Basic Training, Bible

Throwback Thursday ~ Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

Originally published March 10, 2017

For more in the Basic Training series, click here.

God said to me…/I heard God say…

Listen for God’s voice…

God spoke to me in a dream…

God gave me a vision of…

We hear things like this non-stop these days in pop-evangelicalism. And it’s not just in the whack job Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation movements, or in Charismatic churches, either. These words are coming out of the mouths of regular, every day Baptists and Methodists and Lutherans and Presbyterians, too. It’s largely due to the infiltration of Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation false doctrine into our churches via a) “Bible studies” from false teachers like Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst and others and b) individual church members who feed on a steady diet of “Christian” television such as TBN, CBN, Daystar, and GodTV. Christians are getting the false idea that they need to hear, or should be hearing, God speak to them instead of trusting in the sufficiency of God’s word.

The theological term for “God spoke to me/showed me in a dream/etc.” is extra-biblical revelation– words or revelations, supposedly directly from God, that happen outside the pages of the Bible. I’d like to share with you six reasons God’s word is sufficient, and extra-biblcal revelation is both unbiblical and unnecessary.

1. Extra-biblical revelation is not the method God has established for communicating with us.
Maybe you and I would prefer it if God would just talk to us and tell us, one on one, in no uncertain terms, what He wants us to do. But that’s not the way that God prefers to communicate with New Testament Christians this side of a closed canon. God chooses to communicate with us through His written word. He says:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2

Let’s bear in mind, it is God Himself who breathed out these words. These verses are God speaking to us, and He says Scripture is enough to make us complete and mature, and to equip us for everything He has for us to do.

When we insist on “hearing God speak” outside of Scripture, we’re essentially saying, “God, I reject Your way and demand you do things my way instead.” Remember, God set up this whole Christianity thing, and He gets to make the rules, not us.

2. What makes you so sure it’s God who’s speaking to you?
Just because you have a feeling, an urge, or an intense experience doesn’t mean that was God speaking to you. Maybe it was Satan. Maybe it was your own wicked heart. Maybe it was a temptation to sin. Maybe it was just an old memory resurfacing. How can you know, objectively (not based on your feelings, the intensity of the experience, etc.), beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was actually God speaking to you? And if you can’t know for sure it was God, why would you put your trust in whatever “He said” to you?

As Christians, we can irrefutably know God is speaking to us when we read His word because we know He is the author of Scripture.

3. Extra-biblical revelation is redundant and unnecessary.
Even those (most of them, anyway) who believe God still talks to people will tell you that God will never say something to you that contradicts His written Word. So why not just bypass the whole “God spoke to me” thing and go straight to the Bible? Or as Puritan John Owen put it:

As God Himself has told us in His written Word, the Bible is sufficient instruction for every situation in our lives. We don’t need God to speak to us verbally. He has already spoken. Why aren’t we satisfied with that?

4. Insisting on extra-biblical revelation demonstrates a lack of trust in God and His ways.
James 1:5 says:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

And where do we get wisdom to handle the situations and decisions of life? Not from a voice from Heaven saying “do this” or “do that,” but from Scripture:

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130

Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word! Psalm 119:169

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; Psalm 19:7

and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15

We don’t need God to tell us what decision to make, we want Him to, because that’s easier than doing the hard work of digging into Scripture, studying the biblical principles that apply to our situation, making the best and most godly decision we can, and trusting God for the outcome. But that’s exactly what God wants us to do:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

When we honor and trust God by looking to His written word for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, He has promised to give us wisdom to make godly decisions and make our paths straight.

5. What about being led by the Holy Spirit?
For some reason people often draw a distinction between being “led” by the Holy Spirit and studying the Scriptures He breathed out, as though they’re two different things. Studying, believing, and obeying the words the Holy Spirit inspired is being led by the Spirit.

