Mailbag

The Mailbag: God saved me out of a false “church” … what do I do now?

God recently saved me out of __________ “church” / religion. I’m not sure what to do next. I’m scared to start looking for a new church because I don’t know what to look for in a good church, and I’m afraid I’ll choose another bad one. And how do I “do” this whole Christianity thing, anyway?

I’ve received some variant of this question dozens of times, and it makes me so happy every time I do. God is still saving people, y’all! Doesn’t that thought just encourage your socks off and fill you with joy?

Whether it’s someone coming out of the New Apostolic Reformation, Mormonism, Catholicism, a liberal/progressive “church,” or the New Age, walking through the doors of biblical Christianity is thrilling, but can also be a bit daunting.

As someone who has been in church since my parents brought me home from the hospital, it’s difficult to wrap my mind around being new to the church and the things of Christ as an adult. It must be like landing on Mars, or at least in a foreign country where you don’t know the customs and don’t really speak the language.

When you’re doing something new, it’s always best to start by reading the directions. So here are a few basic directions that might be of help to you if you find yourself newly saved out of an unbiblical system and you’re not quite sure what to do next:

1.
Believe the biblical gospel.

The first priority is making sure you understand and believe the biblical gospel. I know you’re saying you’re saved, but, considering your background and my limited knowledge of where you are spiritually, and considering the fact that sooooo many churches and professing Christians do not know or rightly teach the gospel according to Scripture, I’m not sure what you’ve been told about how to be saved, or “become a Jesus follower,” or however it was put to you, but here’s the truth:

What must I do to be saved?

I strongly urge you – even if you’re 100% positive you’re saved – to take your time and slowly and prayerfully work your way through everything on this page to make sure you understand and believe what the Bible says about how to be saved.

Once you’ve done that, if you still need some reassurance that you’re saved, you might want to work your way through my Bible study Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check-Up.

There are two reasons nailing down your belief in the biblical gospel is the first and most important priority:

  1. If you’re not genuinely saved, you need to be, or you’ll die in your sins and spend an eternity in Hell. Even if you think you’re a Christian.
  2. If you’re not saved, you’re not going to understand or accept the things of Christ, and pretty much everything in Christianity and the church is going to rub you the wrong way. First Corinthians 2:14 says: The natural [unsaved] 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.

2.
Find a church.

The next most important thing is getting you into a doctrinally sound church where you can be taught God’s Word properly.

For Christians, membership in and faithful attendance at a doctrinally sound church is not optional, and is non-negotiable. The Bible knows nothing of “Lone Ranger” Christians. For 2000 years, even in places of harshest persecution, like first century Rome or current day North Korea, the church has found a way to meet together, even if it had to be in secret.

And yes, this means physically attending worship service and other gatherings, not watching it on Zoom, assuming you are physically/medically able to do so and a decent church within achievable driving distance is open. (If not, you’ll have to find another way to meet together with fellow Christians.)

(Notice, I did not say, “If you’re not afraid to go,” or “a church that’s nearby”. There are Christians in the world today who, every time they meet together, are risking imprisonment, torture, and execution. And some of them travel for hours in very primitive modes of transportation just to meet with the church. Prayerfully consider, just between you and the Lord, if you might need to sacrifice your fear or drive a bit longer for the privilege of meeting with His people. Jesus didn’t promise us a bed of roses. He promised us a cross. It’s time to pick it up and carry it. This is what we signed on for.)

Go to my Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. Start your search for a church by reading all of the resources under What to look for in a church including all of the links contained in those resources.

When you’re finished with that, go back to the top of that page and use the search engines to find a good, solid church in your area. Personally, I would recommend starting with the Founders search engine first, then the The Master’s Seminary search engine, then the others.

When you’ve found a church, start visiting it. Set up an appointment with the pastor to ask any questions you might have. Prayerfully consider whether or not this church is a fit for you – a place where you can learn, grow, and serve. If it is, join it. If not, go back to the search engines and find another church to start visiting.

