Posted in charismatic, doctrine, error, God in a box, personal revelation, truth

Help! God is in a box! We have to get Him out!

By Elizabeth Prata

illustration from Not a Box

One week I read a book to the kids at school called “Not A Box” by Antoinette Portis. It is a book about imagination. An unseen narrator asks a rabbit, “Why are you sitting in that box?” The ensuing pages record the rabbit’s responses, insisting it is not a box, while the illustrations show indeed that in the rabbit’s mind, the box is indeed something else and the rabbit is busy outside of it.

I write frequently of the absolute integrity and truthfulness of scripture and that the only reason we can say the Bible is absolutely true is because it is the revealed word from a living and holy God. His word is contained in the Bible and nowhere else. To be sure, we can see His qualities in creation, which revealed His creative power and His divine nature (Romans 1:19-20). But His revealed will to humans? In the Bible and the Bible alone.

Continue reading “Help! God is in a box! We have to get Him out!”
Posted in doctrine, theology

Of obituaries and wifely submission

By Elizabeth Prata

I saw a certain obituary the other day. I was struck by how unique it was even in terms of obituary writing. You see, obit writing is a genre all unto itself, and the focus of it is not death, but life.

Apparently this gentleman was quite a character. When a family is faced with the certainty of death, how does one encapsulate their departed one’s life? Which highlights to put in, and which to leave out? What CAN one say about ‘the other side’? There is great curiosity about what happens to a departed one post-death, but only Christians can say with certainty what happens as a soul’s life continues.

Mr Schrandt’s life was marked by one consistent characteristic. Please read the following obituary, and then I’ll discuss it down below. See if you notice the same thing I did…


Tim Schrandt*
Tuesday, April 2, 2019 12:56 PM

Tim Schrandt, 63, of Spillville, died Friday, March 29, 2019, at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis., after a short battle with cancer. A funeral service is at 11 a.m., Thursday, April 4, at the St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Spillville, with Deacon Pat Malanaphy presiding. Burial is in the church cemetery, with full military rites. Visitation was from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at the St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Spillville, and continues after 10 a.m. at the Church Thursday morning.

Tim ‘Lynyrd’ Schrandt made his last inappropriate comment March 29, 2019. If you are wondering if you may have ever met him, you didn’t – because you WOULD remember. For those of you that did meet him, we apologize, as we’re sure he probably offended you. He was world renowned for not holding back and telling it like it is.

Tim was born to William (Bill) Schrandt and Mary (Malanaphy Schrandt) Manning June 11, 1955 – 100 years too late. Given Tim’s demeanor he would have been the perfect weathered cowboy in the old west or a rough-and-tough pioneer, or maybe he just should have been Amish.

Tim was the fourth of eight kids, the bottom rung of the top tier (the big kids). Instead of taking his place on that rung, listening to the older kids and doing as he was told by his older siblings, he decided to anoint himself “king” of the four little kids. Tim spent his childhood and early adulthood ordering them around and, in general, tormenting them. He was a great orator (not like Shakespeare, but more like Yogi Berra), as he always had something to say and always had to get in the last word.

His position as “king” and orator was challenged by the nuns at St. Wenceslaus school in Spillville. He may have met his match. We’re not saying the nuns won, but they put up a good fight. We mean literally – he got into a fist-a-cuff with a nun. In fairness, she probably started it. You didn’t take a swing at Tim and not expect one back. Tim’s fondness for authority (his own, not others) followed him to South Winneshiek High School in Calmar and later into the Army. This provided for many interesting episodes and stories, detentions and demotions, and a few “run ins” with the law – not just locally, but globally.

Tim worked at Camcar/Stanley Black and Decker in Decorah as a tool and die maker for 30-plus years. Tim worked with many friends and “a bunch of morons.” His words, not ours. Well, not exactly his words – because that would have included a bunch of swearing.

Tim leaves behind a lot of stuff that his family doesn’t know what to do with. So, if you are looking for a Virgin Mary in a bathtub shrine (you Catholics know what we’re talking about) you should wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch with them.

Tomorrow would be fine.

In addition to his stuff he leaves behind two great boys of whom he was extremely proud: Cody (Jenny) Schrandt and Josh (Lydia) Schrandt were the product of his marriage to Crystal Hilmer. He will be missed by his two granddaughters whom he adored and taught to cuss, Peyton and MacKenna. Also left to keep the stories alive (but, there won’t be any new material) are his mother, Mary Manning and siblings: Mike (Rita Dixon) Schrandt, Marty (Clint) Berg, Becky Schrandt-Miles, Bill ‘Grease’ Schrandt, Pam (Rick) Barnes and Peter (Sandra) Schrandt; and many nieces, nephews and cousins who wanted to hang out near him, because you just knew he was going to say or do something good. It’s not that he was such a great storyteller – it’s that he WAS the story!

To his siblings’ amazement he was actually able to snag a good woman, Cheryl Murray, and hold onto her for the past 13 years; and as far as we know, restraints were not used. Tim also created great memories and stories for Cheryl’s kids, Alex (Christina) Murray and Samantha (Evan) Ludeking; and grandkids, Tatum and Grace.

