The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

The Lord’s richest blessings to you, readers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ. Welcome to all the newbies and to you seasoned veterans of the blog.

Because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Or maybe you’ve been around a while and haven’t noticed something that might be helpful. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a CliffsNotes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

Fourth, if you don’t find your question answered in one of these ways or below, you might want to check previous Asked & Answered articles and The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.

And finally, let me get you new readers some answers to the questions several of you have asked. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!

Do you do have study Bibles you recommend?

I’m looking for a new study Bible. I looked at the ESV John McArthur Study Bible, but I read some alarming comments in its reviews on Amazon that it’s missing Scripture verses from Matthew and a few other books. I’m curious if missing verses are typical of this translation.

A popular question this time around!

I’ve recommended several study Bibles in my article Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them. I’m personally partial to the MacArthur Study Bible in ESV as that’s what I currently use.

The accusations of verses being left out of the ESV (or any other modern translation) are most likely coming from King James Onlyists. Since 1611, when the King James Version of the Bible was published, thousands more – and much older – manuscripts of Scripture have been discovered, allowing modern translators to be far more accurate about which material is actual Scripture, and which might be something like a clarifying note or commentary added later by a scribe, than translators of the KJV were 400 years ago.

It’s not that modern translators of the ESV (or any other accurate and reliable modern translation) have “left out” verses, it’s that the KJV translators, doing the best they could with the manuscripts they had at the time, inadvertently added in “verses” they shouldn’t have.

The Mailbag: What is KJV-Onlyism, and Is It Biblical?

Missing Verses in the Bible – Part 1   Part 2 by Gabriel Hughes

I am looking for a resource to introduce a completely unchurched neighbor to the Bible and the gospel. She is tender and open. 

I’m so glad you want to share with your neighbor. What a good example you are to all of us!

I would recommend working through the verses and materials at the What Must I Do to Be Saved? tab (in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) with her.

If she’s (or you’re) uncertain whether or not she’s saved, try my study Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up.

You might also want to check through the studies and materials in my Bible studies tab (in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) to see what might be helpful.

I was hoping to see where you stood on predestination.

That would be in my Statement of Faith tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Is the Catholic religion false? Are they going to heaven?

This is such a painful issue for all of us who have Catholic loved ones. If that’s the case for you, dear reader, I’m so sorry I can’t reassure you that your Catholic loved ones are indeed saved and on their way to Heaven.

Roman Catholicism is an anti-gospel, unbiblical, heretical non-Christian religion that has sent millions of souls to Hell by teaching false doctrine. It is one of the accursed “another gospels” of Galatians 1:6-9. You no more belong at a Catholic “church” than at an altar of Baal or in the temple of Artemis.

Catholicism teaches numerous heresies, but perhaps the most grievous is that it anathematizes salvation by grace alone through faith alone. In other words, Catholic doctrine says if you believe this…

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

…instead of believing that your good works help earn your salvation (as Catholic doctrine teaches), you are anathema- condemned to Hell.

If someone believes that she can earn her salvation – even partly – by her own good works, she is not a Christian. She is still lost and dying in her sins and will spend eternity in Hell.

Can someone get saved while still attending a Catholic “church”? Yes, praise God – if she somehow hears the biblical gospel from someone or reads it in her Bible, repents, and believes it. God mercifully and kindly saves people out of Catholicism every day, just like He saves people out of Mormonism, atheism, Hinduism, and so on.

Invariably, when I (or any other Protestant for that matter) address a well established doctrine or practice of Catholicism and how/why it isn’t biblical, a Catholic will argue: “That’s not what we really believe!”. If you’re a Catholic and you’re about to make a comment along those lines, here’s my response: That’s what your own “church” teaches, so it IS what Catholics are supposed to believe. If you don’t believe your own “church’s” doctrine, why are you still a Catholic?

The Mailbag: Potpourri (…Catholic statues…)

Roman Catholicism: Mass Confusion at A Word Fitly Spoken

Truth and Love – with Mike Gendron at A Word Fitly Spoken

I am writing to see if you know of any resources for parents of adult special needs as far as Bible reading and studies go. I have 2 special needs daughters that I lead in Bible study. I don’t want to make it too kid like but I also don’t want it too hard to grasp either. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

What a blessing to be able to continue teaching your daughters the Bible even into adulthood!

