Discernment, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 1

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against false teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.


Volume 2, Volume 3

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. Below are some others I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on each of them.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with the women listed below and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I did involved items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). On a few of these, I have also enlisted the help of theologically sound friends who are more familiar with these women than I am.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

Photo courtesy of prayinglife.org.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean– Not recommended. Jennifer’s calendar of events includes a column titled “Women Only?” which implies that she does teach men (at this time she has one co-ed event listed). An April 17, 2016 Facebook post also mentions she will be speaking to inmates at a men’s prison who are using one of her book studies.

Jennifer’s web site features endorsements by Lysa TerKeurst and Beth Moore, but I did not find any other obvious partnerships or appearances between Jennifer and well-known false teachers.

Some of Jennifer’s wording in quotes from her books and book descriptions give me pause because they sound similar to some of the phraseology false teachers use. However, I want to stress that I did not find any quotes in my quick check of Jennifer that seemed overtly unbiblical. She does favorably quote The Message and does not seem to understand that it is a paraphrase, not a translation, which does concern me since she is a Bible study author. I would need to examine her books and teaching more closely to get a better grip on where she’s coming from doctrinally.

12046903_1052179321495503_6933066421813121772_nLisa Harper– Not recommended. Lisa is a contributing writer at Proverbs 31. She has partnered with Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Bevere, and Victoria Osteen in at least one conference at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood. Lisa is also connected to IF: Gathering. Lisa considers Sheila Walsh (see below) a friend. And, she seems to think Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, and Priscilla Shirer are kosher.

Photo courtesy of karenkingsbury.com

Karen Kingsbury– Recommended only for discerning, mature Christians. Karen Kingsbury is in a bit of a different category since she is a fiction writer. I asked about her in a group of theologically sound women I’m a member of. Here’s what they said:

“Her books are very “evanjellyfish.” Lots of personal words from God. Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted and misapplied several times per book. Ask Jesus into your heart. All the usual stuff.”

“There are absolutely problems with KK’s theology. Her latest series is about angels sent by God to earth to direct the lives of four chosen people and keep them alive so that one of the couples can bear a child named Dallas Garner who will turn the hearts of people back to God.”

“I actually saw The Bridge Part 1 and 2 on Hallmark that is based on her books. I would no way look to her for theology, but the movies were decent for a Christmas feel good movie. But that’s as far as I’d ever go with her stuff.”

“I really enjoyed the Baxter family series. As fiction. Not for theology. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes quite a bit at those parts. But – it’s fiction. I don’t hold fiction to the same standard that I would a theological book.”

“The angels series is way out there and could lead to very bad theology. If you read those books, you might want to compare it with a study of angels in Scripture.”

I would echo the respondent who said she does not hold fiction to the same level of doctrinal purity as non-fiction Bible studies, Christian living, or theology books. If you are a new Christian or not very knowledgeable of the Bible, it would probably be a good idea for to stay away from Karen Kingsbury books until you’re more mature in Christ and can spot and reject the theological problems in the books.

Photo courtesy of twitter.com/rebekahlyons

Rebekah Lyons– Not recommended. Rebekah and her husband Gabe (who previously helped co-found the Catalyst conference, which has featured false teachers Beth Moore and Christine Caine) are the founders of “Q,” an organization which attempts to join Christians with secular cultural and governmental leaders as well as other non-Christians, including Muslims, in order to make a Christian impact on culture through “The 7 Channels of Cultural Influence.” These “7 Channels” are identical to the seven mountains found in the Seven Mountain Mandate of the New Apostolic Reformation’s false teaching of Dominionism. Scripture does not tell us to partner with non-Christians to impact culture, in fact, it explicitly tells us not to.

Rebekah has appeared at IF: Gathering. The transcript of her speech is Ann Voskamp-esque sloppy theology at best, emergent at worst. Rebekah also appeared at Q with IF: Gathering founder Jennie Allen speaking on Women in the Church. You’ll notice that Gabe commends IF for not “getting into doctrine” when it comes to women’s roles in the church, and virtually no Scripture is cited in the entire talk, only opinions (there was so much double speak in the video that I was unable to glean anything else of substance).

Among other topics, including marijuana and robots, Q Denver 2016 will feature speaker Melinda Selmys, a Catholic blogger and author who wiil share “My Struggle with Gender Dysphoria.” She “encourages faith communities to provide trans people with the social, emotional, and spiritual support that they need in order to heal.”

