Bible Study

You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible

Originally published July 17, 2014

Bible Five Reasons

As a women’s Bible study author and teacher, I have the unique privilege of talking to women from all kinds of backgrounds about their spiritual lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had women share with me that they didn’t grow up in church, or they grew up in a church that “didn’t allow” them to read the Bible, and now they have to use a Bible study or devotional book in their quiet time or they’re afraid they won’t be able to understand the Bible. My heart goes out to these ladies because they desperately want to learn from God’s word, but somewhere along the way, someone or something has convinced these perfectly intelligent women–I haven’t met a dumb one, yet– that they’re not good enough or smart enough for God’s word.

As Colonel Potter used to say:

ColPotter MM

Ladies, you are not dumb. God created you smart enough to understand the Bible, and He created the Bible to be understandable. He loves you and wants you to read, embrace, and apply His word to your life. So don’t be afraid to throw that Daily Bread out the Open Windows of your Upper Room and read a chapter out of your Bible instead. Why?

1. Because you need spiritual nutrition, not mind candy.
The other day I was asked my opinion of a popular women’s daily devotional web site. I read a few of the devotions, and the basic format of what I found was a Bible verse (or worse, part of a Bible verse) followed by an inspiring or poignant personal story. Frequently, the Bible verse had little or nothing to do with the story. There’s nothing wrong with reading a good story, but that’s not the same thing as studying God’s word. Other “Bible” studies are built largely on the author’s opinions. You’ll find that I think… or I believe… far outnumber God’s word says… (quoted verbatim, in context, and with a chapter/verse reference). Still others are basically advice or “life tips” books.

Don’t let the fact that a book, magazine, or website bills itself as a “Bible study” or a “devotional” fool you. If all you’re reading is the author’s unsubstantiated opinions, advice, or anecdotes from her (or someone else’s) life, you are studying her story, not God’s story.

There are many good, doctrinally sound studies out there that can be a fine supplement to your regular study of God’s word, and there are many more “Bible studies” and devotionals that are merely feel-good stories, or worse, contain teaching that actually conflicts with the Bible. But how will you know the difference if you don’t know what God’s word says by reading it?

If you don’t know enough of what God’s word says to use it as your measuring stick for other books, you’ll end up doing the same thing a child would do when offered anything in the world that he wants to eat. He’ll choose what looks and tastes good (which might be candy or it might be poison) instead of what’s good for him. When you pick up a Bible study or devotional, you might not know what you’re getting, but when you pick up your Bible, you can be sure you’re getting the very words of God, and that’s what your spirit needs to feed on to grow up healthy.

2. Because King James has been dethroned.
No disrespect intended. The King James Version of the Bible is a good translation, and the language is beautiful, but if you have trouble with 1611 English, it’s not the only game in town anymore. Some of our modern translations (please note: that’s translations not paraphrases) are actually more accurate than the KJV because thousands more biblical manuscripts have been discovered since it was first published, allowing translators to be more precise. Two of these, which I highly recommend, are the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the English Standard Version (ESV).

If you can read books, recipes, magazines, instructions, and Facebook (good heavens– if you can decipher certain Facebook posts, you can comprehend anything), and understand them, there is a Bible translation out there that you can understand. You can even check most of them out for free at BibleGateway.com.

3. Becase the Holy Spirit promised to help you.
I always find it heartwarming to hear someone say, “Before I was saved, I read the Bible, but it didn’t make any sense to me. But now when I read it, I get it!” What changed? The Holy Spirit now lives inside that person. He convicts us of sin, leads us to love the things of God, and shapes us to be more like Christ. One of the ways He does that, according to 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, John 14:26, and 1 John 2:27 and other passages, is that He helps us understand and apply God’s word to our lives.

Before you start reading your Bible, take a moment to pray, confess and repent of your sin, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand and obey His word. He’ll do it, because He keeps His promises.

4. Because you can get by with a little help from your friends.
While the Holy Spirit illumines our understanding of the Scripture, it’s both immediate and a process, so sometimes, you’ll run across a verse that stumps you, a word you don’t understand, or passages that seem to conflict with each other. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is (and was) at work helping other godly men and women to understand the Scriptures, too, and one of the ways He can help you is through their study and hard work.

