Yet another clumsy attempt to silence discernment from a charismatic minister...
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. -- Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
The imagery chosen by Jesus throughout the bible is not accidental. It conveys how God sees things into digestible portions for us to understand. One such image is that of the pastor as a shepherd. Those who labor in teaching and preaching are thought of by God in such terms. They are supposed to tend to the sheep. They are supposed to care about the sheep. They are supposed to love the sheep. The shepherd has two instruments to assist him in his duties. The first is a crook or staff and this is used to direct the sheep in the correct, safe way to go and have none wander off. A teacher or preacher's doctrine is their staff. It guides the sheep the right way to go -- God's way. That is why doctrine is so crucial. The second instrument is the shepherd's rod and this is used to fend off attacks from the predators that would seek to harm the sheep. Wolves are the primary predators for sheep and using this imagery they attack sheep with contrary doctrine to lead them away from the under shepherd as well as the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The rod is a blunt instrument beloved, designed to impart force upon any who would threaten the sheep. These two shepherd's tools provide comfort to the sheep, as our key verses teach, because they provide guidance and protection. Unfortunately, many in the church prefer to protect the wolves and either beat the sheep or chastise those that would seek to protect them. The above linked article highlights one of these folks so let us reason again together.
"The need for people who rightly divide the truth is only going to escalate as the end-times season we are in continues to unfold. These Bereans are valuable, and it would do us all well to embrace the opportunity to analyze our belief systems and to grow. Instead, all over social media especially, we see critical and arrogant spirits assaulting others they disagree with theologically. For Christians to be rude and to operate in a spirit of accusation makes one wonder if they are saved at all. In fact, the moment we utilize methods of communication that contradict the fruits of the Spirit, we lose our credibility. Fortunately, there are many people who confirm their credibility by debating and discussing with love and honor. Communicating with them is a pleasure. However, all too often, supposed guardians of theology are zeroed in on proving their point and on shaming all who disagree. On the contrary, the shame is on them as they attempt to demoralize and invalidate people's ministry. The focus is on mistakes, errors, disagreements and weaknesses instead of building others up, honoring them and encouraging them in the Lord. "Be devoted to one another with brotherly love; prefer one another in honor" (Rom. 12:10)." -- John Burton
Let's start by recognizing that someone referring to his dissenters as trolls is in the same breath lecturing about people with critical and arrogant spirits. Hypocrisy much? Now, there is so much disinformation packed into this opening, we need to go item by item:
Bereans -- Burton is right that as the end times deepen the need is greater for those who correctly divide the word of truth. This hit piece however is designed for one purpose and that is to silence discernment ministries. The people who operate such ministries are the Bereans John -- not the false teachers you support by your mere presence on Charisma News, home of the Sneaky Squid Spirit and the Angels of Abundant Harvest.
Assault -- while I believe this is hyperbole, the reality is that false teachers deserve nothing but our derision. This is not a matter of theological disagreement John. If you are pre-trib I might feel you are mistaken but I would look forward to discussing it. It is not something worth dividing over. We are talking about FALSE teaching, which leads to a false gospel and a false christ -- which of course leads to a false conversion. The bible actually commands you to rebuke false teachers as a minister!
Credibility -- again the issue is whether we are talking about disagreement or false teaching. You reside on a website that is a literal cesspool of false teaching and prophecy and you think you should be discussing credibility? If you are a wolf then you need to be treated as a wolf. The shepherd's rod is not carried to pet the wolf John.
Ministry -- if your ministry is based on false teaching it needs to be invalidated. It is always so telling how skewed a preacher is when he writes to defend people he views as peers without regard for the sheep the Lord has entrusted.
Romans 12:10 -- the error you keep making is in automatically assuming everyone who carries a bible is our brethren. They are not. We do not build up wolves. We do not encourage them. We should not be devoted to them. If the issues were truly of the disagreement variety then again, we ought not divide over those but this article is sure not smelling like that right now.
"As one who absolutely affirms bold and provocative messages, I'm dismayed that so many who name the name of Jesus presume boldness equates to cruelty and divisiveness. Haters and debaters who are driven by a contentious agenda against those they disagree with are doing great damage to the church. Strangely, they presume to be the champions of truth, knights in shining armor who are to be celebrated for defending their absolutely "perfect" view of Scripture. They presume themselves to be Bereans when in reality they are aligning themselves with a dark spirit of accusation and assault. These are no Bereans. They are, in fact, Thessalonians." -- John Burton
The only agenda that drives true discernment is that lives are saved and the real Gospel is preached. And please John, can you ever see your own hypocrisy? Accusing people of having a spirit of accusation? Seriously? So did Paul have a spirit of accusation when he called out Hymenaeus? What about Alexander the Coppersmith? Why would Paul instruct Timothy that he must rebuke those that do not present an accurate Gospel? Why does Paul call such people accursed while you want to have tea with them? The rest of this snippet is equally nonsensical. I have never seen a discernment minister consider themselves knights in shining armor. Quite the opposite in fact.