6. Extra-biblical revelation sets up a class system within Christianity.
Why do some people “hear” from God and others don’t? The reason implied by the Christian leaders (or even your fellow church members) – who make sure you know they’ve personally heard from God – is that people God speaks to are, spiritually, a cut above. Special. More faithful. More favored by God than you are. It’s like a carrot dangling in front of a horse. It keeps you buying their books, attending their conferences, following them on social media, hoping against hope that one day you’ll become one of the spiritual elite.

But how does the idea that others are “hearing God speak” affect a Christian who isn’t hearing from God? She starts thinking maybe God isn’t pleased with her. Maybe she’s sinning against God in some way. Maybe she’s not being faithful enough, praying enough, giving enough. Maybe God doesn’t love her. Maybe she’s not even saved. It turns her into a second class citizen of God’s Kingdom and causes her to covet something she doesn’t have and God never promised her.

None of this is biblical. There are no first tier and second tier Christians. A lot of the people God actually spoke to in Scripture were hardly paragons of spiritual awesomeness: BalaamSaul, and Moses, just to name a few. And God measures “spiritual awesomeness” not in strutting your closeness to Him before others, but in humility, servanthood, and crucifying self.

Ladies, God’s written Word is sufficient for our every need. We can trust that the words of Scripture are directly from the lips of God Himself. No one can say that with any certainty about extra-biblical revelation. Trust God to direct your paths and give you biblical wisdom to make godly decisions as you grow in the knowledge and understanding of His word.


Additional Resources

Where is it written that God doesn’t speak audibly any more? at Naomi’s Table

Listening to God Without Getting All Weird About It by David Appelt

How God Speaks To Us Today by Tim Challies

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Home churches, Non-Calvinist authors, Memes from false teachers, Contrarian commenter?)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


What is your view of home/house churches?

My approach to home churches – small groups of Christians who meet in someone’s home to have a worship service together rather than attending an established local church- is:

  • I urge extreme caution when considering a home church
  • Start/attend a home church only as a last resort when you can’t find an established, doctrinally sound church within achievable driving distance of your home.
  • View the home church as a church plant (the home church will grow into an official, established church, rather than staying a home church)
  • Have a proper, biblical ecclesial structure (a biblically qualified pastor/elders/deacons, conduct worship gatherings according to biblical parameters, etc.)

I elaborated on this issue a little more in my article Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly:

I want to be clear that I advise [starting a home church] only as a last resort after exhausting every possibility of joining a biblical established church. I have known of people who withdrew from established churches because of doctrinal problems, and instead of searching for a sound, established church, decided to form a house church, which then fell into other doctrinal problems of its own. House churches can be very vulnerable to doctrinal error.

If you must meet with other believers outside of an established church, make sure whoever is pastoring the group is biblically qualified to do so, and that your home church carries out all of the components of a biblical church: Bible teaching, worship, prayer, care for members, the Lord’s Supper, baptism, and church discipline. There are many wonderful, trustworthy resources such as sermons, Bible teaching, and Bible study lessons available on line for free. Take advantage of them. You may also wish to contact your denomination’s headquarters, a reputable missions organization, or a doctrinally sound church planting organization and ask about the possibility of a missionary or church planter coming to plant a new church in your area.

In countries with governments which outlaw Christianity, underground home churches are the only option. That is not the case in America and most Westernized countries yet, though we are headed down that road. Until that time, I would strongly urge Western Christians to join with an established, doctrinally sound local church (keeping in mind that no church is perfect, and most won’t meet all your preferences), and if there isn’t one in your area, either contact a church planting organization or move to an area where there is an established, doctrinally sound church.

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians


Are there any non-Calvinist/Reformed authors you would consider solid?

There are probably scads of them, but – and it might surprise you to hear this – I don’t check to see whether or not someone is Calvinist/Reformed before deciding whether or not to read or listen to his materials, and consequently, I often don’t even know which soteriological label he wears. All I care about is whether or not he rightly handles Scripture and behaves in submission to Scripture.