Helpful hint: You’re not going to find a perfect church. Churches are made up of imperfect saints who still sin and make mistakes. Find the best one you can and help make it better.

3.
Get plugged in.

Don’t just sneak in to the back of the sanctuary just as the Sunday morning worship service is starting and sneak back out during the final prayer.

Get invested in the life of your new church. Find a Sunday school / Bible study / small group class to join. Go to midweek services or prayer meeting. Go to fellowships and special events. Get to know people. Find a place to serve.

Be faithful in your attendance. Don’t just go only when you feel like it. Be there at least every Sunday morning unless you’re unavoidably detained. If you wanted to learn chemistry or math or underwater basket weaving, you’d show up for class, right? Well, if you want to learn and grow as a Christian, you’ve got to show up for church.

And if you ever have any questions, never be afraid to ask your pastor, elders, or teachers.

4.
Study up / Pray up

Bible study and prayer are crucial for the Christian. They help you grow, and they foster sweet fellowship with the Lord. Don’t let them loom as some big, scary, new thing that you don’t know how to do. They’re both very simple.

Prayer is simply talking to God. Tell Him what’s on your heart. Ask Him to help you and provide for you. Ask Him to help others. Thank Him for all He’s done for you. Confess your sins to Him and ask Him to forgive you. You might find some of my articles on prayer or my Bible study on prayer to be helpful.

Studying your Bible isn’t as hard as it sounds, either. Start by making sure you have a good translation. Then, pick a book of the Bible. Start at chapter 1, verse 1, and make your way through the book, verse by verse until you get to the end. Then start over again with another book. A few tips:

  • Many Christians find that about a chapter a day is a good amount to study, but take your time and study the amount of Scripture that seems to be a fit for you.
  • You might want to have a notebook and pen handy for jotting down any notes or thoughts that occur to you about the text as you’re studying.
  • If you’re new to studying the Bible, I would recommend starting by reading one (or maybe all four) of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – the first four books of the New Testament). Genesis is also a good book to read as you’re getting your bearings in Bible study.
  • If you need help studying your Bible, click the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. There are lots of resources to help you learn how to study the Bible, plus all the Bible studies I’ve written. My studies are designed to help you learn how to study the Bible in a “learn by doing” sort of way. Maybe you’d like to work through one of them until you get the hang of studying your Bible on your own.

In addition to Bible study and prayer, I would suggest reading the articles in my Basic Training series. This is sort of a “Christianity 101” series of articles. If you’re new to Christianity and the church, this should help explain some of the things we do, why we do them, and the proper biblical way they should be done.

I would also recommend that women read my Rock Your Role series of articles. This series explains what the Bible says about the role of women in the church.

Welcome to the family, and may God richly bless you as you seek to grow in Him.


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.

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 9

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,

Matthew 6:1-18

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 6:1-18 in light of those passages.

What is the main theme of 1-4, 5-15, and 16-18? Explain how verse 1 serves as the theme verse for all three sections. Consider what might motivate someone to show off her deeds of righteousness. Would this be someone who genuinely considers herself to be “holier than thou”? Or would it be someone who just wants to fool everyone into thinking she’s holier than they are? Maybe both?

2. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in 1-18?

How does being a prideful show off, especially showing off your righteousness / holiness, bland your saltiness? (5:13-16) How can forsaking self-righteousness and walking in humility make you saltier and brighter?

3. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

Though pride, self-righteousness, and showing off are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments, which of the Ten Commandments could be connected to showing off your deeds of righteousness? For example: What are you coveting if you’re showing off your righteous deeds to others? How could the praise of man become an idol?

Notice that, for the remainder of the Sermon on the Mount (through the end of chapter 7), Jesus drops the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” framing of His teaching. Why do you think that is?

Despite dropping this framing, in 1-18 is Jesus still shifting the people’s focus from outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? Explain how humility and poverty of spirit should be the heart of our obedience to God’s laws.