He will be having a reunion with his infant daughter, Ashley; his brother, Duke; his dad, Bill Schrandt; many aunts and uncles and a handful of cousins that passed before him. Tim was in charge of getting the beer and ice for our family reunions, so they will be happy to see him.

A common line in obituaries is “He never met a stranger.” In Tim’s case: He never met a rule he couldn’t break, a boundary he couldn’t push, a line he couldn’t cross and a story he couldn’t stretch. Another common obituary phrase is “He’d give the shirt off his back”; well Tim was prepared to do that, and he could do it quickly – because he always wore his shirts unbuttoned ¾ of the way down. Tim was anything but common!

Despite his crusty exterior, cutting remarks and stubbornness, there is actual evidence that he was a loving, giving and caring person. That evidence is the deep sorrow and pain in our hearts, that his family feels from his passing.

Tim led a good life and had a peaceful death; but the transition was tough. And for the record, he did not lose his battle with cancer. When he died, the cancer died – so technically, it was a tie! He was ready to meet his Maker, we’re just not sure “The Maker” is ready to meet Tim.

Good luck God!

We are considering establishing a Go-Fund-Me account for G. Heileman Brewing Co., the brewers of Old Style beer, as we anticipate they are about to experience significant hardship as a result of the loss of Tim’s business. Keep them in your thoughts.


The characteristic distinguishing Mr Schrandt’s life was rebellion. He rebelled against parents, his nun teachers, Army superiors, family, and every line, rule, or boundary he met. He rebelled against every verse that commands a man not to be offensive, mouthy, stubborn, argumentative, bossy, quarrelsome, a fighter, drunkard, immodest, liar, and vulgar. Such a life does not please the Lord. Rebellion in any one form displeases the Lord. We are called to submit, not rebel.

The obit writer calls Mr Schrandt’s ‘a good life.’ Does the Bible?

The Book of Ephesians can be split into two parts. The first 3 chapters focus on theology, stressing New Testament doctrine. The the last 3 chapters focus on Christian behavior and are practical.

Ephesians 5 presents commands for life in relation to other people. It’s all about submission. The forms of submission are different for each person within their unique relationship. Submission is key, but applies differently. For example, Christ submitted to God. But parents don’t submit to their children.

Persistent rebellion and refusal to submit to authority is evidence of a pride-filled, egotistical life, not a life in the Spirit. Such a life does not please God.

The verse in Ephesians 5:22 causes a lot of controversy these days. Here it is: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. It shouldn’t be controversial. The list of relationships in that passage is long, describing different demographics of people submitting to other people. Wives to husbands. Husbands to Jesus. Jesus to God. Slaves (employees) to employers. Children to parents. In Hebrews, congregants to pastors. In Romans, citizens to government. Submission is part of the Christian life.

Did you know that in first century times, the shocking part was not that wives should submit to husbands? It was that husbands should love their wives! (Ephesians 5:25).

The population of the Greco-Roman world during the first wave of NT churches, was 2/3 men, 1/3 woman. Yet the church was full of busy women, doing ministry. It was an extremely unpopular religion, and it took a high cultural hurdle and a personal toll to convert. Yet women were flocking to it. Why? They wanted to prop up the patriarchy? They wanted doormat lessons? No, they saw that it was a religion that honored and valued women!

Marriage at the time of the first church was totally advantageous to men. Men could divorce their wives for petty infractions such as not using enough salt on the dinner. Early Christianity was actually mocked because so many women were participants in it. Women were held in low esteem, and Christianity was mocked and derided for being “just” a religion of women and children. Christianity was mocked for being PRO-women.

So what brought women to Christianity? From The Dynamic Ministry of Women in Early Christianity, a talk by Michael Kruger:

–Christianity gave women real opportunities for involvement with honor and dignity.
–Christianity had a very different sexual ethic than most other religions or civic life at the time- purity for both spouses. In the culture of many of the different religions, women were expected to be pure, but the men were allowed all manner of sexual freedom, from enjoying temple prostitutes, homosexual encounters, mistresses, etc.
–Christian handling of divorce. In the 1st century, husbands can and did cut their wives loose for any reason or no reason. This was effectively a death sentence. Left destitute, with no remedy, the divorcées were in dire circumstance if that happened.

No wonder women were attracted to this new way of marriage! Wives, submit to your husbands? Yes, because the men were commanded to love their wives, not divorce, maintain sexual purity, and enjoy life-long mutual care.

I hope that some of the Christian sisters who might balk at the Ephesians ‘submission’ passage would take these facts on board.

A life of rebellion such as the man in the obituary might be a fun read, but such a life – one of rebellion in any form – (and I believe Mr Schrandt tried them all) dishonors the Savior, who Himself submitted to the Father’s plan. That plan included the worst spiritual agony any person has ever or will ever endure. It included physical agony of a kind that no one can even conceive, much less can or will endure. And it included the hottest, grossest shame, naked on a cross the worst kind of execution that the depraved Roman government ever invented.

What kind of obituary would you want written about you? What highlights of your life would you want to grace the pages of your final essay? What lasting memory do you desire people to have of your life?