I’m frequently on the receiving end of the accusation, “You just think anybody who’s not a Calvinist is a false teacher!”. It’s simply not true. That’s not something I consider an automatic litmus test of someone’s doctrinal soundness. The vast majority of the churches I have personally been a member of have not even had a Calvinist/Reformed pastor.

I’m sorry I can’t provide you with any specific names. Read people who handle Scripture correctly. That’s the best counsel I can give.

(Just a reminder, readers, I don’t allow Calvinism vs. Arminianism arguments in the comments sections of my articles. Comments like this won’t be posted.)


Just wondering how you respond to quotes/memes, etc from unbiblical teachers when it appears there’s nothing wrong with the quote/meme? A family member of mine often posts memes like this on Facebook. Most of them deal with being kind to each other, or continuing to trust God and rather simplistic things. I don’t disagree with that particular message but don’t want her to get caught up in false teaching.

I’m taking this to mean something like Lysa TerKeurst sharing a Bible verse meme or Beth Moore sharing a meme that says, “Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life,” or something like that. In other words, the content of the meme itself is in line with Scripture, but it has the name of a false teacher attached to it, and that’s what makes it problematic.

There could be a couple of different things happening here. It could be that your family member follows and is a fan of the false teacher she’s reposting. Or it could be that a Facebook friend of hers or some sort of “inspirational quotes” page she follows shared the meme and she is just re-sharing it having no idea who the false teacher is or what she teaches.

I would suggest contacting her privately in an e-mail or private message on Facebook (even if this is someone you see face to face regularly, because an e-mail or message is less confrontational and emotional, and also allows you to provide information more easily) and very lovingly, gently, and briefly say something like this:

Hi Laurel-

Hope you’re having a great day.

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how much I appreciate your heart for encouraging people on Facebook with the memes you post. So many people are hurting these days and are in need of a kind word.

I’m sure you didn’t realize it, but you’ve posted a couple of memes from Priscilla Shirer and Christine Caine, both of whom teach and do some very unbiblical things. As a Christian, I know you would never want to lead anyone astray from Scripture, even accidentally, so I thought I’d pass along this information on them to fill you in on where they’re coming from. If you have any questions or want to chat about it, just let me know.

Priscilla Shirer: https://michellelesley.com/2015/09/18/going-beyond-scripture-why-its-time-to-say-good-bye-to-priscilla-shirer-and-going-beyond-ministries/

Christine Caine: https://michellelesley.com/2016/03/04/chhave-no-regard-for-the-offerings-of-caine/

Love,
Kristy

And then I would leave it at that unless she brings it up and wants to talk. You can lead a horse to Living Water, but only the Holy Spirit can make him drink. :0)

Four Reasons Why It Matters Who We Share, Pin, and Re-Tweet

Words with Friends by Amy Spreeman

Words with Friends at A Word Fitly Spoken (several great resources in the show notes)


Several years ago I had a falling out with a friend when I warned her about a false teacher and she vehemently disagreed. Since that time, she has begun following more and more false teachers, and has started a blog which centers around extra-biblical revelation. Recently, she asked me to subscribe to her blog. Is it proper for me to get involved with a blog with which I will be in total disagreement and arguing theology probably constantly? Should I join and be the only voice of Biblical reason?

It’s interesting, knowing your disagreement with the false teacher you initially warned her about, that she would ask you to subscribe to her blog. Is it possible she just sent out a blanket invitation to everyone on her e-mail list or to all her Facebook friends, forgetting that you were on that list? If you think that’s the case, and she wasn’t really inviting you personally, I would just ignore the invitation and go on my merry way.

If, however, this really was a personal invitation to you, my counsel would be to drop her a note (similar in tone to the one in the section above) saying that you really appreciate the invitation to subscribe to her blog, but that you find much of the subject matter of her blog to be unbiblical. So if you do subscribe, you will feel compelled – fairly often – to comment with biblical arguments against what she has written. And because of that constant state of argument, you don’t think it would be a good idea for you to subscribe to her blog.

