April 9, 2013
False Teachers and the False Arguments of Naming Names
By Anthony Wade
Defend the Gospel, not man
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus. They have left the path of truth, claiming that the resurrection of the dead has already occurred; in this way, they have turned some people away from the faith. -- 2Timothy 2: 15-18 (NLT)
It seems sometimes we who are called to divide the Word of God lose our focus. We lose our sense of priorities. I understand the desire to be protective over who we might view as our own. Sometimes ministry can be exasperating. Sometimes it can seem as if everyone is against you. Sometimes it seems as if we are required to play by a different set of rules than everyone else. As if more is required of us.
Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. -- James 3: 1 (NLT)
That is because more is required of us! And amidst the daily grind of life and the business ministry can often become, let us not lose sight of what this is about. It is not about me. It is not about you. It is not about Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, or any other public ministry figure. It is about Jesus. While that is true it is about even more than Jesus. It is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While that is true, it is about even more than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is about the eternal destination for the souls of man. It is not about your best life now. It is not about building a purpose driven church. It is not about erecting million dollar arenas, having 50 ministries, and getting a show on TBN. It is about the crack addict sitting in your last pew. It is about the single mother, pregnant again and homeless. It is about the average every day person who is still on the outside of salvation looking in. Because at the end of the day it is not about their addiction, their pregnancy or their seeming "normalness" -- it is about the simple fact that they are separated from God and are destined for an eternity in hell. I know these aren't the flowery messages we hear anymore from the seeker friendly pulpits but this is the truth. There is a heaven and there is a hell and standing in the gap between them are the ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That Gospel must be bigger than any one of us. It must be bigger than all of us. When did we become so thinned skin that any legitimate criticism is met with such derision? If we cannot tolerate correction for vital portions of doctrine, how in the world will we tolerate real persecution?
"Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. -- Matthew 24: 9 (NLT)
How are we leading people to tolerate the coming persecutions? In other countries ministers are forced to hide underground, share scraps of the Gospel, and die for their beliefs but we get upset because we think someone has said something mean about us? I write this as a backdrop to the issue known in Christian circles as "naming names." This comes up seemingly whenever there is something really offensive to the true Gospel put forth by someone who had been considered sound doctrinally or commands a large portion of the Christian audience. In the inglorious past of Pentecostalism, known apostates such as Paul Crouch would call us "heresy hunters." Infamous heretic Benny Hinn once said he wished he had a "holy ghost machine gun" so he could blow these people away. What people? People who would dare question the fact that he is an operative of Satan, exploiting Christianity for his own personal profit. More recently, we have seen people like Mark Driscoll, who is no stranger to stretching the Gospel beyond what it was written for, whine in sermons about people who dare question him.
For the record, we are talking about matters of crucial doctrine, not petty matters reasonable people can disagree about. I prefer that people talk about what they have in common -- not what separates them. But there has to be a dividing line. There has to be a line we refuse to cross when it comes to the integrity of the Gospel message. While I understand why those who are facing the truth about their own heresies would bristle I am amazed at the defenders they have. We are supposed to contend for the faith -- not the flesh. We are supposed to defend the Gospel -- not the preachers. In this age of watered down churches have we fallen so far away that we minimize the importance of the Gospel? Have we arrived at the point that we really think that everyone in a church is going to heaven? That a simple two sentence prayer is all that is required? That we don't have to get into the dos and the don'ts? That we think as Osteen, that doctrine is a dirty word that "weighs people down?" That it is more important to place people into ministry than into the Kingdom? Do we really think that any old Gospel message will do as long as we think we are "reaching them for Christ?" Allow me to remind us of the severity in which we operate:
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. -- 1Corinthians 15: 1-2 (NIV)
Take this next question very seriously beloved. Upon what Gospel are we taking our stand? Look at what the Apostle Paul is saying here! It is only by the actual Gospel that people are saved! Otherwise you have believed in vain! How many people sit in the pews every week believing in vain? Goats trying to act like sheep as Paul Washer likes to say. Do we hold firmly to the Word or do we nod and wink and look the other way? How loose is our hold on the Gospel message today? I dare say it is quite loose and growing looser every day. When we think that it is more important to defend man over the integrity of the Gospel I would say that it is not just loose -- it has fallen to the floor.
Dear Lord, just look at what we have accepted in the body of Christ! Rob Bell once led a congregation of 15,000 people and now he thinks hell doesn't exist! Mark Batterson is teaching people to redo their prayer life based upon a fictional, non biblical character who petulantly dismisses the sovereignty of God! The Easter Bunny on the altar of God so we can appear "relevant" to a dying culture! Prosperity preachers milking the body for cash in the name of Jesus. Faith healing frauds and false signs and wonders disguised as a "move of the Spirit." Jesus Culture indoctrinating our youth with nonsense not seen since the Holy Laughter debacle of the 1990's. Self-help and motivational speaking passed off as Christianity. Grace alone doctrine designed to tickle the ears and consign countless to hell. No fear of God. No reverence before God. Gold dust, gem stones, angel feathers and glory clouds. This isn't a game. The eternal destination of the souls of men hang in the balance and we need to treat it like so.
