False Teachers

Comparing Two Religions (that go by the same name)

Yesterday I saw a clip¹ of a well-known “preacher” declaring/demanding with his congregation that God’s material blessings would rain down upon them. With gusto, they prayed that God would give them money in its various different forms. It was disturbing. To say the least. I couldn’t help but contrast this to a couple of sermons² on suffering that I was listening to by my brother, Pastor Dean Good, a bit later.

And that’s when it hit me: It’s really not all that difficult to tell true Christianity from the fake Christianity. 

In the simplest of terms, True Christianity is God-centered and Fake Christianity is self-centered. But let’s unpack it a bit more, shall we?

True Christianity is God-centered. It is about the depraved and wretched sinner finding peace with God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on the cross (John 3:16), turning away from their former, sinful lusts and now living for God (Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 3:7). To elaborate further, its message is denying self, taking up your cross, and following hard after Christ (Luke 9:23); it is submitting to God’s will and obeying His Word (James 4:7; John 14:15). It is focused on eternal glory rather than temporal reward (Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 3:2). It is a desire to be holy that supersedes the desire to be happy (I Peter 1:15-16) It is understanding that our citizenship is in heaven and we are pilgrims and sojourners on this earth (Hebrews 11:13; I Peter 2:11). It is focused on sharing the Gospel and sharing the truth of God’s Word (Romans 10:15; I Timothy 2:4).

Let’s contrast this to the fake Christianity that has overtaken most Christian churches, bookstores, music, and conferences these days–

Fake Christianity is self-centered. It is about a hurting, lonely human being going to God to get their needs met. It is about continuing in sin and declaring God’s approval upon that sin. It is about coddling self, following your dreams, and following hard after your heart. It is ignoring God’s will and His Word. It is focused on temporal gain rather than eternal reward. It is focused on personal happiness. And its focus is on this earth’s citizenship, with much energy put towards fixing the world and making it a better place.

The two religions are as opposite as day and night. And, in fact, one is pure LIGHT and the other is pitch black.

We want to pretend like there is not that big of a difference between the two and that it is a complicated thing to discern. Honestly, most of us just want to ignore it all. We do this because so many family and friends we love and respect are caught up in the fake. We may even be caught up in the fake ourselves.

And so we don’t want to declare it’s fakeness, because the consequences of doing so will be painful and costly.

Can I tell you the honest truth? I have been caught up in the fake at times. Perhaps we all have.

When I say it’s not difficult to tell the difference between the true and the fake, that is true. But it can grow fuzzy to us sometimes– mainly because we want what we want. Let me explain.

None of us wants to deny self. It goes against everything inside us to do so. And yet, this is what we are called to do as believers. We are not called to this without help. Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to our aid. Our desires are gradually changed so that we not only desire to do what’s right but we begin to understand the reward in turning from sin and pleasing God. But the flesh always resides in us and we are always in a battle against it.

And so, even as believers, we can get caught up in sin and deceit. We desire something and we know it is not God’s will. Or we hold a relationship with a person more dear than we hold our relationship with Christ. Or we choose to gratify our flesh (eating too much, going places we know do not please God, watching sin on a screen, wearing clothing that is immodest, lashing out in anger, gnawing endlessly on that favored worry or fear, choosing to hold a grudge, etc, etc.) and, suddenly, we are full-out focused on self.

And, in this state, we will often find ourselves rationalizing, excusing, and leaning into that fake Christianity that would give us reasons to do what we want to do.

So, no, it’s not difficult to tell the difference between the only true Religion of light and the religion of darkness that goes by the same name. But, yes, it can be hard to actually admit the difference.

To the unbeliever, true Christianity sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I mean we really can understand why the unregenerate flock to the Christianity designed to please self, puff up self, fulfill self. That is what the natural man wants to do.

It isn’t until the Lord fills us with His light that understanding and insight come. It will never make sense to give up everything to gain nothing in this world unless the Spirit opens our eyes to the Truth. Well, let me rephrase that: We gain nothing that looks important to anyone in this world. We do gain much, even in this temporal life lived on earth. We gain peace and joy that is based on the Lord, rather than circumstances. We gain the daily tender care and loving-kindness of the God of the universe. We gain the Comforter and the Helper. And so much more!

If you are burdened for someone caught up in the fake Christianity, pray that God would open their eyes. Pray that He would show them how little they have to lose and how much they have to gain! And if we, ourselves, struggle with releasing our grip on this world and desire that fool’s gold of false religion, then let’s pray for ourselves, as well–that God would show us, through our study of His Word, that following Him is worth it, no matter the cost!

 

 

¹Bill Johnson and Bethel Church pray to the god of Mammon

 

²Sermons from I Peter 4 by Pastor Dean Good (so worth listening to!) —

The Exaltation of Jesus Christ (Part 2)
Following the Example of Christ

Next in the series (for anyone who wants to listen):

Following Christ in His Rejection (Part 1)
Following Christ in His Rejection (Part 2)

 

 

A Lesson from the Candy Store

The colorful exterior drew our eyes. We had stopped next door and so we decided to walk into the colorful building, which was full of candy. Lots and lots of candy. Everywhere you looked was candy — Gummy candy, hard candy, jelly beans, Pez, vintage candy, ice cream…you name it, it was there.

We wandered a bit and let the grandkids each pick out a Pez. I didn’t see anything that really struck me in the expensive candy shop so I was prepared to walk out without anything—until I spotted the wall of jelly bellies. I don’t actually love regular jelly beans but these always tempt me. I don’t know how they make those jelly bellies so flavorful but somehow they do. I looked at the big red containers holding those beans. They were surrounded by jelly belly advertisements and jelly belly pre-made containers.

What struck my eye were the new flavors. I had never seen jelly bellies such as these before. Oh, these would be fun to try! I grabbed a small plastic bag and grabbed a few beans from each of the containers that struck my fancy.

We paid for our candy and left the store. In the truck, I eagerly opened my plastic bag and pulled out a bean and stuck it in my mouth.

Ohhh…yuck! Just yuck!

“These are not genuine jelly bellies,” I said with disappointed disgust.

“Really?” Asked my husband.

“Nope, definitely not,” I tried a couple more just to make sure.

Where had I gone wrong? What should have warned me?

Well, the unusual flavors were a definite warning sign. Why would that store have flavors I’ve never seen before in even the 49 flavor bags of these famous jelly bellies? How dumb of me not to have thought of that.

And then as I thought of the red containers, I remembered that nowhere on them had they claimed to be jelly bellies. They were just surrounded by the words “jelly bellies” to lead people to believe that what the large containers held was genuine.

I had been deceived.

I was out of a few dollars and given a dose of humility. It was what it was. Not a big deal in the scope of life.

But as I was thinking about this yesterday, it came to me that this is a great example of how we get fooled spiritually, too.

False teachers like to surround themselves with those who appear genuine and many times probably are genuine (which is probably a good part of the reason why Paul and John are so adamant that we can never be friends and conference partners with false teachers. See Romans 16:17 and 2 John 1:9-11).