Cross References:
Take a look at your Bible. See any little superscript numbers or letters in the text? Find the corresponding letter or number, and you’re likely to see the reference for another related Bible verse. Look it up. Clear passages of Scripture interpret unclear passages, and it will probably shed some light on what you’re finding confusing.

Study Bibles:
I almost hesitate to recommend study Bibles because there are so many shoddy ones out there, but if you can find a good one they are extremely helpful. Good study Bibles contain the entire text of the Bible plus notes and explanations on most of the verses. They also often contain historical, cultural, and background information on each book and author, maps, charts, glossaries, etc. As to the shoddy ones, generally speaking, stay away from “theme” Bibles (the Bible for teachers, for athletes, for petroleum engineers who eat waffles for breakfast–yes, I’m kidding– the environmental Bible, the NASCAR Bible, the Duck Dynasty Bible– no, I’m not kiding), and from any Bible whose title contains a televangelist’s name (such as the Bibles T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen have put out).

For my “hard copy” Bible, I use and strongly recommend the MacArthur Study Bible. It is my understanding that the Lutheran Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible are also very good, although I have not personally had a chance to check them out myself. (I do not, however, recommend the ESV Women’s Study Bible.) And there are some phenomenal (and free!) study Bible apps out there. I absolutely LOVE the Faithlife Study Bible and the Bible study app from Olive Tree.

Commentaries, Dictionaries, and Bible Study Helps
Commentaries are a Bible scholar’s written explanation of Scripture. Bible dictionaries will help you with definitions of certain words and phrases. And there are many other notes, outlines, and other Bible study helps you can use to better your understanding of Scripture. The resources page at BibleGateway.com contains several of these, including Matthew Henry’s commentary (my favorite). The Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) has a treasure trove of thousands of resources to help you study. And Logos Bible Software has a great free app that has dozens of resources. (As always, read discerningly. Every now and then you may find a resource at one of these sites that isn’t doctrinally sound.)

5. How badly do you really want this, anyway?
Nobody ever won a medal at the Olympics by practicing her sport for five minutes a day. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb by messing around in his garage for a few hours on the weekend. And, despite the titles of some Christian books, nobody ever grew to spiritual maturity by spending five minutes a day reading a devotional.

Think about the things you spend your time on. Work, cooking, cleaning, TV, social media, novels… If asked, we would probably all say that our relationship with Christ is more important than any of these things, but do our day planners reflect that?

Anything worth having is worth investing time and effort into. It’s worth working at it and sharpening your skills. And nothing–nothing–is more worthwhile than growing closer to Christ. Is Christ worth some time and effort to you?

So, ladies, this is probably going to sound strange coming from a women’s Bible study author*, but you don’t need my book, or anybody else’s, to study the Bible. Just pick up the Scriptures, pick a book, start reading at the beginning, and keep going until you get to the end. People did that for thousands of years before Bible studies hit the scene. They did just fine, and you can too.


*My women’s Bible study, Jacob, Journaling the Journey is no longer in print, and that’s a good thing! I wrote it before learning good hermeneutics and how to handle God’s Word properly. You can probably still find copies of it at online merchants, but I would not recommend that you buy or use it. If you want a good Bible study, the best thing is to simply pick up the Bible and study it for yourself. Right now, I have no plans to rewrite Jacob for future re-release.
Mailbag

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

 

I’m a fairly new Christian and still trying to get my footing in many areas of basic theology, including which Bible translation is best to use. A friend of mine is a “KJV-Onlyist” and has been very critical when I’ve explored other translations. I’ve tried using the KJV, but I find it very hard to understand. Is it wrong or unbiblical to use a modern English translation such as the ESV? If not, how can I explain this to my friend?

Welcome to the family of Christ! Having been raised in church and saved at an early age myself, I can only imagine how overwhelming it must be to assimilate into a totally new culture and begin trying to understand so many different aspects of the Christian life all at once.