4. Jesus could have admonished people not to show off their intellect, their wealth, their athleticism, or any number of other things in this passage. Instead, He chooses three practices of holiness: charity, prayer, and fasting. Why? Why is it especially important to God that His people not show off their righteous actions? Read the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Explain how this story connects to 1-18 and demonstrates the value God places on humility / poverty of spirit.

What does Jesus call show offs throughout this passage? Which words and phrases in this passage describe the earthly reward someone showing off her righteousness is working for? Why should God give someone a heavenly reward if she is working for an earthly reward? If you are working for a heavenly reward, will you get an earthly reward?

5. What is the difference between not showing off in 6:1-18 and letting your light shine before others in 5:14-16? Think about what you post on social media, as well as your conversations with others in light of these passages. How do these passages apply to humblebrags and virtue signaling? “Humblebrag” and “virtue signaling” are worldly terms. What would be the biblical terminology for these unbiblical behaviors?

6. Some people think verses 5-6 mean that no one should ever pray in public or anywhere your prayers might be observed by others. For example: no one should lead a congregational prayer in church, you should not pray before a meal at a restaurant, no prayers before ball games, etc. Are these verses prohibiting that? Why or why not? Was Daniel violating verses five through six when he prayed with his windows open? Could verses 7-8 apply to praying in “tongues” as it is commonly practiced today? What about repetitive formulaic prayers like the Catholic rosary?

7. Do 14-15 mean you will lose your salvation if you refuse to forgive? How do these verses show us how important forgiveness is to God?


Homework

  • Did Jesus intend for The Lord’s Prayer to be recited or to be an example of how we should pray? Is there a difference between reciting the Lords prayer and praying the Lord‘s Prayer? Could reciting the Lords prayer repetitively turn into “heaping up empty phrases“? Write out the Lord’s Prayer using your own words, and check out my article After this Manner, Therefore Pray.
  • Want to learn more about fasting? I found this article – Is Fasting a Command? – very helpful and thorough. Grace to You has several good articles and sermons on fasting. Just go to GTY.org and put “fasting” in the search bar.

Suggested Memory Verse

Christian women, Parenting

Throwback Tuesday ~ Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman

Originally published May 15, 2015

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 
2 Timothy 3:1-7

If someone were to ask you, “What kind of person do you want to raise your daughter to be?” how would you answer? Caring? Independent? Loyal? Kind?

I’m betting none of us would answer “weak,” “burdened with sins,” “easily led astray by her passions,” or “unable to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” Yet in these last days in which we find ourselves, that’s exactly what many good-hearted Christian mothers with nothing but the best of intentions are raising their daughters to be. It’s not that they want their daughters to grow up to be spiritually weak or led astray by sin or unbiblical teaching, it’s just that they lack the skills and tools necessary for properly training their daughters in the Scriptures and godliness.

Maybe you’re one of those moms. You want to train your daughter to be a wise, godly, discerning woman, but you’re not quite sure how. Hey, we all have those areas of our lives that we need a little help with. As an older mom myself, maybe I can lend a hand.

My daughter is almost twenty, and while she’s nowhere near perfect, by the grace of God, she is a godly young lady. Looking back, there are many things my husband and I did wrong as parents. But God, in His mercy, covered our failures and saw all of us through as He taught us through His word how to raise a biblically strong woman.

6 Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman

1. Set an example.

Our daughters learn by watching us. Faithfully study your Bible, pray, attend church, obey God’s word, submit to your husband, repent and ask forgiveness when you sin, and serve others and your church together.

2. Learn, and teach your daughter, good hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is just a fancy word for rightly handling God’s word. Use a reliable Bible translation. Understand Scripture in its immediate and overall context. What was the author’s intended meaning, his audience, genre, and culture? Point your daughter to Christ as you study God’s word together.

3. Find a doctrinally sound church, join it, and attend faithfully as a family.

Study God’s word and compare everything that’s preached and taught to Scripture (in context). Does your church’s teaching line up? Then be committed to attending every single week, not just when you feel like it or when there’s nothing better to do. Instill in your daughter a love for, and a commitment to, the church.