False teachers also like to look just like the genuine. They appear so similar that it is hard to see the difference.

Unless…

You realize they are offering different flavors. They are offering interpretations of scripture that veer from the traditional interpretation. They change the meaning of a word or they change the definition of a long held doctrine.

It is easy to get duped by false teachers these days. They are everywhere. They look real on the surface. And they are so often surrounded by those we would call “Solid Bible Teachers”, who give them credence.

They are like that candy that looks genuine. Smells genuine. Is surrounded by the genuine. But this is not candy. And we have much more to lose.

So may we all be smarter spiritually than I was in that candy store. May we pray for discernment and wisdom as we navigate the veritable smorgasbord of false teachers who twist scripture and change the truth of God’s Word; teachers that are nowhere close to genuine Christianity despite their label of “Christian.” 

 

 

What Makes You Really Angry?

I think we’ve all been angry at some point or other. There are probably some universal causes of anger–such as inept or rude customer service representatives; arguing children; or being betrayed by someone you trusted.

And then there are some causes of anger that seem to be more related to our personalities. Some people get angry at laziness or lack of common sense in those around them. Others get angry at circumstances beyond their control. Some people get plain mad at God when things don’t go their way.

We know that anger is not a righteous emotion. Most of the time.

There is that little caveat in Ephesians 4:26 where it says, “Be angry and do not sin.” This means there is sometimes a righteous cause for anger.

What is something that should make us very angry?

As I was studying in preparation for my upcoming study of Galatians, I realized that the main thing that should make us angry is any attack on the Gospel. Read these verses to see just how serious this is–

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert[a] the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be [b]accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-10)

These are not simply Paul’s words but these are God’s words. We can see from these verses that God takes an attack on the Gospel very seriously. Let anyone who warps and twists the true Gospel be accursed (which means devoted to destruction; imprecate evil or misery upon.)

Has the deluge of false gospels being pandered today made us immune? What other reason can there be that Christians aren’t up in arms regarding the countless attacks on the true Gospel? Why aren’t we defending it and refusing to allow the lies to creep in? Even in to our own “Bible-believing” churches?

What must God think?

I am not sure I ever really gave this much thought until reflecting on these verses yesterday (and listening to some sermons regarding these verses.)

There are two specific ways the Gospel gets perverted. Every perversion falls under one of these two.

First, there is grace plus works (legalism) perversion. ANY presentation or teaching regarding the Gospel that adds any works is not the true Gospel. This means that if you “need to get baptized” to be saved, it’s a false gospel. If you need to take communion or pray to saints in order to be assured of your salvation, it’s a false gospel. If you need to eat certain things, wear certain things, do anything to be saved, it is a false gospel.

Second, there is the hyper-grace (licentiousness) perversion. This perversion denies the many passages that call us to live a life pleasing to Christ. It denies that we become a new creation in Christ and, instead, says that, since we are no longer under law, anything goes. Here the Gospel is given without the message of sin and repentance. It is more focused on fire insurance rather than a lost and hopeless sinner’s reconciliation with God. Say a prayer and be saved–no fruit necessary, according to this false gospel.

These false gospels are dealt with all throughout scripture but in Galatians, Paul speaks specifically to both of them. Think with me for a moment what you know about many who lump themselves in with the modern day religion of “Christianity”. What do they teach about the Gospel?

If they are not preaching the true Gospel as is clearly presented in scripture they are not actually our brother and sisters in Christ. And this should upset us! This should make us mourn for the thousands–millions–who believe a lie about their eternal destiny. Not only do they believe a lie –but they believe a lie under the guise of Christianity and true Christians are not doing anything about it. Instead, they are encouraging them in their false faith and joining with them, declaring that “we are siblings in Christ”.

This is simply appalling! When you really think about it–could there be anything more unloving than allowing someone to believe they are truly saved– when they aren’t??

But we tend to get more upset about a spilled drink or an unexpected bill than we do about this tragedy taking place across the globe. Oh, how self-centered we are. How self-centered I am.

If we believe the true Gospel, then we need to not only live by it but pay attention when there is a departure from it. We need to stop making excuses and rationalizing away the damning differences. Like Paul, we should be up in arms and ready to defend the Gospel boldly and courageously!

 

*I have a page on the blog called “What is the Gospel?”, where we take a look at what scripture has to teach us about this subject. You can find it here.

*In 2016, I wrote about in some detail regarding some common false gospels. You can find that post here.

*I am looking very forward to my study of this book. If you are in the 2022 Growing4Life Bible Reading Challenge, I hope you are looking forward to it, as well. And if you aren’t in the challenge, it’s not too late to join for the rest of the year. Find out more information here.

 

The Power of Social Media

I was following a woman on Instagram who filled her stories with interesting information. Most of it I already knew. Some of it was new. And I was skeptical of quite a bit of it, as well. But she talked about Jesus and the Bible and the return of Christ and, so it seemed, even if a bit misguided, that she was fairly solid.

Until the day she had her followers ask her questions.

Oh, my, what a mess! She was encouraging mysticism while warning against mysticism. It would have been comical if it wasn’t so sad. She was speaking of Christ and His coming, while turning the attention of her followers to the books that “didn’t make it into the Bible” along with scripture. Oh, the danger of this! She is clearly so confused and I can’t help but think of the many women she is leading into confusion right along with her by answering those questions with authority and as if she knows.

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

(I Corinthians 14:33)

And then, recently, we have been watching many in the reformed crowd, who have been historical amillennialists (believe we are in the millennium right now) turn post-millennial (believe we need to prepare the earth for Christ’s return before the millennium can start). What does this mean? Well, simply put, it means that these powerful presences on social media are encouraging their followers to change the culture and fix the world in preparation for Christ’s return.

For example, Dale Partridge, well-known and trusted by many believers, recently said this (emphasis mine):

“Sadly, the “Left Behind” series has shaped America’s eschatology more than scripture has. As a result, the church has become chronically pessimistic, disengaged, and now embraces a culture where we wait for decay rather than work toward dominion. Do not retreat, revive!”

Wait…what?? There are Christians who actually believe this? Yes, many. Maybe most of them now.

He is accusing the eschatology (the doctrine of last, or final, matters) of Left Behind as being unbiblical. While I don’t necessarily condone the movies; the ideas of the rapture, tribulation, and thousand-year reign are clearly in scripture.

If Partridge doesn’t believe this, then what does he believe IS scriptural? From that quote, we must assume it is the false doctrine of Dominionism. This is the false teaching that we must prepare the earth and build God’s Kingdom before Christ can return. (I probably should write about this false teaching of Post-Millennialism/Dominionism so you can see that this is clearly not in scripture, no matter how many people say it is.)

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

(2 Timothy 3:1)

 

But here’s my point of this post: Christians are being swayed and confused by those they follow on social media. I gave two examples but there are thousands more like them. Christians have followed these people and have found them to be biblical. They have grown to trust them for truth. They view their opinions as authoritative without ever going to the Bible to check if what they say is true. And I understand. It is a lot easier to scroll through social media than it is to get out your Bible and study it. It just is.