I have offered some suggestions in my article The Mailbag: Potpourri (NBCS, Homeschool resources, Piper…) (3rd section).

I am curious to get your take on Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).

Here ya go!

The Mailbag: BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)

I am wondering if you had a recommendation for a chronological Bible? My sister and I have both desired to get one, yet often Bibles are pricey and thus we don’t want to get one that isn’t excellent.

Great question! I’ve never really looked at a chronological Bible because, to me (now you have to know this about me: I’m pretty frugal – read: cheap) it always seemed like a waste of money to buy a Bible arranged in chronological order when you could just use a regular Bible you already own and like along with a chronological reading plan that’s free.

So I can’t really recommend a chronological Bible since I’m not familiar with any of them, but I can recommend some decent Bible translations…

The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?

…and a free (and excellent) chronological Bible reading plan:

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year- 2023.

Do you wear a hat in worship?

Not usually, though I have worn a few Easter bonnets in my time. In my opinion, I don’t look that great in hats. But I can rock a pair of sunglasses.😎 (Which I also don’t typically wear during the worship service)

Or is this what you’re really asking about?

Rock Your Role: A Head of the Times- Head Coverings for Christian Women? (1 Corinthians 11:1-16)

(Tell you what, readers – I won’t judge you for covering if you won’t judge me for not covering. Deal?)

I’m turned upside down. For the last several years, I have led a group of 15 women through dozens of Bible studies written by many of the authors your have warned against in your articles. As I grow in my faith and Bible education, I am concerned about the “all about me” trends I see from Lifeway and Bible Study writers/producers. I see a worldly influence in most of what is written today. Who is a safe Bible study teacher? I used to think it was Beth Moore but, after doing her Daniel Study, I’m scratching my head about her reference to levels of heaven. The group I lead needs a structured lesson and isn’t prepared to dig into commentaries to do the work on their own. It would be far too intimidating and time consuming for many of the ladies I am blessed to lead. Is there any study or author that you do recommend?

I had to include your whole email, because I know lots of readers will be as encouraged as I was to read about how God is growing you – and, soon, hopefully, your group – in the knowledge of His Word.

Are there any studies I recommend? Yes. Mine. You’ll find them at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. They’re all free and they’re all suitable for groups or individuals, for study or for teaching.

My studies are designed for women and groups exactly like you and yours. They’re to help you transition from using what I call “canned” studies (books, workbooks, DVDs, etc.) to studying and teaching straight from the text of Scripture. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll never have to ask “Who is a safe Bible study teacher?” again, because you’ll never have to depend on anyone else’s books and materials again, including mine.

I would like to know if you think it is unbiblical to teach my grandson Scripture. He is 16 years old, and I try to hold him accountable to church attendance as well as a private Bible study and memory Scripture. I’m the only one to encourage in that area of his life.  

You go for it, Granny!

Thank God …THANK GOD… for women like you who pour the gospel into their grandchildren. You are in good company with Lois. What a blessing it would be if your grandson turns out to be a Timothy!

The biblical prohibition against women teaching men has a very specific context, and that context isn’t private instruction in the family. It’s public instruction (pastoring, preaching, teaching the Bible to men, and holding authority over men) in the gathering of the church body.

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

Rock Your Role FAQs (see #12)

It would be very helpful if a godly older man at your church could take your grandson under his wing and disciple him, not because you’re violating Scripture, but because your grandson is at an age where he needs male role models and mentors to show him what a godly man looks and acts like.

Is it sinful for a wife to lead family worship (devotions) if the man is unwilling to read Scripture or even pray aloud? In our home that looks like mom gathering the children around, reading a chapter of Scripture, asking a few questions to the kids, singing a hymn, and praying. Sometimes the husband stays in the room. How should a wife handle this?  Should we try to do this before Dad gets home, as to not violate the command of women not to teach men?  

No, Hon, it is not sinful, it’s your responsibility as a Christian parent. Please see my answer to “Granny” above. She’s “Lois,” you’re “Eunice”.