4. Fight the fluff.

Unfortunately, many of the most popular preachers, teachers, and Christian authors (including women’s Bible study authors) teach and write things that may sound good and make us feel good, but are in direct conflict with Scripture. These are the very people Paul was speaking of in 2 Timothy 3. Teach your daughter to follow only trustworthy teachers whose theology is in line with Scripture.

5. Bring prayer and Scripture into every situation.

She can’t find her favorite doll? Kids picking on her at school? She wants to wear clothes that barely cover her? Discuss what the Bible say about these things. Pray together about them. Lead your daughter into prayer and Scripture as part of daily life, and it will teach her that God is to have authority over every aspect of our lives and that we are to obey Him in all things.

6. Teach her how to share the gospel.

If you’re not sure how to properly present the gospel to someone, learn. You can’t lead your daughter to Christ if you can’t share the gospel with her. If your daughter is already saved, make sure she knows how to share the gospel correctly. The Great Commission was the last instruction Christ gave us before leaving earth, and we are all to be about the business of carrying it out until He returns.

The 2 Timothy passage at the beginning of this article is our commission to guard our households against ungodly ways and people – even those who may falsely call themselves Christians – who might creep in and steal our daughters’ hearts and minds away from Christ. He has charged us to train them in godliness, and we must faithfully answer His call to raise wise, discerning, and biblically strong women of God.

What advice would you offer moms who want to raise
biblically strong women?


This article was originally published at Kaylene Yoder’s Blog.

And for all you boy moms, be sure to check out…

Six Ways to Raise a Godly Man

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Imprecatory prayers, Woman leading co-ed small group, LifeWay litmus test…)

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 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!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


I tried subscribing to your blog using the email subscription box, but I wasn’t able to. Here’s my email address. Can you do it for me?

First of all, thank you so much to all of you who subscribe (or are trying to) to the blog via email. I really appreciate it.

I’ve received this question from two or three of y’all over the past couple of weeks, so I reached out to WordPress (my blog host) just to make sure there wasn’t anything technologically wrong. They checked things on their end and said everything seemed to be working fine, and indicated that a number of people had been successful in subscribing to the blog via email in recent days. So, after chatting with the customer service guy for a few minutes here are some suggestions we came up with if you’re having trouble subscribing via email:

  • Unfortunately, I cannot subscribe to the blog for you. You have to do it yourself, so sending me your email address and asking me to subscribe for you won’t work.
  • Try using a different device. For example, if you’re trying to subscribe on your phone, switch to your computer, or try using a friend’s phone.
  • Try clearing your browser cache
  • Make sure you’re typing in your email address correctly- no typos – and into the correct box (the one that says “enter your email address”).
  • If all else fails, ask a friend who’s there with you to help.
  • If nothing works, you can always follow me on social media. I post my blog articles on my social media accounts every day.

Is it OK for Christians to pray imprecatory prayers against evil people?

I’m going to say “yes,” but with some New Testament provisos:

Examine your heart first. What is motivating you to want to pray an imprecatory prayer against this person? Do you hate her? Want revenge? Are you jealous of her? If the motive of your heart is ungodly, you need to deal with that first. You should not enter into any sort of prayer about anything if your motives are sinful (unless, of course, you’re praying that God will change your motives!)

Just as God’s greatest desire for you was for you to repent and be forgiven in Christ, that should be your greatest desire for others. Do you desire, from the heart, that God would save this person, or do you find yourself hoping God will hurt her or send her to Hell? Again, examine the motives of your heart.

It’s never wrong to ask God to stop someone from sinning or to protect you or others from that person’s sin. (Which is not the same as an imprecatory prayer).

Is the person you want to pray the imprecatory prayer against someone you know personally? If so, a better prayer would be to ask God to help you love her, forgive her, and give you opportunities to be a godly influence on her.