But if we have little knowledge of the Bible, then we will be unable to judge if what we are hearing is actually true. Most of us have also never been taught church history so it is easy to imbibe the lies that we read on social media or hear from our favorite authors and speakers.

One such example is the lie that the pre-trib rapture/pre-millennial eschatology is a “new” theory. It’s actually not. There are examples of many from the early church who believed in both the rapture and a literal millennium (It was called Chiliasm back then). It wasn’t until Augustine spiritualized the Old Testament that the eschatology of the church went impossibly askew. But most people don’t know this. I didn’t know this myself until only recently when I finally took the time to delve into the subject because the confusion around it is growing exponentially.

So, my caution for today is that we take great care in who we follow. If someone is talking about fixing the culture or building God’s Kingdom, be wary. If someone is talking about kooky, extra-biblical stuff and taking the focus off of scripture, be wary. If someone says something “new” from scripture that you’ve never heard before, don’t only be wary but research it.

This phenomenon of social media is scary. People can become “famous” overnight. They can go viral just because they put up a cute or compelling video. Just because someone can make a reel or gives interesting information does not mean that they can be trusted. Just because someone has an immense following on social media does not mean they can be trusted.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that where there is popularity there is truth. But I have personally found the opposite to be true: Run the opposite direction of the crowd if you want to find the truth.

So be careful. Be oh, so careful, who you follow. And do your own Bible Study. Do your own study of Christian history. I know, for many of you, your immediate response is probably “but that’s not my ‘thing’ “. I know it is not everyone’s “thing”. But, quite honestly, I am not sure, in this current age, that we can afford to say that anymore. The deception is growing exponentially and the bottom line is this: LIES can only be overcome with TRUTH.

Many of us have viewed eschatology as a “secondary issue” and thought it didn’t matter all that much. But we are finding out that it matters a great deal. For Satan is using wrong eschatology to prepare the world for the antichrist system.

May we be diligent and persevere in our study of God’s Word. May we be dedicated to interpreting it literally, grammatically, historically. May we be willing to do the work to test EVERYTHING by the Bible. May we be willing to research historical statements when necessary. May we be willing to stand strong, no matter the ridicule we get.

And may we gladly join the unpopular remnant in believing what the Bible clearly teaches: The rapture is close and the Tribulation is just around the corner.

It may be a negative message for the world, but for those who are redeemed, it’s the most positive message we could ask for at this juncture!

 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

(Titus 2:11-14)

 

The Apostate Church

Sometimes it is only when we take some time to reflect on the past that we can see the vastness of the change that has occurred. Take our own kids, for example. We live with them day by day, hour by hour, but we never specifically notice their legs growing longer or their brain maturing. It’s not until they’ve grown up that we think through all the various changes and stages and recognize the enormity of the change. Or take a struggling marriage. Little by little, couples grow apart and possibly turn to others for comfort rather than to each other. It is not until it becomes painfully obvious that the couple stops and wonders how they got to where they are.

All change is like that and enormous change is no exception.

A few years ago, I was talking with my oldest daughter about the many changes that are taking place in the church. She told me that Uncle Dean’s (Pastor Dean Good) series on Jude was so helpful in regards to this subject. Preached in 2009, it gives a great picture of what the church of the last days will look like and gave her much insight.

So I listened. And then I listened another time. And this past week, I’ve listened one more time.

(If you’d like to listen, you will find the series here. Scroll down to the bottom for the first sermon of the series, titled Living in the Midst of the Worldly Church, and then work your way up.)

You see, God doesn’t just leave us wondering what the last days will look like. He actually gives us a picture. And He tells us that as we approach the end of this age, the church will become, by and large, apostate.

So you may be wondering: What does apostate mean, anyway?

Apostate, in this context, means to abandon true, biblical faith.

So, think with me if you will of how this has happened (this is not from the sermon series but from my own reflection of history.). This change has occurred –not over the last five years, not over the last twenty years, but over the last century or more. The change has been so gradual that most of us never took much notice. At first, it was just certain denominations that abandoned biblical faith. Others would soon follow suit. But there was still a core hanging on. For most of the 1900s, there was this core of evangelical, fundamental churches that hung on to sound biblical doctrine.

I was born in the 1960s. By the time I reached high school that core was starting to be carefully and intentionally corroded. But I, along with millions of other believers, had no idea. Now, I can look back and see. The worship battles that took place in churches all over the country were part of that change. As was the “purpose-driven” (or can you say BUSINESS) model for operating a church. The push to move the church’s focus from the Bible to personal experience was not an accident. Neither was the insistence that we must be “relevant” if we were going to reach the lost (a lie from the pit of hell.)

We can probably all look back and see signs of change. Now. We couldn’t see it then. Because we didn’t know.

I remember my youth pastor showing us worldly movies as a “youth activity” in the 80s. And I remember a pastor bringing in the Purpose-Driven church book to the board my husband was serving on. I can see now that many of the “Christian” books I read and the “Christian” music I listened to were filled with mysticism and all other kinds of false (but oh, so subtle) doctrine.

But, as with any change, I couldn’t see it then. It is only in looking back that I can see these signs (and so many others) of a church that was falling into apostasy.

And this is where Pastor Dean’s sermon series was so helpful. Because God gives us a description of this church of the last days. And it matches perfectly to what we have been seeing take place, not only in America but across the world. This simply serves as one more reminder that the time is short. Eschatologically, the mainstream “church” is just where we are told she will be at the end of the age. Remember, this is not the true Church, which is the bride of Christ that contains the remnant of those following the true, biblical faith. This is, rather, an apostate version that uses all the right terms and phrases but is godless.

Titus describes these types of people in chapter 1, verse 16–

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being [d]abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Lots of “professions” of salvation but no turning from sin or from the world. This is an indication that a true life transformation has not occurred. When these “professors” gather together in groups and call themselves a church, they make each other comfortable in their worldliness and acceptance of sin. They gladly grab on to the pleasant promises of God’s Word (if they pay attention to the Word at all) but ignore or rationalize away any of the unpleasant parts.

The church of today (almost without exception) is a church focused on self instead of God. It is a church focused on experiences instead of the Bible. It is a church that views discernment and negative words as evil and instead warmly accepts any and all new fodder that has a the label of “Christian”. And it is a church focused on embracing the world instead of separating from the world.

There are few churches left –even the ones we have counted on to be solid– that have stood firm against the tsunami of change that has washed over evangelicalism.

I was struck when I was studying Titus last week. Chapter 1 gives this qualification for church elders:  holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

If church elders would have obeyed this scripture, many churches would have been saved. Instead, they were caught up in other trivial matters as the serpent stole his way into the hearts of the churches.

Because of the lateness of the hour, there is no saving the church as a whole. But, with God’s help, you pastors and elders can save your own churches and you moms and dads can save your own families.