And if anyone tells you that wifely submission it’s sexist or patriarchal or culturally passe or chauvinist, kindly correct them with the historical and spiritual facts of our great faith. Refer them to Michael Kruger’s talk. And … ask them if ‘husbands loving their wives’ is passe, too.


*Lightly edited to remove 2 swear words

Posted in charismatic, discernment, doctrine, strange fire

Strange Fire Q&A: How does God use false teachers and their heresies?

One hundred years ago, the modern Pentecostal movement was born. By October 2013 the Pentecostal movement has morphed into the Charismatic movement with its particular brand of false doctrine and had infected much of western Christianity and polluted quite a bit of Christianity abroad. The excesses of the movement include faith healing, reports of raising the dead, babbling tongues, alleged prophecies and direct revelation, disorderly church services and worse. The movement assaulted the sufficiency of scripture, the inerrancy of scripture, besmirched the name of Jesus Christ and damaged the faith of many.

John MacArthur and his team at Grace To You took a stand against this movement and sought to bring clarity to why its doctrines needed comparison to the Bible correction. To that end, they organized the Strange Fire Conference, held in the fall of 2013. One of the main purposes of the conference was to initiate a substantive discussion about these issues. It achieved its purpose. Every sermon preached at the conference rebuked the movement simply by preaching the truth, and brought correct biblical doctrine to the fore. Given the outcry, it seems that the effect was immediate.

There were many good questions asked at the various seminars and Q & A sessions held during the conference period, but not all of them could be immediately answered. After the conference concluded, ministers and theologians at Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary wrote out answers to these unanswered questions, compiled them, and put them on one web page.

The page is a treasure trove of good, solid rebuttals to and practical helps about what to do if encountering Charismatic doctrines in your church, in your family, or in yourself. Here is just one of the Questions and Answers in the Strange Fire Q&A page.


Does God allow false teaching to continue so believers can distinguish between true and false doctrine? 

Paul told the Corinthian church, “There must be heresies among you so that those who are approved might be made manifest’ (1 Corinthians 11:19). Would you please comment on this verse in light of the charismatic movement? Does God allow these false movements, in part, so the distinction is made clear to His people? Thanks. 

The Greek word translated as “heresies” in the King James Version is hairesis. While that word can refer to false teaching or heresy in certain contexts, Paul’s intended meaning when using the word in 1 Corinthians 11:19 is clearly the other possible meaning of “division, faction, separate group.” In this paragraph Paul is confronting the Corinthian believers’ selfishness and sectarianism (see vv. 18, 21–22, 33). The text of the New King James Version clarifies the meaning by updating the translation from “heresies” (KJV) to “factions” (NKJV). Paul says that when those inevitable divisions happen, they serve the good purpose of distinguishing between the sinful and the righteous people in the church.  

Having said that, the situation Paul describes regarding disunity in the Corinthian church is similar to the result of the error being taught within the charismatic movement today. The doctrines they tolerate and often perpetuate distort, pervert, and contradict sound, biblical teaching. The truly saved who revere and carefully study God’s Word can see the difference between false charismatic teaching and sound theology. While we would never condone false doctrine and practices, we do rest in our confidence that God uses even the wickedness of man for His good purposes (cf. Genesis 50:20; Acts 2:23; Romans 8:28)

Posted in al mohler, bible, discernment, doctrine, don green, false teachers

Discernment cannot survive without doctrine, and where there is doctrine, we need discernment

In 2007 a novel called “The Shack” by William P. Young was published. It is a novel about a father experiencing grief over the kidnap and murder of his 7-year-old daughter. He receives a personal invitation from “God” to meet at the very place where his daughter was killed, a shack in the nearby woods.

The book swept Christianity, with near unanimous affirmation that this was a sensitive and heart-shaking book that revealed Christ as a loving Father. “It changed lives” we heard over and over. But that was wrong, it didn’t change lives. What The Shack did was change our theology.

Is this old news? Perhaps, but I find it helpful to go back sometimes and review the situation. Satan is subtle and he works incrementally. He chips a flake off the wall here and scoops a teaspoon of sand under the wall there and moves the theological touchdown line a foot and then another foot. If he can’t move it a foot satan will move it an inch. He is patient and invested for the long term.

Such incremental declines are initially hard to spot, which is why the Lord gave the Church believers with discernment. We can spot those inches and teaspoons. Therefore it is helpful to go back to already-identified discernment markers and stand on them and look ahead to where we are now and the decline becomes more obvious to those who are new in the faith or who do not possess as much discernment.

The 1963 movie The Great Escape is a good metaphor to use as an illustration of satan’s incremental work. The setting was a Luftwaffe-run prisoner-of-war camp during World War II housing imprisoned US and UK airmen. The POW camp was famous for two escapes. The prisoners dug tunnels inch by inch and subtly scattered the sand from their trouser pockets as they casually walked around the compound topside. It took a while, digging quietly, undermining the camp’s holding power, secretly scattering the sand sometimes a few teaspoons at a time. Over time though, the tunnels were built and the wall was breached. FMI here is a synopsis of the incident.

