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.

Check out the 4 Truth Ministry Facebook page to find out how
you could win a free copy of Resolute!

Mailbag

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

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!


Michelle, you’ve mentioned that your husband is previously divorced and also that he is a minister of music. How can this be? Isn’t he disobeying Scripture’s instruction that a pastor is to be “the husband of one wife“? Don’t you believe the Bible? Do you follow it? If so how do you justify your husband’s role in the church when compared to 1 Timothy 3?

Yes, of course, I believe and follow the Bible. I believe and follow the rightly handled, in context, written Word of God, not popular misunderstandings of certain passages.

(And by the way, asking a fellow Believer a question like “Don’t you believe/follow the Bible?” in an accusatory way is rude and inflammatory. Furthermore, while I am happy to answer polite questions, it is not incumbent upon me to “justify” myself or my husband to whatever stranger might have the temerity to demand that I do so.

Rudeness and ugliness from people who call themselves Christians seems to have hit epidemic proportions. I’m going to be addressing it more frequently. Let’s play nice, folks.)

I have previously written about the “husband of one wife” clause in the 1 Timothy 3/Titus 1 qualifications for elders in my Mailbag article “Can a divorced man be a pastor?”

For a number of reasons, it would be inappropriate for me to go into the details of my husband’s divorce in a public forum like this, but you may rest assured that we have not been living in sin for the past 25 years, and that we have been up front about his divorce with the search committee of every church he has ever interviewed with. There are some churches who have a policy of refusing to consider for ministry positions anyone who has ever been divorced. Though we personally disagree with those types of policies (based on the biblical reasons in the article cited above), we certainly respect each church’s right to set its own hiring policies and have been grateful to the churches that have disclosed their policies from the outset.


I recently discovered your blog and am enjoying looking around and reading your posts. I do wonder at your use of your blog for promoting your own gain, your option to donate, and the near complete aligning of one’s salvation with the allegiance to a physical church organization. I wonder if you can share Bible verses that support both of those things?

“Promoting my own gain”? I think you might need to look around and read some more. All of my blog content is available for free, including the Bible studies I write and allow individuals and churches to print out and use free of charge. I don’t keep any content behind a paywall (such as Patreon) or charge any sort of subscription fee. I don’t sell any books, materials, or other merchandise. I don’t receive any remuneration from the ads that appear on my blog. My blog isn’t sponsored by any organizations. And, I don’t receive any sort of salary for writing this blog. How is that “promoting my own gain”?

There are only two instances in which I receive money for anything in connection with this ministry:

1. When kind and generous readers take it upon themselves to send me a gift through my Financial Support page (I rarely mention this giving option, and I have never asked readers to send me money.). Few do, though I deeply appreciate the blessing those folks have been to my family. Most of the gifts I receive go toward paying household bills. (And when I say “bills” I mean electricity, water, rent, etc. I don’t have an extravagant wardrobe, a fancy car, or take luxury vacations.)

2. When I do a speaking engagement. If I could afford to do these events for free, I would. I can’t. As you no doubt read at the Financial Support tab “my family lives frugally on one modest income.” We can rarely afford to go out to eat, never mind afford for me to drive or fly hundreds of miles from home, spend several days away from taking care of my family, and pay for food and lodging once I get there. Additionally, it takes dozens of hours to properly prepare speaking engagement material, and it is work. I usually don’t do more than a few of these a year, and, so far, I haven’t spoken at any huge churches that can afford to pay me thousands of dollars. This money also usually goes towards bills.

It is absolutely Scripturally appropriate for me or any other Christian to receive financial gifts or compensation in these two instances. (Click on the words in red for related Scriptures.)

The first situation is the giving of a gift. The money I receive from time to time is not expected, asked for, owed, or required. Jesus received monetary gifts. The early church gave financial gifts to Christians in need. The Philippians sent Paul gifts more than once. The Corinthian and Galatian Believers sent financial gifts to the church in Jerusalem. You give people gifts. I give people gifts. Christians give each other gifts.

The second situation is a) payment for work, and b) support of ministry. Jesus didn’t have a secular job. He received financial support of His earthly ministry. First Corinthians 9 and 1 Timothy 5:17-18 are abundantly clear that “those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” Proverbs 31 speaks of the wife and mother who crafts various things and sells them to bring in extra money for her household. My craft is writing and speaking. This is how I help bring in extra money for my household. These Scriptures are also why it would be completely fine for me to sell books, utilize Patreon, charge subscription fees, receive money from ads and sponsorships and any of the other things I mentioned in the first paragraph, just as it is fine for most other Christian bloggers and ministries who do.

Another excellent resource on this topic is Daniel Darling’s article No, All Christian Content Shouldn’t Be Free.

