Are There New Apostles on Earth Today? WWUTT Video

One of the "New Apostolic Reformation" beliefs that should be completely rejected is the ridiculous claim that there are apostles living today that are equivalent to the original (real) Apostles from the New Testament. Here's a quick little WWUTT video on this topic:

"Not Feeling It"-The Gospel for Everyone Else

I know you’re out there. In fact, I know there are untold millions of you out there.

You’ve heard about the need for “intimacy with God” and “having a personal relationship with God” and how “it’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship,” and you're just not feeling it. You’ve maybe even mustered up the courage to admit to a close friend or pastor that you’re not getting the feelings that everyone else is getting. Maybe you’ve been reassured that “feelings come and go but God’s love never changes!” But the unspoken answer underneath that pat-answer is this: “keep trying and maybe someday you’ll be intimate with God like the rest of us.” 

Which is a profoundly sad thought. It’s like God has His omnipotent hands tied; “He’s trying to be intimate with you, but you need to do your part…”

And God’s Word says none of these things. You’ve been taught a pack of lies. Seriously.

You’ve been taught the latest version of Gnosticism or Mysticism or Pietism or Semi-Pelagianism or some other “ism” that’s been circulating since the very start of the Christian Church; but it’s been firmly declared as un-biblical heresy in the first few centuries of church history. But since the modern Evangelical church usually ignores theology, church history and often even the Bible itself, it’s no wonder that bad ideas that can be easily refuted are not. Instead, these bad ideas flourish and grow under the profitable nurturing of false teachers disguised as pastors (often with good intentions).

If you’ve been hurt, confused or frustrated by your lack of emotional experiences with God, this little article is for you. You're the person out in the lobby getting some coffee while the "worship service" keeps going and going... and going. I've been out there with you.

You are not the problem. 

The Pharisees were rebuked by Jesus for keeping people under a burden-a heavy load-that they would not move.

Today, the latest version of a Pharisee is always telling you that you need something more-something bigger and better. "More Lord, more..."

Something Super Spiritual. Something Really Deep. The Next Level. A New Secret to really getting close to God...

So here’s the real Good News:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast.”

— Ephesians 2:4-9

True Christianity is God coming and rescuing us from sin and death. It’s God doing 100% and us doing 0%.

Just believe-and be free! 

(This article is written for Christians, so I'm simplifying a bit; technically I should be mentioning repentance and baptism, but hopefully you get the point)

Just believe. That isn’t just enough-it’s much, much more than enough! 

In fact, it seems just too good to be true...

So, in our tiny human brains we feel compelled to “do our part” and show God we “really mean business!” We actually like it when pastors put us back under the Law so that we can show how serious we are about serving God. We actually like it when the pastor gets all worked up and “really preaches it” about our need to “do more for God.” And our refusal to accept the total and complete gift of salvation rears its ugly head when we think we can get even closer to God by our subjective and ambiguous mystical experiences. And, to make matters worse, we sometimes look down on our fellow believer who actually admits that they don’t “feel” intimate with God.

Jesus never said: “Someday I’m going to require my followers to muster up a great deal of emotional fervor so that my love can really be felt.”

Jesus never said: “If you really love me and want to be close to me you will have an intimate encounter with me during an extended quiet time (or worship service, or special Intimacy Conference...).”

Jesus never said: “It’s not enough to just read my Word; you need to go beyond my Word and experience me in a personal way.”

Jesus did say: “Take and eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.”

That’s intimacy with God; instituted by God; described in God’s Word. Your intense and dramatic feelings: Optional.

You can stop following the teachings of men and be truly free. 

It is finished, indeed!


Also, here's a great episode of The White Horse Inn on this topic:

"Faith and Experience"

CCM Song Critique: "Exhale" by Plumb

Here's another CCM Song Critique by Jorge Rodriguez at Faithful Stewardship. Please keep in mind that these articles will be examining the meaning and theology of the lyrics-NOT critiquing the intentions or sincerity of the songwriters:

Today we’ll be taking a look at “Exhale” by Plumb which currently sits at #13 at 20theCountdownMagazine. (This article is from 2015)

I confess: I have a soft-spot for electronica/techno. As such, I generally enjoy Plumb’s music as it is often very easy to remix into multi-various grooves and progressions. However, that’s not why we are discussing these songs here. The first time I heard this song on the radio was in my car, and I came in at the Bridge. I had really hoped the rest of the song better explained what it was to “breathe in [God’s] Grace and exhale.“ Let’s take a look at it.

Official Music Video

Lyrcs (via KLove)


It’s okay
To not be okay
This is a safe place
This is a safe place
Don’t be afraid
Don’t be ashamed
There’s still hope here
There’s still hope here
No matter what you’ve done
Or who you are
Everyone is welcome
In His arms

Just let go
Let His love wrap around you
And hold you close
Get lost in the surrender
Breathe it in, until your heart breaks
And exhale, exhale

[verse 2]
Spirit come
Tear down the walls
That only you can
That only you can
Reconcile, this heart to yours
Right now God, right now

Oh God
We breathe in your grace
We breathe in your grace
And exhale
Oh God
We do not exist for us
But to share your grace and love
And exhale

Publishing: Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, Matt Armstrong, Josh Silverberg
PUBLISHER: © 2015 ShoeCrazy Publishing (adm. by Curb Congregation Songs) (SESAC)/ Meaux Hits, Red Red Soda Pop, Universal Music-Brentwood Benson Tunes, Countless Wonder Publishing, Fots Music All rights reserved. Used by permission. International Copyright Secured.
Writer(s): Tiffany Lee, Matt Armstrong, Josh Silverberg


Okay, so let’s talk about some of the overtones in the lyrics of this song. What is the setting for this dialog? Is this intended to be a song sung by the Church to the unbeliever? If so, what is the message, that’s it’s okay to be an unbeliever in the House of God? The song is designed to progress from a call to come into the Church (verse 1 and chorus) to imploring the Holy Spirit to come and reconcile us to him (verse 2) and then experience His presence (chorus, bridge, chorus). It is designed to move the listener’s emotions through the mystical gauntlet so they can feel the presence of God. Sadly, this progression takes place without confession, repentance, nor the pronouncement of forgiveness. There is no Gospel preached here, yet the song progresses to breathing in God’s Grace and exhaling for those who are not okay.

Verse 1. What does it mean when you tell everyone, “it’s okay to not be okay?" Seriously, that statement doesn’t have any internal meaning… it is an oxymoron. Meaning has to be brought into the statement. Maybe the intent is to say to someone they don’t need to be perfect to come to Church. Maybe this is a vague attempt to invoke Jesus’ response to the Pharisees:

Matthew 9:9-13 (ESV) | Jesus Calls Matthew

9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said,“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

If that was the intent, “it’s okay to not be okay” is a huge miss. Jesus wasn’t saying “it’s okay to be sick”… nor was He saying “it’s okay to be a sinner”… He said He came to call the sinners out of their sin, like a physician brings the person out of his sickness. Jesus preached repentance. It’s not okay, to not be okay… but by the Grace of God, Jesus laid down His life as a substitute, bearing the full brunt of God’s Wrath against sin on His body, so that we might be forgiven by grace, through faith, as a Gift from God. The hard truth of Law is that not everyone is welcome in His arms.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Even in this wonderful passage of God’s wonderful Grace, there is a separation, a dividing line of faith. When Christ returns, He will come to pronounce Judgment on the children of faith and of unbelief (Matthew 25:31-46).

Chorus. So what are we telling the people to let go of? Their sin? Their unbelief? Is it up the unbeliever to simply let go of their unbelief? Is that within their power to do? No. Now, to a certain extent, we can ask the unbeliever to listen to the Word of God being preached… but only the Holy Spirit can open his/her ears to the Truth of the word of Christ. We must preach, they must listen, God must do the work of regeneration.

