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12/26/09

False Teachers Reveal the Truth

Have you ever shaken your head in disbelief at the expounding of certain Christian teachers? Do these people seem to be false prophets, deceivers, ignorant and unstable, promoters of controversies, ferocious wolves, who offer meaningless talk, who are conceited and understand nothing, who exploit, tell fortunes for money, and use godliness as a means to financial gain?

If you agree, you have just agreed with the Biblical teaching on this subject. Rather than encouraging the sort of tactics used by these teachers, the Bible warns us of them and tells us to be aware and to beware. We are to be ready for them as we are to prepare against theft, regarding these teachers Jesus said, “See, I have told you ahead of time” (Matthew 24:25). In this way false teachers reveal the truth of the Word of God—by demonstrating the accuracy of its dissection of their methods and the fact that it warned us against them.

How many times have Christians had to answer for the televangelist with the big hair and big boasting? Or, the false teacher crying for money? Or, the faith healer knocking people down? Or, the false prophet claiming divine revelation? It is about time we turn the tables and use these wolves, goats and prodigal sons to reveal the truth of God’s Word.

It must be noted that sometimes false teacher are not so obvious, if they come out and preach for two hours it will not necessarily be heresy from beginning to end. Remember that the most believable sort of lie will always contain some truth. Thus, you might really be keeping up and being drawn into the sermon and all of a sudden some very odd claims will surface. Then you are either learned enough, or are lead by the Holy Spirit, to discerning them or you might just get caught up in the excitement of it all. This is why so many of these preachers are so charismatic, because if you fall in love with the person then what they teach is secondary, also criticism of the preacher is made more difficult to accept because you have an emotional bond. This is a cult of personality.

God has been warning us about these sorts of people for millennia. And although we cannot judge the motivations of the hearts of individuals, we are told in the Bible some of their general motivations and tactics.

FAITH EQUALS MONEY:
One of the most popular money grubbing tactics used today is to talk us into believing that if we send money to the ministry we are planting a seed and that seed will grow and produce for you 30, 60 or 100 fold. Apparently this does work, for the televangelist anyhow, because they ask for money and they get it.
But what if you are on a fixed income and this leaves you in more debt than before? Well, Brother Shambock said that God told him to tell people to give him $2,000 each, and he said that if you are telling yourself that you tried it last year and it did not work then you should try it again.
He then repeated the words “try it again, try it again…” and “get to your phone quickly, quickly…” so many times that he could have hypnotized you. It is really very convenient; if you gave your seed-faith offering and nothing good came out of it, then it is your own fault because you did not have enough “faith.” So try it again and again and again.
If this really works then instead of them asking us for money why do these televangelist not send all the people on their mailing list $100 or $2,000? This way they could get back 30, 60 or 100 fold. If they did this once a month they could get rich by giving us money. But no, apparently this only works if we are giving to them and never the other way around.
But what was Jesus talking about when He said, “they who have been sown on the good ground, such as hear the word and receive it, and bear fruit; one thirty, and one sixty, and one a hundred fold” (Mark 4:20). While I might not have 100 houses in my name, I know that I could go anywhere in the world and find a Christian who would be willing to house and feed me.
Doubtless that a minister can make a living from his ministry, after all “The worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7; 1st Timothy 5:18). But there are fair, correct, moral ways of doing this and there are deceptive ways of doing this.

The Bible Teaches:
While we too are saddened by these doings, we knew to expect them because the Bible warns us of them:

Micah 3:11 “Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money.”

1st Timothy 6:3-5 “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”

2nd Peter 2:1-3 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”

Acts 8:18-23 “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ Peter answered: ‘May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.’”


MIRACLE WORKERS:
Miracles, in and of themselves, are not credible proof of divine approval. Do you ever wonder, if these faith healers can really heal, why is it always something that you cannot see? You might hear a great story like a person has had back problems for decades and all of a sudden the faith healer slaps them on the forehead and suddenly they can stand up straight and jump up and down (and tap dance or something). Why do we never see an amputated limb grow back, cancerous skin suddenly look clean and new, withered limbs return to life, or third degree burns suddenly vanish? Why do these healers not clearing out hospitals? (Just in case, I am not denying that some such healings take place, particularly where they are most needed which is outside of first world countries, but it is somehow never on the fancy televangelists shows).



The Bible Teaches:
Revelation 19:20 “But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf.”

Matthew 24:24-25 “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.”

FALSE PROPHETS:
Some people seem to think that any statement that is preceded or followed by the words, “Thus saith the Lord” is automatically divinely revealed truth. In reality, there are many teachers who are notorious for making such statements and proving over and over that they are false prophets.
For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have come up with a convenient explanation for their various predictions of the world’s end, they say that the light is getting brighter and things are getting clearer and clearer (see, The Eschaton Strikes Again).
First of all, their predictions of the world’s end were not made by mere men who make mistakes and need brighter light. They were made by an organization that claims to be the one and only one that is not only lead directly by the Holy Spirit but who is headed by Jesus Himself ever since He returned to Earth invincibly in 1914 AD. Secondly, if this is their explanation (or excuse) then we should never believe a thing they say because, after all, everything that the Jehovah’s Witness preach today may just be wrong in a few years when the light get brighter.