So what to do? Jude helps us! Let’s take a look at verses 20-23–

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And on some have compassion, [j]making a distinction; 23 but others save [k]with fear, pulling them out of the [l]fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

First, we must build ourselves up in the faith through prayer. We cannot withstand this Tsunami of apostasy without Bible study and prayer. It is truly our only anchor in this unprecedented and giant wave of change. And we must persevere, keeping ourselves in the love of God through our submission and obedience, as we look for Christ’s return that will take us to our eternal home.

And then we act. We take whatever opportunities God gives us to help. Sometimes that will mean showing compassion on doubters as we take them to the Word and other times it will mean snatching individuals from the serious danger of apostasy. The wisdom of what is needed for each opportunity will only come through walking closely with God through prayer and Bible Study.

So this is what God has told us to do as we navigate these last days. But Jude doesn’t end there. He goes on to give these marvelous words to conclude (verses 24-25)–

24 Now to Him who is able to keep [m]you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To [n]God our Savior,
[o]Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and [p]power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.

What an amazing reminder that it is God who works in and through us for His glory. And we cannot stumble if He is our guide. And, while our path may be difficult during earth’s final days, the day will come when we will be presented faultless before the throne–only because of Christ’s sacrifice. And then there is this wonderful reminder that the God we serve has all wisdom, glory, majesty, dominion, and power. We are loved and protected by the one and only God of the Universe. It’s an awesome thought.

And so we are not left without counsel and wisdom for where we find ourselves in these days–even if we feel lost and lonely in our own church. As Pastor Dean has said–expect to be persecuted by those who call themselves Christians. True, biblical faith is not and will never be popular (John 15:18-19). True biblical faith stands clearly separated from the world (James 4:4). True, biblical faith grows in holiness (I Peter 1:15-16). And true biblical faith avoids false doctrine (Romans 16:17).

As we compare these things above to the church of today, we can see the tragic departure from true biblical faith. May we unapologetically and courageously follow God’s Word as we strive to walk with God in this unique time of history. Only by God’s grace and mercy will we survive what is ahead. But God is able to keep us from stumbling! He will not forsake us.

 

 

The Sick Toddler

The mother eyed her whimpering toddler with grave concern. He had stopped crying. Like he had run out of the energy to even cry. That couldn’t be good.

“I think it’s time you take him to the doctor,” her husband said worriedly. The young couple had watched their little son grow worse and worse over the past two days.

Within a short time, the mother had the feverish baby strapped into his car seat and was on her way to the doctor. Every once in a while she’d look in the rear-view mirror to check on him. She grew more worried with each passing mile. What was wrong with him?

When she got to the doctor’s office, she was ushered into a room right away. Holding the hot and limp little boy, she prayed. Soon the doctor was examining him. His expression grew concerned. He sighed, stood up, and turned to the mother.

He explained what was wrong with the baby and said he had medicine to help the baby. The effect would be immediate. But there was a big problem.

“What is it?” said the mother with trepidation.

“The medicine tastes awful,” the doctor spoke as if this mattered, “he might not like it.”

“I don’t care. Make my baby well. Give him the medicine,” urged the mother.

Good health was more important than pleasant-tasting medicine to the mother who loved her son more than she loved herself.

It was more important that he be healthy than that he be happy in that moment.

I heard this illustration on a sermon series by Dr. John Whitcomb today (I’ll include the link below). I felt compelled to share in hopes that this would help you understand why the Bible clearly commands us to expose false teachers. It isn’t about dividing the Body of Christ. It never has been. It’s about loving and protecting the Body of Christ.

A few days ago I put a post on Facebook about a false teacher. He’s much beloved and, as expected, I lost many followers. Some expressed their disgust that I would share something negative about this man. The conclusion is always the same: You are absolutely sinful and wrong to do this.

But is this what the Bible actually says? Does the Bible clearly show that it is unloving and sinful to expose a false teacher? We know it doesn’t when we compare this premise to scripture. (I have written about this in the past so I won’t repeat what I wrote but you can go here for that post.) But let’s dig a little deeper into the why. Why does God want us to expose false teachers? Why does it matter?

The truth is like that awful-tasting medicine. It doesn’t taste good and, as humans, we’d just prefer not to have it. But the truth is the only thing that can keep us spiritually healthy.

There is a spiritual pandemic going on and it’s sweeping across this land and into the utter parts of the earth. It’s a pandemic of wrong beliefs without any biblical basis. It’s a pandemic of strong opinions dominated by personal experience. It’s a pandemic of declarations and prophesies and zero doctrine. The landscape is simply littered with teachers who twist and warp scripture as they shout their opinions and ideas from well-lit stages to packed auditoriums.

This has led to many sick Christians. They are sick because they are listening to and heeding false teachers. And there are so few who are willing to speak up.

But just like that mother who loved her baby enough to give him bad-tasting medicine so that he could be well, so, too, should we love our siblings in Christ enough to tell them the truth.

For only when we know the truth can we begin to be spiritually healthy. The truth truly will set you free.

Jesus said this in John 8:31-32–

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Do you notice that the truth is only known by abiding in His Word? The Bible isn’t just an old book. It’s where we find the truth. It has been provided to give us a litmus test by which to test everything. It is the tool given to us to examine ourselves and to examine any teacher, author, or preacher that comes our way.

And so, if we truly love and care about the body of Christ we must speak up. For only this is truly love.

“Niceness” and pleasant words will never prove your love. For love is proven by actions. As we can see from the illustration above, this mother loved her son enough to frustrate his desires in the short-term because she really cared about him in the long-term. Is this any less true in the spiritual realm? What an important lesson for us all.

Look, I don’t have this down. By no means am I saying follow my example, for I have such a long way to go. The fact that it took me so long to write about Disney (which is so obviously occultic) shows me that I am certainly not immune to compromising in order to please people. Oh, that we may all (myself included) be encouraged to love people enough to speak the truth, no matter the cost.

And so I write to encourage us all. May we be loyal only to God. May we be willing to risk reputations, friendships, and whatever necessary to speak the truth for the sake of sick and hurting siblings. And may we remember that we aren’t perfect. Sometimes it is us who is sick. Let’s be willing to listen when someone speaks truth to us as well!

For only through Truth–both speaking it and listening to it— will the Body of Christ be healthy and unified in the way God intended.

 

 

Here is the excellent series by John Whitcomb that I referred to above:

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 1)

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 2)

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 3)

 

 

IF: Gathering: A Biblical Evaluation

Normally when my daughter, Jess, posts on her Anchor for the Soul Facebook page, I will repost on my page over there and then wait a few days (and sometimes a few weeks) to post it here on the blog. However, what you find written here today was on her page late last night. I knew I wanted to get this information into your hands as soon as possible. This IF movement has a lot of steam and is very popular and their gathering is coming up soon.

Although you may already be aware that something is off with this movement, you may not be sure how to discuss this with the women in your life who adore it. What you find written here will easily explain why all biblically sound Christian women should stay far, far away from the IF:Gathering.