Photo courtesy of raechelmyers.com

Raechel Myers– Not recommended (nor anyone associated with She Reads Truth). Check out this resource and this one. Elizabeth Prata, author of these two resources adds:

“I had direct interaction with Raechel Myers regarding the concerns I’d written about. She falls far below the ‘unrepentant … false doctrine’ benchmark. As an elder woman attempting to teach her, the younger, sound doctrine and to be self-controlled (Titus 2:2, 4-5) she not only was unrepentant but she was very angry and decidedly UNcontrolled. She would not listen one bit and so, she did not hear. The entire scene made me very sad for all the IF:Gathering women, because they are intelligent and have energy, verve, and dedication. If they’d put all that in the right direction they all could have been role model women and wives for the glory of Jesus.”

snShauna Niequist– Not recommended. In addition to regularly preaching the Sunday sermon at Willow Creek, this information is from a friend who knows Shauna’s family personally:

“[Shauna is] the daughter of Bill Hybels, the founder and pastor of Willow Creek in Barrington, IL. Because of very personal experience with it, I will tell you that this stuff they peddle has proven to be the worst kind of Christianity, and probably a Matthew 23:14-15 type of situation, at least in my opinion.

Next, this post right here ought to really be enough.

She is a friend of Rachel Held Evans. She is touring with Jen Hatmaker, who is a complete mess. Really, there is no other way to describe her than secularism covered with some bible words.

Aaron [Shauna’s husband] is a worship leader at Willow Creek. He began a HUGE movement with contemplative prayer a couple of years ago. Because of his music, he comes off as very spiritual and sound, but there is nothing inherently Christian about anything he says or does, really. Take a look at Aaron’s blog here, which will give you more insight.

There is ZERO discernment with this family, they either promote or flock to whoever is popular, and they are all about using words that sound really great, but have no substance to them at all. They are on this big thing lately about “Holy Spaces”, which sounds great, but is so anti-biblical when you really think about it. You don’t create a space that is holy, only God can do that. Anyway…

This is the Willow Creek legacy, in a nutshell: their lack of sound doctrine, lack of bible, lack of biblical discernment, and their false teaching and false gospel. Shauna, and Aaron, are simply products of what her dad has built, which is a huge gathering of people who neither know Christ, nor have reverence for His word.”

Shauna also publicly congratulated Jen Hatmaker for affirming homosexuality.


jrJennifer Rothschild– Not recommended. Although a dear, godly, discerning friend heard her speak several years ago and recounted to me that Jennifer handled God’s word correctly and taught the biblical gospel at the conference she attended, a brief perusal of Jennifer’s blog raises too many red flags for me to recommend her at this time. Perhaps Jennifer is slipping in her discernment.

Jennifer has several endorsements from the likes of Beth Moore and Lysa TerKeurst prominently displayed on her web site, says she “loves James and Betty Robison,” and speaks 25- 30 times per year “to groups – mostly women,” (implying that she does teach men). She also calls Ann Voskamp a “dear, dear friend” in the introduction to a guest post Ann wrote for Jennifer’s blog, and will appear with Ann (again) at an upcoming event.

susiesquare-300x300Susie Shellenberger– Not recommended. According to her website Susie is  “an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene” (The office of elder is expressly limited to men in Scripture.) and spent several years serving as a youth pastor.

In the About Susie’s Speaking and Schedule sections of her website, several events which are usually co-ed (such as church revivals and college chapels) are suggested as events at which she might speak. “People” and “audiences,” rather than “women,” are the terms used for her listeners at these venues, implying that she teaches men.

Most of Susie’s books are for or about teens, and, while I haven’t read any of them, some of the titles and descriptions seem a bit troubling:

Masterpiece: 18 Encounters with Jesus that Prove it’s All About You (Even Rick Warren knows “It’s not about you.”)

Girl Talk With God: It’s Actually About Talking With Him and Listening to Him Talk Back (God speaks to us through His word, not an audible voice.)