In 2009, Dr Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an essay responding directly to The Shack’s onslaught, titled, The Shack- The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment. He first put to bed the claim of Shack-supporters that “its just a novel” and doesn’t have anything real to do with Christian theology. Of course the book does. Mohler wrote,

In evaluating the book, it must be kept in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But it is also a sustained theological argument, and this simply cannot be denied. Any number of notable novels and works of literature have contained aberrant theology, and even heresy. The crucial question is whether the aberrant doctrines are features of the story or the message of the work. When it comes to The Shack, the really troubling fact is that so many readers are drawn to the theological message of the book, and fail to see how it conflicts with the Bible at so many crucial points.

Dear Sisters, many novels containing a heavy theological message are merely a disguise for the author’s agenda. In author Young’s case, it was his universalism. Just because a book is a novel doesn’t necessarily mean it is theologically neutral, or even safe. Be wary.

Dr Mohler concluded his 2010 article with this devastating prediction,

The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity. An assessment like that offered by Timothy Beal is telling. The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us — a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.

EPrata photo

He turned out to be correct. Discernment as a regular practice among Christians seems to be at an all-time low, that is, until tomorrow, when it will be lower still. The onslaught didn’t begin nor did it end with The Shack, but only continued briskly apace. Discernment is not just for those having been given the Gift of Discernment, but should be practiced and sought by every Christian. It’s actually a command! (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

A diamond may look to have no flaws at first glance, but if we were to bring it to a jeweler, an appraiser someone who is trained to inspect it. He then takes out his magnifying glass to see how it was cut and find the flaws and imperfections. They have been trained to recognize what is not right. Thus a full examination is the safest course for a believer. Only those who are not teaching or practicing Christianity will object to being tested by the word. Darkness will always run from the light, never light from darkness. Source: (Let Us Reason)

Though the general situation today among the visible church seems bleak, in this sermon Pastor Don Green of Truth Community Church outlines how to develop Biblical Discernment. In this sermon, Green was preaching on the text from 1 John 4:1–6,

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. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Here in this recent essay Pastor Green gives us the Tests for Discernment, stating that the Bible gives us several tests for discerning true and false teachers. As for the sermon above, I took notes. Here are my notes from Pastor Green’s sermon:

There are four basic premises to understand before we begin,

1. Discernment is a command. (Romans 12:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 John 4:1).
2. God has given us the means to discern. The Holy Spirit helps us, (2 Timothy 3:16–17; Ephesians 6:10–19), and we exercise our discernment muscles. (Heb 5:13-14).
3. Understand that not everyone who claims to speak for God, does.
4. The false teachers do not “mean well”. They are trying to deceive you! (1 John 2:26)

There are three discernment tests the 1 John 4 text outlines. The tests are easily understood, being on the surface of scripture, but the challenge is not so much understanding them, but applying them. The absolute key to discernment is to overcome your natural human impulse to make excuses for them and to say “No! I’m called to test the spirits and this teacher doesn’t pass the test and their teaching isn’t from God.” Any Bible teacher should welcome scrutiny in life and in their doctrine. A teacher who says touch not God’s anointed is a person attempting to escape scrutiny. If they say “Touch not God’s anointed!” then run.

So, how can one tell the true from the false? How does the Bible advise how to examine a teacher?

1. Examine their manner of life. Do they live an ungodly lifestyle, or have an unloving disposition?
2. Examine their view of Christ. Because their teaching about Christ is an acid test of whether they speak for God or not. (1 John 4:2-3).
3. Examine their view of scripture and look at their submission to apostolic teaching, and not just lip service affirmation.

False teachers are not innocent teachers who are mistaken. False teachers give voice to demonic teaching. They are a mouthpiece for satan. This is not to be underestimated. It is the spirit of antichrist, and is full opposition to Christ and His kingdom.

Of course I recommend the entire sermon.

Discernment is critical for every Christian to practice. Yes the Gift of Discernment is given to some (1 Corinthians 12:10) but those who are mature and have long practiced discernment find they wield the sword of truth pretty well, too. (Hebrews 5:14).

Our Lord Jesus Christ is worth the practice. He is unique, glorious, and His doctrines are worth protecting. You can do your part by praying for wisdom, reading the Word diligently, and worshiping under a solid pastor. We do this until Jesus comes again.


Further reading

Al Mohler updated his older article on biblical illiteracy, a few weeks ago.

The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem

MacArthur: What is biblical discernment and why is it important? 

Challies: The Discipline of Biblical Discernment

Posted in arminianism, calvinism, doctrine, unity

Unity, disunity, and breaking fellowship- a real life tale

 I received an email the other day. It was from a long-time reader/sometime commenter.

Hi there. Would you please be so kind and remove the comments (and my name) that I have made on your blog? I’d do it myself, but I don’t have the same email address anymore in order to do it. I also could not find your email address, hence this message in comment form.

Thanking you,

And then he included the links to 30 comments from two years ago. BTW, my email address is in the “About this Blog” tab at the top of the page. I asked in reply, May I ask why?

I do not share in your theology at all and don’t want to be associated with it (the theology) in any way whatsoever. My comments were mostly non-theological, but I want them removed nonetheless.