"The Spirit of the Bereans vs. the Spirit of the Thessalonians. According to his custom, Paul went in, and on three Sabbaths he lectured to them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I preach to you, is the Christ" (Acts 17:2-3). In Thessalonica, Paul was reasoning in the synagogue and revealing the glorious truth of Jesus. Some were persuaded, but many weren't, and instead of exhibiting love in disagreement, they started a riot. This riotous spirit is driving the religious today, people who are not at all interested in life-giving truth. Their motive is selfish, protecting their own way of life and belief system. But the Jews who did not believe became jealous and, taking some evil men from the marketplace, gathered a crowd, stirred up the city, and attacked the house of Jason, trying to bring them out to the mob (Acts 17:5)." -- John Burton
Talk about a spirit of accusation! What a disgusting comparison to make. The riotous Jews in Acts 17 were not saved beloved. They did not accept the Gospel as Paul preached it because it went against their power structure as religious leaders of the time. This is the same reason the Pharisees opposed Jesus. What John Burton fails to be able to see is he is the spirit he rails against here. The small handful of discernment ministers could hardly be described as being the leaders of modern day Christianity. The leaders of the apostate church can be found all over Charisma News, rubbing elbows with John Burton. How much money does Charisma make a year John? The wolves that you give aid and comfort to -- how much do they make? Who is the mob in your analogy John? Who has the control of religion? Who riots whenever someone has the temerity to point out what you are saying is wrong? Just a quick aside on the continued abuse of the word religious. This is a word that God Himself has ordained in scripture. To be religious is to be genuine and sincere about your faith and beliefs. The modern day powers that be prefer experience over scripture so they turned this word against the body of Christ. Suddenly anyone who disagrees is religious. Anyone who insists on biblical accuracy has a religious spirit. It is absolute garbage and should be discarded as such.
"I think I've met some of the bad characters the verse mentions. They are all over Facebook. In the face of this, Paul and Silas moved on to Berea. "The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews" (Acts 17:10). Many presume the Bereans heard the message and then, with a nasty, suspicious look on their face and thick theological walls built up, they put their noses into the Scriptures, looking to refute all that was being said. This is not what happened at all. Many modern "Bereans" are some of the meanest, most arrogant and unteachable people in the church. They are so tightly wound up, fearing even the slightest threat to their personal doctrines, that they often slander and accuse people they oppose. This is not how the Bereans in the Book of Acts responded. Not at all. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, daily examining the Scriptures, to find out if these things were so (Acts 17:11). Did you notice that the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians? Did you notice why? They received the message not with great suspicion, but with great eagerness. They were excited about this fresh, life-giving message that Paul was revealing to them! Their energy wasn't spent discounting the message but rather in searching the Scriptures to see if it was true." -- John Burton
I am unsure what circles John Burton traffics in but I have never heard anyone portray Bereans as being suspicious. I am pretty sure this is a strawman argument. Now if someone is unteachable and arrogant that would be a horrible combination but methinks Burton does protest too much. He also continues the disinformation campaign. The issue for true discernment ministers is not an infringement upon personal doctrines. I have no personal doctrines. I have the bible and it is only an infringement upon God's Word that I react to. How sadly ironic that Burton cannot see through his blinding deception here. He is right about the Bereans but that does not help his cause. He openly admits here that the Bereans were nobler because they searched scripture to see if what was being preached was true. Hello! That is what discernment ministries do! Guess those Bereans must have had an arrogant and religious spirit.
"Because of this, many Jews and Greeks were transformed. The story doesn't end there, however. But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also, stirring up the crowds (Acts 17:13). The Thessalonians actually went to Berea to hunt down Paul and agitate the people because of his message! I propose many who assume themselves to be Bereans are actually Thessalonians--people who are more intent on hunting, agitating and stirring up instead of eagerly receiving revelation from the Word of God. Let Love Lead. When engaging in conversation, especially online on social media or in the comments section of articles like this one, simply be nice. Discussions and healthy debates are supposed to be fun and edifying." -- John Burton
I urge you to read Matthew 7:21-23. This is not a game beloved. There is nothing fun or edifying going on in the verses when people stand before Christ after thinking they were serving Him for years only to discover He never knew them! It is not letting love lead to check discernment at the door. In fact it is cruel. By the way, no hunting is necessary. There is so much false teaching in the church today that all one has to do is wake up and it shows up on your doorstep. When I see a bloodied sheep trapped in the jowls of a wolf, I am not called to have fun with the wolf and debate him or her. I let love lead by trying to take the rod to the wolf and let God free the sheep.