A little background information for readers who are not familiar with some of the terminology in your question: KJV stands for King James Version, the 1611 English translation of the Bible that contains all the “thee’s” and “thou’s”. It’s the translation most familiar to the English speaking world. ESV stands for English Standard Version, a modern American English translation of the Bible first published in 2001.

In a nutshell, “KJV-Onlyists” generally believe that the KJV is the only acceptable translation for use by Christian individuals and churches. Many believe this because they mistakenly think that the translation itself is inspired by God in the 2 Timothy 3:16-17 sense. (The correct understanding of inspiration is that the original autographs – the actual words Moses, David, Paul, James, etc. wrote – are what were inspired by God.)

As with most belief systems, KJV-Onlyism is a spectrum of beliefs. On one end of the spectrum are KJVO’s who hold that you’re not saved or that you’re promoting false doctrine if you use any translation other than the KJV (Ironically, this extreme belief is itself false doctrine, or actual heresy if use of the KJV is in any way tied to salvation. Even the King James Version of the Bible does not teach this.). On the other end of the spectrum are what I, personally, would call KJVP’s (preferred). These are KJVO’s who strongly prefer KJV. This is the “official” version they use in their churches and want their church members to use, but they do not tie its use to salvation or disparage those who use other accurate translations. This stance is merely a preference of a particular church or individual, and is not false doctrine. And, of course, there are varied beliefs between the two ends of the spectrum.

The KJV is a perfectly great translation to use if it’s what you prefer. Christians have used it for hundreds of years and have grown in their relationship with Christ just fine. However, it can be confusing for speakers of modern English. Additionally, while it is still an acceptably accurate translation, several modern translations are technically more accurate due to the discovery of thousands of biblical manuscripts over the last 400 years. It is for these reasons I typically recommend either the ESV or the New American Standard (NASB) version. Both are highly accurate and easier to understand for 21st century readers. I used the NASB for about twenty years, then switched to the ESV about four years ago. I love both of them for their accuracy and ease of reading. For more information on choosing an English Bible translation, please see my article The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?.

If you need some materials to share with KJVO’s or would like to study the issue more yourself, please see the Additional Resources section below.


Additional Resources

King James Onlyism by James White

The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations? by James White

Are the translations of the Bible inspired? at Compelling Truth

Why I Changed From KJV to ESV by Josh Buice

The King James Only Controversy by Trevin Wax

What is the KJV Only movement? at Got Questions


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.

Bible, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?

mailbag

 

I was saved out of Mormonism but, as a new Christian, spent some time in the Word of Faith movement. I want a Bible that hasn’t been tampered with by a false religion, but I’m not sure which one I can trust. Which Bible do you recommend?

What a blessing it is to even be able to ask this question! You would not ask this question if God had not graciously saved you, and you could not ask this question if there weren’t a ton of different Bibles available in English, nor if you lived in a country where it is illegal to own a copy of God’s word. It’s a dilemma, but it’s a good dilemma to have.

The good news is that there are many fantastic Bibles out there- far more good ones than bad, and far more than I could recommend in this brief article. So, please don’t take this as an exhaustive list or think that because I’ve left a certain Bible out that it isn’t any good.

The first thing you want to look for is a good translation, not a paraphrase. You want to know what God said through Paul, not what somebody 2000 years later thinks about what God said through Paul. You’re looking to get as close to the original wording as is possible.

There are several great English translations on the market. I started using the English Standard Version (ESV) about four years ago, and I love it. Prior to that I used the New American Standard Bible (NASB) for about 20 years. It is also an excellent translation. If you’re familiar with various Bible translations, ESV is, in my opinion, like a more accurate, more linguistically sophisticated 1984 New International Version (NIV). NASB is like a cross between the King James Version (KJV) and the 1984 NIV, but more accurate. In my opinion, ESV and NASB are the two best translations out there today.

There are, however, several other solid translations such as the New King James Version (NKJV), the Lexham English Bible (LEB), the Christian Standard Bible (CSB– This is a newly revised version of the Holman Christian Standard Bible {HCSB}, and they’re dropping the “Holman”. So HCSB and CSB – whichever one you happen to see – are the same thing.), and the “old” or “1984” NIV (You want to stay away from the TNIV {Today’s New International Version}, now out of print, and any 2011 or later NIV, as those both contain gender neutral/inclusive language. The 1984 edition is also out of print, but you may be able to acquire one from a second hand store.)