No, I wouldn’t throw it in his face that you’re leading the children in worship, but I also wouldn’t make any special effort to do it when he’s not home, nor discourage him from staying in the room if he wanders in. If he’s not saved, he needs to see your living testimony and hear the gospel. If he is saved, yet shirking his responsibility as the spiritual leader of your home, perhaps the Lord will use your faithfulness to convict him.

I would also recommend that you set up an appointment with your pastor for counsel about all of this (you go alone if your husband won’t go with you). If your husband claims to be a Christian, he probably needs some godly older men to rally around him and disciple him about how to lead his wife and children. If he’s not saved, perhaps your pastor could recommend a godly older woman to disciple you through living with an unsaved husband.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Speaking Engagements

Upcoming Events: Ladies, You’re Invited!

Looking for a super, doctrinally sound women’s event to attend? Let me tell you about a few I’ve got coming up soon, and some others later in the year! I’m hoping to add a few more events soon, so keep an eye on the blog and my Speaking Engagements calendar.

Nothing in your area? I go where I’m invited! Find out how your church or organization can set up an event at my Speaking Engagements page.


Hello Alabama! I can’t wait to see you March 17-18 for Salem Baptist Church’s Women’s Conference on biblical womanhood in Cullman, Alabama.

We’ll start with God’s Design for Biblical Womanhood on Friday night. Saturday, we’ll move on to Walking in Biblical Womanhood, and we’ll finish the day with a Q&A session to answer all your questions.

This conference is open to women in the surrounding areas, but you must contact the church directly to register.


No foolin’, Ohio – I’ll be in your neck of the woods on April 1 for a the Women Thinking Wisely conference at The Ripley Church in Greenwich, Ohio. Come join us!

We’re going to cover as much ground as we can, starting with Discernment 101. Our next session will be Hooked on a Feeling: Living by God’s Word Instead of Our Feelings, followed by Managing Media, and finishing up with a fun and informative Q&A session.

This conference is open to women in the surrounding areas, but seating is limited. Purchase tickets here.


It’s always nice to visit my next door neighbors in Texas. I’ll be there April 14-15 for a Women’s Conference at Grace Point at Eagle Heights Church in Orange, Texas.

We’ll get things rolling Friday night with Hooked on a Feeling: Living by God’s Word Instead of Our Feelings. Saturday morning we’ll tackle How to Study (and Teach!) the Bible, and we’ll finish out the day with a Q&A session to satisfy all your wonderings.

This conference is open to women in the surrounding areas, but you must contact the church directly to register.


I’m pretty excited about speaking at a church that’s right in my own back yard! Come pass a good time on October 14 at First Baptist Church, Opelousas, Louisiana, for their Women’s “Day-treat” focusing on biblical womanhood. God’s Design for Biblical Womanhood will start us off, followed by Walking in Biblical Womanhood. There will be some stimulating discussion groups along the way, and we’ll finish things off with an informative Q&A session

This conference is open to women in the surrounding areas, but you must contact the church directly to register.


I didn’t get enough of island life last year, so I’m going back! October 25-28 is Jesus Camp Women’s Retreat on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Teaching topics TBA, but I can assure you we’ll have a fantastic time fellowshipping and digging into God’s Word together.

This event is by invitation only, but you may request an invitation. Space is limited. Contact Darcy Creech Marelli at for details.

To keep an eye out for an event near you,
or to schedule me for your own event, check out my
calendar of events and booking information on my
Speaking Engagements page.

Hope to see you soon!

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Building Godly Women Conference

I had such a wonderful time of fellowship recently with the delightful ladies of Tangent, Oregon, and the surrounding area at the Building Godly Women conference. The hard working ladies from Grace Bible Fellowship put in lots of hours and elbow grease to host a warm and polished event that was enjoyed by all.

Hi ‘n’ ‘bye, San Francisco! Hope I get to stay longer next time!

I don’t know if you realize this or not but Tangent, Oregon, is really, really far away from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I live – 2,435 miles as the crow flies. Fortunately, I was flying on an Eagle, not a crow, that took me from Baton Rouge to Houston to San Francisco to Eugene, Oregon.