As a blogger, I can tell you that I don’t like it when a person takes it upon herself to constantly argue against or attempt to correct my theology, and if that person keeps it up after being warned, she usually gets blocked or banned. My thought is, “If you’re so diametrically opposed to what I write, why in the world are you following me? Go find a blogger to follow whom you agree with and enjoy, or start your own blog for sharing your opinions.” So, since I know what that feels like, I try to extend that same courtesy to others. I don’t generally* follow blogs, social media accounts, etc., that I strongly disagree with and constantly argue with them. It rarely does any good or changes anyone’s mind. Better to hang on to your pearls and stay out of the pig pen.

You may find some of my thoughts in my article The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? to be helpful since this is a similar situation, but I would still lean toward encouraging you not to follow your friend’s blog and argue constantly.

*(In the interest of full disclosure there is one Twitter account I follow – LifeWay Women – which I strongly disagree with most of the time because they promote false teachers. This is an agency of my denomination, not an individual, and I occasionally tweet refutations to/about them in order to make my fellow Southern Baptists on Twitter aware of the false teachers/doctrine their own denomination is promoting, and because my previous attempts to contact LifeWay privately have either been ignored or rebuffed. Still, I try not to constantly barrage them with argumentative tweets.)

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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Tithing, Beth Moore on abortion, wife earning more than husband…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


Any good info you can send in about tithing? Is it for NT believer? Are we in sin if we don’t?

Great question – and it’s one that a lot of Believers probably wonder about. For the long answer, check out my article To Tithe or Not to Tithe… (and don’t forget to click on the links in that article to the helpful resources I’ve included).

The short answer is no. Christians are not required by Scripture to tithe. The main Scripture that covers the principles for New Testament giving is 2 Corinthians 9:7:

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

We are to give thoughtfully, decisively, generously, willingly, and gladly. Now, if you consider your finances and the needs of your church, you and ask God to help you make a wise decision about how much to give, and ten per cent is the prayerful conclusion you come to, then by all means, give ten per cent. If it’s fifty per cent or two per cent or 97 per cent or some other amount, give that. New Testament giving is about glad generosity of heart and godly decision-making, not rote fulfillment of a non-applicable Mosaic Covenant law.

Are you in sin if you don’t tithe? It depends on the reason you’re not tithing. If you’re not tithing (or giving) because you’re selfish and greedy and you don’t want to give anything to the church, then, yes, you’re sinning. If you’re not tithing because you’re barely scraping by and can only afford to give five per cent to the church, which you give with a joyful and generous heart, no, you’re not sinning. But for sure, if your pastor or someone else is attempting to coerce or compel you to tithe, he is putting you under the yoke of the law, he is violating 2 Corinthians 9:7, and he is in sin.


What is Beth Moore’s position on abortion?

I received this question from several readers in connection with the publication of An Open Letter to Beth Moore (which you can still sign if you haven’t yet, ladies).

I don’t know what Beth’s position on abortion is. I Googled “Beth Moore abortion” and the closest thing I came up with was a tweet thread from 2016 that had something to do with the presidential election and whether or not Beth supported Hillary Clinton (it wasn’t 100% clear since some of the tweets have since been deleted or made private). Some questioned Beth in that thread about her stance on abortion since they believed she supported Clinton, but while Beth clearly said she did not support either candidate, unless I missed a tweet or it was deleted, she did not state what her position on abortion was.

If you want to know Beth’s position on abortion, you will have to ask her. Since she is Southern Baptist, you may wish to ask her if she agrees with the portion of Article XV of the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM2000– the SBC’s statement of faith) which states,

“We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”

It is possible Beth would be willing to give a pro-life answer since it is likely much more acceptable among her followers for her to stand against abortion than to stand against homosexuality. But since she has already demonstrated that she is unwilling to take a firm biblical stand on an issue when doing so might diminish her popularity, I imagine she will respond to questions about abortion the same way she responded to our questions about homosexuality: ignore the questions as much as possible, or answer them in an obfuscatory or cryptic manner when pressed.