Is the person you want to pray the imprecatory prayer against someone you don’t know and have virtually no access to such as a well known false teacher or an evil governmental leader? This is probably the best fit for praying what we would think of as an imprecatory prayer. When I pray for false teachers, here’s what that prayer generally sounds like:

Dear Lord- I pray for Teacher X. Would you please pour out your grace and mercy on her, give her the gift of repentance, and graciously save her? However, You know all things, and you know whether or not she will be saved. If You know she will not bow the knee to Christ, I am asking You to please remove her from all positions and relationships of influence she has. Even though I know that You may be using her as an instrument of judgment against those who want their itching ears scratched, I am asking you to show mercy – to her, to them, and to the visible church – by sitting her down and shutting her up. But whatever You decide, I trust You.

Some people would probably say that’s not really an imprecatory prayer, and I might agree with them, but, to me, that’s what an imprecatory prayer sounds like when run through a New Testament filter.


We have a co-ed small group in our home which my husband leads, however due to work, sometimes he is gone. There isn’t another person who feels comfortable enough to lead so I usually just keep us on track by getting us through our questions which are based on Sunday’s sermon. So, does this mean that when my husband is gone, we should cancel our Small Group?

Though it is very servant-hearted and loving toward your husband and church for you to be willing, you should not be leading the group when your husband is gone. There would be nothing wrong with reading aloud some questions you’ve been provided if that’s all it was, but I would assume the leader has to at least provide some biblical guidance. What if someone answers a question with false doctrine that needs to be biblically corrected? What if no one can answer the question and answering it yourself requires you to teach Scripture to the group? That’s going to put you in the position of possibly violating Scripture and/or your conscience by teaching the Bible to a mixed group. That’s not fair to you or to the group.

Here are some things I would suggest:

  • If your husband can change his work schedule around or change the date or time of the small group meeting so he doesn’t have to be absent (at all or as much), that would be helpful.
  • Your husband should talk things over with your pastor and ask him for suggestions of other men (outside the group) who can lead when he has to be gone.
  • I’m sorry, but there’s no other way to say this (and please understand, this is not directed at you, personally, but a general statement about so many churches these days). The men in your group need to man up. I’m sorry they feel uncomfortable, but that has never been a biblical excuse for men failing to do what God has called them to do – lead. Barak felt uncomfortable doing what God had called him to do, and look how that turned out. Godly men manage to find a way to do things that make them uncomfortable all the time out of obedience to Christ. Your husband can mentor them, the pastor can train them, whatever. They all need to get together, figure it out, and step up. This shouldn’t be something you even need to worry about. It’s not your burden to carry, it’s theirs.

    And besides that, you’re uncomfortable too, aren’t you? At least uncomfortable enough to write and ask me whether or not you should be doing this or if the meeting should be canceled. So you – a woman – feel uncomfortable about doing something you shouldn’t be doing but you have to do it anyway, but these men feel uncomfortable about doing something they should be doing – leading – and they don’t have to do it because they feel uncomfortable? Does that sound biblical? Or even fair?

Perhaps it’s time for evangelical pastors and elders to start giving some thought to what is going on in the culture of their churches that makes men comfortable slacking off and shoving their God-given responsibilities off onto the shoulders of women.

So no, it shouldn’t come down to you leading or canceling the meeting all together. The best and healthiest thing that could happen here is for the men to step up and lead.

Additional Resources:

Adam 3.0: Meanwhile, Back in the Garden, It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

The Mailbag: I Have to Preach Because No Man Will Step Up


I’ve discovered your podcast and started listening to the one on how to study the Bible. You speak of LifeWay in it. Am I to avoid ANY and all books and authors they sell/endorse on their website? Like Mr. X Preacher and Mr. Y Author? I have a library full of books listed on LifeWay!

Thank you so much for listening in to A Word Fitly Spoken!

I’m sorry, but I think you may have misunderstood what I said on our How to Study the Bible – And How Not To! episode.