It was my first time in San Francisco. I did not leave my heart there, but I did leave plenty of tracts, and that’s pretty much the same thing. I hope I get to see more than the inside of the airport next time, although it was one of the nicer places I’ve changed planes.

When I arrived in Eugene, I learned that everyone was worried I might not make it in due to a snow storm which had passed through the area that day, but God was very kind to skirt it around the airport somehow. Sadly, only a few flakes were falling as we left the airport. This Southern gal likes to visit her snow.

My kind hosts for the weekend, Dee and her husband, Mike, picked me up and welcomed me into their lovely home, where they treated me like royalty for the weekend.

Dee sure studied up on me and blessed me with my favorite snacks and thoughtful gifts, including some goat’s milk bar soap made by her daughter, and a beautiful water bottle adorned with cherry blossoms, the official decor flower of the conference. And check out those gorgeous (real) tulips in the background!

See those chocolate covered hazelnuts? Hazelnuts (filberts) are grown right around the area I was staying in (and they were really good!).

Friday, I had the opportunity to rest up a bit before some fun outings…

Lunch with some of the planners.

After lunch, Dee was so kind to take me to see a couple of local points of interest. We stopped at the Larwood Wayside, a gorgeous little picnic area on the banks of Crabtree Creek, which is adjacent to the Larwood covered bridge, built in 1939. Covered bridges are a dying breed in the United States. Only about 750 remain.

We came to a fork in the road, so we took it! Ironically, this fork was on the side of the road rather than at an actual fork in the road. Why is it there? Who knows?

Behind me you can see one of the many grass fields in the area. Grass is grown as a crop for seed, hay, and sod.

The beautiful snow dappled mountains we saw as we left the fork are the Cascades.

Friday night, it was conference time!

Charcuterie cups for the ladies to snack on – what a great idea!

Our first session was Hooked on a Feeling: Living by God’s Word Instead of Our Feelings, and it was a great way to kick things off. Scripture is our authority as Christians, and we shouldn’t let our feelings lead us around by the nose.

Pastor Tom Pennington (no relation) was so kind to welcome and pray for the ladies.

Friday night fellowship:

Saturday, we hit the ground running with How to Study (and Teach!) the Bible. This is such a crucial skill for Christian women today. We’ve got to be good students of the Word so we can disciple our own children and the women and children of our churches.

Between sessions, we were treated to a scrumptious brunch of quiche, coffee cake, and fresh fruit.

Feast your eyes on these exquisite table settings. Each of those cherry blossoms (on all of those tables!) was made by hand from tissue. Can you believe it? If someone hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have known they weren’t real.

Our final teaching session was Discernment 101: Learn to Discern. We talked about what discernment is, and how to use it – identifying false teachers and false doctrine – to the glory of God.

We rounded out the day with lots of fellowship and pictures.

The cherry on top of this wonderful weekend was a trip to breathtaking Multnomah Falls, the second tallest waterfall in the contiguous United States (Yosemite Falls in California is the tallest). I’m so grateful to Mike and Dee for going out of their way to make sure I got to see it.

On the way to Multnomah Falls, we caught a glimpse of majestic Mt. Hood, completely blanketed in snow. Mt. Hood is actually a dormant volcano and is the highest mountain in Oregon.

After a lovely dinner with Mike and Dee, it was time to say goodbye. My deepest thanks to them, the conference planning committee, pastor Tom, and all the men and women of Grace Bible Fellowship who worked so hard to host a fantastic conference, took care of all my needs, and made me feel so welcome. If you’re ever in the area and need a good church to visit, make plans to spend the Lord’s Day with these wonderful brothers and sisters.

If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information, or to find an upcoming event near you!

Photo Credits

Many thanks to Dee and other conference attendees who took most of the photos above. You may assume that if I’m in the picture or if it’s a good quality photo that I didn’t take it. The remaining photos were shot by me.

Discernment, False Doctrine

Touch Not My Anointed?

Originally published January 23, 2018

“Never challenge or speak out against God’s anointed,” I recently read in a book for Christian women.

“Never challenge or speak out against God’s anointed,” I recently read in a book for Christian women. Have you ever heard someone say this? Is it biblical?

Have you ever heard someone say this? Is it biblical? Who are “God’s anointed”? Why should we never challenge or speak out against them? What does it mean to be “anointed” anyway?