If I am wrong, I want to know. If I need correction, I want to submit to it. I replied, “Thank you for your response. What is it about my theology that troubles you so greatly that you would go to these lengths to disassociate? Is there something unbiblical? Extrabiblical? Aberrant?” He responded:

I am 100% anti-Calvinist and don’t want to be associated with it. Please remove my comments at your earliest convenience.

Ah. So that’s it.

I replied that there was no need to go to lengths to disassociate from a theology that the Bible presents, even if one holds vehemently to Arminianism. The Bible is also clear about unity. I shared the verse from 1 Corinthians 1:10, noting it’s one verse among many urging unity among the brethren. I said that it seemed an unreasonable request that would cause difficulties in the threaded comment stream, take an undue amount of my time, and that since we all make our own decisions when choosing to comment publicly in online forums, I sadly would not be able to fulfill the request. I said I was truly sorry he decided to leave on that note and urged that he was welcome to read or comment any time. His response was less than hopeful…and less than brotherly.

Elizabeth, really, I want nothing to do with Calvinism, and I am not interested in your defense of the philosophy of Calvinism, or whatever you like to term it. And I’m not interested in debating or arguing; I simply want my comments removed. You don’t have to do it all at once, of course, but my request stands: remove my comments. Take your time with it; there’s no rush.

The correspondence ends here.

Of course, bullies always change the argument to a straw man. I had not defended Calvinism but had made a biblical appeal to unity as described above.

There are all sorts of false teachers running around proclaiming the need for unity. But theirs is a false unity. Partnering with any other religion that’s clearly false is not a unity. Pasting over deep doctrinal differences in order to promote a shallow harmony is not unity.

However, there’s a unity that IS called for. The Bible is clear that among Christians there will be differences among us over minor or secondary doctrines, but that we are to be humble and love one another. Secondary doctrines are not salvation doctrines. Some call them “non-essential” doctrines, but I don’t like that term because I don’t like to think of any doctrine as being non-essential, though the meaning refers to the belief in the doctrine not being essential to one’s salvation.

Essential doctrines are the ones we split over. Non-essentials are doctrines we do not split over. The website at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry gives the following advice about essential and secondary doctrines. The list from includes an explanation, then gives examples of primary non-essentials and secondary non-essentials:

Primary Non-Essentials- (1 John 2:4). Denying these can bring one’s salvation into question since the regenerate seek to live according to God’s Word. Violating them does not automatically mean the person is not saved since Christians fall into various sins. However, abiding in sins with unrepentance would be evidence that the person is not regenerated. Examples: Moral integrity (Exodus 20:1-17). Fidelity in marriage in heterosexual relationships. The condemnation of homosexuality. Inerrancy of the Bible. Baptism is not necessary for salvation (Acts 10:44-48).

I might put inerrancy of the Bible as an essential salvation issue, but then again I’m not a theologian.

Secondary Non-Essentials- Any of them can be denied or affirmed, and regeneration is not in questioned. These are often Denominational Differences: 14) Predestination, election, limited atonement, and free will. 15) Communion every week, monthly, or quarterly, etc. 16) Saturday or Sunday Worship. 17) Pre-, mid-, post-trib rapture. 18) Premillennialism, Amill., Postmill., partial-preterism. 19) Continuation or cessation of the charismatic gifts. 20) Baptism for adults or infants. 21) Musical Instruments in church.

Breaking fellowship over a non-essential doctrine is a shame. Though I’m Reformed, pretribulation, literal Millennial Kingdom, soft dispensationalist, I would not break fellowship over the secondary non-essentials. I would hope that people would not break fellowship with me over those, either.

Good examples to me over the years have been John MacArthur and RC Sproul Sr.’s friendship and warm fellowship despite Sproul’s no-rapture, preterism, paedo-baptism issues and MacArthur holding the opposite view. It’s helpful to me to see them on a panel together, gently chiding and teasing in brotherly love but united over the essential doctrines.

As the visible church has become bloated and is falling away like a black banana peel from the fruit, those who are sound and remain in the faith by standing on the essential doctrines need to demonstrate our love to each other in the cause of Jesus more than ever. We DO need unity. We need to unite around the essentials and monitor the non-essentials and remain faithful to loving each other until or unless the non-essentials in a person or organization become too wayward to overlook.

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” (Luke 9:49)

There were false teachers in the NT and there were many false prophets in the OT. In both Testaments, these false ones claim to speak in Jesus’ name but do not truly represent Him. Now of this particular man in the Luke 9:49 verse, if he had not truly been one of His faithful, God would not have given the man the ability to cast out demons, and Jesus would not have answered by saying the 12 must accept him. Don’t misunderstand Luke to be a verse that urges acceptance of false teachers. We still use discernment to determine false from true representatives of Jesus. The man in Luke 9:49 was true and Jesus said that he was part of the brethren because he was not against Jesus.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures says of this verse

suggested that the Twelve were not to see themselves as God’s exclusive representatives. Rather they should have rejoiced that the power of God was being manifested on earth by others as well. If they manifested that attitude, it would show that they were truly trying to be of service to the Messiah.