Secret Power to Faith, Family, and Getting a Guy: A Personal Bible Study on the Book of Ruth (The book of Ruth is not “a Cinderella story” as the description purports, nor God’s instructions on how to get a boyfriend.)

headshot_newSheila Walsh– Not recommended. Sheila was a co-host of The 700 Club for several years, and recently announced she’s joining the leadership team of Life Today (James Robison). She has appeared at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood alongside false teachers Beth Moore, Prisicilla Shirer, Christine Caine, and Victoria Osteen, and is a contributor at Hillsong’s web site. She gave an enthusiastic Instagram recommendation of an event at which Bobbie Houston (Hillsong), Christine Caine, and Sarah Jakes Roberts (T.D. Jakes’ daughter) are the featured speakers. I also skimmed this interview with Sheila and found some of her answers troubling, particularly the one towards the end where the interviewer asks her about “people of other faiths who sincerely love God.”

awAmanda Bible Williams– Not recommended (nor anyone associated with She Reads Truth). Check out this resource and this one.



I truly regret that I’m unable to give a wholehearted endorsement to any of these women. I’m sure they’re all perfectly nice people who, in their own hearts, have only the best of intentions, but Christian leaders and teachers have a grave responsibility to Christ and to their listeners to teach sound doctrine and walk in obedience to Scripture. Please understand that this is not a personal attack on any of these women, only answers to readers’ questions about whether or not I recommend them and their materials.

If you have a question about: a well-known Christian author/leader, 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.

Discernment, False Teachers

Going Beyond Scripture: Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against false teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

This article is kept continuously updated as needed.

Priscilla Shirer

Priscilla Shirer is a wife and mom of three boys hailing from the Dallas area. Though you may be newly acquainted with her from her roles in the movies Overcomer and War Roomshe has been writing women’s Bible studies and has been a popular speaker at women’s conferences and other events for many years. Together with her husband, Jerry, she heads up Going Beyond Ministries.

When I participated in Priscilla’s DVD study He Speaks to Me several years ago, I found her to be an engaging writer, a witty storyteller, and charismatic speaker. Priscilla’s friendliness and genuine care for Christian women seem to shine through every word she speaks and writes. And to top that all off, she’s beautiful and sharp as a tack. It’s very easy to think of Priscilla and think, “What’s not to love?”

Which is why it grieves me to have to answer that question with: “Her theology.” Unfortunately, there are serious red flags about some of the things Priscilla does and teaches that Christian women who follow her, or are considering following her, need to be made aware of. And because of those issues, I deeply regret that I am not able to recommend her as I would like to. Should she repent in these areas in which she has broken Scripture and align herself with biblical principles, she would have no bigger fan than I, and I would rejoice to be able to point Christian women to her as a doctrinally sound resource.

Until that time, however, it saddens me to have to recommend that Christian women not follow Priscilla Shirer or any materials or activities from Going Beyond Ministries for the following reasons:

Preaching to Men

Priscilla unrepentantly preaches to and instructs men in the Scriptures in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12-14 (as well as other passages of Scripture that do not allow this). If you have followed me for any length of time, you have seen me raise this issue repeatedly regarding female Bible teachers and speakers. Yes, it’s a big deal and, yes, I will continue to teach and write about it. There are two crucial reasons for this.

First, this is a sinI am finding that more and more Christians have to be told this. When the Bible says not to do something and you do it anyway, that’s a sin. And the Bible says that women are not to preach to or instruct men, or to hold authority over men in the gathered body of Believers, the church. Though the consequences of the sin of instructing men may not appear to be severe, it is just as much of a sin as any other sin you can think of: adultery, lying, stealing, drunkenness, and so on. If you wouldn’t follow a male pastor or Bible teacher who was open and unrepentant about committing adultery or shoplifting or getting plowed every weekend, why would you follow any female Bible teacher who preaches to and instructs men?

Second, almost without exception, every female Bible teacher I know of who unrepentantly instructs men also teaches other doctrinal error (usually Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation or seeker driven false doctrine). So instructing men is a red flag to watch for if you’re looking for a doctrinally sound teacher.

If a woman is supposedly knowledgeable enough about the Bible to be in the position of teaching and authoring, yet doesn’t understand or obey such a basic biblical truth, what does that say about the rest of her knowledge of the Bible? How can you trust that anything else she teaches you about the Bible is accurate and true?

Partnering with False Teachers

Priscilla partners and associates with false teachers such as Joyce Meyer, Christine CaineJoel and Victoria Osteen, and T.D. and Serita Jakes (see below). All of these people are proponents of the false and anti-biblical Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) doctrine, and the Jakeses are also modalists.  Paul is quite clear that people who preach “another gospel” are “accursed”, or damned, and that we are not to partner with them. John says virtually the same thing, and adds that to partner with false teachers is to take part in their wicked works. Again, when the Bible says not to do something, and a person does it anyway, this is sin.