This is just one more of the many dangerous false teachings coming out of the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation heresies. It is an adulteration of Psalm 105:15/1 Chronicles 16:22 (same text).

saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
do my prophets no harm!”

Psalm 105:15 / 1 Chronicles 16:22

The phrase “touch not My anointed” is lifted out of context and imbued with the meaning “never criticize, correct, or rebuke the pastor.” Unfortunately, churches that wield this false teaching like a weapon usually do so because they are pastored by a false teacher who needs to be (or is being) biblically criticized, corrected, or rebuked.

The context of Psalm 105/1 Chronicles 16 makes it obvious that this is not what this verse means, even in the Old Testament, as anyone who takes the trouble to read the whole chapter can clearly see. This verse is about God protecting the Israelites from oppression by foreign kings when they were wandering in the wilderness. “Touch not My anointed oneS” and “do my prophets no harm” is a warning to pagan nations to leave God’s people – all of them, the common people as well as the prophets – alone during the Exodus.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with New Testament churches and the idea that one should never challenge or speak out against a pastor. Pastors are only “anointed” today in the same sense that every believer is “anointed.”

In the Bible, “anoint” simply means to apply oil or another substance (Luke 7:38, John 9:6) to a body part (your own or someone else’s). In the Old Testament, one of the occasions for applying oil was in ceremonies to consecrate – set apart – someone (or something: Genesis 31:13, Exodus 29:36) for a particular purpose. For example, David was anointed with oil when God set him apart as king. All Old Testament priests were anointed with oil. Elisha the prophet was anointed with oil.

But we do not see this in the New Testament. No one is anointed with oil as part of a consecration ceremony. In the New Testament, the verses containing the word “anoint” fall into one of three categories: medicinal/hygienic application of oil and other substances, references to Jesus as the “Anointed One” (Messiah), and two passages (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 1 John 2:20,27) speaking of all Christians as being allegorically “anointed”: set apart as God’s special people (the same way Psalm 105/1 Chronicles 16 talk about the Israelites as God’s special, set apart people).

The only individual in the New Testament who was anointed – literally or allegorically – in the Old Testament, ceremonial, consecrated sense is Jesus. Why? Because He fulfills all three of those Old Testament “anointed” positions: prophet, priest, and king. He is the final prophet, the Great High Priest, and the eternal King.

Jesus fulfills all three of those Old Testament “anointed” positions: prophet, priest, and king. He is the final prophet, the Great High Priest, and the eternal King.

Therefore, no New Testament believers are “anointed” to any position but we are all spiritually anointed – set apart to and for Christ as His special possession. We are to submit to our pastors and elders (Hebrews 13:17) insofar as they teach and obey God’s written Word (1 Timothy 5:19-20, Acts 5:29), but “never challenge or speak out against God’s anointed”? Only if the Anointed One you’re talking about is Jesus.

“Never challenge or speak out against God’s anointed”? Only if the Anointed One you’re talking about is Jesus.


The Mailbag: Applying Twisted Scripture to Pseudo-“Christian” Events, Ideas, and Fads

The Asbury “revival”. Jesus Revolution. Bethel. The Enneagram. IF:Gathering...

Week after week, we see the ads, the social media posts, and the news stories of the latest, greatest “Christian” thing on the horizon.

Discerning Christians speak up in our churches, with our friends, and on our Facebook pages and rightly warn about the dangerous teachings and agendas these things push.

Other concerned Christians, genuinely fearing the “baby will be thrown out with the bathwater,” push back on those warnings. And sometimes, though they often have the best of intentions, they misapply Scripture or biblical principles to do so.

During the recent furor over the so-called Asbury “revival,” I saw, and was asked about, several of those misapplied Scriptures and principles employed in defense of the idea that we shouldn’t be so quick or so willing to publicly and confidently say something is not of God.

These Scriptures and principles could be applied to a myriad of things past and present, and will surely be employed again the next time a pseudo-“Christian” event, idea, or fad pops up, so let’s take a look at them and untangle them…

These Scriptures and principles will surely be employed again the next time a pseudo-“Christian” event, idea, or fad pops up, so let’s take a look at them and untangle them…

In response to doctrinally sound Christians decrying the Asbury event, one genuinely concerned lady asked:

What about Scripture that says “whoever is not against us is for us” in Mark 9:38-40? How do we apply this? Only God knows their heart, and I’m sure that people did come to know the Lord because of this.