And this from pastor-teacher John MacArthur,

even though we might not agree with methods, we might not agree with style, if they’re for Christ, we’re for them, but with the proviso that they’re really for Christ because they’re committed to the truth. ~John MacArthur

Be committed to the truth first, and then be committed to all those who embrace the truth. Even us poor, deluded Reformed folk.

EPrata photo


How can the church achieve a true, biblical unity?

Posted in bible, doctrine, reformed, total depravity, total inability, tulip

Depravity is child’s play

As a child I was often silent or a girl of few words. I was an observer. At recess if it was outdoors I’d stand under the tree on the side of the playground and watch. If it was indoors I’d read and covertly watch. I’d do the same in High School, observe, observe, observe- trying to figure out…people.

The overarching conclusion I came to, no matter my age, is that “people are mean.”

Did I grow up in the Chicago Projects or Fort Apache the Bronx where I saw unspeakable things? No. Did I grow up abused or abandoned so that my perspective has now been permanently tainted? No. I grew up in the wealthiest town in my state with two parents for most of my childhood and all the creature comforts one could want, plus wealthy extras like luxury vehicles, boats, a pool, country club, extended vacations, and occasionally, a maid. My perspective should have been the opposite.

So how, at a tender age, did I come to the conclusion that people are mean? By simply watching them, what they do, how they speak, and how they treat each other, over and over and over. The pattern is clear. People are mean.

Now, if you are in the camp that believes “people are mostly good!” or even “people are mostly good, deep down…” you hold the opposite view of the years of my observations and more importantly, the opposite view of what God’s word tells us people are like. No, people aren’t mostly good. People are mean. Here are just a few verses which remind us of our true nature and our true relationship with God.

Jeremiah 17:9, Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Ephesians 2:1-5, Romans 3:10-11, John 3:19, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Romans 1:18, Proverbs 14:12, 1 Corinthians 1:18, Romans 8:7.

I’m all grown up now but I’m still an observer. I am a teacher’s aide (AKA para-professional). I spend my work day in classrooms and on playgrounds and in cafeterias watching children. Did you ever notice children playing puppets? They start out all nice and good, and the puppets are doing normal things, but the “play” almost instantly descends into one puppet biting the head off another, or the puppets fighting. If boys are playing dinosaurs, it won’t take long before one dinosaur bites the head off something whether it’s another dinosaur or a toy soldier or the other kid’s finger. Though many children are sweet or nice or kind, their sin-nature eventually reveals itself.

The Doctrine of “Total Depravity” is one that people who think we’re mostly good, or even partly good, find odious. Total depravity is a misnomer in that one way people who lack knowledge of it interpret it to mean that all people are completely depraved all the time. That isn’t what total depravity means. It means,

The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality — his thinking, his emotions, and his will. Not necessarily that he is intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being. (source)

A better term is “Total Inability.” This means that because our sin nature has extended to all part of us in everr nook and cranny, this fact prevents us from being able to respond to the things of God on our own, in any way. Of course, this doctrine is at “total” odds against Arminianism, which its adherents claim we are able to “choose God”. Of course that’s “total” absurdity. Read this short essay by R. C. Sproul to see why. Or see this below from a different source,

The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:11f). This is why Total Depravity has also been called “Total Inability.” The man without a knowledge of God will never come to this knowledge without God’s making him alive through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5). (source)

Just watch kids, you’ll see. The simplicity of the child’s faith is on display but equally is their wicked heart quickly seen. The miracle and wonder is that while we were still sinners, Jesus loved us.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).

That while our hearts were darkened and we followed evil and reveled in it, Jesus died for us.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)

He knows we are totally unable to “choose Christ” or “decide for Jesus” so He made a way. He declared us justified, He gave us a new heart, and He sent the Spirit to conform us to Him. We were totally unable. Yet HE IS TOTALLY ABLE. And He is all we need.

Posted in doctrine, martyn lloyd-jones

Is doctrine important? Isn’t OK just to be a simple believer in Jesus?

I’m listening to the great Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones preach through a series called “Great Biblical Doctrines.” I love doctrine. By it, I come to know Christ. Through living it, I manifest a Christlike character. Far from being “head knowledge” only, learning doctrine ignites my heart in love for Christ and to obey Him more fully in all things. One cannot pursue holiness (2 Peter 1:15-16) without knowing what or Whom you pursue.

Dr Lloyd-Jones said way back in 1953 in his sermon as part of the Great Biblical Doctrines series “The Lord Jesus Christ”, the following, which is something people say to me and around me all the time:

“I am anxious that I should deal with the case of anybody night be present and whom may think and say, ‘Well, I don’t have much time to be interested in Doctrine like this. I’m just a simple believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.’ My friend, if you take up that position, you’re utterly unscriptural. It was because such simple Christians were ready to believe false teachers, and DID believe false teachers, that so many of these Epistles had to be written with their stern warnings against the terrible danger to the soul of believing these wrong teachings and false ideas concerning the Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is not enough to say ‘I believe in Jesus Christ’. The New Testament asks you a question when you say that. It asks, ‘What do you believe about Him? Is He man only or is He God only? Has He come in the flesh or hasn’t He? What is the meaning of His death? What did He do?’ The New Testament is concerned with definitions. I suggest that there is nothing that is further removed from the teaching of the New Testament itself than to say ‘it’s all right as long as you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ that it doesn’t matter very much what you say about Him in detail.’ It is the detail that is the most important and vital to our whole position.”

