While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.But he replied to the man who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." - Matthew 12: 47-50 (ESV)
It never seems to fail. Whenever someone points out that there is a wolf amongst us there are Christians everywhere who rise up to defend the wolf. Not to protect the sheep, but defend the wolf. There are usually pious sounding statements and self-righteous indignation. Calls for prayer for the "brother." Cries of sowing discord and calls for unity. Misguided and downright frightening, people still fail to understand that unity is found only in Christ. Unity is found only in correct doctrine. Otherwise, what are you unifying with? Most Christians would shudder at the notion that we ought to be unified with Mormons or Muslims yet they think absolutely nothing of unifying with prosperity, hyper-grace, and word faith heresies. What's the difference? None. The people who sit under all of them will still likely end up in hell unless someone preaches to them the correct Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. - 1Corinthians 15: 1-2 (ESV)
Do we understand what this means beloved? It is possible to believe in vain. To place our faith in a gospel that cannot save us. In a christ that cannot save us. A false christ. An antichrist. Remember, Jesus taught us that many will stand before Him on the last day utterly stunned to find out that after a lifetime of thinking they were serving Him, they never even knew Him! So once again, let us reason by using the Bible and dispel some poor theology and thinking regarding those that would teach falsely. Just a word of caution first. Not everyone who makes a mistake is a false teacher. There is no one perfect. We are talking about people who have established histories preaching heresies that will lead people away from the Lord instead of to Him:
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. - Luke 11: 23 (ESV)
We are either in the business of gathering or scattering. I do not expect every believer to have the same burdens. I do not expect every believer to want to share in discernment ministries. I understand it is a thankless, amen-less ministry. The Bible is clear in Titus that ministers are required to rebuke those who teach falsely but not everyone in the body is going to share this burden. The least they can do though is get out of the way when a shepherd is taking the rod to an obvious wolf. I think the reasons are varied why they do not but there are some consistent errors made.
First is the mistake the belief that the wolf is our brother in Christ (or sister). We see this all the time when someone wants to defend their favorite false teacher. It is at the heart of the excuses. This notion that those pointing out error are attacking a brother in Christ. What is sad is they do not seem concerned at all about the brothers and sisters in Christ who sit under the false teacher. Take a look at key verses though. Often people are confused with this exchange because it looks as if Jesus is being indifferent to His earthly mother and family. That is how important the point was that He was trying to make. Someone lets Him know that His family is trying to get in to see Him and He takes the moment to teach about who is truly in our family. None except those who do the will of the Father. That actually means our brothers and sisters in Christ are supposed be ahead of even our earthly families.
More importantly however is this teaches us who is NOT our family. People who do not do the will of the Father! How much more does that apply to people who teach others to not do the will of the Father? How much more does this apply to those who teach people heresies that actually keep them from coming to the Father? Jesus spoke to the false teachers of His day about this very thing:
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. - Matthew 23: 14-15 (ESV)
Woe to you false teacher for you shut the kingdom of heaven in the faces of those who seek it! Woe to you false teacher for you travel the world to convert people and make your recruits twice the son of hell as you are! Beloved, Rick Warren is not your brother in Christ. He is a wolf tearing apart the body of Christ. Joel Osteen is not your brother. He is a wolf slaughtering the sheep of the Lord and preventing people from coming to the Father. Joseph Prince teaches people to not worry about the law that God has established! Read Matthew 7 and see what the charge is Christ holds against those who say Lord Lord! Away from me you who practice lawlessness! And you can line them all up. Every prosperity pimp, word faith fanatic, greasy grace hustler, false signs and lying wonders huckster. All of them are in the business of keeping people from heaven. And by the way, their intent is irrelevant! It does not matter if they think they are doing the right thing. This goes for your local neighborhood seeker friendly outlet as well. Yes perhaps even YOUR church. If they follow the Warren model than the Gospel has been altered. If there is no discussion of sin, then there is no discussion of true repentance and without that there is no true salvation, period. If salvation at your church amounts to three sentences and a cloud of dust then what you have is an auditorium filled with goats who your pastor tries to teach to act like sheep. How cheap do you think the Lord's sacrifice on Calvary was? That it can be boiled down to 9 words? Jesus teaches us that we ought to consider the cost but the purpose driven churches pretend there is no cost. Some have gone as far as to offer Christ on a trial basis. Like He is a leased car. Others brag about how it will only take a few minutes of your time when the reality is it should cost you your life.
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? - Matthew 16: 24-26 (ESV)
There is no discussion about these verses in seeker friendly churches. These verses require something of us in order to be found in Christ. In the purpose driven model all that is required is for you to work for free in ministry and 10% of your income. But you can keep your sin. You can keep your old self. You can keep your carnality. No wonder so many defend the wolves.
The second error is using prayer as an excuse. Prayer is often wielded by Christians for the most unchristian reasons. When we want gossip we use the veneer of prayer. When we don't really want to help someone, we say we will pray for them. To avoid real action we will use prayer. To make matters even more transparently worse we will actually say we will pray for someone instead of stopping long enough to actually pray with them! When it comes to false teachers, prayer is used as a wedge. "Why don't you pray for them" is the usual refrain. It is certainly a pious sounding question but is it even remotely biblical? The answer may be surprising but no. There are no exhortations in Scripture to pray for wolves, false teachers or false prophets. The closest you can come is the directive to pray for our enemies but those verses specify that our enemies are those who seek to persecute us. That is not what false teachers are at all. While the Bible is filled with tales of those who persecuting us coming to believing faith, such as Paul, there is not one example of a false teacher doing so. Perhaps that is because the Bible actually describes in several places those who teach falsely as being accursed or even reserved for hell. In fact, try as I may, I cannot think of any false teacher in history who repented and eventually preached the correct Gospel. Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, Paul Crouch. I would be all for considering one if we could think of one example. Perhaps this is why Jesus teaches that when we convince ourselves that our darkness is light, how deep is that darkness!
Wait a minute preacher! Are you saying we ought not to pray for them? Don't you believe in prayer and that God can reach anyone? Of course I do. I am merely stating that the Bible does not command such. In Jeremiah, God actually instructs the prophet to not bother praying for the people because He will not hear it. I know this flies in the face of the warm and fuzzy purpose driven god but that's the entire point. God is not always warm and fuzzy and He takes particular offense to those that would do harm to His children. I read this great scenario online. Imagine a wolf was set to attack a flock of sheep and the shepherd screamed to the flock to run! Most did, obeying the man they trust but a handful stood their ground and asked, did you pray for the wolf? They continued to graze while muttering under their breath things like, "Who is he to judge." They convince themselves of their safety while the wolf picks them off one at a time until they are all slaughtered. Consider the imagery in the most popular Psalm:
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)