As to “the near complete aligning of one’s salvation with the allegiance to a physical church organization”, first of all, I’m not entirely clear on what you mean by that, but the New Testament couldn’t be plainer that Christians are to be joined to a local church and that one of the first signs that someone isn’t a Christian is when she leaves or refuses to be part of the church. I’ve covered this thoroughly, including the relevant Scriptures, in my article Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians.


Our church’s women’s Bible study is using Priscilla Shirer’s content (The Armor of God). I looked at your blog, but didn’t find too many quotes from Shirer that I could use to draw an appropriate conclusion. 

Occasionally I will get this question from readers: “I know you’ve written an article saying that _____ is a false teacher, but what about [this particular book she wrote]? Is it OK for me/our church to study?”

It seems like your question might be along those lines. I’ve answered it in this Mailbag article. 

Priscilla Shirer is a false teacher (see my article Going Beyond Scripture: Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries). The way Scripture instructs us to deal with false teachers is to avoid the person entirely, which would include all of her materials, merchandise, etc. This is not only the biblical way to do things, it is much less time-consuming than sifting through quotes from her books to find out if any of them might be passable for use in your church.

If your church is using Priscilla Shirer materials, you may also find my article How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing? to be helpful.


I recently posted on Facebook about how Christians are easily fooled by the false teaching that God speaks to certain people. Someone commented, “Don’t discount the still small voice of the Holy Spirit who calls, guides, instructs, comforts.”. I have searched the Bible and I haven’t found any verses confirming or refuting this statement. Can you shed some light on that thought? Is it in line with Scripture or is it more false verbiage that has encroached on the church?

I think the person who commented proved the point of your Facebook post. Is it “in line with Scripture”? “More false verbiage”? Yes and no.

Usually, when I see the phrase “the still, small voice” of the Holy Spirit, if the person using the phrase even knows she’s alluding to Scripture (many are just parroting what they think is a catch-phrase from pop-evangelicalism), it is based on a misunderstanding, or deliberate twisting, of 1 Kings 19:12:

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
1 Kings 19:11-13

This is God talking to Elijah. (The King James Version translates the blue phrase in verse 12 as “a still, small voice”). It was normal for God to talk to Elijah. He was an Old Testament prophet.

You’ll notice that this is a descriptive passage, not a prescriptive passage (more on that here). That means it’s simply a passage telling us what happened with Elijah at that moment. This passage doesn’t promise, imply, or even hint that God will speak to you, me, or anybody else in the same way. It’s just a report of what happened.

(Just an aside, but isn’t it interesting that people take descriptive passages like this and assume that God will speak to them the same way He spoke to Elijah, but no one ever reads about God turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, God sending a whale to swallow a disobedient Jonah, or God causing the ground to open up and swallow the rebellious Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and assumes God will do the same to them? No, we only want the good stuff!)

God does not speak this way to people any more. He speaks to us through His written Word. And who is the author of Scripture, God’s written Word? Second Timothy 3:16 tells us it is the Holy Spirit. So if you want the Holy Spirit to “speak to you in a still small voice,” read your Bible. I’ve covered this topic in greater detail in my article Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient. You may also find this resource from John MacArthur to be helpful: Does God give us personal direction through a still small voice?


I just wanted to drop you a quick note and tell you how much I am enjoying your study of Mark. I have been praying a lot about exactly HOW to study the Bible on my own. I love MacArthur’s method of reading the OT in a year and a book of the NT each month, but when I’d sit down to read great portions of Scripture, I didn’t have a solid grasp of what I’d just read. This month I knew it was time to start in another gospel and I decided to use your Bible study to help. Your method and questions are just right! Turns out, it’s better for me to slow down and really dig into a smaller number of verses at one time rather than digesting a great number of chapters in one sitting. And the result? I’ve been so excited about what I’m learning and often mull over throughout the day what the Holy Spirit is teaching me through His Word. Thank you for sharing these studies so selflessly! Truly, I am blessed! Indeed, your whole site is an encouragement to fight the good fight; I am grateful for you!

I get encouraging little e-mails, messages, and blog/social media comments like this all the time. And I wouldn’t trade them for all the money in the world. It thrills me beyond words to hear about Christian women who are growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, digging into His Word, growing in discernment, and serving their families and churches.

And when I get to be a tool in God’s hands to help a sister with that in some small way, it absolutely astounds me and humbles me beyond words. Christ is so good and so kind to allow us the honor and joy of serving Him by helping others, whether that’s a sister in Christ, our husbands, our children, a co-worker, or a neighbor.

Thanks so much, truly, to all of you who have ever written me a little note of encouragement. It will one day be my joy to lay all of those e-mails and comments at the feet of my precious Jesus as a fragrant offering. All of this has always been…and will always be…all for Him.

(If you’d like to try one of my Bible studies or learn more about how to study the Bible for yourself, click the “Bible Studies” 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.