Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: My friend just graduated from “prophecy school”

 

What would you say to a woman who just graduated from a “school of prophecy“? How do you handle this subject in a graceful way to help her see the truth?

Wow, that’s a tough one! These prophecy, healing, and other apostolic gifts “schools” similar to Bethel’s notorious School of Supernatural Ministry, are popping up everywhere and leading people astray into damnable New Apostolic Reformation heresy.

We love our friends and don’t want to see them deceived by false doctrine, but it can be a difficult topic to address. Why? Because when you get down to the nitty gritty of loving false doctrine and false teachers, the foundational issue is idolatry. And when people love their idols enough to follow them for years, and invest a lot of time, energy, and money in their idols’ schools, conferences, or materials, it’s very likely their reaction to being told they’re following an idol is not going to be…shall we say…pleasant and polite.

Fear of a negative reaction, however, is not something that should keep us from loving our friends enough to speak biblical truth to them. Remember what the Bible says:

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6

In other words, if you’re a faithful, godly friend, you’ll risk hurting your friend’s feelings with kindly spoken Scriptural truth. If you lie to her or affirm her in falsehood in order to preserve her feelings, you’re her enemy, not her friend.

Ironically, in this situation, if you’re a true friend to this woman, you will likely lose your friendship with her. If she’s excitedly telling you about the prophecy school she just graduated from, she doesn’t want a true, godly friend who’s looking out for her best spiritual interests and will tell her that she just wasted precious time and money on something that’s dangerously unbiblical. She wants the kisses of the enemy to affirm her in her beliefs.

But, again, that’s OK. It really is OK if your “friend” chooses false doctrine over you (In which case, she isn’t being a good friend to you, is she?). It might be painful, but with the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit, you will not only survive, God will bless you.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29-30

So, here are my suggestions for responding to your friend in a godly way.

Pray for yourself. Pray that God will help you speak boldly, yet kindly, to your friend. That He will give you the right words to say. That He will prepare your heart for the possibility of losing this friend by trying to help her.

 Pray for your friend. Pray for her salvation. People who are this far gone into heresy are not saved. (See John 10.) Pray that the Holy Spirit will open her eyes to the deception she’s under and the biblical truth you’re speaking to her.

Remember that you don’t have to say everything in one conversation. In fact, depending on the situation, it’s probably better that you don’t. Most women don’t respond well emotionally to drinking from a fire hose of informational rebuke, and she will probably not hear about 90% of what you say. Shorter conversations over a protracted period of time (as you’re continually praying for her) are much more likely to be effective.

✢ Asking questions is helpful. Instead of sitting down with an, “OK, girlfriend, here’s how it is,” approach, try asking your friend questions about the prophecy school and her beliefs. This will help in two ways. First, it helps you get up to speed on exactly what she was taught at this prophecy school and where she is, spiritually, so you’ll be able to give an informed response. Second, asking questions gives the conversation an “I care about you,” tone, which most women will respond to better than an “I’m here to set you straight because you’re wrong,” tone. If you demonstrate by your questions that you care about her and want to learn what she believes, she will be much more likely to reciprocate and listen when you share what you believe.

✢ Share the gospel. A really good verse to keep in mind during this whole process is 1 Corinthians 2:14:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Here’s what this means in your situation: You can perfectly present – the right tone, an uber-caring demeanor, all the right verses, the exact right words – every biblical argument against the things your friend was taught at prophecy school and she’s still not going to “get it” if she’s not saved. It will be “folly” to her and she will not be “able to understand them,” because she does not have the Holy Spirit indwelling her. Saved people embrace and submit to Scripture even when it’s hard because the Holy Spirit enables them to. Lost people kick against Scripture’s requirements because they’re devoid of the Holy Spirit.

Your friend needs the gospel first. You may want to show her my article Basic Training: The Gospel or some of the Scriptures in it, and ask some questions like,  “What do you think this article is trying to say?” or “What did the prophecy school teach you about this passage?” or “You said the prophecy school taught you _____. How does that match up with this verse?”. Another great question for assessing someone’s understanding of the gospel is, “If I had five minutes to live and I asked you how I could go to Heaven when I died, how would you answer me?”.