On October 16, 2016, Priscilla and her husband, children, and mother were in attendance at T.D. Jakes’ “church,” The Potter’s House, where, during a God’s Leading Ladies graduation ceremony, Priscilla accepted the “Lady of Destiny” award. As you can see, she has warm words of praise and admiration for Serita Jakes (T.D.’s wife).

Unbiblical Teaching

Priscilla teaches Christians to “listen for God’s voice” in an unbiblical form of “prayer” called contemplative prayer. Combining elements of Eastern mysticism and New Age spirituality, this practice of emptying the mind and listening for God’s voice is found nowhere in Scripture. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He taught them:

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:9-13.

No mention of sitting in silence or listening here nor in any of the other passages in which the Bible teaches about prayer. Jesus taught us the way He wanted us to pray. Priscilla teaches something different.

Priscilla often uses poor hermeneutics when handling God’s word. Looking back over my copy of He Speaks to Me, and sifting through numerous videos of her teaching, it’s clear that her method of teaching is mainly eisegesis. She begins most lessons with a story or personal experience, uses these stories to formulate her own spiritual principles, and then adds in a smattering of Bible verses (often out of context) to support her ideas. Priscilla has also admitted that she reads herself into Scripture, an unbiblical practice sometimes called “narcissistic eisegesis”.

The proper method of teaching Scripture is exegesis. Exegesis is taking a passage of Scripture in context, and “leading out” of it- teaching what the passage means.

One example that best showcases Priscilla’s penchant for eisegesis and poor hermeneutics can be found in this promotional video for her study, One in a Million:

0:46- This same God was supposed to be speaking to me, teaching to me, making Himself relevant to me…in the regular rhythms of my everyday living…

Where does the Bible teach this? It doesn’t. God speaks to us and teaches us through the careful study and preaching of His word, not through subjective voices, feelings, and experiences in the “rhythms of everyday living” (what, precisely, does that phrase even mean?) Where does Priscilla get the idea that God is “supposed” to be speaking in these ways? Not from Scripture.

1:37- When these believers…who had experienced different things about God became part of my life, my eyes were opened to see God in a brand new way. 

These “believers from different denominations” Priscilla references who rattled her “theological box” may have been part of Priscilla’s initial exposure to false Word of Faith teaching and false teachers such as the aforementioned Meyer, Caine, and Osteens.

Notice the emphasis around the 1:37 mark on people’s personal experiences (praying for miracles, etc.) rather than on the Bible. We do not build doctrine or what we believe about God on people’s subjective experiences. What we believe about God must come from Scripture alone. Personal experiences can be evidence of the truth of rightly handled and understood Scripture, but not vice versa.

2:57- Do you know that of the original two million Jewish people only two actually ever made it? That’s one in a million. Well, man, if there’s only going to be a handful of people experiencing what we’ve learned on the pew…then I want one of those to be me.”

The story of Joshua and Caleb being the only ones to enter the Promised Land has absolutely no connection whatsoever with how many Christians today will be able to achieve intimacy with God. None. The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that because only two people out of two million entered the Promised Land that only “a handful of people” will be able to “experience” (there’s that word again) “what we’ve learned on the pew.”

Furthermore (since Priscilla looks to tangible experiences and anecdotal evidence as support for her ideas), both anecdotal church history and the experiences of Christians who are alive today prove this idea to be false. Untold millions of Christians over the last two thousand years have studied God’s word, grown close to Him, matured in their faith, and walked faithfully with Him throughout their lives. God doesn’t limit to a select few the number of Christians who are able to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus the way He limited entrance to the Promised Land. In fact, the Bible says the opposite. It is God’s plan for every Christian to grow to spiritual maturity and intimacy with Him.

But growth to spiritual maturity through the study of God’s word and faithful obedience to Him isn’t what Priscilla is offering through this study. Instead, she is dangling in front of Christian women an emotionally appealing and unbiblical carrot of miraculous and unique personal experiences with God instead of teaching them to properly study their Bibles and rely on Scripture alone for their doctrine and practices.

Though there are others, these are the major doctrinal errors in this video, which is less than four minutes of teaching from Priscilla.