Romans 10:5-21 (ESV) | The Message of Salvation to All

5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
    and their words to the ends of the world.”

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
    with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
    I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

Verse 2 (an oddly shortened verse). The verse comes in sideways and falls on its face, in my opinion. The tone is irreverent and screams Word of Faith and Presence theology (the Bethel variety). Is God the Holy Spirit one to respond to our commands to come in and tear down the walls that only he can? What walls might those be? Our unbelief? Only God can open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf… only God can raise the dead to life and grant Faith to the unbeliever. I’d like to think that is what is intended by these lines, but I don’t have any reasons to draw this understanding from the song. Reconcile this heart to yours… what does that mean? As if that weren’t brazen enough, Plumb then insists that God do this now… right now.

Okay, so let us extend grace here and expand on the idea of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (ESV) | The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart.13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

It is my sincere prayer, than whenever this part of the song plays on the radio, that your mind will rest in these Words, not wandering in the emotionally mystical goo that the song seems to stir.

Bridge. This is the climax of the song. In seekerville churches, the goal of this part is to move folks to throw themselves at the altar (foot of the stage) and soak in the presence of the spirit. It’s emotionalism, manipulated by powerful music. But there is at least, one redeeming message, we do not exist for us, but to share your grace and love. A pity this wasn’t explored better in this song. Our calling to share the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Love of God the Father is not one than can be fulfilled by emotion alone. In fact, the calling is difficult to embrace emotionally, since our emotions are so fickle and fleshly. We were called to preach the Gospel, to preach the Word of Christ, and empowered by God the Holy Spirit to do so. The Holy Spirit isn’t an emotion, or an experience, but a Person of the Godhead.


The song is, ultimately, too vague and emotional. If I could rewrite this song, I’d take the theme of breathing in God’s grace and tie it to listening to the Word of Christ, being filled with faith that only He can give and exhaling confession and repentance. Then in the second verse I’d connect breathing in God’s grace with receiving forgiveness by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, being filled by Promise with God the Holy Spirit, and exhaling the love for our neighbor because He first Loved us. Finally, breathing in God’s grace would return to breathing in God’s Word, growing in the knowledge of Christ and the exhale would be sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth, to all of creation. I hope that if you’re caught listening to this song as it plays on Christian radio, your mind might be filled with the Truth of God’s Word, whether it be what we’ve explored here or what you’ve read in your Bible. Please don’t marinade in mindless surrender to emotional manipulation… such mysticism has done great damage to the Body of Christ.

Romans 15:1-7 (ESV) | The Example of Christ

15 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

In Christ Jesus, Jorge Rodriguez

Charismatic Bullying From the Pulpit

 The following is a real devotional email sent by the pastor of a large charismatic church to his congregation. This pastor had recently been confronted by a few of his church members who didn't like his "Signs and Wonders/Rick Joyner/Bill Johnson/IHOP" teachings and asked that he only use the Bible and stop referencing those other teachers and teachings. He was never asked to adopt a cessationist position; just to hold more closely to Scripture alone. Several weeks after he had the meeting with those people, he wrote this devotional message/email and then preached a sermon based on it. I think this is a good example of what happens when a pastor wants to divert attention away from a valid theological discussion and continue teaching his version of "Signs and Wonders" Christianity. His original article is in bold; I will make comments (in parenthesis) throughout the article. This article originally appeared in October of 2014.



                       A Personal Relationship

          "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." John 5: 39 
(This verse is the "set-up" for the rest of the article; it's supposed to make Christians who demand adherence to the Bible look like Pharisees, but it's taken completely out of context. These Pharisees were unwilling to recognize that the Messiah had come-it was Jesus! The Scriptures pointed directly to Jesus and they were guilty of not going to Him. Jesus was not saying that you should come to Him instead of the Scriptures, He was saying that they should have found him in the Scriptures.)

       I believe many things about my wife, Jane (not real name). Some are just facts, like her birthday, her place of birth, her parents' names, and her general history which anyone who is interested could easily learn.  Other things require more personal involvement like knowing her character and her heart's desires.  My current beliefs about her are numerous, but my relationship isn't with my beliefs about Jane, it's with her.  She's a person.  Because of this reality, my beliefs are always growing and deepening as we walk together. (This line of thinking utilizes the common method of telling stories instead of teaching from the Bible; this way you can make any point about anything. The implication here seems to be that the Bible is not enough-it's just a bunch of facts and figures about God. We can't really know God through the Bible-we need a "relationship" with Him; which appears to be shorthand for "a subjective experience of God.")

          But what if I no longer lived with my wife?  Wouldn't my belief system become static?  I would still believe things, but they wouldn't deepen or grow because of a lack of present experience with her.  In the text above, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees because their relationship isn't with God Himself; it's only with their beliefs about Him. (God was rebuking the Pharisees because their relationship was only with their beliefs about God? What the?? No, that's totally wrong!! Their beliefs were just plain wrong-they didn't believe in Jesus! This is not hard to understand. This is a total mishandling God's Word. This is such a gigantic error that I really want to end the critique right here... but let's keep going.)

          There is a great danger in evangelical Christianity today of making our beliefs about God an idol that takes the place of an actual relationship with Christ. (Where do we read about this "belief in God" idol in the Bible?) How can I tell if I'm in danger of this idol? Here are five symptoms:

1.     We become unteachable. We no longer believe what we read in the Bible; we only read what we already believe. (Yes, we should want people to accurately and faithfully understand God's word-not read into it whatever they want, this is very true. But how does this pastor define "unteachable?" He could be referring to anyone that disagrees with him; hmmm...)

2.     We become divisive with Christians that don't believe exactly what we believe about God and Christ.  We're experts and everyone else needs to listen to us to get it right. (This point is very important for what it doesn't say; it fails to mention that some people want a teaching to line up with Scripture. These people aren't commended for being good Bereans, they're condemned for being "experts" who want everyone to listen to them. What if they really just want everyone to listen to the Bible?)

3.    We become suspicious of any fresh moving of the Holy Spirit that doesn't fit into our box of who we think God is and how He should act. (Just as in the previous point, this fails to mention that people might be suspicious of a so-called "fresh move of the Holy Spirit" not because it doesn't "fit into our box," but because it is false and/or doesn't line up with Scripture. This pastor believes that subjective experiences are good and acceptable, but an objective evaluation of an experience compared against Scripture is to be avoided. No wonder so many people leave Charismatic churches confused and hurt.)

4.     We find ourselves bored with worship because our hearts actually love what we believe about God more than we love God Himself. (This point is just too weird to analyse very much. Somehow, this pastor can see into the hearts and minds of people and discover that they love their beliefs so much that they become bored with worship... insert creepy 50's Sci-fi music here.)


5.     We realize we're no longer growing. We're no longer amazed by God or ever surprised by anything He does. We're sure we're doctrinally "right", but if we're dead, we can't be right because Jesus came to give life. (Let me see if I understand this; I need to be surprised or amazed by something God does in the present tense to prove that I'm growing? And if I'm sure I'm doctrinally "right" that proves that I'm dead. I would think that Jesus coming to earth as a virgin-born baby, living an amazing life full of teachings and miracles, giving His life on the cross as a penalty for our sins, rising from the dead on the third day, etc. etc. are all good enough things to embrace, celebrate and remember for all of our days, aren't they? Is it not enough to be surprised and amazed by what He's already done? Do we really need something "new" to validate our faith?  Does "growing" mean that we should adopt new and different beliefs every time the latest "prophet" has a "word for us?" The clear implication here is that just studying God's Word isn't enough to get "God's Word;"  we need extra-biblical revelation through some kind of subjective experience. Is it any wonder that Christians are biblically and theologically ignorant? If you put Post-Modern Subjectivity and Hyper-Charismatic Anti-Theology into a blender this is the kind of nonsense that comes out...)