Once she’s saved, the Holy Spirit will do the heavy lifting of correcting her theology. He is the one who will have to open her heart and mind to the truth of Scripture.

✢ Give her a graduation gift: A MacArthur Study Bible (I’d recommend the ESV translation.). Tuck in a bookmark with the gospel printed on it.

Share biblical resources. If your friend is open to it, give her gospel-centered, Scripture-rich books to read, sermons to listen to, podcast recommendations, etc. Invite her to services and events at your doctrinally sound church. (Do this occasionally. Don’t bombard her constantly.)

✢ Share Lindsay’s testimony. Last year, Lindsay Davis, while a student at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry, got saved after viewing the film American Gospel (a wonderful biblical resource to share with your friend), and was subsequently expelled for sharing the gospel with her fellow students and questioning the unbiblical teaching at the school. Lindsay has given her testimony in dozens of video, audio, and print interviews. Just Google “Lindsay Davis testimony” or “Lindsay Davis Bethel” and choose the one you think your friend would respond to best.

 

I hope things go well when you talk with your friend. I’m taking a moment to pray for both of you now, and I ask that everyone reading this would do the same.

Additional Resources:

Basic Training: The Bible Is Our Authority

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

Weak Women and the Idolatry of Personal Experience

God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher

Words with Friends: How to contend with loved ones at A Word Fitly Spoken

Words With Friends at Berean Examiner


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, Top 10

Top 10 Mailbag Articles of 2019

I always enjoy the annual “year in review” articles and TV shows that run in abundance in late December, so I thought I’d contribute my own. Several Mailbag articles were among this year’s most popular, so I decided to make two separate lists. Check out my top 10 non-Mailbag articles of 2019 tomorrow. Here are my ten most popular Mailbag blog articles from 2019:

Vaxxers, Anti-Vaxxers, and the Health of the Body

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate? It’s a tough issue to discuss these days. 


Do You Recommend Angie Smith (“Seamless”)?

Wife of Todd Smith of the Christian music group, Selah, Angie started out as a blogger, then blossomed into a Christian author and speaker. Her best known book to date is a women’s study: Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story


Potpourri (Todd Friel on Rick Warren, Enneagram, Should I stay or should I go?…)

Todd says Rick isn’t a heretic?…Sharply, yet gently, rebuking false teachers…What is an Enneagram?…Books vs. interactions…Should I leave my women’s Bible study group?


BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)

While I totally support the idea of delving deeply into the Scriptures with other women, there are a few of aspects of BSF that concern me… 


Should My Church Participate in Operation Christmas Child’s Shoebox Ministry?

Should my church participate in Operation Christmas Child? What are some other good international ministries my church could participate in instead?


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 1

Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Lisa Harper, Karen Kingsbury, Rebekah Lyons, Raechel Myers, Shauna Niequist, Jennifer Rothschild, Susie Shellenberger, Sheila Walsh, Amanda Bible Williams

(After today, I’ll be retiring this article. Thanks to Project Breakdown, I have completed updated, individual articles on each of these teachers which you may access at the Popular False Teachers and Unbiblical Trends tab at the top of this page, or by entering the teacher’s name in the search bar.)


Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not…


Questions about the Open Letter to Beth Moore

Since the publication of the Open Letter to Beth Moore, several questions have arisen that I’d like to address…


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3

Jill Briscoe, Lauren Chandler, Tony Evans, Rachel Hollis, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Brenda Leavenworth, Leslie Ludy, Bianca Olthoff, Wellspring Group, Jen Wilkin


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 2

Jennie Allen, Lisa Bevere, Rachel Held Evans, Heather Lindsey, Ann Graham Lotz, Kelly Minter, Nancy Leigh (DeMoss) Wolgemuth

(Project Breakdown begins on this list next!)


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, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

For the next couple of weeks I’ll be preparing to speak at the Cruciform
conference, so I’ll be re-running some popular articles from the archives.
I hope you’ll enjoy this one.

Originally published May 28, 2018

 

Should Christians listen to the song Reckless Love? Should churches use this song in their worship services or other activities? Aren’t songs like this OK if they point people to Jesus and the lyrics don’t blatantly contradict Scripture?