As a woman, am I sinning by witnessing to a man?

Nope. Not under the auspices of 1 Timothy 2:12, anyway. What you’re doing is carrying out the Great Commission, Jesus’ mandate to all Christians. A couple of articles that explain more and that you might find helpful:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#11)

The Mailbag: Is it biblical for women to carry out The Great Commission?


One of my loved ones says she hears God’s voice, still small voice, a new revelation from Him and so on. How can I search your website to get information on this?

May God bless you for wanting to help your loved one! I think these articles will help:

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

Basic Training: The Bible Is Our Authority

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Michelle’s a money-grubber, Still small voice, Husband of one wife…)


Wondering what kind of instruction you received to teach what [you] have on your website. I have studied the Scriptures for many years, but am disappointed that I did not spot some of the false and lacking “teachers” you have written about. I found you, thankfully, by following a rabbit trail regarding false teachers. Thanks.

Thanks for asking! The biblical instruction I’ve received:

•Sitting under good preaching and teaching at my own church

•Studying straight from the Bible itself (not workbook/DVD studies, etc.) during my daily Bible study time

•Listening to good sermons and Bible teaching online

•Reading good, solid theological books by doctrinally sound authors.

I have audited one or two online seminary classes, but I’ve never been enrolled in a seminary, nor do I have a seminary degree.

I’ve explained a bit more about how I got started learning discernment here. Many of the authors, pastors, and teachers I’ve listened to can be found in the sidebar to your left (Blogs and Podcasts I Follow and Links I Love) and at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.

This is part of the reason I’m forever hounding women to put aside the “canned” studies and systematically study straight from the Bible for themselves and to get faithfully invested in a doctrinally sound church – it’s not only biblical, it works.


Biblical views on a wife making more than her husband financially?

To my knowledge, there is no passage in the Bible that explicitly prohibits a woman from having a larger salary than her husband’s, assuming that they are both employed in a manner that doesn’t violate biblical standards. (Readers- For the purposes of this question, let’s assume that neither spouse is neglecting his/her biblical duties to the marriage, children, or home by being employed in this season of his/her life.)

In other words, if they’re both employed full time and her position or field just happens to pay more than his position or field, that doesn’t violate any Scripture I’m aware of. Or there could be situations such as: a husband is ill or disabled and unable to work full time (or at all), or the husband has had to reduce his workload temporarily to care for an ill family member, go back to school, etc. However, if it’s a situation like the wife is making more money because the husband is a lazy bum who refuses to work enough hours (or at all) to support his family, that would be sinful on his part.

If there’s nothing unbiblical about the wife’s or the husband’s employment situation but it bothers one or both of them that her salary is larger, they should sit down, talk it out, and pray through the issue to discover and resolve the problem. I would also recommend setting up an appointment with their pastor or a biblical counselor for counseling (see Biblical Counseling Resources tab at the top of this page).


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.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ January 14, 2019

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

It’s a few years old, but this excellent episode of the Issues, Etc. radio show: This Week in Pop-American Christianity: Priscilla Shirer on Hearing the Voice of God recently came across my news feed. Many false teachers (in this case, Priscilla Shirer) twist or misunderstand John 10 to mean that, if you’re a Christian, God will speak to you audibly. That’s not what it means, as anyone who takes the time to read the passage in context can attest. Pastor and podcaster Chris Rosebrough explains simply, carefully, and biblically, why this teaching is wrong and what John 10 actually means.

 

“I get dozens of emails each month from parents whose teens are leaving the church or being swept away by a false version of Jesus and the gospel…In this list I’ve compiled ten critical topics for the modern teen.” Great for youth directors and parents of teens, but the adults in your church probably need to read this too. Check out Ten Theological Topics for Parents of Modern Teens by our friend Costi Hinn on his blog, For the Gospel.