The Scriptures are not an end in themselves, they direct us into a personal relationship with the God who loves us and died for us.  We all know "in part" and the even the part we think we know is only a seed of all that is true about the transcendent, majestic, unchanging, and uncreated God of the universe.  I think we would all do well to examine our hearts and humble ourselves before Him every day acknowledging that the mystery of who He is in Himself goes far beyond our present beliefs about Him. (But does it go beyond God's Word??)  Getting to knowHim is the greatest adventure of our lives and will last for all eternity! 
(After His resurrection, Jesus met two of His followers on the road to Emmaus and didn't reveal himself; He first asked them a series of questions to see what they knew and believed about Himself. When they said that they basically didn't know what was going on even though the empty tomb had been discovered and angels had said He was risen, Jesus said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself." Luke 24: 25-26.

Why did Jesus do this? Didn't He know that "the Scriptures are not an end in themselves, they direct us into a personal relationship with God..." like this pastor claims? Jesus wasted all that time explaining the Scriptures when He should have been developing His personal relationship with them. They could have, I don't know, exchanged recipes or sung show tunes together-that would have been more personal.) 

     Here's what God's Word says: "Now He said to them, 'These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sin would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Luke 24:44-48  "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

Btw, here's a follow-up article I wrote about this same pastor: Hey Pastors-Wanna Protect False Teachers? Here's Your Template! 

This is not intended to be a personal attack on this particular pastor; I'm using this to explain vital differences in theology, and to explain how bad theology (un-Biblical teachings) can be promoted and protected.

Oswald Chambers: Personal Piety Combined With Flawed Theology

This is NOT an article about another crazy false teacher; instead, this is a more subtle topic. Please read and consider this excellent and thoughtful article from Bob Dewaay at Critical Issues Commentary:

Oswald Chambers: Personal Piety Combined With Flawed Theology

Oswald Chambers in 1906

Oswald Chambers in 1906

For more clarity on the issue of Pietism:

Here is another article by Bob DeWaay called: How Pietism Deceives Christians

Here is a video explaining the origins of Pietism by Ryan Reeves: Lutheran Pietism

Here is a great lecture by Rod Rosenbladt against Pietism on Issues, Etc.

Here's a short article from Pastor Matt Richard: Keswick Theology: The Exhaustion of Trying to Yield More, Surrender More, And Let Go-Let God

A "Personal Relationship With Christ"-Burden or Biblical?

Here is a guest article from Matthew Garnett, who has a terrific podcast (featured on Pirate Christian Radio) called "In Layman's Terms." I've written on this topic a little bit (Not Feeling It-The Gospel for Everyone Else), but I think maybe Matthew hit the nail on the head. The Bible does not mention a "personal relationship with Christ," even though we've all heard that phrase a million times. The Bible does not mention our need to "spend enough time with God so that you develop an intimate relationship with Him," yet that kind of language permeates Pop Evangelicalism. With those kinds of ideas being so common and prevalent, could it be that you've been given a burden that doesn't come from God? -Steven Kozar  

What’s more work? Religion or a Relationship?

I suppose that depends. If your idea of “religion” is a god or gods who demand services from you in order that the god(s) will look with favor upon you, then it sounds like you’re in for some hard labor. Then again, these kinds of religions are often very good about spelling out exactly what it is that the god(s) demand. Practices such as praying toward a certain geographical location, meditation, giving 10% of your income (pre-tax, of course), and the like, might give practitioners of particular religions the clear sense of what it takes to please their god(s).

Want to please your god(s)? Do A, B, and C. Fail to do A, B, or C, and you will displease the god(s). Yes, it might be a lot of work, but at least you know what the score is.

What about a “relationship?"

For those of you are married, you certainly know that a marriage can be a great deal of work. To boot, you don’t have the benefit of always knowing what it is that will please your better half from one day to the next. One day, your husband is thrilled with the fact you took the time to tidy up his study. The next day, he’s enraged that he can’t find his keys because you moved them in the process of tidying up the study! (I speak from experience of course...)

The problem with understanding God in terms of “relationship” is twofold:

One is that “relationship” usually demands something from you. It implies that you do “your part” in the relationship. After all, “relationships” are a two way street. Call me crazy, but a “relationship with God” is starting to sound a lot like “religion." Only in the “religion” you have some sense of when you might be pleasing God by your devotional activity. In the “relationship” you can never be quite sure if you've done your part enough-especially when the other party (God) isn't speaking clear and audible words to you.

The second problem is that this notion of “relationship” implies that our deepest problem as human beings is that we’re lonely and need a friend. While I certainly do not want to diminish the need for relationships, I am convinced, when it comes to God, that this is in fact not our deepest need as human beings. Consider the paralytic dropped through the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching one sunny Galilean day. (Mark 2)

After much effort from friends to see the man healed, Jesus says to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven." (v.5) If Jesus knew that this man’s deepest need was indeed not his paralysis but the forgiveness of his sins, then surely we must conclude that our loneliness is not our genuine problem, but indeed it's the forgiveness of our sins. We don’t need a “relationship” with God as much as we need something else: as His enemies, we need peace with God through the forgiveness of our sins.

Enter the true religion. The Christian religion.

St. James teaches us in his epistle, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

True religion is service and love, not toward God, but toward one’s neighbor. And that’s just for starters. Think about the Man who actually perfectly fulfilled St. James’ definition of a “religious” person here. Who bridles His tongue perfectly? Who never deceives His own heart? Who visits widows and orphans in their affliction? Who kept Himself unstained from the world?

No one but Jesus.

There is only one religion in the world where God becomes the servant to help and please us with His actions in contrast to the religions of the world, the flesh, and the devil, where we are required to help and please a god or gods with our actions. Furthermore, there is only one religion in the world where its primary practices are gifts that meet and serve our needs and not the god(s).

Think of the Christian religion’s encouragement to know and to study the Scriptures. “…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut. 8:3) We don’t read and study the Bible so God will be impressed with us. We don’t study the Scriptures thinking that in so doing, God will have some special favor on us. We read and study the Bible because it is a gift from our Father.

Think about that in the context of St. James’ words to us. True religion “visits orphans.” God by His word to us visits us who were once indeed orphans who are now true sons and daughters of His.

Think of the Christian religion’s encouragement for us to gather with other believers in our local churches/parishes. This isn’t a demand from God in order that He’d be pleased with us that week, but a gift that we might know we aren’t alone in this fallen world. He gathers us again so we can, without doubt, hear His voice in His Word.

We Christians don’t go to church to pay homage to God. We go there because it is there that He serves us-it is His very nature to do so. There He feeds us with His very body and blood, given to us for the forgiveness of our sins. He reassures us of His peace in the absolution of all of our sins. He reminds us that we are baptized and He has placed His name on us and given us the Holy Spirit. (By the way, did you ever wonder why it’s called a “church service?" It ain’t because we’re serving God. It’s because He’s serving us!)

Here's the one time "relationship" appears in the bible (from the NASB exhaustive concordance)

Here's the one time "relationship" appears in the bible (from the NASB exhaustive concordance)

If there is a “relationship” at all to be had here, it is a one way relationship. A “relationship” where God in Christ does all the giving and nothing is required of us. Call it what you will, but calling it simply a “relationship” doesn’t describe it accurately. At all.

A “relationship” demands something of you. And in this case, with God, it demands something that you simply do not have the capacity to give. I’ll stick with religion. True religion as St. James describes. Where we who were once orphans are tenderly visited by our heavenly Father. Where He gives us gifts of His Word, of the fellowship of all the saints of Christ, and reassures us of that service with His very body and blood to us and promises time and again to meet our deepest need: the forgiveness of all of our sins.

Many fear religion because this word has been perverted into having Christians believe that in order to have favor with God they must study their Bibles, attend church, and give their money. It somehow seems more palatable to call it a “relationship” and run away from the word "religion." It seems clear to me that this is not a very good solution.

