Our first responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ is to the TRUTH. We are called to speak it, teach it, write about it, and if annointed, preach it… but most of all we are to live it. And we aren’t to do this for a season or when it’s easy and comfortable – we’re called to do it until. Until when… until the Word of God is spoken to the four corners of the globe… until every ear has heard the TRUTH of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
Early in February 2018, the Holy Spirit woke me in the very early hours of the morning and impressed these words onto my heart… “Speak the TRUTH to the whole world”. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do next. So with an open mind and heart and with pen in hand, I prayed. I prayed for guidance about “TRUTH”. This is something which has been on my heart for quite some time. My desire to write an ongoing series of articles was born from a story I wrote in my book – “Refined by the Fire” – called “TRUTH”. The book was published in September 2017; it has taken me until February 2018 to begin the “TRUTH” series. And while I’ve hit some snags… I am discovering the articles which had the most impact were ones that flowed easily from my pen. The difficult articles took days and days to write, while struggling over words and defining the direction of the article, they did not flow as easily as I wanted, they were a clumsy and awkward read. It didn’t take long to realize that I had to take me out of the decision making process of what to write. I have taken the direction and subject of the articles out of my hands and now pray for guidance and let the Holy Spirit lead.
Speaking the TRUTH isn’t always popular, but… are we called to be popular… or are we called to speak the TRUTH? The TRUTH of the gift of eternal life and salvation offered only through Jesus Christ… to speak the TRUTH of good news of the Kingdom to a dark and dying world?
Second Timothy 4:2 tells us to “preach the word be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction”. Please know, I do not claim to be a preacher or a teacher. I am merely a woman with no special worldly talents or abilities. I am simply a woman with an open bible, a pen and a command from the Holy Spirit to speak the TRUTH. I don’t have a huge following or a big name to draw tens of thousands of listeners to hang on my every word. What I have is a five year old laptop in a little home in New Hampshire and a profound longing and a deep desire to do what the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart – to speak the TRUTH. The unvarnished Biblical TRUTH as it relates to this world in light of the endless catalog of secular ideologies. What I do have is a bunch of words, a fair amount of time and a willing heart. Maybe it’s enough for His service.
Second Timothy 4:3-4 continues to say “for a time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but want to have their ears tickle, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the TRUTH and will turn aside to myths”.
Turn on any Christian television channel, and a smattering of secular channels, and you can witness Christian preachers, teachers, and speakers commanding the attention of tens of thousands of viewers with their knowledge and teachings; they tug at our hopelessness or hopefulness, with flowery words and fervent pleas. While it is essential for believers to continuously learn and be exposed to the TRUTHS of the Bible, sadly there are false teachers among them – the wolves in sheep’s clothing as it were.
There are those who advocate the many ways to Heaven, some liken God to a celestial slot machine… “sow a seed to “xx” ministry and God will shower you with monetary abundance”. There are those who consciously choose not to preach or teach about the eternal consequences of secular choices – they would rather the listener walk away with an easy, feel-good gospel message. Some see the Cross of Jesus Christ as a mere symbol rather than what it really truly is. And then there are those very well known preachers proclaiming the equality of Islam and Christianity.
“But [in those days] false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will subtly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways, and because of them the way of TRUTH will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with false arguments and twisted doctrine. Their sentence [of condemnation which God has decreed] from a time long ago is not idle [but is still in force], and their destruction and deepening misery is not asleep [but is on its way].” 2 Peter 2:1-3 AMP
False teachings are taking over our churches, publications and airways at unprecedented speed and gaining acceptance and recognition. No where does it say in order to have your own television or radio show you must have sound biblical teaching. You merely need enough money to pay the air fees and you’re in. These falsehoods often going unnoticed by we the Church and in some cases they are being welcomed and adopted into the biblical foundation of the flock. And in turn, these false teachers and false teachings are welcomed into our homes and churches. They appear as angels, preaching scripture praying with the right words. They have an unparalleled command of scripture, and regularly quote it. They are rarely divisive or argumentative; often spoken of lovingly – proclaimed by their followers to be “one of the nicest people on earth”. They creep in with million dollar smiles and giant hugs; they are charismatic and captivating with a level of empathy that goes on for miles. They don’t teach obvious falsehoods. Sure they will speak of salvation and Jesus, but will rarely offer an invitation to the seeker. They speak of faith and the gospel, but with a slight twist, teaching partial TRUTHs, which is no TRUTH at all. When they are identified, it is typically about what they leave out of their teaching, not what they added in.
You won’t find them in a church where the Word of God is taught and spoken with passion and boldness; where people are growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. No, they target those Churches where people are indifferent and lukewarm for Jesus, who are there more for the optics and the entertainment. Or you will find them in Churches that are “doing Church”… where folks are longing for a mere touch of Jesus, but will not, or cannot leave the dead and dying church out of decades long obligation to the pastors.
So, how do you know when you are hearing sound biblical teaching? The Scriptures themselves give us the answers:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1 AMP
“But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 AMP
“ For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
So what’s a believer to do? In your own church, be committed to sound preaching of God’s Word, be aware, test the spirits. Only then will fake teachers be recognized for who they are and the sheep will be protected from the wolf. Do not be afraid to question. Do not be afraid to leave a church if you prayerfully believe the true message of salvation or redemptive work of the Cross of Jesus is being distorted.
As Christians, we are called to live Coram Deo. This is a Latin phrase translated to “in the presence of God“. This Christian theology encapsulates the idea of Christians living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God. We are called to live before the Face of God, for God’s Glory, according to God’s eternal TRUTH. The TRUTH of the Bible is TRUTH, unchanging unwavering TRUTH. What was true 200 or 2000 years ago, is still true today.
We all would like to think we could easily recognize a false teacher by their counterfeit message. Absolutely there some are known by their perverted teachings, but some are far less subtle. Their message may be in the “optics”, not what is seen or said, but what is missing. Perhaps the only mention of the redeeming work of the Cross of Jesus Christ is found only in the name of the Church. Perhaps there is a Cross in the Church which is brought out once a year and then returned to its position in the dark back corner of the Church. In our case, it was the absence of the Cross of Jesus in a self-proclaimed Bible Believing, Holy Spirit filled Church where the Cross was seen by a Co-Pastor as “just a symbol”. This is a particular hot button issue for me, and I won’t elaborate on it here. I would ask you to check out our article “The TRUTH of the Cross”.
The TRUTH is, satan knows his time is short and if he can use preachers, teachers, publications and the airways to disseminate his lies, he will do it. I am not suggesting those who speak in falsehoods are satan’s minion… are they or aren’t they, it is not mine to decide. Only God can judge a man’s heart, motives and words.
Just as satan tricked Eve with “did God really say that?”, this is how this insidious deceiver take hold, just a toe hold… a momentary questioning. That’s all it take a momentary lapse of all you know to be right and true. To be a Christian means to believe that what Gods says in His Word is true even if everyone around you disagrees. “Let God be true though everyone were a liar” Romans 3:4
So how do we recognize and guard against false teachers, preachers and prophets and their lies?
Well for now, I am going to end this article and pick it up again next week with just that in Part Two – How do you guard your heart and mind from the deception.
Note: Emphasis, highlighting and formatting features placed on Biblical Scriptures are solely the actions of this writer and are used to set apart the text to the reader.
Scriptures marked AMP are taken from the AMPLIFIED BIBLE (AMP): Scripture taken from the AMPLIFIED® BIBLE, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by the Lockman Foundation Used by Permission.
Unless otherwise noted, scriptural references are from the NIV – New International Version© Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
Graphic ©Ann C Cuddy 2018