What can we say about the true church and the fake church? Well, the first thing is that the true church has power. It does not rely on ritual or authority. Liturgy and prayer are servants to Christ. It does not rely on precedent, or careful gloss on gloss. Instead it relies on Christ.
The trouble is that Christ is not safe. The Spirit of the age hates Christ, for he knows that Christ came to destroy him. The spirit that called out that he was the Holy one of God knew that this was his destruction.
Too many of our churches have instead decided to align with the spirit of this age, which is safe. It does not lead to persecution overmuch, but it does mean that the word of God has to obscured by tradition in the name of health and safety. Such churches make me nauseous. I pray that they reform, return to their senses and repent. I have enough problems with my own black heart and impulses without being told they are good.
And Christ called us to be adopted into his family. Our fate is glorious and great. This world is neither.
21They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
What are we to look out for? What signs should we consider? When should we run. The first thing is that women are doing more than they ought. I have observed that there are very few gifted women speakers — they make it about them, and not the gospel. I have heard some with good content, but the beloved says that they are not connecting what they are saying with how they are. In the secular world, many rituals, from celebrating birth to marriage to death, are now done by female celebrants, and in their overt emotionality there is a lack of caring, and the gospel is hidden.
We were at a funeral yesterday and a friend of the deceased of some thirty years said he was not religious then quoted the appropriate passage of Ecclesiastes. The celebrant did not know what to do with this. But within the church, even those that overtly limit the preaching ministry to licensed priests and elders, we have to watch. This list is from somewhere else, but it is good. I have shortened the points, as this is already very long.
- Uses imprecise biblical terms – Under the teaching of a charlatan, the Scripture loses it’s precision.
- Does not accurately quote the Scriptures – There’s a reason that Satan deceived Eve through the spoken word. It was easier to misquote God while still sounding correct. Always check what the Scripture in question actually says before believing a teacher.You’d be surprised how often it’s blatantly misquoted.
- Uses theological jargon to answer simple questions – there are many things in the Bible that appear to contradict church doctrine. An honest person will admit he doesn’t know yet or will have a straight answer. A charlatan will provide a long-winded theological explanation that leaves you scratching your head.
- Uses systematic theology and catechisms to justify his answers – Religious Charlatans utilize the coherence theory of truth (do the ideas logically fit together?) rather than the correspondence theory of truth (does the idea accurately describe what I can observe?). Systematic theologies and catechisms are the most effective way to make blatant errors acceptable.
- Quotes Bible teachers and theologians rather than the Scriptures – There’s nothing wrong with quoting other teachers to reinforce a biblical truth. But it should be an immediate red flag if the opinion of a famous teacher or theologian is used as the basis for an argument..
- Ignores the context – There is a world of difference between quoting what the Bible says and understanding what it means in context. God does not give bonus points for creative uses of His Word.
- Talks about the value of “theological training” instead of knowing the Scriptures – “Theological training” is code word for indoctrination. The more a mind can be trained to follow the pleasant grooves of a perfectly coherent system, the less he will question the underlying assumptions of the system. Thus is error propagated into the church.
JT, Saving Eve
I am a pewsitter: but we have a duty. We are to test the teaching given to us, to challenge the minister when in error, and to pray for him. He is accountable, and in the seeking of power and riches many preachers have spurned correction and fallen into error.
It is too easy to preach safe.
But know that the word of God is living and active, and will discern the errors of your heart. It will bring us to reformation of our lives, if the Spirit is within us, and we have been adopted. Though many Bishops, Archbishops and Priests, Ministers and Moderators are doomed for destruction. They are weeds and snares.
Do not be them. Do not be like them.