Maybe we should come up with a better word, but until then realize that the Scriptures, the Church, and the Sacraments are pure Gospel gifts to us from a God who loves and serves His once orphaned, but now adopted sons and daughters. These aren’t demands of God to be fulfilled by us, but are manifestations of His love and help for us.



Jesus teaches us that: “…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” In my estimation, “relationship” can simply be another form of false religion. I embrace the true religion of Christianity and accept as pure gift the practices that have adorned our Lord’s Church since way before the word "relationship" became enshrined. I hope you do as well!

-Matthew Garnett

Here's another good article to add some clarity to this topic: "It's a Relationship, Not a Religion"

Lastly, here's an instructive video by Sonseed that should help you understand your relationship with Jesus. ;)

Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs

"Confirmation bias" is the name for a very common trait that all human beings share. When we favor information that validates our pre-existing beliefs but refuse to consider information that threatens our pre-existing beliefs, we are demonstrating confirmation bias; other names are confirmatory bias, myside bias or subjective validation. 

Here's a very short video explanation:


It is very difficult for people to change their mind; this is part of our fallen condition as sinners. There isn't much difference between Christians and non-Christians in this regard; we all tend to stick with our pre-existing ideas (also called our presuppositions, the things we "pre-suppose"). On top of this common human trait is the way we stick to whatever "our group" says, especially when "our group" is closely connected to our essential spiritual development. 

For example, someone who has become a Christian in a particular church will feel a strong attachment to that church and its particular beliefs, especially if the pastor keeps reinforcing those particular beliefs, week after week. In many churches, the Sunday service is specifically geared towards reinforcing the importance and validity of that church, and its particular beliefs.  How many times have you heard testimonials about how wonderful your church is? Add in some emotional background music to those tearful stories and it becomes almost impossible for anyone to objectively evaluate the things being taught. Is your pastor and/or church teaching sound doctrine that actually comes from the Bible? Most people want to believe that, yes, their church is really Biblical, and usually that's all that is necessary: if you really believe your church is Biblical, you'll never check your Bible to see what God's Word actually says. And if you're presented with Biblical evidence that threatens your beliefs, you'll ignore it and explain it away. To do otherwise would be very uncomfortable.

So an unwavering belief in your church and your pastor is, all too often, a self-contained cluster of presuppositions based on years of personal experience. What does that personal experience entail? Much of it is listening to your pastor at your church tell you how to understand God, the church, the Bible... pretty much everything. This kind of "thought loop" is very hard to escape from; it's a type of blindness that disguises itself as clarity and certainty.

Additionally, the emotional tug of nostalgia often prevents you from learning the truth. If you've formed your essential spiritual beliefs at a church where you have fond memories, you will probably ignore whatever false doctrine you might have learned there; in fact, you will defend that false doctrine regardless of what the Bible says. But please understand:

God's Word is high above the teachings of any man, and your emotional attachment to any pastor, teacher or church needs to STOP at the very point where the two collide.

Are you interested in finding out if what you believe is actually in the Bible (or not)? Here's an article where a bunch of commonly held "Christian" beliefs are compared with the Bible: 

"Bible-Believing" Christian??

On the subject of nostalgia, have you noticed how pastors will preach "sermons" with topics that will appeal to your feelings of nostalgia? "Gag Me With A Spoon: An 80's Approach to Knowing God's Will" is a fake sermon title I just made up, but it might as well be real. The exaggerated claim to "make Christianity relevant" is most often just an attempt to keep you: 

  • showing up (for the entertainment/spectacle/novelty),

  • signing up (you better get involved, because you've been sent on a guilt trip) and finally,

  • shutting up (because you've been told to be an obedient part of the team).

Your function is to conform to the pastor/leader, and then he confirms his particular beliefs week after week (as he waves a Bible around like a prop). This is how the monster of your confirmation bias gets well fed. 

On top of this appeal to your nostalgia is the even more emotional appeal (and near-constant repetition) of the worship songs. Is it really necessary for the praise band to repeatedly play the Dsus, Em7, C2 chord progression quietly in the background while the pastor wraps up his sermon? Yes! How else can a non-Biblical point be reinforced? How else can you "feel" the Holy Spirit? This is Manipulation 101; it's a form of hypnosis.

If you've read this far into this article and these ideas are new to you, you're possibly experiencing some "cognitive dissonance." This is what happens when we try and hold two different beliefs at the same time; it's like saying "I believe two plus two equals four, but I also believe it equals five." Our minds have a hard time doing that (which is a good thing!), but we tend to blame someone or something else instead of admitting that one of the thoughts has to be deleted. Here's an article that goes into more detail about this:


Most Christians will proclaim that they believe the Bible, first and foremost; and they're certain that their pastor or favorite teacher is following the Bible, too. If that describes you, let me issue a challenge to you (see if this applies to you):

When you are confronted with undeniable proof that your favorite pastor/teacher is actually saying stuff that isn't in the Bible at all, and when you discover that they're actually contradicting the Bible, you will say something like, "Well... I know pastor so-and-so, and he knows what he's doing; he's a good man and I trust him!" When you are doing this, you are putting the teachings of a man above the Word of God. You are just exhibiting a spiritualized version of confirmation bias. Many of the most popular and famous pastors/teachers in the world of pop evangelicalism are "teaching for shameful gain the things they ought not" and they are getting away with it, all the way to the bank.

  • They are getting filthy rich, flying around the world and living like rock stars.

  • They are accountable to no one, except a board full of yes men (often other mega-church pastors).

  • They live luxuriously in gigantic mansions.

  • They teach the false doctrine of "tithing as proven investment scheme" in order to get your money.

  • They manipulate people by constantly claiming to "hear from God," while ignoring and/or twisting God's actual Word.

  • They make millions on the conference/book-selling circuit because they are part of a "club" where they speak at each other's mega-churches and receive sacks full of tax-free cash they call "free will offerings." That's also why they never criticize each other ("you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours").

  • They don't actually study the Bible very much, instead they focus on make convincing speeches that continue to suck people into the bondage of false teaching. Hyper-emotionalism, made-up stories, plagiarism, stand-up comedy ripoffs... whatever works.

  • They are driving people away from true Christianity and setting them up for a life of deception, confusion, false promises and a false Gospel.

  • And you're the reason they are getting away with it.

For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.
— 1 Corinthians 11: 19
And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
— 2 Thessaloninas 2: 11-12

Maybe it's time for you to take a stand and agree with the "Manifesto of Christian Discernment"


Here's an amazing sermon/article written in the mid 1800s by C. F. W. Walther called, "The Sheep Judge Their Shepherd;" which is even more applicable for today's church.

Here's an article to help you see through all the deception in the church today: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.

Here's an article that the mega/super pastors don't want you to read: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.

Here's an article that proves that many pastors/teachers are twisting the Bible: Frequently Abused and Misused Bible Verses. 

This article by Steven Kozar; check out his new and improved: The Messed Up Church website!

John 10:10, The Thief Comes to Steal, Kill and Destroy? WWUTT Video

Chris Rosebrough teaches more on this same topic (in the review of the horrible and confusing "I am a Sheep" sermon by Robert Morris at 01:27:28): Fighting for the Faith April 28, 2016

Also, here is another post with more content along these same lines: Frequently Abused and Misused Bible Verses

Were Tongues Real Languages?

Here's a great article from Nathan Busenitz at The Cripplegate:

Were Tongues Real Languages?

John MacArthur's book "Strange Fire" is a fantastic resource on this topic. The true history of the charismatic movement has been whitewashed and glossed over until it's become almost complete fiction. Perhaps most interesting is the story of Charles F. Parham-the founder of the entire Pentecostal/charismatic movement-whom Busenitz details in his article. Parham initially believed he and his students were all speaking real languages and so they could go overseas and preach immediately without needing to learn languages the "old-fashioned" way. Until some people actually went to other countries and spoke gibberish and turned around and came home, having communicated (and converted) no one. Here's newspaper from May 31, 1901 where Parham is boasting of their newfound ability:

After it became painfully clear that none of his followers were speaking real words, Parham changed his beliefs to fit the situation-he invented the idea that tongues were a private prayer language in order to fit his predicament! But his bad ideas were just beginning; he still had racism, murder and more bad teaching to come.

