This title is provocative and I intend it to be. There has been a burden on my heart to write on this for some time, but did not want to be rash or write in a way that would cause disunity. What I write here is written as a brother in Christ, as the spiritual oversight of this church, written in love and to be respectful of all who may read this. But first before I launch into what I want to say on this, let’s go to the Word of God.
Matthew 24:3-5 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray, also Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. ”’These are the words of our Lord. If He has said these things, then we need to listen. As a final introduction, read these words of Jesus, Matthew 7:21-23 ‘“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’’
With those verses as a guide let us explore together what is a false teacher/ prophet and what is the false gospel. This is a very large subject to cover and this blog cannot give it full justice, so I encourage you; if this has piqued your interest then do some further research. However, when using the internet as a research tool, be aware there is a lot of misinformation on the net. Be discerning, use it with wisdom and caution. What is a false teacher/ prophet? In the most basic terms, a false teacher is one who distorts scripture, uses it to meet an agenda that they have set. This may not be intentional; they may have been deceived by a false teacher. Not to have a basic understanding of the gospel sometimes is intentional; they know what there are doing and are happy to take people’s money and souls. The word of God is quite clear to anyone who teaches the word of God. The bible says in 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’. For everything a teacher says either from a public platform or in a study, in any setting, they will be held accountable. God will judge them more harshly than those that hear. What a teacher says can have an influence on a person and if they have taught error they will be judged for that. I apply this principle to myself as well and I would hope you who read these blogs and listen to my sermons would weigh all that I say in light of Scripture. Do not just take my word for it, check it out; be like the Bereans who checked the scriptures daily to see if what Paul was saying was the truth or not.
There are many false teachers in the church in these days, and we should not be surprised, 2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
But what do they teach? We can break it down to three main areas.
The first is prosperity teaching. In this it is asserted that God does not want His people to be poor or sick and if they have enough faith they will have riches and will never be ill. This usually comes with the idea of ‘sow a seed of faith’ which is a way of saying; if you send me your money, God will bless you and give it back to you many times over. The problem with this is that the only ones who are rich are the teachers who espouse this. They prey on the weak and gullible. They twist scripture and take it out of context to prove their point, BUT nowhere in the bible does God say believers will be rich or never suffer. Paul the apostle had a thorn in His side (it was a physical ailment; click the link to an excellent article on this https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/thorn.cfm). God never healed Him. Surely if it is based on faith, surely he would have been healed? But he was not, and he gives the reason why (see 2 Cor. 12:7-9). Also, Timothy, the pastor of the church at Ephesus, was never healed of his chronic stomach issues (see 1 Tim 5:23).
I will at this point name some of the main proponents of this type of teaching. My intention is not to be mean. I am not pulling them down or being hateful toward them. I have never met them personally, but I want to put a light on their theology, their teaching. The main teacher in this, known as the grandfather of the prosperity movement is Kenneth Hagin. Other main proponents are Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and Creflo Dollar. One of the teachings that Copeland, in particular, gives is that we are ‘little gods’. That; because we are made in His image, we have divinity within us. What does the first of the ten commandments say? “you shall have no other gods before me”, and the second commandment says ”Do not made a carved image”.
To self-deify is to go against scripture. Some of you may have listened and have read their books. As a fellow Christian, I ask that you remove them from your bookshelves, stop sending them your money, stop watching their T.V shows, go back to His word.
The second area is signs and wonders. Now, I believe that God can and does do supernatural things. I believe that the gifts are still in use today. I have seen people healed, I have seen people set free from demon possession, but not all signs and wonders are from God.
One of the most concerning things in this type of teaching is that of gold dust and gems appearing during a service or prayer meeting. My question is; what purpose does this serve? It causes one to look for the experience rather than the creator. Other things that happen in this type of teaching is those who ‘manifest’ under the spirit; people writhing around on the ground howling, people with uncontrollable laughter etc. One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control; there is no self-control in this setting. Additionally, we are told by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, and also verse 40 But all things should be done decently and in order. There is no self-control, a lot of confusion, and little to no order in the above-mentioned situations. When I see these things it reminds me of the same things I saw while I was involved in the occult: not a copy of, but exactly the same. The purpose of these manifestations was to allow an unclean spirit to possess someone, to do harm, or to fool them to look for an experience. This is what is happening when we see this in the church. The experience becomes the reason to attend the church, rather than coming to praise God and give Him glory. Some of the main teachers of this are Todd Bentley, William Branham, Steve Hill, Paul Crouch, and Rodney Howard Brown. I advise you strongly to stay away from these ‘peddlers’ of experience. They are, maybe unknowingly, inviting evil spirits to deceive us.