—end Lloyd-Jones.

Please enjoy the series Great Biblical Doctrines here:

Posted in doctrine

REPOST: Sayings and mottos that sound pious but aren’t. #1: "Let Go and Let God"

I posted this on March 31, 2014. I re-post it today.

#2: “I don’t use commentaries”
#3 “I’m too humble to think that I could ever know what the Bible really means”
#4: Pray Big Because We Have a Big God
#5: He’s so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good.

Jesus took issue with the Pharisees and Scribes because they had become whitewashed tombs. (Matthew 23:27). This means that they were sick with sin on the inside and were only doing external things that hid their sin but did not address it. They were dead inside but performing rituals as if that would bring them alive. Their rituals had no meaning, and as Solomon would say, they were only striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

We do the same things today, but in slightly different ways. Just as the Pharisees were making long prayers as a show of piety for the sake of those who would hear them, (Matthew 6:5), people say things today that sound pious but aren’t. These sayings are just as dead as a whitewashed tomb, and are only striving after wind.

However, these sayings sound legitimate on their surface. It is sometimes hard to tell what truly is Christian and what merely sounds Christian. Charles Spurgeon wisely said, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” So what is right and what is almost right (AKA ‘wrong’) about these sayings?

Some of these mottos are:

  1. “Let go and let God”
  2. I don’t use commentaries because they’re men’s wisdom. I only use God’s Word when I study.
  3. We can’t know for certain what the bible means, I’m not that smart”
  4. Pray big because we have a big God.”
  5. He’s so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good

In what will be a multi-part series, let’s look at the first one.

Source, labeled for reuse

#1. “Let go and let God.” In this pious-sounding saying, the person is trying to indicate that they submit to the sovereignty of God by letting everything go and allowing Him to roll circumstances over us as He will. However if we unpack that a bit we’ll see actually that ‘Let go and let God’ actually contradicts the bible. Here are two sources which speak to the subject, GotQuestions, and Ligonier Ministries.

GotQuestions: Are We Supposed to Let go and Let God?:
Let go and let God” is a phrase that cropped up some years ago and still enjoys some popularity today. Actually, the Bible never tells us to “let go and let God.” In fact, there are so many commandments about what we are to do that it completely contradicts the way most people interpret “let go and let God.” The popular idea of “letting go” is to adopt a sort of spiritual inertia wherein we do nothing, say nothing, feel nothing, and simply live allowing circumstances to roll over us however they may.

The Christian life, however, is a spiritual battle which the Bible exhorts us to prepare for and wage diligently. “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12); “Endure hardship…like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3); “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). Letting go in the sense of sitting back and watching events unfold however they may is not biblical.

Having said that, though, we have to understand that the things we are to do, we do by the power of God and not on our own steam. The truth is that working at “letting go” is just as much as an effort-filled work as anything else we try to do for God and not nearly as easy to do as some things.

So true! If it was that easy to ‘let go’ our sin, we would have done it! If it was that easy to ‘let go’ our worry, we’d be all set! If it was that simple as to let go our our will, we wouldn’t need God! “Letting go” is just as difficult as hanging on. Submit, yes. But even that is a daily struggle we’re told to perform as we pick up our cross (Matthew 16:24) and to pray daily for the will and help to submit. (Matthew 6:9-13).

Please go to the essay linked above to read the rest of the GotQuestions piece, which looks at the Christian life and see just exactly what we are to do.

Andrew Naselli at Ligonier Ministries explains, “Why “Let Go and Let God” Is a Bad Idea“. He says, in looking at the origin of this two-tiered theology from the 1875 Keswick theology movement, that letting go and letting God promotes in part,

–Perfectionism: It portrays a shallow and incomplete view of sin in the Christian life.
–Quietism: It tends to emphasize passivity, not activity.
–Pelagianism: It tends to portray the Christian’s free will as autonomously starting and stopping sanctification.
–Methodology: It tends to use superficial formulas for instantaneous sanctification.
–Impossibility: It tends to result in disillusionment and frustration for the “have-nots.”
–Spin: It tends to misinterpret personal experiences.

You can tell that Keswick theology has influenced people when you hear a Christian “testimony” like this: “I was saved when I was eight years old, and I surrendered to Christ when I was seventeen.”

By “saved,” they mean that Jesus became their Savior and that they became a Christian. By “surrendered,” they mean that they gave full control of their lives to Jesus as their Master, yielded to do whatever He wanted them to do, and “dedicated” themselves through surrender and faith. That two-tiered view of the Christian life is let-go-and-let-God theology.

I am aware that the motto ‘Let go and let God’ is a heavily used precept in Step 3 of the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery plan. AA has helped millions recover from their addiction to alcohol, and in this sense, AA is helpful. But don’t mistake AA’s Christianese for legitimate biblical principles. The language may sound pious but it collapses under scrutiny. Here is more information:

How does Alcoholics Anonymous compare with the Bible?