Charles Fox Parham-The Founder of Pentecostal & Charismatic Christianity

Charles Fox Parham-The Founder of Pentecostal & Charismatic Christianity


More on this vital topic in the future...


Frequently Abused and Misused Bible Verses

God's Word is getting beaten and bloodied all the time by phony "pastors" who really don't care what it actually says, or what it actually means. Often, these false teachers don't even bother to quote the whole verse. Here's a quick look at some of the most popular Bible verses getting abused and misused:


1.) Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This verse is often printed on greeting cards and plaques (or used in a peaceful looking meme); it works really good as a “feel good” saying, but it’s not meant to do that; no verse in the Bible should be removed from it’s proper context just to make us feel good (and sell stuff). This verse is a promise to the ancient tribe of Judah in a particular time when they were being held captive in Babylon because of their rebellion against God. God was assuring them that they would eventually be freed-which finally happened 150 years later.

This is not a universal promise from God for all believers in all times, no matter how many times you “declare it” or “claim it.” Here's a great WWUTT Video on this verse; and here's a hilarious satire piece on this verse. This is very similar to the next one… 


2.) 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Again, this is not a universal promise to all believers in all times. This verse starts in the middle of a sentence-that should give you a clue that it is being taken out of context. This promise is given specifically to God’s covenant people Israel, and it shouldn’t be universally applied to the church, or especially to any nation. 

Truthfully, we are blessed much more so in our time, because of Jesus and His sacrifice to atone for our sins-no matter which country we live in, or how much worldly prosperity we have or don't have.

Here's a more detailed article from Pulpit and Pen on this verse; and here's another article from Empowered by Christ Ministries.


3.) Proverbs 23:7 “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”

This one is, perhaps, the all-time most abused and misused verse in the whole Bible. It’s used to prop up the pagan heresy that we can “speak things into existence,” and that “our thinking determines our future” or something like that. This is one of the very few verses that “Word of Faith” teachers can use that appears to validate their ridiculous teaching (which comes from the world of sorcery-not the Bible).  

     First of all, it has to be quoted from the King James Version in order to say what they want it to say; read it in the NIV and it says, “for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost.” In the ESV it says, “for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.” Not exactly a “positive thinking” statement…

     Secondly, it’s the second half of a sentence (just like the previous verse)-it’s not even a complete thought by itself. Here’s the same verse (in bold) in the ESV, with the proper context of the verse before and after:

     “Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.” 

Any pastor/teacher who knowingly misuses this verse to teach the “power of positive confession” or the “law of attraction” or any such thing, is completely disqualified for ministry. You may need to let that sink in for a while, because this means that what many very popular pastors/teachers are saying is 100% wrong. Completely and utterly WRONG. Here's a great WWUTT Video on this verse. 


4.) Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish”

This half-of-a-verse must also be quoted in the KJV in order to be misunderstood and abused. “Vision-casting” pastors often use this verse to prop up their false teaching, which says that God gives them special visions that everyone else is required to follow. It can also be used to make people think that whatever idea they have in their head must be a vision from God, and that idea (or “vision”) is what keeps them alive. This is just a spiritualized version of the business/success teaching that encourages people to be focused and excited about their long-term business goals, because that enthusiasm produces positive results-or something like that.     

     What’s crazy is that false teachers who twist this verse are actually doing the very thing this verse condemns! Here’s the whole verse: 

     “Where there is no revelation (or prophetic vision), the people cast off restraint; but blessed (or happy) is he who keeps the law.”

     This verse is really about people casting off the restraint of God’s Word (His revelation or prophetic vision); which is contrasted against those who are blessed because they keep the law (or listen to God’s Word). 

     It is the height of blasphemy to twist God’s Word to change the meaning of this verse so that it no longer condemns us for twisting God’s Word; but instead it demands that we follow the “vision” of a man! By the way, having goals for your life and/or business is fine; just don’t emphasize it above your faith and trust in God.

Here's a great WWUTT Video on this verse. Here's an Old Testament passage that these false teachers should be using:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you;’ and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’
— Jeremiah 23: 16 & 17


5.) Habakkuk 2:9 “Write the vision, and make it plain (on tablets, so he may run who reads it).”

This is the other verse that “vision-casting” pastors twist in order to maintain their authority. Also, there are false teachers using this (partial) verse to encourage people to write personal vision statements or to construct vision boards with pictures of what they want (sometimes called a “dream board”). 

     This verse is a specific thing that God told the Prophet Habakkuk at a specific time-it’s not a universal promise from God that you’ll get whatever you want if you just write it down. In fact, the LORD told Habakkuk to write down a vision of the Israelites being taken into captivity by the Babylonians-because they had rebelled against the LORD, not because He was so excited about giving them their dreams! 


6.) Malachi 3:8-10 “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

Bad pastors will often use these verses to drum up business in their church. It’s usually a lose/lose situation for parishioners; either you’re a bad Christian because you don’t give enough (and you’re hindering the work of God with your lack of faith) or you’re a broke and confused Christian, because you “gave until it hurts” (like you were supposed to), but the windows of heaven haven’t opened up for you yet. 

The simple explanation is that this verse is not to be applied to people in churches today. Again, this was God speaking to specific people in a specific time. Simple question: If this was a universal promise from God to the churches today, don't you think Jesus or the Apostles would have mentioned it in the New Testament? Here's a great WWUTT Video on tithing.


7.) Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."

Like a lot of the verses on this list, this one is often used as a "feel good" saying on a plaque or poster. But in its proper context, this is not a good news verse; it's an Old Testament warning to the armies that oppose God and His people. Here's a great article to explain it: "Be Still and Know That I Am God" is Bad News.



8.) Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

Whenever a false teacher/prophet is exposed (because of unbiblical teachings, blatant sin, corruption/greed, prophesies that don’t come true, etc.) they can often maintain the unquestioning support of their followers by the using this verse (taken out of context, of course). This verse is not saying: “don’t ever judge anyone ever!” In reading the whole passage, it’s easy to see that this verse is warning against unjust, hypocritical judgment in our personal dealings with others. It’s not about evaluating the teachings that are being taught by a teacher. Christians have been systematically programmed to ignore all scripture about the accountability of leaders… because their leaders said so. Ironically, the false teacher ends up judging his theological critic who is (supposedly) guilty of being judgmental. Here's a great WWUTT Video on this verse. And here's a longer article on this topic: Does the Bible Tell Christians to Judge Not?


It's time to stop listening to false teachers & pastors who abuse and misuse God's Word-no matter how famous and popular they are! Here's something that Bible-twisting false teachers don't want you to read: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know!

This article will be updated with more verses in the days ahead. Here are some other good resources on this vital topic:

Grace To You Blog: Frequently Abused Verses

Entreating Favor: Misused Bible Verses

When We Understand The Text: Website and YouTube Channel

Here's a great little three and a half minute video from the White Horse Inn called "How to Read the Bible:"

"Hateful Haters Shouldn't Have Hatred!!" And Other Useless Ideas

Have you ever questioned the teachings of a famous Christian pastor/author/celebrity and received an angry response-maybe even got called a "hater?" Or maybe you've said some of these things yourself:

 “You’re just being negative and critical! Don’t you have anything good to say? I can’t believe you’re criticizing (insert popular Christian leader). At least they’re trying to help-at least they’re doing something! Why can’t you be more positive? I only listen to positive Christians-not haters!

Here are some thoughts to consider:

Calling someone a "hater" is really a useless thing to do. Think about it: it's a huge contradiction. It's "hateful" to call someone a "hater" if you apply the same vague definition of "hate." Instead of accusing someone of having a particular emotional state, we should, instead, be considering the ideas being discussed. When we disagree as Christians, we should compare a person's thoughts and ideas to the teachings of God's Word-not simply call them a "hater." 