 

Pornography is usually addressed as a “men’s problem”, but, increasingly, women are succumbing to this insidious temptation. Stephanie offers pastors three suggestions (these would be helpful for anyone) for counseling and discipling women who participate in the sin of pornography in her 9Marks article Helping Women Who Struggle with Pornography.

 

Thoroughly and knowledgeably written by Denny Burk (head of CBMW), What Does It Mean That Women Should “Remain Quiet” in Church? (1 Timothy 2) from Crossway is one of the best commentaries I’ve ever read on 1 Timothy 2:11-14. I’ve added it as a resource to my own article on that passage: Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit.

 

Fasting mirrors the hunger we should have for Christ. Do Christians Fast Because Food and Drink Are Bad? from Crossway explains more.

Guest Posts

Guest Post: Moving Off the Sure Foundation

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

Moving Off The Sure Foundation
by Kerri Sheldon

The authoritative rule for Christian belief and practice is Scripture – pure and sound. It should be the church’s first say, only say, and final say. If the truth within Scripture is compromised, then by default, the new norm will become muddled thinking and false teaching. Such a compromise will transpire when biblical truths are subtly displaced by other ideas that perhaps on the surface appear innocuous, but with further consideration are found to be a diversion from truth.

Unfortunately, such a shift is happening today among evangelical circles at an increasing rate. A prime illustration is seen when a church has a statement of faith that includes something like, “We believe in the sole authority of Scripture for faith and practice,” yet they have practically abandoned that stance by allowing false teachings to enter in, whether deliberately or indirectly. If Scripture is really their authority, as they say, it should be in actuality, not just in statement. Sometimes it can be more telling to view a church’s list of current studies to know if they truly adhere to God’s Word.

Let’s turn our attention to a few specific examples of untrue teachings that have entered the visible church, making way for a foundational swing.

Hearing God’s Voice

It is quite possible you have heard the phrase “hearing God’s voice,” whether from some teacher or in conversation. Upon hearing such an expression, we should ask ourselves what the person means. Are they saying they were reading the Bible and the Holy Spirit illuminated the truth meaning of the text to their minds? Perhaps that is what they mean. But generally when the phrase is used it means something quite different. Authors Henry and Richard Blackaby, as well as teachers Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, to name a few, typically use it to convey the concept that God’s voice is heard when one opens themselves up or learns through experience apart from and outside of Scripture. Keep in mind they might affirm that God’s voice is heard only in Scripture. However, in reality, usually the idea is that one should hear fresh inner promptings or whispers that are not found in the Bible. In fact, they suggest that to hear God’s voice immediately and directly is fresher and greater than simply reading and studying His Word. Do you see why this teaching is so deceptive? It is not because of what is actually stated – to hear God’s voice, but because of what is not stated – how, when, and where to hear God’s voice. The truth is that Christians are commanded to read, study, memorize, believe, and obey God’s Word, not to listen for a voice. It is in the hearing and illumination of the Word that the Spirit then promises to be with us, guiding and empowering us, as we simply walk by faith.

Experiencing God

“Experiencing God” is another commonly heard theme. The idea is associated with having fresh encounters with God. An example can be seen in the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Young states, “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more…” (p. xi) What is this “more” for which Young longs? Is it for more of the Bible? It is not presented that way. Implicit in her statement is the desire for a personal encounter or direct experience with the Living God that is beyond, or other than through, the Word of God.

Should Christians desire to personally encounter God based on their own devices or whims? Is this even attainable? Mystics would answer “yes.” They believe that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience as intuition or insight. But the believers’ “experiencing” of God is a knowing of God through His means – the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The eternal invisible God is unknowable to fallen and rebellious sinners apart from His own provision for them. Unfortunately, when someone wishes to experience God directly they will be operating from worldly or sensual desires. Let’s remember what one of the more prolific writers and theologians of the 20th century, Francis Schaeffer, said: “We must stress that the basis for our faith is neither experience nor emotion, but the truth as God has given it: in verbalized, propositional form in the Scripture and which we first of all apprehend with our mind – though, of course, the whole man must act upon it.”