I hope what Jess writes below is a blessing to you as you seek to please the Lord above all else and to be a light for Him in the ever-darkening, false religion that they call “Christianity”.

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The IF: Gathering was founded by Jennie Allen in 2014. The name is inspired by the question, “If God is real…then what?” and exists to “equip women to fulfill their calling.” It’s a weekend conference that women can attend in-person or livestream with a group in their home or local church. I’ve received a few questions about the gathering and since IF: 2022 is coming up in 2 weeks, I thought it was a good time to answer them. Is it biblically sound? Is it something we can benefit from or something to be avoided? I researched each speaker at the gathering and found an easy – and discouraging – answer.

Before we begin, I’m assuming these 7 things about you as a reader. If you agree with them, then you will absolutely share my concerns over the list of speakers and what they preach and believe.

1. Women aren’t permitted to preach in church (1 Tim 2:12-14)
2. Social justice isn’t a Biblical concept and we can’t seek to resolve racism in any way apart from the Gospel changing individual hearts.
3. Direct revelation from God is no longer occurring. (Rev 22:18)
4. The NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) and Prosperity Gospel movements are unbiblical and must be avoided.
5. We do not seek to unify with other faiths or denominations that compromise the truth. Truth always trumps unity. (Matt 10:34)
6. Dominion theology is false. The Bible is clear that the world will become worse and worse, not better, as the last days approach.
7. There should be no partnering with false teachers (Romans 16:17, 2 John 9-11)

J𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐞 𝐀𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧 – founder of the IF gathering, the idea was born after she heard a “voice from the sky” (that she attributes to God) telling her to gather and equip her generation. She’s a proponent of extra-biblical revelation, spiritual formation practices, unity over truth, women pastors, and dominion theology. Her dream guide states that “when we create and thrive for the good of others, you’re participating in God’s redemptive work of making the world better.” Her end goal always seems to be making the world a better place. What speaks the loudest against her, however, is those she invites to speak at the IF: Gathering.

𝐂𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐞 – an ordained pastor who preaches at various churches across the globe. She is rooted in the NAR and the prosperity gospel. She calls Joyce Meyer her spiritual mentor and “prayed for an impartation of that teaching anointing and revelation” as she placed her hand on Meyer’s Bible. Her association with false teachers is inexcusable – she is officially part of the Hillsong church and has partnered with Joel Osteen, Paula White, TD Jakes, Beth Moore, and many others.

𝐉𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐀𝐥𝐲𝐬𝐬𝐚 𝐁𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐤𝐞 – they are proponents of ecumenism (especially the joining of Catholicism and Christianity), social justice, and dominion theology. Jefferson stated that the book of Revelation is simply “apocalyptic literature showing the evil of empire versus the goodness of the reign of God.” He’s partnered with multiple false teachers.

𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐋𝐚𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐧 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐥𝐞𝐫 – Matt has recently jumped on the charismatic bandwagon, preaching about visions or “spiritual impressions” and our requirement to share those with others as a “word from the Lord.” He’s also a champion of social justice, often talking about white privilege and the inconsistencies and ignorance within the white church. He preached about the need for affirmative action within the church. He berates those who criticize CRT or the Black Lives Matter movement – claiming “their brains are broke” and that they’ve “given up on justice.” He believes God can eliminate racism as we partner with the world to reform the broken system.

𝐋𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐚 𝐌𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐧 – at a CRU event in 2019, she led a prayer to the stadium full of people where they repeated a prayer of lament for white privilege and systematic injustice in which they were “compliant.” Her book, 𝐵𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐵𝑟𝑖𝑑𝑔𝑒, claims that Christians refuse to actively repent for their failure “to be a credible witness of racial reconciliation.” She claims we all need to “explore our family’s history to discover ways in which you or your ancestors have been complicit in racism” and then make reparations for that. She says that guilt and shame are “communal” and that it’s a sin to benefit from structural privilege. She never talks about the gospel as being the only true solution.

𝐆𝐚𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐑𝐞𝐛𝐞𝐤𝐚𝐡 𝐋𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐬 – founder of “Q”, an organization that attempts to unite Christianity and other faith groups to bring about change through the “seven channels of cultural influence.” The organization has partnered with false teachers and many from the Catholic church. Gabe Lyons commended the IF: Gathering for “not getting into doctrine” especially over women’s roles within the church.

𝐉𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐢 𝐇𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐲 – a popular Christian figure who is slowly drifting away from Biblical theology. She has recently recanted her participation in “the American Gospel” (a documentary showing the falsity of the prosperity gospel) saying that she “deeply dislikes the tribalism and theological superiority those types of films encourage.” She’s become a proponent for Social Justice and has defended her partnership with Bethel, Hillsong, and other false teachers.

𝐒𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐞 𝐑𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐇𝐮𝐟𝐟 – a rising star in the Christian world, she speaks a very me-centered Gospel. She talks a lot about your worth, dreams, goals, confidence, and the importance of “being you” and very little about sin, repentance, and denying yourself. God is all love and no judgement.

𝐀𝐧𝐧 𝐕𝐨𝐬𝐤𝐚𝐦𝐩 – in her book, she says she “flies to Paris to discover how to make love to God.” She writes that “God makes love with grace upon grace, every moment a making of His love for us. Couldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve, Spirit skin to spirit skin?” The rest of the book is filled with similar verbiage. Besides this abominable erotic language toward a holy God, she is a big proponent for new-age and Catholic-influenced mysticism and believes that God is in all things (panentheism).

𝐃𝐫. 𝐀𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐚 𝐏𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐩𝐬 – a psychologist specializing in trauma, she has partnered with TD Jakes and spoke at his “Woman Thou are Loosed” conference. She hosted a black-only gathering for racial trauma at Saddleback Church and has also partnered with Oprah. She promotes social justice and CRT and has terrible theology all around.

𝐓𝐨𝐧𝐢 𝐂𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐫 – co-pastor of the Hillsong Atlanta church, she originally served at Andy Stanley’s church and has expressed her admiration for him. Proponent of social justice and the NAR movement.

𝐋𝐚𝐲𝐥𝐚 𝐃𝐞 𝐋𝐚 𝐆𝐚𝐫𝐳𝐚 – pastor of a church in Mexico and is “passionate about creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.”

𝐉𝐚𝐝𝐚 𝐄𝐝𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐬 – another pastor who previously attended Tony Evan’s church where she has returned to preach on occasion.

𝐉𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐞 𝐈𝐯𝐞𝐲 – she has a podcast that hosts a variety of questionable guests including Beth Moore, Russell Moore, Mike Todd, Max Lucado, and Amy Grant. Another champion of the ecumenical movement.

𝐁𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐚 𝐎𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐟𝐟 – another pastor who is a big proponent of NAR and Dominion theology. She claims that where the Spirit of God is, there is “unity, prosperity, equality, and supernaturally.”