The Bible Teaches:
Jeremiah 29:9 “‘They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 14:14, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.’”[It is very interesting to note that someone can hype themselves up so much so that they can have experiences that they themselves forced to occur]

Deuteronomy 13:1-4 “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them,’ you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.”

Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, “‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

1st John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

FALSE TEACHERS:
A false teacher teaches odd ideas that are usually a way to get themselves noticed. Their hype and scandal brings them attention, this attention brings them fame, and fame brings them money. Some favorite tactics are taking a verse or passage out of its intended context and forcing it to say what ever they want (a pretext).
Or they might concoct doctrines by attempting to glue together bits and pieces from the whole Bible which in reality have nothing to do with each other. They will also follow trends; when holy laughter is popular they will practice that. When slaying in the spirit is popular they will do that. When health and wealth is popular they will practice that, etc., etc.

The Bible Teaches:
2nd Timothy 4:3-5 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

1st Timothy 1:3-6 “As I urged you…command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk.”

2nd Peter 3:15-16 “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

DECEIVERS:
Simply stated; these are people who are out to purposefully deceive. In most cases we might suspect that someone might be doing this but when it comes right down to it we cannot judge their heart, their motivation, whether or not they are doing it on purpose or whether they themselves are deceived.
However, in some cases the truth comes out, like in the case of Peter Popoff: he would claim to have received divine revelation and would know personal things about people such as their illnesses. He would astonish the crowds by this miraculous knowledge.
However, he was exposed as a charlatan because as it turns out, before his appearances those in attendance would write down their prayer requests. Popoff’s wife would collect them. Next she would direct him as to whom to speak with in the crowd via a small hearing device that he would wear. She would read from the prayer requests and he made it seem as if this intimate knowledge was coming from God. I gave props to James the amazing Randi for doing so (is “props” still a hip common parlance thing?).

You can also see footage of Benny Hinn renouncing every odd practice in which he indulged; he explained why it was wrong and why he is giving them up. However, he repented form his repentance and got right back to doing the same exact things as before. And so, in some cases the deception is obvious but we advice caution lest we find ourselves in unrighteous judgment.



The Bible Teaches:
Jeremiah 29:8-9 “Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD.”

Matthew 24:11 “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

2nd John 1:7 “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”

SLAYING IN THE SPIRIT:
The concept of getting slain in the spirit is that the Holy Spirit is used like a defibrillator of sorts. At hyper-charismatic events faith healers will slap people on the forehead and knock them backwards, or they just fall by their own volition—on que, by the way.
Apparently, the Holy Spirit can be shot out at people so that whole crowds fall over and loose all control, they may yell or act like animals (literally). There simply is no Biblical support for the practice of slaying in the spirit.



The Bible Teaches:
John 18:2-6 “Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘I am he,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground. [KJV: As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground].”


Jesus enemies fell down backwards, His adherents “fell” forward to worship Him.

Overall, such false teachers are not doing anything about which we have not been warned long, long ago in the Bible, let us heed its word.

“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers,
knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment others”
—James 3:1

5 comments:

  1. well, I like to think I'm a fair guy (or at least, I try to be). So kudos to you for turning a critical eye onto your own community.

    I'd like to point something out, however. You wrote the following: Simply stated; these are people who are out to purposefully deceive."

    The problem, apparent only to those with less-than-certain faith in the Bible, is that those who claim to speak the truth according to scripture appear indistinguishable from those who seek to deceive (as you put it). I'm sure you've got a way to figure out the difference between the two, but I don't.

    This is the main reason why I tend to trust people willing to say "I think" rather than "I know". Both groups may have deceivers, but at the very least, the former appears willing to consider that he/she may not have an infallible understanding.

    You probably use different criteria. Can you explain how to easily distinguish between truth & deception when it comes to Christian ideas?

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  2. Actually, I'd say most of the faith healers are not true Christians.

    Can you explain how to easily distinguish between truth & deception when it comes to Christian ideas?

    Compare their teachings to the Bible. Learn to read the Bible with a good hermeneutic. Keep passages in their context. Most of the proof texts used by the word-faith community are ripped violently out of context.

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  3. Whateverman,
    Thanks for the question/comment.

    I am afraid that I do not understand the question as there is no difference in distinguishing between truth & deception when it comes to Christian ideas or any other ideas of the philosophic nature.

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think Mariano is right. Brennon has makes the point that you know the truth by testing it. That is how you know the truth of anything. You weigh it against the evidence...in this case the Bible.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi WEM - Long time.

    As Mariano stated:
    "Then you are either learned enough, or are lead by the Holy Spirit, to discerning them or you might just get caught up in the excitement of it all."

    You seem to state that for those who don't have faith in the Bible it seems impossible to distinguish from those who seek to deceive and those who don't.

    Whether you believe the Bible or not is really irrelevant to noting that the Bible is the final authority for Christianity. Therefore you have the same methods at your disposal as do Christians to figure out those who are genuine and those who aren't.

    I'm sure you'd agree that just because someone claims to be something, doesn't necessarily mean it's true.

    ReplyDelete