There are several points in her question I’d like to address:

What about Scripture that says “whoever is not against us is for us” in Mark 9:38-40? How do we apply this?

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us.

Mark 9:38-40

Because we know that God’s Word never contradicts itself, and Jesus never contradicted Himself or Scripture during His earthly ministry, we have to understand passages like Mark 9:38-40 within the context of the entirety of the New Testament. In this case, we understand it in light of…

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matthew 7:21-23 (emphasis added)


“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

Luke 6:46 (emphasis added)

Notice Jesus is the speaker in all three of these passages. Again, Jesus did not contradict Himself during His earthly ministry.

We have to understand that there are a great many people out there who claim to be Christians and who, at first glance, look very much like Christians, but are not living in obedience to Christ, and/or are not teaching what accords with sound doctrine. Scripture calls those people liars and false teachers.

So when Jesus says in Mark 9:38-40 and other passages, that whoever is not against Him is for Him and vice versa, He’s defining “for Him” as someone who’s genuinely regenerated, obedient to Scripture, and teaching sound doctrine. Everybody else, regardless of what they might claim, is against Him according to Scripture.

You might think of it like this. When the disciples came to Jesus and said, “We tried to stop those guys because they aren’t part of our group,” and Jesus said, “Don’t. They’re still ‘with’ us,” it would have been similar to Him saying, “Don’t stop them. They’re doctrinally sound Presbyterians. We’re doctrinally sound Baptists. We preach the same gospel. We’re on the same team.”.

What He would not have been saying would have been something like, “It’s OK that they’re [Catholic, Mormon, prosperity gospel, New Apostolic Reformation, or any other heretical religion that claims to worship Jesus]. They say they love Me, so don’t stop them. Maybe some good will come out of this and a few people will get saved.”

Every week during his pastoral prayer, my pastor leads us to pray for a sister church in the area, and in his prayer, he always says, “Lord, we thank you that we are not the only expression of a Bible believing, God honoring, Christ exalting, Spirit filled church in this area.”

It’s kind of like that.

Only God knows their heart…

That’s not an excuse for failing to exercise discernment as Scripture commands us. God doesn’t require us to know other people’s hearts. He does require us to evaluate their observable behavior and teaching, compare it to Scripture, and stay away from it, warn others about it, and eradicate it from the church if it’s false.

“Only God knows their heart” is not an excuse for failing to exercise discernment as Scripture commands us.

…and I’m sure that people did come to know the Lord because of this.

1. That’s speculation on your part. Is it possible some people did get genuinely saved at this event? Yes, but we don’t have any proof of that. It’s an assumption.

2. The only way someone could have gotten saved at this event is if she heard the biblical gospel of law and grace, sin and repentance, and Jesus’ vicarious life, death, burial, and resurrection explicitly preached or explained. Here’s the biblical gospel. Was it proclaimed and explained at this event? If not, no salvations took place.

3. That idea is pragmatism. People come to Christ in all sorts of horrible situations and under all sorts of horrible teaching. People came to Christ in concentration camps, while they were still Muslims, in Catholic “churches,” while working as prostitutes, while practicing homosexuality, etc. The fact that people get saved while in those horrible situations or under that horrible teaching doesn’t magically make those situations and that teaching good. It means that God is so good and powerful and merciful that, through the power of His Word, He can save someone out of those situations and teaching.

But if even one person got saved, wasn’t it worth it?

Let me begin my answer to that question with another question.

Did you know that several medical procedures that have saved the lives of many people were discovered in World War II concentration camps by performing torturous experiments on inmates? Does the fact that those medical procedures have helped so many people justify the torture the Nazis inflicted on their victims?

Of course it doesn’t. Neither does one person (or even a bunch of people) getting saved excuse, nullify, justify, or make sin and false teaching “worth it”.