The KJV is a good translation and the language is beautiful, but if you have trouble with 1611 English, it’s not the only game in town anymore. Some of our modern translations are actually more accurate than the KJV because thousands more biblical manuscripts have been discovered since it was first published, allowing translators to be more precise.

Below is a helpful chart from Brent MacDonald of Not Just Another Book comparing a number of different translations and paraphrases. (On this chart, it’s good to be a “leftist”).

bibletranslationcomparisonsmall

You can try most of these translations out for free at Bible GatewayThere’s even a great feature that allows you to compare several versions side by side:

biblegateway-compare-translations

Just as there are a number of good Bible versions I would recommend, there are a few I’m familiar with which I would strongly recommend againstThe Message, The Voice, The Passion Translation, and The Amplified Bible.

peterson-shackMore than a few articles have voiced concerns over The Message’s – a paraphrase – often misleading texts. (I would add that Eugene Peterson {author of The Message} frequently shows poor discernment. One recent example is his front cover endorsement of the heresy-laden book – and movie – The Shack.)

The Voice is not only a paraphrase, its contributors include female “pastors” and false teachers such as Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Chris Seay, and Leonard Sweet.

The Passion Translation is a New Apostolic Reformation version of the Bible which actually changes the wording of many verses in order to fit the NAR agenda. Click here for a Bible translation scholar’s review of Passion’s version of Psalms.

The Amplified Bible falls prey to an improper translation technique called illegitimate totality transfer.

If you’re looking for a good study Bible (or want to avoid a bad one), I’ve discussed that a bit here (#4). I frequently use and highly recommend both the ESV MacArthur Study Bible and the Faithlife Study Bible (which is FREE!). When shopping for a study Bible, do you homework and vet the contributors. Avoid any study Bibles whose contributors are false teachers, theologians from apostate churches, female “pastors,” etc.


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.

Bible, Bible Study, Christian women

Wednesday’s Word ~ You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible

I’m taking some time off this week.
I hope you’ll enjoy this selected article.

Originally published July 17, 2014

Bible Five Reasons

As a women’s Bible study author and teacher, I have the unique privilege of talking to women from all kinds of backgrounds about their spiritual lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had women share with me that they didn’t grow up in church, or they grew up in a church that “didn’t allow” them to read the Bible, and now they have to use a Bible study or devotional book in their quiet time or they’re afraid they won’t be able to understand the Bible. My heart goes out to these ladies because they desperately want to learn from God’s word, but somewhere along the way, someone or something has convinced these perfectly intelligent women–I haven’t met a dumb one, yet– that they’re not good enough or smart enough for God’s word.

As Colonel Potter used to say:

ColPotter MM

Ladies, you are not dumb. God created you smart enough to understand the Bible, and He created the Bible to be understandable. He loves you and wants you to read, embrace, and apply His word to your life. So don’t be afraid to throw that Daily Bread out the Open Windows of your Upper Room and read a chapter out of your Bible instead. Why?

1. Because you need spiritual nutrition, not mind candy.
The other day I was asked my opinion of a popular women’s daily devotional web site. I read a few of the devotions, and the basic format of what I found was a Bible verse (or worse, part of a Bible verse) followed by an inspiring or poignant personal story. Frequently, the Bible verse had little or nothing to do with the story. There’s nothing wrong with reading a good story, but that’s not the same thing as studying God’s word. Other “Bible” studies are built largely on the author’s opinions. You’ll find that I think… or I believe… far outnumber God’s word says… (quoted verbatim, in context, and with a chapter/verse reference). Still others are basically advice or “life tips” books.

Don’t let the fact that a book, magazine, or website bills itself as a “Bible study” or a “devotional” fool you. If all you’re reading is the author’s unsubstantiated opinions, advice, or anecdotes from her (or someone else’s) life, you are studying her story, not God’s story.