Because of these many red flags, I cannot recommend the IF: Gathering. It’s simply bound to push social justice, ecumenism, and the NAR movement. Please note that because of limited space, the information above is very basic. I could’ve written an entire post about each person. I encourage you to research on your own and feel free to comment or contact me for resources. Compare what you find with the Word of God. I’m not judging the heart or motivation of any of these speakers. I’m not saying they’ve never said anything true or helpful. I’m simply bringing to light the many concerns associated with them so that you can make a wise choice and help other women in your circle do the same. I pray that it is helpful and encourages you to stand firm on the rock of God’s Truth even when everyone else is stumbling off the edge.

 

(The above was written by my oldest daughter, Jess, and originally posted on her Anchor for the Soul pages at Instagram and Facebook.)

 

Why Should You Study the Bible?

Sometimes I sit down to write a post and I just have…nothing. What can I write that hasn’t already been said? At that point, it might be best to just walk away. But I have found that disciplining myself to write something is a good exercise for me. And sometimes that something ends up being one of my best posts. In fact, it was one of those that went viral a few years back and grew the blog beyond anything I ever expected.

I can’t promise that same kind today, but I have decided to take a few moments this morning to share a few of the ways Bible Study has changed my life and why it is so beneficial and necessary for all believers.

For me it all started back in 2012. We had recently left our church and I felt bereft of ministry. I was talking with a friend and she said if you start a Bible Study I will come. This was my venture into actual Bible Study. Up until that point I was like the average Christian who read a few verses and then the devotional someone had written about it. I was faithful to church and I knew the basic gist of biblical Christianity.

However, I was not all that familiar with my Bible and I had never read it through. I had never just studied a book of the Bible (aside from my years in a Christian college for a grade).

One of the first books I remember studying was I Peter. I was flabbergasted at just how much there was in there to learn. So much I didn’t know!

In 2014, I finally read the Bible through from cover to cover. In 2015, I offered a chronological read-through of the Bible as a challenge to you, my readers. In 2017, I began to offer Bible Reading Challenges every year. While I can’t be sure how beneficial these challenges have been in the lives of my readers, I can definitely say that the impact they have had on me has been tremendous. Because I am organizing and administrating the challenges I can’t cop out when I get too busy. Somehow, I must continue to make time to study the Word. People are counting on me.

Eventually, I got to the point where I wouldn’t want to miss out for anything. I prayed that God would give me a love for His Word and I can see that He has answered that prayer over the course of the last ten years.

I am nothing special. I was reading my pleasant devotionals and desiring to do what’s right. Just like most genuine believers. I had never made time to study or memorize the Word and this was a huge hindrance in my growth as a believer.

I didn’t realize that carrying a Bible or reading a few out-of-context verses or listening to wonderful Bible sermons–while all good and even helpful– was not the same thing as actually studying the Bible.

So why should you study the Bible? What is the big deal?

Let me give you a few things that my Bible Study has taught me (in a general sense). This is not an exhaustive, specific list but rather a general overview of the things we learn when we study the Bible–

1.  We learn about God and His character. There are many, many opinions out there. In fact, some of those opinions hit the bestseller list (such as the heretical book The Shack) and can change how we view God. Our only protection is to actually know who God is from His Holy Word.

2. We learn of man’s depraved and hopeless state without Christ. While the world and apostate church lauds the goodness of man, I am learning through reading the Bible that all men are sinners, lost and without hope of reconciliation to God–except through Jesus Christ.

3. We learn about ourselves. As I read the accounts of the people in the pages in the Bible, I can see myself. I see my own sins and weaknesses. As I read the epistles that contain exhortations and encouragement for believers, I am confronted with my own need for change. The scripture functions as mirror that shows me my true self. But it doesn’t stop there. It also teaches us how to turn away from the sin that so easily besets us. And encourages us with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is with us for guidance and comfort in our efforts to eradicate sin and grow in Christ.

4. We learn to know the real Jesus. Since He is literally nothing like the apostate church (and all other false churches) present Him, this is almost necessary these days to even understand the Gospel. One cannot understand who Jesus truly is without studying the Bible. There is just so much false information out there.

5. We learn of the hope, the grace, the mercy, and the deep love that is ours upon salvation. The promises of God are rich and certain. Give by God to His own dear children, they serve as a source of comfort and strength.

6. We learn to discern between right and wrong. If scripture is where we find the truth, then this is what we must know in order to determine what is false. This becomes increasingly important as deception deepens and grows in this current age we are living in.

7. We learn to stand strong for truth–even if it means standing alone. Through the examples of so many in scripture–Noah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Stephen, and so many others–we learn not only the importance of but also the possibility of standing for and even dying for our faith. God will make a way for us to do what is right.

8. We learn how to face both trials and good times. In the Bible, we are given so many encouraging verses in how to handle all states of life we find ourselves in. God shows us how we can best grow and glorify Him in whatever we face.

9. We learn how all of scripture is connected. It has been an amazing thing to see themes repeated over and over. To read one thing in a book and see it repeated in a different book. It really wasn’t until I finally took the time to study the Word that I understood the significance of the consistency and cohesiveness of scripture. It’s truly amazing!

10. And, finally, we continue to learn (and be amazed at) how true and reliable God’s Word is. The fulfilled prophecies alone are simply awesome. One cannot walk away from a humble study of the Bible and not recognize the impossibilities of these very specifically fulfilled prophecies. Confirmation that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God become more and more evident as one gives time to study.

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And, as we learn these things above, we become so much more confident in our walk with Christ. We feel comfortable sharing the Gospel. We lean alone on God’s Word when calling out false teachers. We recognize that our opinions mean literally nothing. All we stand on is the Word, which is easy to do because we are so aware that it is God’s very Word to us, giving us all truth we need for life and godliness.

And, so, I hope that this might reach some believer out there who has never really studied the Word for themselves. I hope that you will give it a try. If you are looking for a place to begin, I hope you will consider this year’s Bible Reading Challenge (find more information here). My goal for each challenge is for it to be helpful to both beginner Bible Students and Advanced and every student in between. I also try to make it so that one can join anytime throughout the year. Right now is the perfect time to commit to study the Bible!

But, no matter what way you choose or where you start your study of scripture, I hope that you will make it a priority. For the Bible truly is the only source of truth and guidance for the Christian Life.

 

Hillsong: A Biblical Evaluation

Hillsong has infiltrated almost every church in the western world in some way. This has particularly taken place through their worship music. Many of their songs have become an integral part of worship in almost any church that affiliates itself with the Christian faith. So what is the big deal? If the songs have good lyrics (and some of them do) why does it matter? That’s a great question.

My oldest daughter, Jess, took the time to do some research on this phenomenon known as “Hillsong” recently and I wanted to share here what she found out. When you find out what they believe, promote, and represent, we may want to reconsider using their music or anything else from their ministry in our homes and our churches. Here is what Jess found out–

Hillsong was founded by Brian and Bobbie Houston in 1983 and quickly exploded into a massive worldwide organization. Hillsong now has a church in nearly every major city of the world, with over 180,000 people attending globally each week and even more watching online. They also boast three record labels, an international college, a film and television platform, and multiple worldwide conferences. Their record labels have dominated the Christian music industry and over 50 million people around the world sing their songs in church every week.