Goodness, I have never seen so much buzz over whether or not a particular song is OK to listen to or use at church. Regardless of your opinion of the song itself, I think we could all agree that one awesome thing that has come out of the Reckless Love debate is that it has encouraged Christians to actually look at the lyrics of, and think theologically about, the songs they listen to on the radio or sing in their worship services.

That’s phenomenal. We should be analyzing every song we sing that way whether it comes to us via a dusty antique hymnal or Pandora. There are hymns, and gospel songs, and CCM songs, and CHH songs that need to be thrown out because they contain poor, or outright heretical, theology. Here’s hoping we will continue to be as meticulous in examining every song we hear as we have been about examining Reckless Love.

So what about the song itself? Is it OK?

I’m going to start off my answer by drawing from a previous article, God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship:

Such was the case recently when Christian social media was up in arms (and rightly so) about Cory Asbury’s worship song Reckless Love, and whether or not churches should use it in their worship services. Discussion centered around the use of the word “reckless” to describe God’s love for us and whether or not that was a semantically and theologically appropriate adjective. “Relentless” was suggested as an alternative lyric. “Reckless” was defended as an appropriate lyric. And then Cory Asbury’s explanation of the song came to light and did further injury to his doctrinal cause…

…Focusing on the word “reckless” missed the point – at least the big picture point. You see, Reckless Love was produced by Bethel Music. And Cory Asbury is a “worship leader, songwriter and pastor” with the Bethel Music Collective. Prior to joining Bethel, he spent eight years as a worship leader with the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

Why is this important? Because Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, and IHOP are, functionally, ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation  heresy. Heresy. Not, “They just have a more expressive, contemporary style of worship,”. Not, “It’s a secondary theological issue we can agree to disagree on.” Heresy. Denial of the deity of Christ. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Demonstrably false prophecy that the head of IHOP, Mike Bickle, has publicly rejoiced in (He estimates that 80% of IHOP’s “prophecies” are false.) And that’s just the tip of our metaphorical ice berg when it comes to the NAR.

If you claim to be a Christian, and denying the deity of Christ (saying that Christ was only human, not God) and blaspheming the Holy Spirit aren’t enough for you, please take a moment right now to do some soul searching and ask yourself why that is. These people are blaspheming your Savior and you’re going to defend them? Denying the deity of Christ alone is enough to put a “church” outside the camp of Christianity. It is one of the damnable “another gospels” Paul refers to in Galatians 1:6-9.

But maybe seeing more of the fruit of the poisonous NAR tree will help:

“Holy” Laughter. The NAR blasphemously attributes this to the Holy Spirit, disregarding the fact that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control and that God demonstrates throughout Scripture that He is not a God of chaos, craziness, and confusion, but of orderliness and peace.

 

Fake and delusional prophecies. Pick any biblical prophet and read his prophecies in comparison with this. And don’t forget what the Bible says about false prophets.

 

Fake “glory clouds” of “gold dust” and “angel feathers” (glitter and feathers placed into the ventilation system) released during the worship service as a supposed sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I guess Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the many promises of His presence in the New Testament aren’t good enough.

 

Raising the dead. Oddly enough in this age of everyone making videos of everything and cutting edge medical technology, there’s never been a single medically verified, video evidenced resurrection.

 

Being “drunk in the Spirit”. This is not how you do Acts 2:13-21 or Ephesians 5:18-19, two of the passages the NAR mangles to support this demonic activity, which they blasphemously attribute to the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the guy in this video, Todd Bentley, was commissioned as an “apostle” by Bill Johnson, lead “pastor” of Bethel. And shortly after Todd cheated on his first wife, divorced her, and married the woman he was cheating with, Bill Johnson “restored” him to ministry. You can see video evidence of both of these things here and here.)

 

And if that’s still not enough for you, there’s fake faith healing (language warning- this was written by a non-Christian who, by the way, did not hear the gospel when she went to Bethel) including kicking people in the face and other forms of assault to “heal” people, grave sucking, and demonic tremoring. Then there are the incidents from overseas that you hear of from time to time such as the South African “pastor” who made his congregation crawl around on the lawn eating grass and drink gasoline to be closer to God, or the Kenyan “pastor” who ordered women to remove their bras and panties before coming to church so God could enter their bodies more easily, or the Zambian prophet who took it a step further and removed a woman’s panties in front of the entire congregation so he could pray over them for her infertility, or the South African woman who died because her “pastor” placed a heavy speaker on top of her and then sat on it to demonstrate God’s power.