It does not give me any pleasure to name names. I am comforted however by the key verses which clearly indicate that Biblically we are in fact supposed to call out by name those who would preach a Gospel contrary to the truth. Expositing the key verses we start with a simple statement we all need to remember every day as ministers of the Gospel. Work hard so we can present ourselves to God for His approval. There is so much meat there. It starts with working hard. No one said this calling was going to be easy. But look at WHY we work hard. We do not work hard to be approved by man. We do not work hard so we can expand our congregations and build bigger churches. We do not work hard so we can have a television show or write a best selling book. We work hard so that God might approve of us:
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power. -- 1Corinthians 2: 1-5 (NIV)
This is Paul explaining to the Church at
Next in the key verses we see that we should absolutely be ashamed if we do not correctly explain the Word of God. Please, I am not talking about perfection. I am not talking about inconsequential disagreements. If this one prefers hymns and that one prefers modern worship that is fine as long as it brings glory to God. If this one believes in being slain in the Spirit and that one doesn't, fine. Why? Because no one is going to remain unsaved because they believe in being slain or they do not. But someone who says a quick and dirty prayer without the weight of the burden of their sin driving them to repentance? Sorry, but all the seeker friendly nonsense in the world is not sending that person to heaven. Jesus Christ is our Savior. That means He needed to save us from something. That something is not cultural irrelevance or a life of insignificance. That something he saves us from is our SIN. He saves us from the one thing that separates us from God! How do we lose sight of that so easily? Because it is not preached anymore. Instead we see churches routinely engaging in foolish, worthless talk that only leads to more godless behavior. Sermons designed to make people feel better about themselves when they need to feel better about God. Beloved -- if this is our best life now then by definition we are going to hell.
When carnality is what is embraced in the pulpit then carnality is what is being taught. Naming names is how you stop the foolish and worthless talk. Turning a blind eye to it does not serve Christ. The key verses warn us very plainly that talk like this spreads like cancer. Don't believe God? Just look at the seeker friendly, purpose driven model in
Then in the key verses we see that the Apostle Paul does in fact name names! He specifically mentions two people -- Hymenaeus and Philetus. What was their crime? Heresy! They were preaching a different Gospel then they had received! How crucial is this to God? How important is the purity of the doctrine to our God?
And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person's share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. -- Revelation 22: 18-19 (NLT)
Beloved, it is not what we say that saves anyone but what God says. Our fancy buildings, community outreaches, and creative ministries save no one. I once heard a mega-church pastor say that because of the new plasma flat screen TV's in the basement, three youth gave their lives to Christ one Friday evening. Those are some powerful televisions. It is silly of course. It is actually worthless talk that spreads like cancer. It is so important to God that if anyone dares to add anything to the Gospel message then all of the curses that appear in the entire Bible shall apply to that person!
Lastly from the key verses -- why is all of this important? Why does God name names here? What is the end result of the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus? They have turned some people away from the faith. Remember, this is not about you or me. It is about Jesus Christ and the unsaved masses of people out there looking in on our salvation. They probably turned away some good people. Some God-fearing people. Some people with great intentions. Beloved realize that it gives me no pleasure to say that Joel Osteen is a false teacher. It gives me no pleasure to say that Joseph Prince teaches incomplete Gospel. Or that The Circle Maker is heretical teaching. But Osteen, Prince and Batterson are big boys. I am worried about the tens of thousands of people who attend their churches and think they are saved when they are not. People who have taken their stand on a compromised Gospel with a watered down Christ who saves no one. There are 45,000 people who attend Osteen's church every week. Is it possible that some come to God through his work? Sure, God will use anyone. But for every ten saved I bet there are a thousand unsaved who think they are. Their best life is not now -- it's still out there waiting for them. Waiting for someone to preach the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ to them!
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes--the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life." -- Romans 1: 16-17 (NLT)
The Gospel is not meant to help us become relevant. It is not meant to help us feel significant. It is meant to tell us how God makes us right in His sight! It is no surprise that the key verses are written to Timothy, who was a pastor in charge of his own church. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul explained the close relationship between what we preach and the salvation of those who would hear us:
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. -- 1Timothy 4: 16 (NIV)
Amen. May we continue to proclaim the true Gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of the salvation of those who would listen. In Jesus name.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- April 9, 2013
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.