We are called to test all things against the truth of God’s Word. So we must take what Hillsong believes, teaches, and represents and compare it side by side with Scripture. And it brings me no joy to say that Hillsong fails miserably. Here’s 10 reasons why.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧. They ordain women pastors and many of their churches around the globe are pastored by women. Bobbie Houston co-pastors the main church in Sydney, Australia with her husband. She said in reference to the topic that “the church needs to come of age sometimes and just grow up.” (see 1 Timothy 2:11-14 & 3:1-7)

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐠𝐨𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐥. Hillsong Church claims that God wants us happy, healthy and wealthy. “We believe that God wants to heal and transform us so that we can live healthy and blessed lives in order to help others more effectively” is one of their statements of beliefs.

In 1999, Brian Houston wrote a book called “You Need More Money.” He asks an audience, “why would the Bible would say ‘Let the poor say I am rich’ if it wasn’t the will of God to break the poverty over people’s lives?” (by the way, that phrase isn’t found anywhere in the Bible) He urges people to dream big. He claims God wants an abundant life for us and that includes health, wealth, and great success in this life.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐰𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡. Houston’s vision for Hillsong includes one that dreams, that welcomes everyone, and that worships. “A church that loves God, loves people, and loves life. Youthful in Spirit, generous at heart, faith-filled in confession, loving in nature, and inclusive in expression.” There’s no mention of the Gospel, the preaching of God’s Word, or the true purpose of the church according to Scripture. The primary purpose of the Church is not to welcome unbelievers but to grow believers.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐁𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠. A BBC article reported that “the messaging may at times attach to specific scripture but it’s easily digestible, palatable, and is largely built on love, acceptance, and faith-led aspiration: be true to yourself, fight fear, never give up, believe in God.” Another magazine reported that “he [the pastor] expounds on the importance of having a relationship with Jesus, as opposed to following the dogmatic structures of organized religion- ideas that are key tenets of Hillsong’s brand of Christianity.” Watch a few clips online, and you’ll soon see that these are good descriptions. They’re simply preaching the wisdom of the world wrapped up in a pretty package they call Christian.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥. Hillsong Church seeks to unify with all religions since they all worship the same Jesus. (hint: not the Jesus of the Bible) Brian Houston said “Do you know – take it all the way back to the Old Testament – and the Muslim and you, we actually serve the same God. Allah, to a Muslim; to us, Abba Father, God.” He later claimed that his statement was taken out of context.

Hillsong United has performed at Catholic conferences. Hillsong’s “No Other Name” conference invited a Catholic pastor to lead a break-out session to help the Catholics attending “take the experience of Hillsong conference and interpret it into your Catholic world.” Houston also released a statement about the Pope, saying “we pray too that this papacy, like those before it, is marked by a commitment to seeing the Christian message continue to go forward and people changed by the power and truth of the Gospel,” claiming that they share the common desire to exalt Christ. Excuse me? There is no Christian message or truth of the Gospel coming from the mouth of the Pope.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐆𝐨𝐝. Carl Lentz, who was the lead pastor at the Hillsong Church in New York City (he since has been fired for adultery), was interviewed by Oprah in 2016. She asked him, “do you think only Christians can be in a relationship with God?” He replied “No, I believe that when Jesus said that ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ the way I read that, Jesus said that He is the road marker, He is the map, so I think that God loves people so much, that whether they accept or reject Him, He’s still gracious.” This was his presentation of “the gospel” to Oprah. Later, Bobbie Houston congratulated him and Oprah for the spirit-breathed and Jesus-centered interview, stating she would pray for the “Oprah-haters, God-haters, and Hillsong-haters” who expressed their concern over what he said.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐢𝐧. Brian Houston says they’re a “come as you are church.” He claims that the Holy Spirit convicts, God judges, and he is simply called to love. He once said to his audience, “And you hear people say, you don’t preach enough about sin. You don’t preach enough about repentance. But you know what I actually think they’re saying is, ‘You don’t beat people up enough.’ Cause you know, you don’t have to tell people they’re sinners. They already know.”

Carl Lentz said “If you go to a church and all they talk about is sin, then they aren’t talking about the whole gospel. Jesus to said to give the good news and that’s what we’re doing. The heart of the message is, wherever you are living, whatever you do for a living, it’s valid.”

Somehow they separate the idea of preaching about sin and condemnation from preaching about God’s love and grace. They’re inseparable. There’s no Gospel without both of them.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐱𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐢𝐧. Carl Lentz notably refused to call abortion sin during his interview on The View. Both Houston and Lentz are remarkably quiet on the topic of homosexuality. Lentz claims that Jesus never talked about the topic, so why would he?

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩. It has been said that the worship part of their church services “rival any other contemporary form of entertainment.” Lights, smoke, effects, jumping up and down. One magazine article stated that “you’d think it’s a rock concert, but it’s actually church.” It’s the main part of their service. It’s me-centered worship. It makes people feel good. The music stirs up their emotions and gives them a false sensation of spirituality. But is it true worship or an abomination to the Lord? Does Hillsong care that true worship only comes out of heart that is pure before the Lord? Does it care that worship must be done in both spirit and in truth?

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐨 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫. Too popular? Is that a bad thing? Yes. Because the Bible promises us that God’s Truth will never be loved by the world. The world will hate us. We will be the fragrance of death to those who are perishing and the fragrance of life to those who are being saved. (2 Corinthians 2:16) Hillsong Church is growing in leaps and bounds. Thousands of people attend. Positive stories about Hillsong have been featured by Vogue, CNN, The Today Show, Cosmopolitan, BBC and many others. Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, Chris Pratt, Kourtney Kardashian, and Vanessa Hudgens are all celebrities that attend or have attended Hillsong Church. Wouldn’t you attend a church, as an unbeliever, that tells you can have both Jesus and the world? That Jesus wants you healthy, wealthy, and happy? A church that’s all about love and doesn’t talk about sin?

This so-called church isn’t preaching the Biblical Gospel or the true Jesus Christ. It isn’t a true church in any sense of the word. They’ve created their own message, their own Jesus, and their own church out of the lusts of their flesh. And it truly is an abomination to our God. And it’s THEIR songs that we sing in our churches every Sunday. Can those songs really glorify God if they’re coming from a heretical church like Hillsong? My prayer is that this saves even a few people from getting ensnared in the lies of this church and everything with the name Hillsong attached to it.

(This was a very long post and I didn’t have the space to explain why each of these things is wrong Biblically. If you don’t understand why we can’t unite with Catholics, how we know the true purpose of the church, why the prosperity gospel isn’t Biblical, how we know homosexuality is a sin, etc. – feel free to message me or dig into the Word for yourself!)

Beware the Bridgers (revised)

Imagine you are building a house. You have carefully chosen your builder based on referrals, reviews, and personal interviews. During the project, your builder recommends and uses different subcontractors to finish the house. You do not know anything about these subcontractors but you trust them because you trust your builder.

Your builder is a bridger. He is bridging you to the services of someone else that you don’t know, have never heard of, but will choose to trust because of his recommendation.