1 Corinthians 4:6 says:

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

It is a sad irony that Priscilla Shirer opted to name her ministry “Going Beyond,” because this is exactly what she is choosing to do right now. She goes beyond what is written in teaching men, in partnering with false teachers, in teaching unbiblical prayer practices, and in using improper hermeneutics. Therefore, it is my recommendation that women not follow, support, or receive teaching from Priscilla Shirer or Going Beyond Ministries at this time.


Additional Resources:

Disclaimer: The specific links below are provided and endorsed as evidence pertaining to this article only. I do not endorse any of these sites in so far as any of them might deviate from Scripture or conflict with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs at the top of this page.

Preaching to Men:

Priscilla Shirer preaches the Sunday morning worship service (to a co-ed audience) at Celebration Church, Austin, Texas

(This is not the only example of Priscilla preaching to men. It is merely one of the clearest examples since she is preaching the Sunday sermon at a church. Priscilla can be seen and heard preaching to men in many of the video and audio clips I’ve linked in this article and elsewhere. This is a sin she consistently and unrepentantly walks in. It is not a one time “oopsie.”)

Women Teachers? Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, and Priscilla Shirer Believe In Teaching Men Too at Surph’s Side

Partnering with False Teachers:

Pink Impact Conference Priscilla joined with faith healing “apostle” of the New Apostolic Reformation, Todd White, as well as false teachers Christine Caine, Lisa Harper, and “Pastor” Debbie Morris.

Unwrap the Bible promo video by Victoria Osteen

Priscilla Shirer on Enjoying Everyday Life with Joyce Meyer (1)

Priscilla Shirer on Enjoying Everyday Life with Joyce Meyer (2)

Priscilla Shirer Talks Women and the Church, Moving From the Pew to the Pavement and Why Christine Caine Is at the Top of Her List at the Christian Post

Priscilla Shirer recommends Joyce Meyer, Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, Jennie Allen, etc., “Bible” studies on her blog at Going Beyond

Priscilla Shirer speaks at Joyce Meyer’s women’s conference alongside false teachers Joyce Meyer, Lisa Harper, and Sarah Jakes Roberts (T.D. Jakes’ daughter)

Priscilla Shirer’s promo page at (Word of Faith) Hillsong

Meet Christine Caine at Going Beyond

Priscilla Shirer, featured speaker at (Word of Faith) Hillsong’s 2016 Colour Conference with Brian Houston, Bobbie Houston, and Christine Caine

Priscilla Shirer endorses Bobbie Houston’s (female “co-pastor” of heretical Hillsong “church) book, Stay the Path

Unbiblical Teaching:

Priscilla Shirer on Hearing the Voice of God on Issues, Etc. – Pastor Chris Rosebrough explains why Priscilla’s twisting of John 10 to mean that we can hear God speak to us is unbiblical.

Is Priscilla Shirer a Sound Exegete? on Fighting for the Faith

True Woman Conference Speaker Priscilla Shirer Hears God’s Still, Small Voice at Apprising Ministries

Priscilla Shirer and Contemplative/Centering Prayer at Apprising Ministries

He Speaks to Me promo video by Priscilla Shirer

War Room’s Priscilla Shirer’s Contemplative History, and Why It Matters at Apologetic Report

Review of Priscilla Shirer’s Sermon: “The Multitude” by Chris Rosebrough

Priscilla Shirer- Mystic by David Sheldon

Priscilla Shirer: Out Of The Closet At The Alpha Leadership Conference 2017 at Emergent Watch

Priscilla Shirer at Fighting for the Faith

Fervent Warning on Priscilla Shirer at Christian Answers for the New Age

War Room Reviews and Critiques

Why I do not recommend Kendrick Brothers’ new movie, “War Room”, part 2 at The End Time

War Room: A Review by Justin Peters at Worldview Weekend

War Room- A Review at Hip and Thigh

Stand Firm: A Review of War Room at Satisfaction Through Christ

Book Reviews:

Fervent by Aimee Byrd

Fervent at Wise in His Eyes

Discernment, False Teachers, Idolatry, Old Testament, Sunday School

Micaiah: True Prophet vs. False Prophets ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 7-6-14

Photos courtesy of cristoraul.com, Joyce Meyer Ministries, TD Jakes Ministries, and TBN
Photos courtesy of cristoraul.com, TBN, Joyce Meyer Ministries, and TD Jakes Ministries

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 27 ~ June 29- July 5
1 Kings 22-2 Kings 13, 2 Chronicles 18-24, Obadiah, Psalm 82-83
Michaiah: True Prophet vs. False Prophets

1 Kings 22:1-40

Setting the Stage
Ahab was one of the most wicked kings ever to sit on the throne of Israel. The previous chapter (21:25) says “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab”. He has just been confronted by Elijah for his numerous abominations, and has humbled himself and repented.