We started off the episode by discussing how not to study the Bible, and one of our first points was that you should not use “Bible” studies authored by false teachers. I gave a list of some of the best selling women’s “Bible” study authors to avoid (Beth Moore, Lysa TerKeurst, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, etc.), and then I followed that up by saying this:

And I’m going to add one more. This is actually the first time I’m publicly saying this, and as a Southern Baptist, it pains me to say it, but if you need a quick way to rule someone out without doing hours of research on an author you’re not familiar with, I would avoid any author or conference speaker promoted by LifeWay Women – that’s the women’s division of LifeWay.

Now hear me, I’m not saying that every woman in LifeWay Women’s stable of women’s Bible study authors is necessarily unbiblical or a false teacher, but the majority of them are – certainly enough that I feel comfortable saying you could use their endorsement as a litmus test of who to avoid.

I was specifically talking about authors and conference speakers endorsed and promoted by LifeWay Women (the women’s division of LifeWay). I wasn’t talking about LifeWay in general, and I wasn’t saying that every single author you can find in LifeWay’s online store is a false teacher.

What I was trying to get across is this: Say you’ve heard of a new women’s Bible study by Jane Doe. You’ve never heard of her and don’t know anything about her, but you’ve heard other women raving about her. You’re wondering, “Is Jane Doe doctrinally sound?”.

I’m saying if you go to the LifeWay Women website and you see Jane’s picture plastered all over the place as their latest and greatest author and conference speaker, she’s probably not doctrinally sound, and if you don’t have time to read the book and compare all of her teachings to Scripture, you can take their endorsement of her as a signal that you should probably avoid her.

A brief note on the two particular men you mentioned. I would not recommend either of them – not because their materials are sold by LifeWay, but because there are theological issues with both of them. If you want to listen to or read some godly pastors and authors who rightly handle Scripture and will help you grow properly in Christ, please check out the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. (If you need the list narrowed down a little, I would recommend starting with John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Gabriel Hughes, or Josh Buice).


I’m trying to remember the name of a recent release book that warns of singing the Hillsong/Bethel songs in church but I’m drawing a blank! Can you help me? I thought Costi Hinn wrote it but he just helped promote it maybe?

I personally haven’t read any recent books that I recall mentioning this (lots of blog articles, videos, podcasts, etc., but not books).

It is possible that Costi mentioned this in one or both of his books, Defining Deception or God, Greed, and the Prosperity Gospel (both of which I would highly recommend). I’ve read both, but it’s been a couple of years, so I don’t remember whether or not he specifically mentioned churches using Hillsong, Bethel, etc., music in either of them. I know he has mentioned it several times on his blog and podcast.

The only other book that keeps coming to mind is Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler. It’s not really recent, and I only read part of it when it first came out (2013), so I don’t know if she deals with that subject or not. But it keeps coming to mind, so I thought I’d mention it. (And if nothing else, it’s a very good reference book.)

Readers, any ideas which book (not online articles, podcasts, videos, etc. – BOOK) this sister might be thinking about?
Comment below.


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.

Christian women, False Doctrine

Throwback Thursday ~ 8 Unbiblical Notions Christian Women Need to Be Set Free From

Originally published June 2, 2017

Your recent article on prayer really helped me. I was always taught that prayer was a two-way conversation. For years, I would talk to God and wait for Him to talk back to me, but He never did. I thought it was because there was unknown sin in my life, or that I didn’t have enough faith, or that God just wasn’t interested in me. It’s so freeing to know the truth.

Comments like this from readers are always bittersweet for me. It makes me practically giddy to hear from Christian women who have been set free from false doctrines they’ve been taught, but it also grieves me deeply to reflect on the years they spent thinking they were somehow deficient as Christians or doubting God’s love for them simply because they were taught, and believed, unbiblical notions and ideas.

Let’s see if we can dispel a few of those today:

1. Prayer is this big, complicated, mystical thing.
Nope. Prayer is simply talking to God about whatever is on your heart. What’s made prayer complicated is the unbiblical teachings that have grown up around it such as praying in “tongues,” listening prayer, contemplative prayer, sozo prayer, soaking prayer, etc.