Now if he is connecting you with a subcontractor that is dishonest or unqualified, you will find this intolerable and demand a change be made. I doubt you would be satisfied to allow the poor work to continue on the house in which you are investing so much time and money.

I’d like to submit to you that growing in Christ is just a tiny bit similar to building a house. We are intentionally trying to grow spiritually and we choose “builders” (preachers, teachers, authors, etc) to help us with this. Along the way, those builders recommend other subcontractors (or builders). We choose to trust because of the recommendations of our favorite “builders”.

For example, if I see that my favorite author is favorably quoting another author in a book I am reading, I will naturally think that quoted author is someone I can trust. Why else would he be quoted?

Or if my favorite preacher is hanging out with other preachers, I will naturally assume that they are trustworthy preachers. I can hardly expect someone of integrity and truth to “hang out” with those who just don’t care very much about either.

But what seems so cut and dried in the physical world (builder-subcontractor-dismiss if they don’t do a good job), gets very sticky and complicated in the spiritual world.

There are so many “solid” spiritual leaders that are bridging their followers to those who are deceptive and unqualified. It’s been a very interesting dynamic to watch, particularly over the past thirty years or so (although the beginnings of this go back way earlier.)

I have watched men and women I trust recommend and join with word-of-faith preachers (which preach a false gospel), Bethel and Hillsong (which are fatally compromised and without the gospel), social justice warriors (which preach a social gospel), and all sorts of other compromised and spiritually twisted leaders. I have seen them recommend and join with false religious leaders that preach a gospel that demands works (Catholicism, Mormonism, etc.) and call it “unity”.

These people are functioning as bridgers. They are giving validity to false religion and false teaching, bridging you to a different way of thinking, even changing how you think—probably without you even realizing it.

So you may be thinking: That’s all well and fine but what is your scriptural basis for what you are saying? Does it really even matter?

I’m so glad you asked! Let’s turn to scripture to explore this specifically.

There is a small verse in Romans 16 that I find many Christians are simply ignoring. Paul is ending his letter with loving greetings to specific people of the Roman church. And then he gives these instructions to the church in verse 17–

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.

Here Paul makes it abundantly clear that we are to have nothing to do with those who would preach anything contrary to the “doctrine which you have learned”. I think we could easily say this means anything contrary to the Holy Scriptures.

Let’s turn to one more passage but, first, let’s talk about darkness and light from a spiritual perspective. In His Word, God tells us that we once walked in darkness but are now in marvelous light. How did we end up in that marvelous light? Let’s go to I Peter 2:9-10 to find out–

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

God called us. He called us out of the darkness and into his marvelous light. There is a vast difference between walking in darkness and walking in light. Now, let’s go to Ephesians 5, where Paul talks a bit more about this idea in verses 8-11–

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the [b]Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather [c]expose them.

Again, we are told not only to have no fellowship with those who walk in darkness (which most certainly would include those who preach a false Gospel, teach heresy, etc.) but to actually go a step further and expose them.

Now compare these scriptures to what you see happening in those who I will call “platformed Christians”. These men and women have a grave responsibility to lead their followers circumspectly and to lead them away from (rather than toward) false teachers and heretics. And, yet, is that what we are seeing? I’d suggest we are seeing the very opposite of this. Not only are we seeing these platformed Christians bridging believers to those who preach a different gospel, but we see those same believers refusing to acknowledge the dishonesty and lack of qualification of these false teachers. Their spiritual welfare is being undermined and so few seem to care. Instead of saying “halt the work”, they are embracing these false teachers recommended by the men and women they trust.

I’ll give you one clear (and rather extreme) example before I wrap up. Several years ago now, I heard R.C. Sproul in an interview. I had a fairly decent view of this guy going into this interview and had appreciated some of his writing. However, in this interview he talked favorably of Alice Cooper. Now, I grew up in the days when this rocker was known for his satanic and disturbing concerts. Sproul claimed that Cooper had changed and was now saved. I was surprised but took him at his word. However, something inside me needed to know and I started researching. It didn’t take me long. Cooper’s own website showed that he most definitely had not made any changes in his life.

This is one of the most disturbing partnerships I have ever witnessed (even to this day, I am so disturbed by this and can hardly stomach hearing the name of Sproul). Why would Sproul speak positively of a satanic rocker who was still satanically “rocking”? I will honestly never know. But can you see how Sproul assuring us that he is a “brother in Christ” gives him validity in the eyes of Sproul’s followers?

There are a plethora of much less obvious (and, therefore, often more dangerous) bridgers who are busily at work leading their followers astray by their partnerships, recommendations, and connections.

We each need to personally decide how we handle these bridgers. I am not here to tell you to never read or listen to them (although that is generally my own personal response). I am not here to tell you what to do. I am simply warning you that it is happening. And that we must beware these bridgers.

How do we do this?

We pay attention. We pay attention to who our favorite speakers and authors are partnering with in conferences. We pay attention to who they are quoting. We pay attention and we research.

However you decide to respond to a bridger, I hope that it will lead you to trust that person just a little less. At best, they are completely ignoring God’s Word in a very important area. At worst, they are intentionally, if subtly, leading their followers astray. Either way, they are either ignorant of the scriptures they are supposed to be so well versed in or they are nefarious in their purpose. Neither option is great, is it?

Bridgers are here to stay. This has become a popular thing to do, under the guise of unity. But this is not and can never be true unity. Jesus tells us He is the way, the truth, the life. True unity only comes when we are united in the true Gospel, which is the person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. Any teacher that adds to, takes away, or otherwise changes the Gospel must be avoided.

So please beware the bridgers. They are everywhere now. And, in fact, I would venture to say that most platformed Christians function as bridgers. View this as a red flag and keep your eyes open.

 

Please note: Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes point people a direction they later find out was wrong. I myself have done that. Watch for patterns and long-time connections. And watch for those partnerships with those that are so obviously heretical and false. And then give a bit of grace to those who may just not know and simply watch and be aware. Because we can all be deceived at some level. The key is to be willing to admit it and then make changes.

 

And another note: A few hours after I wrote this I received a very insightful comment from a reader that I believe is very important and needs to be included in this post. Here’s what he said–

Noteworthy is that if a subcontractor messes up or is just bad, the contractor is responsible nonetheless.  Also, my favorite go-to verse on this is 2 John vs 10-11.  We are not to greet false teachers or even invite them into our home– or you, in fact, share in their evil deeds.  I would elaborate on this and explain it that if people see you greeting them and even inviting them into your home, they assume the person is okay.

I believe that what he says is absolutely true and I wish I would have thought of these things myself! We must remember that 1) We most certainly are responsible for who we lead people to (which means we should take it very seriously before promoting anyone) and 2) We shouldn’t even greet or invite someone into our home who does not share our doctrine (again, this is the Gospel and the key doctrines that make up biblical faith). Please keep in mind that the reference here is regarding those who claim to be of the faith but actually and clearly aren’t.

 

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