Getting back what’s mine (1-4, 20:34)
Israel had had peace for three years, but it was bothering Ahab that Syria still had control of the city of Ramoth-gilead, when Ben-hadad (Syria’s king) had promised to return all of the cities Syria had captured during his father’s reign as part of his terms of surrender (20:34). Ahab asked Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat, to join him in recapturing the city, and Jehoshaphat agreed.

Not just any prophet will do (5-12, 18:1ff, 20:26)
Jehoshaphat was a godly man and knew that the right thing to do would be to inquire of the Lord before going into battle. Why do you think Ahab didn’t suggest this? What do we know about Ahab’s walk with the Lord? We know from 20:26 that he was an idolator, from chapter 18 that he was a Baal worshiper and had led Israel into Baal worship, and that he also supported the golden calf worship centers that Jeroboam had set up. So, when Ahab summoned 400 of his favorite prophets in order to appease Jehoshaphat, do you think they were true prophets of the Lord, or false prophets of idolatry? They were false prophets.

Tell him what he wants to hear
Was Ahab’s desire to hear and obey the word of the Lord? Was it the desire of the 400 prophets to truly hear and accurately report the word of the Lord? We can answer a resounding “no” to both questions. Ahab’s desires were, a) to hear what would make him happy, b) to make Jehoshaphat happy by granting his request and calling up so called “prophets of the Lord” and c) for Jehoshaphat to hear that they wold be successful so that Jehoshaphat would agree to go into battle with him. The “prophets'” desire was to keep the king happy and thus stay alive and prosper in their positions.

How do you spot a false prophet?
The 400 prophets certainly seemed to be prophets of the Lord. They brought a positive, encouraging message and made Ahab happy. Zedekiah (11) even prefaced his message with “Thus says the Lord,” the same words all true prophets of the Lord used. And all the prophets predicted triumph and that the Lord would give the battle into the king’s hand, words spoken on many previous occasions to other kings by true prophets of the Lord. So, why would Jehoshaphat think these were not true prophets of the Lord?

1. Where they were coming from (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)
Jehoshaphat knew that these guys were coming from a temple to a false god, even if they called those golden calves “God”. They were idolators so they were breaking God’s law in word and in practice. Deuteronomy 13:1-3a, 5a says:

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams…. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God,

When it came to the office of prophet, true prophets stayed true to the one true God of the Bible, and His word, in what they proclaimed as well as what they practiced in their daily lives and in their jobs as prophets (Isaiah and Jeremiah are good examples of true prophets). It did not matter how many times a person claimed to speak for God or used godly sounding terminology. If he led people to worship idols, he was a false prophet.

2. Whom they were prophesying for
Sometimes (but not always) the person the being prophesied for was an indication of whether or not the prophet was a true prophet. In this case we have Ahab, who we know was not genuinely seeking the Lord. Ahab was about Ahab, and nobody else. We can look at his life and see that he would not be seeking out the type of prophet who would be telling him the truth of God’s word. He was merely using the appearance of seeking the Lord to get what he wanted. False prophets are always happy to oblige such people.

3. Did the message come true? (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
Deuteronomy 18:21-22 tells us:

And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

If a prophet’s message did not come true, he was not to be believed, because he was a false prophet. He was also to be put to death. As we see later in this chapter, these prophets’ predictions of victory for Ahab did not come true.

Today’s false prophets
False prophets are not relegated to the Old Testament. We also find them in the New Testament and throughout history. We have many false prophets today. While some actually claim the title of “prophet,” most go by the title of “pastor,” “Bible teacher,” or “Christian author.” False prophets such as Joyce Meyer, Joel and Victoria Osteen, and TD Jakes, to name some of the most popular ones, preach encouraging messages to make people happy, use Bible verses (usually twisted and/or out of context) and other Christian sounding terminology, and tell you that you’ll be victorious over life’s problems, or that you’ll be successful or wealthy or healed. But how do they measure up against the false prophet test, above?

1. Where are they coming from?
Meyer, Jakes, and the Osteens (and numerous others) all preach the prosperity gospel in one form or another. They teach that it is never God’s will for you to be sick or poor, that if you are experiencing suffering it’s because of your lack of faith, and that because we are little gods, we have the same power God has to speak things (like health and wealth) into existence.