There are many good, doctrinally sound studies out there that can be a fine supplement to your regular study of God’s word, and there are many more “Bible studies” and devotionals that are merely feel-good stories, or worse, contain teaching that actually conflicts with the Bible. But how will you know the difference if you don’t know what God’s word says by reading it?

If you don’t know enough of what God’s word says to use it as your measuring stick for other books, you’ll end up doing the same thing a child would do when offered anything in the world that he wants to eat. He’ll choose what looks and tastes good (which might be candy or it might be poison) instead of what’s good for him. When you pick up a Bible study or devotional, you might not know what you’re getting, but when you pick up your Bible, you can be sure you’re getting the very words of God, and that’s what your spirit needs to feed on to grow up healthy.

2. Because King James has been dethroned.
No disrespect intended. The King James Version of the Bible is a good translation, and the language is beautiful, but if you have trouble with 1611 English, it’s not the only game in town anymore. Some of our modern translations (please note: that’s translations not paraphrases) are actually more accurate than the KJV because thousands more biblical manuscripts have been discovered since it was first published, allowing translators to be more precise. Two of these, which I highly recommend, are the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the English Standard Version (ESV).

If you can read books, recipes, magazines, instructions, and Facebook (good heavens– if you can decipher certain Facebook posts, you can comprehend anything), and understand them, there is a Bible translation out there that you can understand. You can even check most of them out for free at BibleGateway.com.

3. Becase the Holy Spirit promised to help you.
I always find it heartwarming to hear someone say, “Before I was saved, I read the Bible, but it didn’t make any sense to me. But now when I read it, I get it!” What changed? The Holy Spirit now lives inside that person. He convicts us of sin, leads us to love the things of God, and shapes us to be more like Christ. One of the ways He does that, according to 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, John 14:26, and 1 John 2:27 and other passages, is that He helps us understand and apply God’s word to our lives.

Before you start reading your Bible, take a moment to pray, confess and repent of your sin, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand and obey His word. He’ll do it, because He keeps His promises.

4. Because you can get by with a little help from your friends.
While the Holy Spirit illumines our understanding of the Scripture, it’s both immediate and a process, so sometimes, you’ll run across a verse that stumps you, a word you don’t understand, or passages that seem to conflict with each other. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is (and was) at work helping other godly men and women to understand the Scriptures, too, and one of the ways He can help you is through their study and hard work.

Cross References:
Take a look at your Bible. See any little superscript numbers or letters in the text? Find the corresponding letter or number, and you’re likely to see the reference for another related Bible verse. Look it up. Clear passages of Scripture interpret unclear passages, and it will probably shed some light on what you’re finding confusing.

Study Bibles:
I almost hesitate to recommend study Bibles because there are so many shoddy ones out there, but if you can find a good one they are extremely helpful. Good study Bibles contain the entire text of the Bible plus notes and explanations on most of the verses. They also often contain historical, cultural, and background information on each book and author, maps, charts, glossaries, etc. As to the shoddy ones, generally speaking, stay away from “theme” Bibles (the Bible for teachers, for athletes, for petroleum engineers who eat waffles for breakfast–yes, I’m kidding– the environmental Bible, the NASCAR Bible, the Duck Dynasty Bible– no, I’m not kiding), and from any Bible whose title contains a televangelist’s name (such as the Bibles T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen have put out).

For my “hard copy” Bible, I use and strongly recommend the MacArthur Study Bible. It is my understanding that the Lutheran Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible are also very good, although I have not personally had a chance to check them out myself. And there are some phenomenal (and free!) study Bible apps out there. I absolutely LOVE the Faithlife Study Bible and the Bible study app from Olive Tree.

Commentaries, Dictionaries, and Bible Study Helps
Commentaries are a Bible scholar’s written explanation of Scripture. Bible dictionaries will help you with definitions of certain words and phrases. And there are many other notes, outlines, and other Bible study helps you can use to better your understanding of Scripture. The resources page at BibleGateway.com contains several of these, including Matthew Henry’s commentary (my favorite). The Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) has a treasure trove of thousands of resources to help you study. And Logos Bible Software has a great free app that has dozens of resources.