You may not see this kind of craziness in every service at every NAR “church” but every single one of these incidents and practices (and so many more) springs from the same unbiblical theology of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Including Cory Asbury’s choice of the word “reckless” when he wrote the song Reckless Love. Cory is a product of the theology he’s been immersed in for so many years.

And that’s the main problem with churches using songs in their worship services from groups like Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong, which teach “another gospel”. In the same way that marijuana use can serve as a “gateway drug” to more dangerous and addictive narcotics, Reckless Love itself might not do too much damage, but…well, as I explained to another reader in a previous Mailbag article False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music:

It’s imperative for churches to be discerning about the CCM they use in worship. If Jane Churchmember hears a CCM song in church and likes it, she’s likely to Google the song (probably right there in church- I’ve done it!), find out who sings it, and begin following that artist. Worship pastors who use CCM have a responsibility to vet the artists who perform the songs they select for the worship service to make sure they’re not sending Jane into the arms of a heretic. Additionally, music costs money, and you don’t want your church’s offerings supporting false doctrine.

A common objection I see Christians make to this concept is:

Well, [insert name of hymn writer here] wrote lots of perfectly biblical hymns, but he had some theological problems too, and you’re not recommending we get rid of all of his hymns.

Well, first of all, maybe we should more closely examine the theology of some of our most prolific hymnists and stop using their music because of what they believed. Quick – off the top of your head, name the three we should start with…

…And that’s what separates the errant hymnist from Bethel, et al. Most Christians, even those who prefer hymns over CCM, could probably not name three people who wrote hymns, let alone tell you anything about their theology. But if you ask the average Christian to name three top Christian artists, she could rattle them off in a second.

Most hymn writers have been dead for up to hundreds of years. They don’t have Facebook pages you can follow, nobody’s playing their stuff on KLOVE, they’re not on tour to promote their latest album, and they don’t have thousands of followers worldwide. If you wanted to follow their errant theology, you’d have to hit the books to research and study it. The NAR musicians’ theology is only a click away on YouTube, social media, live streamed concerts and conferences, and on their web sites. Nobody is following dead hymnists’ false doctrine, but hordes are following NAR musicians’ heresy.

And as for music that springs from heretical theology pointing people to Jesus? Ask this wiccan young lady who went to Bethel and was told by someone “prophesying” (supposedly speaking what she heard God say) over her:

“I feel the Lord saying to you that He is very pleased with you. You have been so faithful to Him. You have been faithful to His Word, even when though there are many people telling you that you are now going the wrong way. But God knows it isn’t true. He wants you to know that He is proud of you. God knows that you are walking with Him and He is so proud of your faithfulness.”

She wasn’t pointed to Jesus. Nobody explained the gospel to her or told her she needed to repent of her sin. Instead, she was affirmed in her sin and told that she was, in fact, “walking with God” and “faithful” to Him when she was living in witchcraft (which earned the death penalty in the Old Testament) and had never put her faith and trust in Christ for salvation. And all of this by someone who was claiming to speak for God Himself. The Bible says it’s impossible to please God without faith in Christ.

This kind of music doesn’t point people to Jesus. It points them to the NAR version of Jesus, which, as evidenced above, is not the Jesus of the Bible. If someone puts her faith in the NAR version of Jesus, she’s not going to be saved, and she’s going to spend an eternity in hell. The Jesus of the Bible said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Nobody is getting to Heaven through any other version of Jesus except the Jesus of the Bible.

OK, now I’m aware of what the NAR teaches and I’m definitely not getting sucked into any of that! What about just listening to Reckless Love when I’m alone in the car? I believe what Cory said about why he used the word “reckless” and I’m OK with that.