Benjamin Warfield, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, explained the difference between biblically “experiencing” God and mystical experience, in The Biblical Review, Volume 2, 1917: “Evangelical Christianity interprets all religious experience by the normative revelation of God recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures, and guides, directs, and corrects it from these Scriptures, and thus molds it into harmony with what God in His revealed Word lays down as the normal Christian life. The mystic, on the other hand, tends to substitute his religious experience for the objective revelation of God recorded in the written Word, as the source from which he derives his knowledge of God, or at least to subordinate the expressly revealed Word as the less direct and convincing source of knowledge of God to his own religious experience. The result is that the external revelation is relatively depressed in value, if not totally set aside.”

One of the more prominent people who introduced experience-based emphases and techniques into the visible church was author Richard Foster. His book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth took the church world by storm when first published in 1978 (from which the below quotes are taken). It is about the quest for spirituality based on the inner workings of the soul and spiritual techniques. Interestingly, Foster was raised a Quaker. They believe in the “inward light.” To give you a taste of Foster’s book the following quotes are given:

The inner world of meditation is most easily entered through the door of the imagination. (p. 22)

Another meditation aimed at centering oneself begins by concentrating on breathing…become silent outwardly and inwardly. Be attentive to the inward living Christ…then listen once again. (p.25)

You can see Foster believes that imagination, meditation, and the quest for the “inward Christ” are the new mediation before God. Of course that is absolutely not biblical, and is in contrast to the “outward” light who invaded our world of darkness in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He and His Word are the Light having come into our darkened lives. Not long after Foster’s book, a new seminary category of study was born – spiritual formations. It is quite a conglomeration of teachings in most seminaries these days.

The Cosmic Christ

Another false thought that has entered into evangelicalism is that of a Romantic and/or Cosmic Christ. It says God comes to us “in stuff” (like the creation) and that we need “spiritual eyes” to see Him there. But does Christ make Himself known personally through the creation? No, the true God reigns transcendent over His creation and made Himself personally known in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. Yet many are flocking to such authors as Ann Voskamp who writes in her book One Thousand Gifts, “Do I have eyes to see His face in all things…” (p.112). This is a new-age concept in that there is an ever present deity in the creation. It is not talking of the real Jesus, the One who became flesh and dwelt among us and died and was raised again and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. If you want that Christ, you should stick with only the Scriptures.

The End of this Present Evil Age

Unfortunately, the introduction of many false teachers and false doctrines as mentioned here has been “winked at” by most evangelical leaders. This is not ok. If we move even slightly off a biblical foundation, where does that take us? In Acts 20:17-38 we read of Paul’s ministry to the elders of Ephesus and his emphasis in that ministry. True shepherds warn the flock of such impending dangers just like Paul. In light of this, we must not overlook the very nature of the end of this present evil age. Remember what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2. He warns that there would be a falling away from the faith led by the man of sin. In the midst of the church at the end of the age a beast will arise and be the catalyst of a false church and the world’s final rebellion against the God of the Scriptures. The spirit of antichrist starts in the visible church and the final apostasy will be no exception. For saints who are alive, it will be very costly to maintain a faithful testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ in the environment of both the visible apostate church and the fallen world.

But our ultimate hope is eternal and will be revealed when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself returns on that glorious day of His revelation! Until then, we should be on guard even while sitting in a church pew and wait patiently with watchful eye and prayerful hearts.


This article is drawn, in part, from Resolute: An Unwavering Stance on the Truth of God’s Word by Kerri Sheldon and her father, David Sheldon. Kerri and David believe that making true disciples of Jesus Christ can only happen when one is presented with sound theological doctrine, and their desire is to help Christians guard against deception and ignite a stance on the Word of God alone. Check out Kerri and David’s website, 4 Truth Ministry and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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