5. How badly do you really want this, anyway?
Nobody ever won a medal at the Olympics by practicing her sport for five minutes a day. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb by messing around in his garage for a few hours on the weekend. And, despite the titles of some Christian books, nobody ever grew to spiritual maturity by spending five minutes a day reading a devotional.

Think about the things you spend your time on. Work, cooking, cleaning, TV, social media, novels… If asked, we would probably all say that our relationship with Christ is more important than any of these things, but do our day planners reflect that?

Anything worth having is worth investing time and effort into. It’s worth working at it and sharpening your skills. And nothing–nothing–is more worthwhile than growing closer to Christ. Is Christ worth some time and effort to you?

So, ladies, this is probably going to sound strange coming from a women’s Bible study author, but you don’t need my book, or anybody else’s, to study the Bible. Just pick up the Scriptures, pick a book, start reading at the beginning, and keep going until you get to the end. People did that for thousands of years before Bible studies hit the scene. They did just fine, and you can too.

Bible, Church, Creation, Discernment, Evolution, False Teachers, New Apostolic Reformation, Prayer, Throwback Thursday, Word of Faith Movement, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors ~ Part 2

Originally published January 23, 201414333562683841

Recently, I read a great article by Justin Peters entitled “Ignorance Is Not An Option.” I would call this article a response to that one, but it’s really more of a…well, I guess you could call it a “ricochet”. Last week, in Part 1 of this article, I discussed five current issues in evangelicalism that we folks in the pew need some guidance on from our pastors. Following are six more issues we all, pastors and church members alike, need to learn about and and keep a biblical perspective on.

Creation vs. Evolution:  Sorely missing from some pulpits these days is the exhortation to Christians that the Bible is our final authority on every issue in life and that we are called to believe God’s word- believe it intelligently, yes, but believe it, even in the face of worldly opposition. This admonition does not begin with Genesis 3, it begins with Genesis 1.  We are called to believe that God created the world and that He created it the way the Bible says He created it.

*Resources:
Answers in Genesis– From Creation apologetics to scholarly scientific articles to colleges that teach Creation to VBS curricula, you would be hard put to find a more comprehensive, gospel-centered Creation resource.
The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

Denominational Differences: Do you know the basics of what the major Christian denominations teach (salvation, baptism, communion, membership, etc.) and the differences between their doctrine and the doctrine of your own denomination? Are you aware that some denominations which are considered by many to be “Christian” hold to doctrines- including soteriology- that conflicts with God’s word? Are you fairly well acquainted with the doctrines of the denomination or religion that is predominant (or secondary if your own denomination predominates) in your area? Pastoral instruction on the basics of other denominational beliefs (as well as their own!) can be quite helpful as we church members relate to friends and family members or help new church members who come from a different denominational background.

Resources: 
GotQuestions.org For a brief overview of most of the major religions and denominations, type “Methodist,” “Mormon,” etc., in the search box.

For more detailed information, find the denomination’s main web site and click on their “statement of faith” or “what we believe” page (Keep in mind that there are several different “flavors” of Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc., whose doctrines and practices may vary significantly from each other.), or get to know local pastors of other denominations and just ask what they teach.

The Word of Faith Movement:  Used almost interchangeably with the term “prosperity gospel,” anti-biblical Word of Faith concepts such as the “little gods” doctrine (we have a divine nature), health and wealth prosperity (it is never God’s will for you to be sick or poor, and if you are, it’s because of your lack of faith), positive confession (Our words have the power to create reality or speak things into existence. Conversely, negative words create negative circumstances.), and twisted teachings about tithing (“sow your seed so God will multiply it back to you”), among others, are infiltrating unsuspecting churches at an alarming rate, and many are being deceived.

Because church members are often introduced to these doctrines by seemingly innocuous, popular speakers and leaders such as Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, Hillsong personnel, Robert Morris, John and Lisa Bevere, John Hagee, Kari Jobe, and Judah Smith, whose materials are sold at Christian stores, conferences, and web sites, church members, and even some pastors, have no way of knowing they’re encountering false teaching unless they understand sound biblical doctrine and have a modicum of discernment skills.  It is now more necessary than ever for Christians to be trained in the basics of hermeneutics and discernment. 