That’s between you and God, but let me ask you a question as you prayerfully consider what would be pleasing to Him. What if, instead of the word “reckless”, Cory had chosen the words, “f—ing awesome”? And what if he had explained that, to him, that phrase just meant “really awesome” or “super duper awesome”? That, in his song, it didn’t have the vulgar meaning most people think of when they hear the f-word? Would you, based on his explanation, still sing that song?

Of course not. Because words mean what they mean, not what we want them to mean.

Cory can offer explanations about what he intended by the word “reckless” until he’s blue in the face. That doesn’t change the actual meaning of the word, which is what most people understand it to mean when they hear it. And, furthermore, Cory isn’t following the song around to every single person who hears it and explaining what he meant by it, so most people will hear “reckless” and assume it means what it actually means, not that Cory used the word “reckless” and meant something else by it. That’s not how human language works.

In considering whether or not to listen to this song, spend some time in God’s Word studying the way God wants to be approached by people (rather than how you want to approach Him) and how He reacted when they approached Him improperly. Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not.

The NAR is a dangerous heresy that is sending people to an eternity in hell. People are getting saved out of “churches” like Bethel, not getting saved by them. Consider carefully, prayerfully, and according to Scripture whether God would be pleased by you having anything to do with NAR organizations. “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”


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.

Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

What a summer! From a lovely trip to visit with my family to the Open Letter to Beth Moore (by the way, ladies, you can still sign it if you haven’t already) to podcast interviews to a hurricane (everything’s fine, thanks – praise God!) to both of my young adult children’s cars dying in the same week and my husband and me playing chauffeur for them (please pray that God will provide the vehicles they need), my summer has been a non-stop whirlwind. I can’t believe next week will already be August!

Let’s jump into some Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources, shall we?

Light (Blog) Housekeeping

If you’re relatively new to the blog, you might not be aware of all the features and resources available to you here. Check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends.

But even if you’ve been around a while, I’ve updated a few things you might not have noticed:

I’ve changed the Popular False Teachers tab (at the top of this page) to Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends. That’s because I’ve added resources on the Enneagram and I’m planning to add info on more unbiblical trends in the future. I’ve also added information on MOPS to this tab in case I forgot to mention it.

I think The Servanthood Survey (published last week) is going to be a helpful resource for churches (and individuals), so I created a new tab to have that always at the ready.

If you’ve used my discernment article on Beth Moore lately, you may have noticed that it has a new look. I’ve changed the title and the introduction, fixed broken links and added a few new ones, and added some updated material, but it’s still the same article with the same link: Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (No) Moore.

Recently, I was put in “Facebook timeout” (I couldn’t post to my Facebook page from certain devices) for sharing what the powers that be deemed to be “hate speech” – a meme that quoted 1 Timothy 2:12. If you’re on Facebook, you’re probably hearing more and more about things like this happening to Christians for posting biblical views (no matter how kindly worded).

As many are predicting, there will probably come a time when Christians who share biblical posts will be banned from Facebook. In case something like this happens to me, I’ve opened up a MeWe page. MeWe is a social media platform that’s extremely similar to Facebook, except they pride themselves on their customer service, their privacy policy, and their “no political agenda” policy (meaning they don’t censor every little thing like Facebook does). If you’re familiar with Facebook, you’ll find MeWe’s interface nearly identical, plus it has a few neat features Facebook doesn’t have.

If you’d like to connect on MeWe, set up an account, then, just search Michelle Lesley, or go directly to my page and click the “add contact” button. If you’d rather do it later, I’ve added a link to my MeWe page to the Contact and Social Media tab at the top of this page.

And finally, would you like to write up a testimony (anything from a paragraph to a full length article) for Testimony Tuesday or an article or book review for a guest post? If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (see the Statement of Faith and Welcome tabs at the top of this page), look over the articles at these two links to get a feel for what I’m looking for and drop me an e-mail so we can chat about it.

Book Report

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t write solicited book reviews, but there are extremely rare circumstances in which I will break that rule. There are also occasions when I will pick up a book of my own volition and commend it to you if I end up liking it. Today, you’re getting one of each.

