By Elizabeth Prata*
A friend of mine recently asked me how my summer went. I said good and asked her about hers. She is a lady with whom I speak about Jesus quite often. She replied that she loves her summers so she can listen to sermons and study what the person said in it. I asked who she listened to and she said she loves Joyce Meyer, and Joseph Prince. “I love them!” she said.
Joseph Prince is a false teacher.
Joyce Meyer is a false teacher.
I went away mournful. I am also perplexed. I often speak of Jesus in my daily life, whether at work, or church, or at the store. I often speak of false doctrine and false teachers, specifically on my blog and in general at church. Sometimes if a specific situation comes up, I make an appointment and lay out specific concerns to my pastors or elders, and step back to prayerfully allow them to do their leading and pastoring regarding what I’ve shared.
But outside of church, I find it difficult to approach people one-on-one when confronted with a statement such as the one I was confronted with last week.
False teaching is a serious, serious issue. It is not one where we can step back and simply say, “Well, they have most of their faith right. I’ll stay quiet.”
If I do that, I am being disobedient. We know the bible warns us again and again that false teachers will come (2 Timothy 4:3-4, 1 John 4:1, Matthew 7:15, Galatians 1:6-9 …). We are commanded to do certain things about false teachers and their false doctrine, such as warn, test, rebuke, beware, resist, avoid. (Romans 16:17-18, Colossians 2:8, 1 Timothy 5:20, 2 John 1:10). This is because false doctrine kills, perverts, confuses, deceives, exploits, and destroys. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, 1 Timothy 4:1, Jude 1:4, 2 Peter 2:1, 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, 2 Peter 2:3…). The end for these teachers is cursing, darkest hell, and destruction. (Galatians 1:6-9, Jude 1:13, 2 Peter 2:3).
Dr John MacArthur says of the importance of warning of error, firstly that it will cost the person a lot of money. False teachers exploit the unwary with greed. The unwary ones will get caught up in false teachers telling them that if they give money they will receive health or wealth or prosperity. It’s crass, but it is true that the false teachers say this. More unfortunately it’s true that the desperate believe it and send check after check.
But even more importantly, MacArthur explained,
“People caught up in error are cut off from God’s blessing. God blesses obedience to the truth. The truth is everything. The most important thing in the universe is divine truth. And these people who hold a bible in their hand but are under false teachers are never led to the knowledge of the truth that produces the blessing.”
Therefore, how can I remain silent when a precious lady tells me she spends her long summer days ingesting poison? I cannot. She is in danger. I will prayerfully seek wisdom and counsel from my Holy Spirit, and ask Him to guide me into an opportune moment to share the truth with her. I don’t know her from church, so It will take special maneuvering to come alongside her again, but I must bow to the weight of glory and seek a chance to share with her that the danger of the hidden reefs is just as killing as the observable reefs.
I am reminded of a haunting and a sad song by John Prine. His song Bruised Orange recounts a tragedy that occurred long ago when songwriter and singer Prine was young.
Blogger Chimesfreedom recounted the episode that affected Prine so much.
“The John Prine website quotes Prine explaining the inspiration for the opening lines of the song one day as he was driving to do his job shoveling snow at a church. Turns out one of the altar boys on his way to the Catholic church was walking down the train tracks. God only knows where his mind was, but a local commuter train come from behind and [he was killed]. I saw a group of mothers standing near the accident, not knowing whose boys it was. When they finally identified the boy, the mother broke down, and the other mothers consoled her with a great sense of relief.
False doctrine is like that. You could be ambling mindlessly along the tracks, lost in your own thoughts, your own world, and though the train is coming so slowly, and you could have escaped it. The slow train inexorably bears down on you with just as much killing potential as if it was a bullet train coming out of nowhere. And indeed, if you stay on that track, though the train of false doctrine is coming slowly, it will still kill you. You will be dead.
False doctrine is a tragedy because it is avoidable. You can see it coming. You can get off the track. You can turn away. But if you fail to heed the warning signals, you will be dead. If you are lost in your thoughts and no one warns you of the coming disaster, you will be dead. That is why it is important to warn people about it. If you had seen that young boy on a cold winter’s morning so long ago, ambling down the tracks, would you have said, “Well, surely he will turn around and see the train in time. I’ll stay quiet and hope for the best”? Of course not. It is the same with false doctrine.
Speak up. Warn.
*This essay first appeared on The End Time in August 2013