Resources:
A Call for Discernment by Justin Peters
Word Faith Movement at Stand Up For the Truth
Sound the Alarm: The Dangers of the Word of Faith Movement by Emmanuel Davis
A Softer Prosperity Gospel: More Common Than You Think at 9Marks

The New Apostolic ReformationHopefully, your church members have never encountered NAR leaders, doctrines, or manifestations, or, if they have, were immediately turned off by its weirdness and because it is so blatantly anti-biblical. NAR takes the Word of Faith movement, and –BAM!– kicks it up a notch. But, as a gateway drug can lead to addiction and addiction can lead to a fatal overdose, so exposure to Joel Osteen can lead to T.D. Jakes to Benny Hinn to holy laughterstrange “anointings,” glory clouds of gold dust, tremoring, false prophecy, and being “drunk in the Spirit.” This is signs and wonders on steroids.

The NAR is also largely responsible for many of the corrupt teachings on prayer (mainly through Bethel Church in Redding, California) that have become popular in recent years, such as: contemplative/centering prayer, lectio divina, the International House of Prayer, Sozo prayer, healing rooms, and soaking prayer, as well as the false teaching of dominionism.

Resources:
False Spirits Invade the Church: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3  A Documentary by Andrew Strom
What is the New Apostolic Reformation? (And Why Should We Be Concerned About It?) by Christine Pack of Sola Sisters- This article is not only very helpful in and of itself, it provides links to many related articles and resources.
Love and Death in the House of Prayer by Jeff Tietz of Rolling Stone

The Emergent/Emerging Church MovementEver heard the old joke, “The only rule is…there are no rules!” Well, replace the word “rule” with “doctrine” and you’ve got a somewhat loose definition of the emergent church. It’s a post-modern mix of ethereal non-traditionalism, feelings, experiences, and mysticism as a means of worship, anti-absolute truth, ideological inclusivism, and anything goes universalism, topped off with a heaping helping of “did God really say…?“. Everything in the Bible, from moral absolutes to the divinity of Christ to the atonement to every other jot and tittle of the Word is questioned, if not outright denied. The only doctrine is…there is no doctrine. And, unfortunately, we church members can find any number of emergent books and materials on the shelves at our local Christian bookstores.

Resources:
What is the Emerging Church? by CARM.org
Exposing the Emergent Movement by Stand Up For the Truth

Bible Translations and Paraphrases, Study Bibles, and Theme BiblesIf the members of your church are carrying the LOLCat Bible or the KLV (yes, folks, that’s the Klingon Language Version of the Bible {Thanks a lot, Aaron. I’ll never be able to unsee that.}) into the sanctuary every week, you probably need more doctrinal intervention than I’m qualified to offer. But, while there are a number of theologically sound study Bibles and theme Bibles out there, there are some that may be just as theologically off base as the gospel according to kitty cats and Star Trek. Joyce Meyer’s Everyday Life Bible, Joel Osteen’s Hope for Today Bible, Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, and T.D. Jakes’ Woman Thou Art Loosed Bible are a few that come to mind. (Notice that these are all sold on a Christian web site right alongside materials that teach sound doctrine.)

Are you somewhat familiar with the most common Bible translations being used today, and which ones are the most accurate? Do your church members understand the difference between a translation and a paraphrase? What about gender neutral Bibles? There is such a variety of Bible options available today that the members of your congregation could likely use some guidance in selecting an accurate translation for studying God’s word.

Resources: 
BibleGateway.com– Just about every Bible translation and paraphrase you can imagine, all on line, all free. Compare a few versions side by side, and, if you’re thinking of buying a new version, try it out at BG before you buy.
Comparison of English Bible Translations
Translation Comparison Charts
How the Use of Some Bible Versions Can Twist God’s Truth at The Sacred Sandwich

*The resources given are obviously not an exhaustive list. For the most part, they are resources I have used myself, found to be helpful, and trust to be generally doctrinally sound. There are many other wonderful resources out there, but our most important resource is to compare all things and people to God’s word in context.