8 Things You Need to Know about Prayer

2. “Women’s Ministry” equals fluff and silliness.
There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun from time to time. Hey, we all need to blow off steam, right? But if cookie exchanges and teas and painting parties and dress up parties and sleepovers and makeup parties and fashion shows and movie nights are all your women’s ministry does, it’s unhealthy. And it’s not really a ministry, either. If something is a “ministry” it should exist to point people to Christ and disciple them once they get to Him. Your women’s ministry should include ministry of the Word, discipleship, Titus 2-type mentoring, evangelism, comfort ministry (to the ill, shut-ins, new moms, new members, etc.), serving the church, encouragement, supporting your pastor and elders, and so on.

Mary and Martha and Jesus and Women’s Ministry
How to Survive a Wimpy Women’s Ministry

3. Women’s Bible study- great balls of fire, don’t get me started.
♦ A Bible verse (or half a Bible verse) plus an inspiring story from the author’s or someone else’s life is not Bible study. Bible study is picking up your Bible and studying it.

Bible Study
Bible Studies

♦ If you’re hosting a women’s Bible study, you do not have to use books and DVDs written by someone else. In fact, I would recommend against doing so. Get someone who is able to teach – yes, it could even be a man – and study a book of the Bible from beginning to end.

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

McBible Study and the Famine of God’s Word

Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?

♦ One reason I recommend against using “canned” women’s Bible studies is that the vast majority of them (95% in my estimation- not an exaggeration) teach false doctrine. When you walk into LifeWay the first thing you’ll see is the best sellers shelf, and the majority of those books are written by false teachers such as Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, and others.

Popular False Teachers

♦ If you do decide to occasionally do a book study, you do not have to use one written by a woman. In fact, if you want a book that’s doctrinally sound, you have a much better chance of finding one written by a man than by a woman, sad to say.

A Few Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers
A Few MORE Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers
A Few Good Men, Again!: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers

4. Faithful church attendance isn’t that important.
If you think you don’t need church or that you can skip it whenever something more fun comes along, your thinking isn’t biblical. God thinks it’s important enough for His people to gather regularly for worship that He emphasizes it throughout the entirety of Scripture- Old and New Testament. Get your heiney in the pew every week, honey, and find a place to serve.

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

5. I am woman, hear me roar.
♦ Beth Moore and many other female teachers who rebel against Scripture by preaching to and teaching men in the church say that they are doing so “under their husband’s and/or pastor’s authority”. Neither your husband nor your pastor has the OK from God to allow you, or any other woman, to teach men in the church. God says women aren’t to teach or hold authority over men in the church, and when God says no, no one has the authority to say yes. Furthermore, there isn’t a single passage of Scripture that allows any man to give any woman this type of “under my authority” dispensation to teach men. To say that it’s permissible for a woman to teach men “under her husband’s/pastor’s authority” is just as biblically absurd as saying it’s OK for a woman to lie, commit adultery, gossip, or steal “under her husband’s/pastor’s authority.” Sapphira sinned under her husband’s authority and look what happened to her.

Fencing Off the Forbidden Fruit Tree
Jill in the Pulpit

Ten Things You Should Know About 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and the Relationship Between Men and Women in the Local Church at CBMW

Egalitarians are often so vehement in their insistence that women should teach men and hold authority over men in the church, that they are essentially saying that the only way a woman’s service or leadership in the church can have any value is if it’s exercised over men. I’ve heard many of them turn up their noses at the idea of teaching women and children and other forms of service (that don’t involve teaching or authority over men), in a haughty “we’re better than that” kind of way.

No way.

Have you seen the garbage women and children are being taught in the church under the guise of “Sunday School” or “Bible study”? Women’s and children’s classes at your church are in desperate need of women who are doctrinally sound and able to teach. What about the need to visit church members who are in the hospital or shut-ins? How about record-keeping, working in the sound booth, welcoming visitors, serving on committees, mowing the church’s lawn, participating in outreach activities, fixing a meal, chaperoning youth activities, hosting a visiting pastor or missionary? There’s a ton of important and valuable work for women to do in the church. We don’t have time to worry about teaching and holding authority over men. Let the men worry about that.