The third area is what I call the ‘fluffy’ teachers, those who tell you what you want to hear, ‘everything’s alright; don’t worry about your sin because God is love’ type of teaching. This type of teaching down plays the seriousness of sin. Your sinful nature and any sin you commit is not an issue, because God is love. He loves you. It is true that God loves us. In fact he loves us so much, that He sent Jesus to pay for our sin. God sees sin as an affront to His holy nature. He will not be in the presence of sin. Without Jesus, our sin alienates us from God. With Christ we are new creations and are told to turn from sin; 1 John 3:6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
This teaching also tells us that we can do it ourselves; the self-improvement seminar type of teaching. In essence it says that we can, by works, save ourselves or at least help God save us. This is rank heresy. We cannot save ourselves. Our righteousness before God is like filthy rags (see Isaiah 64:6). The word tells us that salvation comes from the Lord only, it states this in John 14:6; ‘Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”’. It’s only through Jesus that we can be saved, not by works or anything we do. Again, in Ephesians 2:8-9 ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.’ Our salvation is a gift from God. By his grace He chose us and by faith in what Jesus has done on our behalf. If any teacher tells you what your ‘itching ears’ want to hear, downplays sin, tells you that works add to your salvation he/she not speaking on behalf of God, they are deceivers. Some main proponents of this type of teaching are Joel Osteen, Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Rob Bell and Beth Moore. Do not listen to their lies. Only Jesus can offer salvation. Works do not save. Only Jesus saves.
What about false prophets? A prophet is one who speaks for God. They hear His voice and proclaim His message to the people or person or place God has directed it. In the Bible we are given very clearly what a prophet of God is like. Their prophesies are always clear, not couched in a way that it could be interpreted in any way you like. Nostradamus falls into this category. His visions are so vague they can mean anything and have been interpreted in many ways. He is a false prophet. This is in line with what has already been revealed in Scripture, and is correct. If anyone says that are a prophet and a prophecy they make fails to be fulfilled, then they are a false prophet. There are no second chances in this. If someone claims to be a prophet and reveals something that is not in the Bible, or says ‘this is a new revelation from God’, that person is a false prophet. The word of God is God’s final word. It is His total and complete revelation to us. We have what is called a ‘closed cannon’, meaning God is never going to add anything else to His word. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 ‘But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My Name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the Name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.’ Let this be our guide when someone speaks on behalf of the Lord. Some false prophets to be aware of are Oral Roberts, Todd White and Harold Camping. There are many others. Be discerning, check out what they say by the word of God.
The last thing I want to address is false gospel. What is a false gospel? It is one which denies the already written word, denies Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross. Some very common and well known espousers of false gospels are those who call themselves the Jehovah Witnesses or the Mormons and even the Christadelphians. These we mostly know, but there are some teachers/pastors who teach a false gospel, one that is contrary to the word of God
The bible tells us how we can spot a false gospel. 1 John 4:1-3 ‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.’ They may sound good, they may play the ‘right’ style of music, may be very loving and sincere, but if they deny Christ and His fulfilled work on the cross, they are giving you a false gospel. If the tell you that you need to add extras to your faith in order to be saved, that is a false gospel. If they tell you that Jesus requires you to submit to the leader totally, that is a false gospel. The true gospel is this; God love you so much, that He sent His only begotten son to pay for your sin, he was crucified, died and on the third day rose bodily. If you accept what Christ has done for you and have asked Him for forgiveness, have turned from your sin and have asked Him to be your Lord and Saviour, then you are saved. That is the gospel in a ‘nut shell’. Romans 10:9 ‘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.’ That is the gospel message.
One place to be aware of that promotes a false gospel is Bethel church in Redding, California, and its pastor Bill Johnson.
My intention in this blog was to bring awareness of these things to you. As the pastor at Living Waters it is my duty to make sure that you are not being led astray. I hope and pray that you will take this in the spirit that it is intended; not to harm, but to help.
If you have any questions that have arisen from this blog, or any comments, please leave a comment below.
In Christ our redeemer Ps Jeff