Christianity is a specific set of beliefs that is based on one holy book: The Bible. “Sola Scriptura” is the Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone.” This principle was first established in the first three centuries of the church, and then further established during the Protestant Reformation in contrast to the Roman Catholic Church, which claimed that church authority was equal to scriptural authority.

Because we believe the Bible is God’s Word, we must also believe that some ideas are incompatible with the Bible and must be rejected as false. While it’s true that Christians should not be primarily negative and critical people, we should be willing to say negative and critical things about false teachings, because bad doctrine is very harmful-it leads people away from God.

The painful reality is that false teachers are great manipulators and they know exactly what to say in order to keep your trust (and keep their money pouring in), so sometimes it’s necessary to say negative and critical things to confront them and their teachings. The Old Testament prophets, Jesus and all the Apostles did this.

A lot.

 (Here are some of the Bible verses that false teachers don't want you to read)


Lastly, we should not be primarily thinking of “positive versus negative;” instead, we should be thinking of “true versus false.” After all, the Bible itself is not always “positive,” because it contains the truth that we need to hear; so it has to mention our sinful condition, which is very "negative" by modern standards. We humans are like disobedient children who need correction from our Heavenly Father, who loves us enough to tell us the truth. But, most importantly, He also loves us enough to send His Son to die for our sins and rescue us from the punishment we deserve. That very positive Good News-or Gospel-only makes sense once we really grasp the cost of our sin.

In Matthew 23:27 Jesus says “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” Gee whiz, Jesus, that’s not very nice; at least the Pharisees were trying to do something…

Another very common version of this "hater" issue is the idea that no one can publicly question a pastor/teacher unless they've had a private meeting first; basically, we should never criticize false teachers and just keep our mouths shut. Here's a great 90 second video that addresses that (very) bad idea: Correcting False Teachers? By Name?? WWUTT

Just for fun, here's Steven Furtick's "Hey Haters!" spoken word video (with all the hip coolness removed to expose the contradictory nature of the content): Hey Haters! (Max Holiday Dub) 

(This is article is based on point #1 in the larger article called Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs)

Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs

These ideas, catch phrases and concepts have infiltrated the church and have laid a false foundation. They’re a “set-up.” Because many Christians believe these ideas, false teachings are slipping into the church all over the place.

These are the type of comments that Chris Rosebrough and other “discernment Christians” hear over and over again. Yes, there might be some truth in some of these ideas, but taken as a whole, they have replaced authentic, Bible-based Christianity and are allowing “another gospel” to takes it’s place.


 1. “You’re just being negative and critical! Don’t you have anything good to say? I can’t believe you’re criticizing (insert famous/popular Christian leader)! At least they’re trying to help-at least they’re doing something! Why can’t you be more positive? I only listen to positive Christians-not haters!”

Christianity is a specific set of beliefs that is based on one holy book: The Bible. “Sola Scriptura” is the Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone.” This principle was first established in the first three centuries of the church, and then further established during the Protestant Reformation in contrast to the Roman Catholic Church, which claimed that church authority was equal to scripture.

Because we believe the Bible is God’s Word, we must also believe that some ideas are incompatible with the Bible and must be rejected as false. While it’s true that Christians should not be primarily negative and critical people, we should be willing to say negative and critical things about false teachings, because bad doctrine is very harmful: it leads people away from God. The painful reality is that false teachers are great manipulators and they know exactly what to say in order to keep your trust (and keep their money pouring in), so sometimes it’s necessary to say negative and critical things to confront them and their teachings.  The Old Testament prophets, Jesus and all the Apostles did this.

A lot.

We should not be primarily thinking “positive versus negative,” instead, we should be thinking: “true versus false.” The Bible is not always a “positive” book because it contains the truth that we need to hear. We humans are like disobedient children who need correction from our Heavenly Father, who loves us enough to tell us the truth.

In Matthew 23:27 Jesus says “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” Gee whiz, Jesus, that’s not very nice; at least the Pharisees were trying to do something…


 2. “But he’s really famous (he has written popular books, has a huge church, has a TV show, etc.), he must know what he’s talking about!” “That many people can’t be wrong!"

This exposes the common belief that “the group is always right” (my group!); which is like saying “consensus equals truth.” Christians say that they believe the Bible, but too often what they really believe is whatever their “guy” (local pastor, TV preacher, famous author/speaker, etc.) says about the Bible. On top of that, if a local pastor is actually doing a good job of faithfully preaching God’s Word, he’s often being over-ridden by the surrounding culture.

We have millions of Christians watching 10, 20 or even 30 hours of television per week, yet they "don’t have time" to read and study the Bible. But when the latest guru comes along with a new method of “hearing from God” they drop everything to “learn the secret;” yet, they’ve neglected God’s Word-the actual words from God. The situation should be seen as utterly absurd, yet since almost everyone behaves and believes this way, it’s been normalized. As a result, false teachers have free reign and a limitless customer base to promote their weird ideas and enrich themselves.

     In Mark 7:7 Jesus says to the Pharisees (quoting Isaiah): “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” In Matthew 7:13-14 He says: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Jesus is warning us not to follow the teachings of men (even if it’s a NY Times Best-seller!), and not to “go with the group.”  Psalm 118:8 “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man."


3. “Judge not, lest you be judged.” (Similar to: “Who are we to judge?”)

Whenever a false teacher/prophet is exposed (because of unbiblical teachings, blatant sin, corruption/greed, prophesies that don’t come true, etc.) they can often maintain the unquestioning support of their followers by the using this verse (Matthew 7:1) taken out of context, of course. This verse is not saying: “don’t ever judge anyone ever!” In reading the whole passage, it’s easy to see that this verse is warning against unjust, hypocritical judgment in our personal dealings with others. It’s not about evaluating the teachings that are being taught by a teacher. Christians have been systematically programmed to ignore all scripture about the accountability of leaders… because their leaders said so. Ironically, the false teacher ends up judging his theological critic who is (supposedly) guilty of being judgmental.

     In Paul’s letter to Titus (chapter 1) he rebukes false teachers saying: “For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach-and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Wow Apostle Paul, judge much??

A helpful article: "Discerning Judgement"

Another helpful article: "Jesus Said You Shouldn't Judge"

And here's a longer article on this topic: Does the Bible Tell Christians to Judge Not?


4. “Don’t have a religious spirit!” “That guy has a religious spirit; he’s always quoting bible verses and talking about theology and doctrine-what a Pharisee!”

This is a pretty vague concept that really helps empower “super-spiritual” false teachers. Want to refute someone who is promoting sound, Biblical doctrine? Just accuse them of having a religious spirit. It’s much easier than searching the scriptures and seeking the truth. After all, “God doesn’t care about our doctrine, He cares about our heart.” That sounds really good, but it’s just another catch phrase, too.

Doctrine is important! Doctrine is just another word for “instruction” or “teaching,” and it tells us who God really is, and who we really are. The Pharisees were guilty of unbelief and elevating man-made laws over God’s Word, they were not guilty of being too focused on the Bible. The idea that focusing too much on the Bible will somehow cause us to “miss” God or the Holy Spirit is just crazy. This line of thinking is very similar to…

5. “An experience is better than any doctrine!” “I don’t care about theology-I just love Jesus!” “It’s one thing to know the Bible; it’s another thing to know the author!” "Jesus is my theology!"

While it’s true that some people have very real and emotional experiences with God, this should not be where we establish our belief system-God’s Word does that. God has graciously given us the safe parameters within which we can understand Him: in His Word. But if a person depends on experiences they can easily become dependent on more experiences, which will usually escalate into an emotional train wreck. Just ask anyone who has left a Charismatic/Pentecostal church in a state of confusion, never to return.