Stop and take a few moments to meditate on how high, and holy, and worthy of all honor, glory, majesty, praise, and reverence is God, the almighty King of the universe. Think about the excruciating pain Jesus went through on the cross, and the agony of having every drop of God’s wrath against sin poured out on Him. So that He might bear your sin and mine. So that we could be forgiven and free and saved from an eternity in Hell.

How could we ever say that the sewer slime of committing any sin against that God is “worth it,” no matter what the outcome might be?

No. A blasphemy-fest isn’t “worth it”. God doesn’t consider false teaching “worth it” if someone gets saved. He’s perfectly capable of saving everyone He means to save without such events.

You discerning Christians speaking out against this event should just back off like Gamaliel suggested in Acts 5 and let it play out. If it’s not of God, it will come to nothing.

So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”

Acts 5:38-39

{Be sure to read that passage in its entirety (Acts 5:17-42), so you can get the context and all the details.}

Sisters, we’ve got to get it through our heads that the book of Acts is largely historical narrative like Genesis or Judges or Nehemiah. Not only that, it is also a historical narrative of transition from Old Testament Judaism to New Testament Christianity. Many of the things we read about in Acts are not to be understood as normative of, or instruction to the church today. (Those sorts of things are mainly in the pastoral epistles – 1&2 Timothy and Titus.)

Such is the case with the Gamaliel passage in Acts 5. This is a descriptive passage (it simply tells us what happened), not a prescriptive passage (instructions for us to follow). And be thankful for that, because the disciples get beaten a lot in Acts 5.

Nowhere in God’s didactic instruction to the New Testament church does He tell us to back off an event or teacher that claims to be “Christian” and just let things play out. Nowhere. Instead, we repeatedly see instruction throughout the New Testament (and even the Old Testament) to be wise and discerning, test the spirits, and have nothing to do with false teachers, either as individuals or the church.

We also have to take into account that Gamaliel was a Pharisee who was still hanging out with the rest of the Council. Know what that means? He wasn’t a Believer. You take Gamaliel’s advice, and you’re taking the advice of a lost person – over God’s instructions – about how to handle a situation in the church.

Gamaliel is not the hero of this story. If he were, he would have believed the gospel the disciples proclaimed, and prevented the Council from beating them and forbidding them to preach. And he probably would have suffered the same consequences the disciples suffered.

Gamaliel isn’t the hero of this story. If he were, he’d have believed the gospel the disciples proclaimed, and prevented them from being beaten & forbidden to preach. And he probably would have suffered the same fate as the disciples.

Finally, though Gamaliel, in his limited experience, could cite a couple of instances in which this rubric seemed to work, we have the advantage of looking back across much more history, over many more years, and in many more places, and we can see that his advice doesn’t always work. How long has Islam been hanging around? Hinduism? Mormonism? Buddhism? Catholicism? Certainly none of those religious movements are of God, and still, here they all are.

Don’t take Gamaliel’s advice in these situations, submit to God’s instructions to the church.

Be careful that you are not calling what is of God as not. Very serious thing to do.

It may not always be meant this way, but this kind of warning can come across as a veiled threat.

Be careful you are not calling something “of God” when it is not. That is also a very serious thing to do, especially if what you’re basing your conclusion on is your feelings, opinions, experiences, and out of context, misapplied Scripture, rather than on rightly handled, in context Scripture.

God can bring good out of anything!

Of course He can. God is out for His glory and the good of His people. But that doesn’t make the situation or false teaching itself good or excusable or that we shouldn’t warn against it if it’s bad. Scripture says the opposite.

When God sovereignly brings something good and holy out of a bad or sinful situation, it doesn’t mean that bad or sinful situation is good and holy. It means God is good and holy.

For example: A Mormon who studies her Bible and/or is evangelized can get genuinely saved while still in Mormonism. (And God will save her out of Mormonism.) That doesn’t make Mormonism Christian or good or biblical. That means God is good and merciful and kind.

When God sovereignly brings something good and holy out of a bad or sinful situation, it doesn’t mean that bad or sinful *situation* is good and holy. It means *God* is good and holy.

Be ready. The next “Christian” thing is just around the corner. Study your Bible and be prepared to correctly apply rightly handled Scripture as you carefully evaluate it according to God’s Word.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.