Servanthood
Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

6. My feelings and opinions reign supreme.
Uh uh. Not if you’re a Christian, they don’t. That’s how lost people operate. If you’re a Christian, you’re not entitled run your life or make decisions by any opinion other than that of your Master. What He says – in His written word – goes. Period. Regardless of how you feel about it or whether or not you agree with it. That means if a “Bible” teacher you really like is teaching things that conflict with Scripture, you dump her. You love Mr. Wonderful and want to marry him, but he’s not saved? Nope. You’re a woman who’s certain God has called her to preach? No way. Your husband has said no about something, but you want to do it anyway? Forget it.

The Bible is our Authority
Bad Fruit, Diseased Trees, and the Authority of God’s Word

7. If something or someone claims to be a Christian, it is.
I suppose at some point in Christian history, there might have been a time when, if someone handed you a “Christian book,” it was a pretty safe bet it was doctrinally sound. Or if someone said she was a Christian, you could be fairly certain she was truly born again.

Not so much these days.

You cannot take at face value that someone who says she’s a Christian is using the Bible’s definition of Christianity and has been genuinely regenerated. You cannot trust that just because something is sold at LifeWay or another Christian retailer that it’s doctrinally sound. You can’t assume that just because someone is a “Christian” celebrity, writes “Bible” studies, speaks at “Christian” conferences, and has a large following, that she’s handling God’s word correctly (or at all) and teaching you biblical truth. There’s just too much false doctrine running rampant in evangelicalism and too many people who believe and teach it.

Don’t be a weak and naïve Christian woman. Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven…” There are many people who draw near to God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. It is God’s will for you to be a good Berean and to test everything according to Scripture. We will know the truly Christian from the false by their fruits, not their platitudes.

8. Sugar and spice and everything nice- that’s what Christian girls are made of.
That’s not a Bible verse, but rather and unspoken rule among most Christian women. Somewhere we’ve gotten the idea that Christian unity or love means “being nice” to people. We’re always smilingly sweet and never say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings or could rock the boat at church.

Are we to be kind? Yes. Are we to do our best not to hurt others? Of course. Should we be making waves over every little thing that rubs us the wrong way? Absolutely not.

But neither is it loving to see a Mack truck bearing down on an oblivious sister in Christ and refrain from yanking her out of harm’s way because it might dislocate her shoulder. It is not unity to see Satan deceiving a friend through sin or false doctrine and not plead with her to turn to Christ and His word because she might think we’re rude. And that’s the situation we often find ourselves in at church or with Christian friends.

Was Jesus – our perfect example of love – being unloving, unkind, hateful, or divisive when He rebuked the Pharisees, cleared the temple, or said, “Get behind Me, Satan!” to Peter?

Love for the brethren isn’t “being nice.” It’s caring so much about a fellow saint that we want what’s best for her in Christ. Sometimes that requires being firm, confrontational, or demonstrating “tough love.” People’s eternities and spiritual health are at stake. How loving is it to stand aside and let a sister waltz into Hell or struggle for years on end in her walk with the Lord because she’s living in sin or believing false doctrine? “Being nice” isn’t a fruit of the Spirit. It’s time we stop being nice and start being biblical.

I Can’t Sit Down, Shut Up, and Play Nice
Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Do you believe any of these unbiblical notions? If so, set them aside, repent, and believe and practice what Scripture says. Any time we believe something that’s in conflict with God’s word, it’s a hindrance to the abundant life and growth in Christ that He wants to bless us with.

False doctrine enslaves. It places a yoke of confusion, anxiety, and “try harder” on the shoulders of those who embrace it. Christ did not set us free from sin so that we might turn right around and become captives to a new, pseudo-Christian type of sin: false teaching. It is for freedom and a healthy spiritual life that Christ has set us free.