A few months ago, Costi Hinn reached out and asked if I’d read and write an endorsement for his new book, God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel. While his first book, Defining Deception, was an instructional introduction to the history and doctrine of the New Apostolic Reformation, I had been keeping up with Costi, and I knew that this second book was going to approach NAR/prosperity gospel false doctrine from the perspective of his personal testimony of growing up in (and being saved out of) Benny Hinn’s “ministry”. I had already heard Costi’s testimony several times and I knew my readers would find it encouraging and edifying. God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel did not disappoint, and it is my joy to commend it to you:

A helpful primer on the prosperity gospel. The perfect blend of testimony, teaching, and tried-and-true tips for ministering to those caught in unbiblical teaching.

 

My two favorite genres of fiction are biblical historical fiction, and legal/political thrillers. Chris Skates writes both, so I’m looking forward to reading more of his books.

In order for me to enjoy a work of biblical historical fiction (a fictionalized account of a true Bible story), it has to be true to everything Scripture actually says happened (events, dialogue, chronology, etc.), and whatever the author “fills in the blanks” of the biblical account with has to be biblically and culturally plausible, and must not directly contradict clear Scripture.

Chris accomplished this beautifully in his first book, The Rain, his rendition of Noah and the ark. Chris paints a grim picture of a debauched society that refuses to repent. Noah’s wife and daughters-in-law receive names, and we get to imagine what they and Ham, Shem, and Japheth might have been like. It was interesting to ponder along with the story just how long, tedious, and treacherous the journey on the ark was. And let’s not forget the lack of light and air conditioning and…well…the lovely smells of all those animals!

The Rain is a fun, leisure time read. I think you’ll like it if you enjoy biblical historical fiction.

Stop Jumping the Gun 

Y’all know I’m all about discernment, right? I mean, I think my track record speaks for itself. But there’s an area of discernment we all need to get serious about right quick.

It’s that “right quick” part. We need to stop being reactionary and haphazardly tossing the “false teacher” label (or other spiritual aspersions) around any time somebody says something that causes us to raise an eyebrow, especially when that person has an impeccable record of sound doctrine, faithful preaching, and contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Since Tuesday’s release of the Founders Ministries cinedoc trailer By What Standard? God’s World…God’s Rules, I have been appalled at the rush to judgment regarding Tom Ascol and Albert Mohler. Neither of these brothers has committed any clear-cut sin, but I want to put the details of the accusations aside and focus on the general principle of jump-the-gun aspersion-casting against these two men and others like them.

Each of these gentlemen, as well as Founders Ministries itself, has a decades-long track record of being doctrinally sound and fighting the good fight for biblical truth – longer than some of you younger sisters have been alive. They, and other pastors, teachers, and folks in long-time doctrinally sound ministry, have earned the right to have brothers and sisters in Christ – especially mature and discerning brothers and sisters in Christ – give them the benefit of the doubt when no clear-cut sin has been committed.

Obviously, when we’re talking about high profile pastors and teachers we don’t know personally, this isn’t a local church issue, but I think we would do well to remember the principles behind 1 Timothy 5:17,19-20.

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching…Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

We rebuke those who persist in sin in the presence of all. We do not make off the cuff accusations, based on a single “iffy” incident or presumptions, against doctrinally sound elders who have proven themselves faithful through the years. And we also need to remember that in situations like these we don’t know the whole behind-the-scenes story. I think we could extend some grace, give them the honor and respect Scripture says they’re due, and reserve judgment until sin is committed or the incident is resolved.

Scripture calls us to be better than this to our elders. Let’s live up to that.

Is it really God’s judgment?

My daughter texted me this shortly after the recent earthquake in California. And when your heart of hearts asks you to write an article, you write an article! (Only I didn’t think it needed to be as long as a full article, so you’re getting it here instead, Sweetie.)

For those of us who don’t live in California, some of the news stories we hear about the sinful things going on there leave us slack-jawed. And for Christians, our frame of reference for gobsmacking sin is the Old Testament. God dealt with sin in some pretty intense ways in the OT, not the least of which, in one case, was causing the ground to split apart and swallow sinners alive. So I guess there is precedent for God using an earthquake to deal with sin. Is it possible the earthquake in California was God’s judgment upon their sin? Yes, it’s within the realm of possibility.