Saying “I don’t care about theology-I just love Jesus” is a theological statement. It’s just a very weak one. We don’t see anything in the bible about “just loving Jesus” (as if our emotional feelings about Him were the key), but we do see many exhortations to have good, sound doctrine and teaching. Theology is a word that simply means “the study of God.” All Christians are theologians, whether they admit it or not. A solid theological understanding of God’s amazing grace is much better than any emotional experience anyway-because it never changes (unlike our emotions)!

By the way, theology is much, much more than a Calvinist and an Arminian arguing back and forth while confusing and/or aggravating everyone else. Good theology helps us to gain a correct and deeper understanding of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

After His resurrection, Jesus met two of His followers on the road to Emmaus and didn't reveal himself; He first asked them a series of questions to see what they knew and believed about Him. When they said that they basically didn't know what was going on (even though the empty tomb had been discovered and angels had said He was risen)...          

“Jesus said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself." Luke 24: 25-26.

Question: If knowing God experientially is more important than knowing the Bible, why would Jesus do this? Jesus wasted all that time explaining the scriptures to them?? He should have been developing a deep and personal relationship with them! He must’ve had a religious spirit! 

Here's another helpful article: The Gigantic Problem Beneath the Really Big Problem  


6.      “God offends the mind to reveal the heart.” (Similar to: “it’s all about your heart-not your head” or something like that)

 Sometimes, this anti-intellectual sentence is used in a sermon as if it were scripture. It’s not scripture, it’s just another (stupid) catch phrase. And it can be very manipulative and confusing. If anybody tries to be discerning (which involves using the mind) they can be dismissed with this catch phrase. God did not give us a mind and then expect us to stop using it.  Ironically, when a false teacher says things like this, he is using a type of thinking to convince others to think a certain way. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and MIND.”  There is no false dichotomy between our heart and mind in scripture-if anything, our heart is not to be trusted, but God’s Word is.


7. “Don’t touch God’s anointed!” “You better be careful if you speak against prophet/bishop/pastor so and so!”

 When false teachers can’t defend their beliefs in the clear teachings of the Bible, they use this (partial) verse as a rebuke. It’s taken completely out of context from the Old Testament and it refers to physically harming the Israelite king or prophet. This has nothing to do with questioning bad leadership or false teachings. It’s interesting to note that cult leaders often use some type of threat to maintain their authority-this is the lowest form of leadership. 

In stark contrast, the Jewish believers from Berea in Acts 17:11, “were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” If it was good and noble for these Bereans to question the Apostle Paul (who wrote much of the New Testament!) and compare his teachings to scripture (which would’ve been the Old Testament), we can do the same thing with any teacher/pastor.  Any pastor/teacher who demands special treatment as God’s chosen and untouchable authority is clearly not! (For more detail on this topic, here's a helpful article: Touch Not My Anointed, and here's another article.)


 8. “We only teach the Bible!”

 Believe it or not, this is probably the easiest way to teach false doctrine. Most Christians will shut off any discernment once they hear a pastor/teacher say something like this. If he’s “just teaching the Bible” who are we to disagree, right? Once a pastor/teacher has gained your trust by saying this, he can easily stick a Bible verse wherever he wants-whether it actually fits or not. He could probably just make up Bible verses half of the time, since no one is checking anyway. If a teacher/pastor actually says, “we should never proof-text!” he might actually be making it easier to keep proof-texting; the key is to keep people comfortable and trusting.

 By the way, proof-texting means using a Bible verse (or verses) taken completely out of context to make a point that it was never supposed to make. Basically, when a pastor/teacher wants to make his idea really convincing he can just dig up some Bible verse to validate his point (with all those crazy stories from the Old Testament you can prove any point!). Unfortunately, this happens a lot; and it really confuses people because it looks like the Bible teaches a thousand different and conflicting things from just one passage. This is not God’s fault-it’s the lazy, loose and wrong interpreting being done by the pastor. James 3: 1 says: “Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

Here's another helpful article: Frequently Abused and Misused Bible Verses 


 9. “You’re putting God in a box! As soon as you think you’ve got God all figured out He’ll do something unexpected!”

 This is a weird way to spiritualize false teaching, and cover it up under a cloud of supposed “mystery.” The truth is, God has made it very clear in His Word that we are to hold fast to correct doctrine. Period. While it’s true that no one can claim to have God “all figured out,” it’s not like God is always changing His ways to keep us guessing like some strange leprechaun in the sky who enjoys confusing us. God has given us His Son and His Word because He wants to be known! In John 17: 3 Jesus said: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” 


 10. “Christianity has to adapt and change with the times or else it will die.” “Those            discernment people are so old-fashioned and outdated-they’re the problem!”

 This idea is just plain false; it’s a pragmatic “let’s fix it ourselves because God needs our help” way of thinking. Think about it; are your religious beliefs so shallow and frail that they can’t stand up against whatever new trend is affecting society? God’s truth is above us, distinct from us and unchanging; otherwise it’s just something we’re making up as we go. Historically, the Christian church was stronger when it went against the cultural of the day. The early church began and flourished under the (sometimes very) hostile Roman Empire. But it was weakened and diluted when it became enmeshed with political and social power.      

The constant striving to make church “relevant” is usually counter-productive, and the unbelieving world often views our attempts at “marketing God” as shallow pandering. Here's a snarky article from the Museum of Idolatry on this topic: Visual Proof That Modern Churches Are (Much) Better.


Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”


11. “We’re getting lot’s of resistance-we must be doing something right! Satan wants to stop us, that’s why people are being so critical!”

 This line of thinking is, at best, a 50/50 proposition; maybe it’s true, but it’s just as possible that you’re getting resistance because your teaching is wrong and some people are trying to correct you.


12. “Well, he just heard/read some negative stuff on the Internet; they can say anything on the internet!”

 Like the previous point, this is, at best, a 50/50 proposition. It could just as easily be said, “he just read that stuff in a best-selling book; they can say anything in a book!” Do so few people realize that there are no rules for what can be published in a book? The truth is, there’s a lot of information that is only available online; that’s the nature of the world we live in. This idea is very similar to #2, because what people are really saying is: “it might be proven by lot’s of information online (blogs, podcasts featuring interviews with experts and actual witnesses, doctrinal papers, personal testimony, etc.), but it’s not the consensus view (it isn’t supported by giant book publishers, Christian media companies, mega-churches, etc.) so I refuse to believe it.” We should be testing everything against the Word of God-no matter what anybody says!

It’s important to understand that some giant “Christian” media companies are owned by even larger non-Christian media companies. For example, billionaire Rupert Murdoch owns the global media conglomerate News Corporation (Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Twentieth Century Fox Films, etc., etc.), which owns Harper Collins, one of the largest book publishers in the world. Harper Collins owns both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson which are the two biggest Christian (or “inspirational”) book publishers in the world. These companies are all about making money. It’s crazy to assume that somebody, somewhere is carefully checking the content of every single book they sell. This doesn’t mean that Zondervan and Thomas Nelson don’t have any good books, by the way; it just means there’s no guarantee.

Whether they’re on the Internet or in a book, all ideas and teachings should be diligently compared to the Word of God.


13. “Don’t listen to that discernment guy-he’s a dream stealer! You’ve got a Dream that God has planted in your heart! God has a special Destiny planned for your life-a Divine Assignment! God wants you to find your purpose, but the devil wants to steal your dream!!”

 This is the “Dream Destiny Thingy” theology, and it’s an underlying assumption in a lot of evangelical teaching, but it’s most prevalent within charismatic teaching. The amazing thing is, it’s not in the Bible. Anywhere! Neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever told us to “follow the dreams in our heart.” Yet, in a million sermons you’ll hear pastors claim that “God has planted a dream inside you” or “you’ve gotta have a vision;” but it’s just an assumption that is never proven from God’s Word (and the few Bible verses that might be mentioned are ripped from their context). This is ear tickling at it’s worst.

