical, the relationship between church and state under a Christian ruler was not an issue the church had dealt with before Constantine’s time.
Whether the emperor should have any kind of authority in church issues or not was a point that had not yet been adequately considered by most in the church.
Because of the emperor’s political clout, however, most bishops automatically deferred to his wishes as a matter of policy.
His words of blessing upon Arius may have been regarded by most bishops as a binding order to reinstate the heretic.
Arius certainly took it that way. He left his meeting with the emperor and went straight to the church to attempt to partake of Communion. There he was refused permission by the godly bishop of Constantinople.
Some of Arius’s friends, who were still members in good standing in the church immediately wrote a strong protest to the bishop.
As far as they were concerned, the emperor’s pronouncement was a formal and legal sanction that the bishop was obliged to honor. They announced that a large group of them intended to accompany Arius to the church on the following day to receive Communion together.
Athanasius records that the bishop of Constantinople prayed,
“If Arius is to be joined to the Church tomorrow, let me depart, and do not destroy the pious with the impious. But if you will take pity and spare the church… remove Arius, so that heresy may not come in with him, and impiety not be regarded as piety.”
According to Athanasius, Arius evidently emboldened by his audience with the emperor and his friends’ subsequent support, spent the afternoon making speeches and boasting of his impending triumph, until “compelled by a call of nature,” he quickly excused himself. Stricken by a sudden and violent attack of cholera, Arius died that very day.
Again, Arianism did not instantly die with him.
The error continued to trouble the church for at least a generation after that.
But finally, owing to the convincing biblical defense made by Athanasius, the poisonous effects of Arian doctrine itself,
and the rise of younger, more faithful men like Jerome to positions of influence in the church, the tide began to turn.
Within a hundred years, Arianism had all but died out.
Although Arianism persists even today in quasi-Christian groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, and a few lesser cults,
the demise of Arianism as a dominant force in church history
is a testimony to the power of one man’s faithful diligence in the Truth War.
God uses faithful warriors for the truth as His instruments to preserve the gospel for each succeeding generation.
Only the unfaithful have no interest in being useful to the Lord in that way.
My salvation and yours depends on a true understanding of Christ and who He is.
A false christ is a damning deception (1 John 4:15; 5:1, 5, 10–12, 20; 2 John 7–11).
The doctrine of Christ is no mere academic or secondary truth.
This whole episode is a prime lesson about how much is at stake in the Truth War.
It is also a classic example of how false teachers use subtlety to advance their cause.
WHY WE MUST KEEP OUR GUARD UP
The Arian conflict also exemplifies what kind of spiritual chaos false teachers can cause when the church becomes weary of conflict and decides to cease fighting for a season.
One of the main lessons of Jude’s epistle is that Christians must never cease fighting. We cannot pretend error is no longer worth battling in our generation. We should not imagine that the enemy has finally shifted into retreat mode. The war against the truth goes on continuously, unrelentingly, on multiple fronts – and it always has.
… In that regard, our era mirrors exactly what was happening in Athanasius’s time.
Multitudes have blithely declared all conflict and strife over doctrine in the church a thing of the past
– as if all the serious threats to the truth had already been vanquished and the church could now ignore the threat of ungodly false teachers who creep in unnoticed.
The reality is quite different.
The false church is growing.
Waves of apostasy are rolling higher and higher and higher as we move ever closer to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember that in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul indicates that the final cataclysmic earthly judgment (the day of the Lord) will be preceded by “the falling away”
– an era of apostasy, and a time of “unrighteous deception” (v. 10, emphasis added)
more widespread and more spiritually devastating than anything the world has ever seen.
The ages-old war against truth is simply setting the stage for that final, desperate uprising.
All of history has been one long, steady march to that goal.
It is now closer than it has ever been.”
Rev George Ong