However, that kind of judgment is not normative, especially after the cross, and there are a lot of holes in that theory. If you’re tempted to use the line of reasoning that a natural disaster is, definitively, God’s judgment on California (or any other place) for their sin, could I just encourage you to think through the following points?

•In the past few months New York and Illinois have both passed hideous, from-the-bowels-of-hell laws protecting the sins of abortion and infanticide. Where are their earthquakes?

•Louisiana just passed one of the most abortion-restrictive laws in the nation. And then we had a hurricane. Was that storm a judgment on Louisiana?

•If “it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God…” (1 Peter 4:17), why wasn’t Redding, California – where Bethel “Church” is located – at the epicenter of the earthquake?

•Is it God’s judgment on sin if a tornado hits a doctrinally sound church in the Midwest?

•North Korea has been at the top of the list for years as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. Why don’t we ever hear about natural disasters there?

•There are scads of doctrinally sound churches (including John MacArthur’s church) and Christians in California. Wouldn’t God protect California on their account or at least get them out of California before He exercises judgment there? There’s biblical precedent for that, too.

I don’t think we can biblically say that a natural disaster is definitely God’s judgment on California’s, or any other state’s or nation’s sin. God will judge the world in righteousness when Christ returns. Until that time, what we can biblically say about natural disasters is that they are the result of the Fall. And that sometimes they’re the best thing in that could ever happen to someone. Because sometimes during a natural disaster, people hear the gospel or cry out to God and get saved.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should I cut ties with a friend who follows false teachers?

I have a friend who follows Todd White* and some other false teachers. I’ve talked to him about it and shown him why I’m concerned. He appreciated my concern, but didn’t think Todd White’s heretical beliefs were a big deal. What do I do with this friendship? Am I supposed to cut ties with him for his beliefs?

You have been very loving and caring to share the dangers of false teachers with your friend. Indeed, you would not have been a good friend to him if you hadn’t.

Just to clarify, to me the phrase “cut ties with” means to that you will no longer be in contact with this person in any way. Generally speaking, unless your friend has become obsessed with White and the others to the point that he can’t talk about anything else and is pushing them on you, my counsel would be no, you don’t need to cut ties with him based solely on the fact that he follows false teachers. Your continued friendship could be God’s grace to him, wooing your friend to Himself through your love and godly example.

One thing you will want to keep in mind is that your friend may not be truly saved and needs a clear explanation of the gospel rather than discernment information (which he won’t be able to understand or accept if he’s not saved). John 10 explicitly says that Christ’s sheep will not follow the voice of a stranger (false teacher).

(Now, readers, hear me clearly – sometimes genuine sheep wander for a minute. And sometimes a genuine sheep who’s been following around a wolf in sheep’s clothing recently will temporarily resist the idea that her new favorite teacher is actually a wolf rather than a sheep. Be a good friend like this reader was and lovingly explain to your friend what the Bible says. Then, be patient as your friend processes what you’ve said, and the Holy Spirit works – on His timetable.)

Take a page out of 1 Peter 3:1-6‘s book. You have explained the false doctrine. You have let your friend know that you are open to discussing it further in the future if he has any questions. If the Holy Spirit drops one of those “too amazing to be ignored” opportunities in your lap to put an appropriate word into a conversation with him, you can take advantage of that opportunity. Aside from that, just like the wife of the unsaved husband in this passage, you do not need to constantly bring up the issue. Be faithful in prayer for your friend, occasionally invite him to Bible studies and other events at your doctrinally sound church, love, serve and help him, and trust the Holy Spirit to do His good work in His good time.

What will the Holy Spirit’s “good work” look like?

• Your friend will get genuinely saved and leave the false teachers behind.

• Your friend is already saved, and he’ll repent of straying after false teachers and will turn back to obeying God’s Word.

• Your friend is not saved, rejects the gospel you share with him, and God gives him over to a hardened heart that “will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) At this point, he will probably cut ties with you. It can be heartbreaking to watch, but judgment is also a good work of the Holy Spirit.

But since you can’t know what the future holds for your friend, keep praying and let him know you’re always there for him if he ever has questions about the Bible or needs to talk. Until he draws his last breath, there’s always hope that the Prodigal will come to his senses and come home.


*I have added a section of resources on Todd White to the Popular False Teachers 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.