If you’re under a pastor who teaches this way, you’re either in the earlier stages of false hope where “something really big is right around the corner” (which takes your attention away from Jesus and His finished work on the cross), or you’re dealing with confusion and/or resentment because you haven’t had your dreams come true-in fact, you’ve probably had major disappointments as you’ve waited for God to “come through with His promises” (and you’re attention is not on Jesus and His finished work on the cross).  With this Dream Destiny Thingy as a starting point, all sermons become focused on us, and how we’re supposed to follow the mystical trail of breadcrumbs that God leaves for us, as we ride our unicorns across the rainbows of our imagination…

Here’s one of the very few passages in the whole Bible that could pertain to this issue: Jude 1:8 “In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.” Hmmm… so that’s how the Bible describes a dreamer in the church.


14. “Look at all the fruit on his tree-he must be blessed by God!” “With all those new people going to that church, you just know it’s being blessed by God!”

 Fruit on the tree does not mean “people coming to church.” Here’s the only thing that can be said for sure about a church with thousands of people attending: the pastor is being paid a large salary. Seriously, that’s about all we can know for sure. Oh, and they also must have a good worship team (soft rock band). When Jesus told us to look at the fruit of a teacher, He was telling us to compare the teaching and life of the teacher to Jesus-it should “look” the same. Any pastor teaching things that are contrary to Jesus is a false teacher-no matter how many followers he has. This is often related to the next one…


15. “But he does everything in the name of Jesus-he must be okay!”

 Think about it: if Satan wanted to operate in the church (and he does!), would he do it in his own name? Would he show up in church in his bright red jumpsuit and give himself away? Does any deception announce itself ahead of time? Deception is about pretending to be something else. The apostle Paul exposed the false “super apostles” in the Corinthian church and said: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15  

     Jesus said in Matthew 7:22 “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy IN YOUR NAME, and IN YOUR NAME cast out demons, and IN YOUR NAME perform many miracles?’ And I will declare to them; I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”

It should be assumed that a false teacher would always use the name of Jesus!


16. “It can’t be true, because I would have known about it already!” (or “somebody would have said something by now!”)

 This is a common knee-jerk reaction when people first hear about false doctrine in their midst. This is really saying “I already know everything that needs to be known; if I get new and different information that doesn’t correspond to my currently held beliefs, then it must be wrong. I refuse to look into anything that might threaten my views.” This is sometimes called "confirmation bias." Here's a more detailed article on this topic: Confirmation Bias: Why You are Protecting Your False Beliefs.

 When someone says "somebody would have said something by now..." we should remember that somebody already did say something: In Matthew 7:15 Jesus said, “Watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Jesus did NOT say: “Don’t watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing, because somebody is already doing that for you; besides, you don’t want to be too critical… just go with the flow.” 


17. “That discernment guy is just promoting fear, and fear comes from the devil!” “He’s got a lot of anger-you can tell he’s not of God!”

 By saying things like this, a false teacher can appear to invalidate whatever a discerning Christian has to say. Of course it’s true that we aren’t supposed to live in fear and/or anger; buy when a discerning Christian tries to warn the church about a dangerous deception, it’s only normal to express some outrage. The important question is whether or not his concerns are warranted. If a sheep discovers that his shepherd is actually a wolf, a (temporary) sense of fear and/or anger is an appropriate response in order for him to leave and warn others.

In actuality, it is the cult member that goes through life like a zombie, constantly thinking “positive thoughts” and refusing to wake up to the deception that surrounds him. Warning a fellow Christian about false teaching is not promoting fear-but, ironically, a false teacher has no problem scaring his followers into compliance and threatening them if they dare question his authority.

The Apostle Paul said this to the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20:29 “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.” Hey Apostle Paul, why don’t you lighten up and stop frightening everyone with your angry warnings!!


 18. “We need a fresh move of the Holy Spirit!” “These discernment people are afraid of the new things that God wants to do-they’re hindering the move of the Holy Spirit!”

 This sounds so spiritual, but what does it actually mean? How do we know if the “move” is “fresh” enough? What if the “move” is past the expiration date? How does anyone know for sure that a “move” is really even caused by the Holy Spirit and isn’t just emotional hype, or worse? These questions get completely ignored by many Charismatic/Pentecostal churches, because the assumption is: “we must have a revival!” And it depends on us mustering up something; and one hundred different “experts” have one hundred different opinions on how to make it happen.

This kind of teaching is exhausting, confusing and it takes our attention away from the finished work of Jesus. After all, isn’t it enough that Jesus came to earth, died on the cross to forgive all of our sins and then rose from the dead? Do we really need something better than that? Something “fresher??”

Lastly, where in the teachings of the New Testament (the teachings for the church) were Christians ever instructed to ask for, and expect, a “fresh move of the Holy Spirit” or an “End Times Revival?” We weren’t. You can relax now!

The Apostle Paul says this in Titus 3: 4-7 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing and regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”


19. “Since God is truth, all truth is God’s truth, so we can seek His truth anywhere and everywhere-not just from the Bible. These discernment Christians are too narrowly focused on the Bible-they’re missing the bigger picture of who God is, and all He’s doing!”

 This idea sounds open-minded and “modern” (and nobody wants to appear old-fashioned) but it quickly falls apart in the real world. Why would God specifically reveal Himself in the written Word and in His Son, Jesus Christ, but then “sort of” appear in a million other forms (that can be viewed in a million different ways)? This is just accommodation and surrender to the unbelieving world.

Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Being kind of exclusionary, aren’t you Jesus??

If we’re talking about computers, recipes, and lawn maintenance… ordinary, regular “stuff,” then of course we can learn from our unbelieving neighbors. But in spiritual matters, the potential for deception should always keep us very close to God’s Word.


 20. “I know that some of their teaching is wrong, but they (pastor/teacher/author) have some good things to say; we shouldn’t just throw the baby out with the bathwater!” “Chew on the meat and spit out the bones.”

 Can you imagine a pastor/teacher that doesn’t have any good things to say-ever? Of course not! They wouldn’t last five minutes. Having some good things to say does not qualify anyone for ministry. So, this problem is twofold: first, there are unqualified “ministers” who really think they’re doing God’s work (but they’re not), and second, there are millions of people putting themselves under their authority (and they shouldn’t be). We should be very strict and discerning in who we accept (“ordain”) as our pastor/teacher, just as the Bible instructs us to. This is for our own good!

James 3: 1 "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." 

     Lastly, this “chew on the meat, spit out the bones” idea is something that's often said about people getting new "words from God," and it's so ridiculous that it almost doesn’t need to be refuted. If you know there are going to be some “bones” in a person’s teaching that you’ll have to “spit out” afterwards, how can that be a "word from God?" And why in the world are you listening to them to begin with?? Here’s some better advice:

  • Don’t listen to anyone whose teaching requires “spitting out” afterwards.

  • Don’t listen to anyone that gets “downloads” (new revelations) directly from God.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who gives lip service to the Bible but rarely actually reads it.

  • Don’t listen to anyone whose ideas require “The Message Bible” for validation.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who is getting rich from his or her “ministry.”

  • Don’t listen to anyone who twists God’s Word or approves of those who do.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who values the world’s approval more than service to God.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who talks more about themselves than the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who “casts a vision” that you’re required to follow.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who claims to have the ability to “speak things into existence.”

  • Don’t listen to anyone who claims to have discovered a “secret” from God.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who preaches a whole sermon based on half of a (KJV) verse.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who preaches a sermon based on his or her new book.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who questions the Bible while pretending to value it.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who values adoration from the audience above service to God.

  • Don’t listen to anyone who refers to their own illegal activities as mere “mistakes.”

  • Don’t listen to anyone who preaches all Law and no Gospel.

  • Finally, don’t listen to anyone who thinks this list is too harsh and narrow-minded!


This article by Steven Kozar; check out his new and improved: The Messed Up Church website!