Additionally, TD Jakes is a modalist (a false view of the Trinity), Joyce Meyer has a number of false soteriological beliefs, and all of them, because they are teaching people to believe in a golden calf of their own making that they call Jesus, are leading people into idolatry.

2. Who are they prophesying for?
In most cases, people who follow false teachers today are not like Ahab. They think what they’re getting from these false teachers is biblical Christianity. Sometimes, however, what they’re really looking for isn’t Christ, but the “stuff” (happiness, encouragement, healing, a better life, money) they think Christ will give them. And when you look to Christ for stuff instead of looking to Christ for Christ, you’re probably going to end up following a false teacher, because that’s what they promise. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says:

For the time is coming when people 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.

3. Does the message come true?
People like Meyer, Jakes, and the Osteens have millions of followers whom they promise health, wealth, and the realization of all their dreams and goals on a weekly basis. Out of all those millions of listeners, how many do you think are always healthy? How many get terminal diseases and aren’t healed? How many send in their “seed offering” and still can’t pay their bills? How many have failed businesses or never see their dreams come true? If one of these preachers promises anyone, even once, that “God says…” and it doesn’t come true, he is a false prophet.

Just because someone says what we want to hear (as the 400 prophets did for Ahab) doesn’t mean he is telling us the truth of God’s word.

Micaiah: True Prophet of the Lord (13-28)
A number of things tell us that Micaiah was a true prophet of the Lord:

True prophets don’t bow to what’s popular (13-14)
Do you find it interesting that Ahab didn’t want to summon Micaiah because he knew Micaiah’s message would be against him (8)? The messenger (13) also seemed to know this. Perhaps it was because Ahab (and the messenger) already knew he was living in constant sin and that the Lord’s hand was against him. The messenger, already sensing what Micaiah’s prophecy would be, tried to get him to go along with the crowd, but Micaiah would have none of it. He would only speak the truth of God’s word.

Today it’s popular to go along with the crowd that preaches that God wants everybody to be happy and successful, that you can have God and still hang on to your sin, etc. But today’s true prophet will only speak the truth of God’s word, even if it isn’t the popular thing to do.

True prophets speak the truth even when the truth is unpleasant (15-18)
It would have been much easier for Micaiah to just parrot what the other prophets had said. He knew that what he had to tell Ahab was not going to be what Ahab wanted to hear and that he was risking his life by upsetting him, but Micaiah still boldly gave God’s entire message.

Today’s true prophets can be heard saying unpleasant things such as “Jesus is the only way of salvation,” “Homosexuality is a sin,” and “God uses suffering to make you more like Christ.” They might be risking their jobs, but they don’t leave out of their sermons the parts of the Bible that are uncomfortable for people.

True prophets warn people about, and confront, false prophets (19-25)
It wasn’t enough for Micaiah just to speak the word of the Lord concerning the outcome of the battle. God, in yet another act of mercy towards Ahab, wanted Ahab to know that he was being lied to by these false prophets so that he could repent and believe the true word of the Lord.

Today’s true prophets don’t just proclaim God’s word, they warn fellow Christians about false doctrine and false teachers so that they can repent of their false belief and believe the true word of the Lord.

True prophets will risk everything for the truth of God’s word (26-28)
Micaiah knew his life was on the line, but he knew something even more important. God’s word is true, and he was willing to stake his life on it. He would not compromise the truth or attempt to soften his message just to save his own skin.

True prophets of today, especially those who live in countries hostile to the gospel, stake their lives and their families’ lives on the gospel. Often, they are martyred for their faith, but they refuse to compromise the truth or soften God’s word just to save their own skin, their jobs, or anything else.

God will accomplish His word (29-40, 21:19)
Ahab arrogantly tried to subvert God’s word by disguising himself, hoping that if a king were to die that day, it would be Jehoshaphat. But in the end, we see that God’s word always prevails. Not only did Micaiah’s prophecy come true, so did Elijah’s (21:19).

We can trust that God’s word — both the unpleasant parts and His glorious promises– will always be accomplished.

Additional Resources:
Joyce Meyer at carm.org
The False Teachers: TD Jakes at challies.com
TD Jakes at carm.org
Joel Osteen and “Joel-likeness” at challies.com
Lessons I’ve Learned from False Teachers at challies.com