"I try to make it a point to address false theologies while never assaulting the minister. I know, there are many who would argue that there are times in Scripture where false teachers were named, and they were addressed quite bluntly. Yes, there absolutely does come a time to do that, but it is not as often as many might presume--and it's always in a spirit of great love. I do my very best to honor all, even if I believe their theology is way off. What benefit is there in being rude, arrogant or aggressive toward them as a person? When I engage in discussions on Facebook or other places online, one of my core values is to be nice. I never want the person I'm engaging with to feel I'm attacking them or that I presume to be superior. While I will boldly communicate my position, I don't want anybody who might disagree to feel unsafe or devalued. They are precious people created in the image of God. Yes, if they pose a risk because of their doctrine, we must deal with that. But it's usually more beneficial to attack beliefs than to call out and defame people." -- John Burton
So we come to it beloved. It is the same problem I see every day in dealing with well-intended pastors. Address the false theology while never dealing with the wolf behind it. I remember once debating Dr. Michael Brown after he had written an accurate and hard hitting book teaching against antinomianism, or greasy grace. I asked him what he thought about Joseph Prince, the king of hyper grace. He said Prince was a good brother in the Lord who had some holes in his theology. No Dr. Brown. Prince is a ravenous wolf devouring the sheep of the Lord. I don't want us to miss this because it is crucial. Burton thinks that displaying great love is to be deferential to the preacher -- not the sheep and that is where he goes so horribly wrong. While I agree one does not need to be rude or arrogant there is always a place to be aggressive and even mocking in calling out what is false. Elijah mocked the 450 prophets of Baal by suggesting their god was too busy in the bathroom to answer them! I guess he was just being mean and religious. John the Baptist called the Pharisees a brood of vipers. Jesus called them whitewashed tombs. The advantage of being this aggressive is it might wake up some who are slumbering under the false teaching. Beloved, wolves are not precious people to be honored.
"If I'm not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit in my conversation, I should not be communicating at all. It's time to shut off the computer and head into the prayer room. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control should dominate our discussions. Quit calling everyone you disagree with a heretic. Quit commenting on articles like this one with the sole intent of exposing the author as deceived, false or in some sort of error. Share your perspective. Offer your point of view. Reveal your concerns. Be teachable. Communicate with honor and humility without abdicating your mandate to be a true Berean. Your eagerness to receive truth will open the door for many to believe in Jesus." -- John Burton
In all seriousness John do you feel you have exhibited the fruits of the spirit in this article? Was it loving to call people who disagree with you trolls? Was it kind to call them Thessalonians? Was it good to call them riotous and selfish? You embody what you rail against. The difference is that a discernment minister is upset at disagreement with the Word of God while you are upset when people disagree with you. Everyone is not a heretic because heresy is a serious charge. Heretics however, are heretics and should be called out as such. I am not singing Kumbaya with wolves that devour my brethren.
"Please understand, I have thick skin. By the grace of God, I'm nearly unoffendable. When people are aggressive toward me personally when I write or preach, I honestly don't take offense. Reading unkind tweets and comments can be entertaining and even enlightening. I understand the messages I'm called to deliver are provocative, and I do know the arrows will fly. But I will say this. As someone who is deeply troubled when other preachers and prophetic people are attacked simply because of a disagreement over their theology or style of ministry, I want to simply ask you to be nice. Don't aim your arrows in their direction. Understand the accusations and cruel things you say not only hurt them, but they also hurt their spouses and children. Do you have any idea how many tears wives have cried because their husbands are mercilessly assaulted by others in the church through gossip and all over the internet? This is a very real and terribly sad problem, and it simply shouldn't be. Let love lead. Be kind. Be gentle. Be patient. Be bold. Stand for truth. Don't hate. Be tender in your debate. Put the arrows down and simply love." -- John Burton
Wow, nearly unoffendable and humble? Quite the package. Listen beloved, this wrap up smells about as disingenuous as the rest of this article. I do not know anyone who undertakes the thankless ministry of discernment for the thrill of the debate or with malice of forethought. I agree with being bold and standing for the truth. The truth is that John Burton has chosen to associate himself with some of the most egregious false teachers and prophets on the planet. IHOP deserves nothing but derision. Charisma News deserves a worse fate than that. I am not advocating for meanness, rudeness or arrogance beloved. The bottom line is the days grow shorter and we need to be about the Father's business. Time is running out. If you are called to minister you better pick up that shepherds' rod and protect what God has entrusted to you. I am sorry if you think that sounds unloving because it really isn't.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- March 25, 2019
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.