John MacArthur spoke to the ‘let go and let God’ phrase in his sermon on Ephesians 6, The Believer’s Armor.”

Do we just say, oh amen, and now I’m just going to surrender to that? I’m going to let go and let God, turn it all over to Jesus, do nothing? No, because you come to verse 5 immediately, and verse 5 says, “And beside this,” beside this, “you give all diligence,” get at it man, get with it, be diligent, be disciplined, “to add to your God given faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; And to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, patience; and to patience, godliness; And to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”

In other words, you get on the job. And beloved it is not as simple as walking an aisle and making an act of surrender. That is part of it in your life, there must be a, a commitment to the Lordship of Christ, there must be an acknowledging of His power and resource in your life, but it doesn’t end there- it begins there. In Romans 6 there is a yielding of yourselves, yes, there is a yielding of yourselves in Romans 6. But there is also a mortifying or a killing of the deeds of the flesh, So it isn’t all as simple as that and that’s why we make no hesitation for proclaiming the truths of Ephesians 6.
The fact remains, let go and let God does not align well with biblical standards of behavior for a Christian.

As Jim Vander Spek asked, “The problem with making “Let God” the focus is that it pushes the burden back on Him. If things don’t work out, will you blame Him?

Source. Labeled for reuse


Further Reading

What is wrong with the popular saying, “Let go and let God”?

Posted in church life, discernment, doctrine, false, false teacher, sister

"My Sister in the faith is reading a heretical book/studying heretical material. How do I tell her?"

A sister in the faith asked me that question in the title the other day. I responded in the comments but now I’m making a stand-alone piece. These are my experiences and advice, but are based on my understanding of scripture. I it helps any sister. If you have had experience in helping a sister in the faith turn away from using poor, unedifying materials, please chime in. This essay isn’t the be-all and end-all, just a starting point.

I know that when I go to church and see a sister in the faith carrying a book by Ann Voskamp, or attending a Beth Moore study, my stomach clenches and my heart drops. Then, I worry. I know that heretical materials have just enough truth to seem good but so much heresy it will soon pollute my sister’s thinking. False teaching is meant to destroy, and my sister is in its cross-hairs. This is not something we can ignore.

But how to tell her? It’s uncomfortable and difficult to do. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings yet it must be done because false teaching is a blight on the name of Jesus. In addition, we will have to answer for our failure to act in love. James 4:17 says,

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

We also know that in these dark days where the truth is not exalted, that we will more than likely be labeled as a troublemaker. I have had this experience myself. Of course we seek to be diplomatic in these kind of conversations, so take care that we are speaking the truth gently and not roughly. But no matter how gentle and diplomatic you are, there is a good chance the person will take offense. Since there are so many false converts these days, there’s also a good chance they will subsequently label you as critical, intolerant, and trouble with a capital T.

In addition, we have the problem of deception by investment. (Term coined by Glenn Chatfield). This means that people who follow false teachers are invested in them. They have spent money on their books or devotionals, they have perhaps attended a meeting or conference. Thus, they are invested financially, emotionally, and time-wise. They’ve been seen and heard letting their chips fall in the side of what you’re telling them is a false teacher. Puncturing that will pierce pride because you’re piercing their very selves. They will want to be defensive. No one likes a conversation like that.

So with these things in mind, here is a teaching called The Gentle Art of Correction based on 2 Timothy 2:23-26. It is aimed at pastors and leaders but its principles are good for ladies too. 🙂

So, how? I take two examples from the bible. In the first example, Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside to instruct him (Acts 18:24-28). Apollos was a believer, hadn’t sinned, but needed to have the full counsel of God given to him before he went too much further in preaching like he’d been doing. The duo did not embarrass him by correcting him in public, but took him aside and to Apollos’ credit, he sat at their feet and learned.

Secondly, in Matthew 18:15-20 it describes what to do when someone in church sins against you. And isn’t following a false teacher a sin? There is flesh involved. So in the case of Mt 18:15, even though the verse says ‘if a brother sins against you’ and technically they have not sinned against you personally but against Jesus as the Head of the Church, the restoration began in private.

I think that the spirit of the Acts and Matthew verses tell us that the first step is to go to the sister you want to talk with quietly in private. So that is what I do.

What I’ve done is something like this: “I see you are carrying a new Joyce Meyer book. I have learned some things about her that I think are important for you know. Are you open to me putting my thoughts down on paper and sharing it with you later?” That way they do not feel sandbagged or cornered. If they say “No, thanks, I really like Joyce Meyer,” then pray for them. The Spirit might help them change their mind, and they might return to you later and ask for that information. Sometimes a nudge takes a while.

In another case the opportunity just seemed right and presented itself when it came up in a conversation. I gently and with tears, pleaded for the woman to turn from her false doctrine. She was a good listener and at the end asked me to offer her some biblical advice on it. I did so the next time we were together, I gave her a paper. I believe the 2nd situation came about because I had been praying over the issue and asked the Lord to make a way for me to bring it up. Prayer is always an important component of these conversations, before, during and after.

Since emotions run high in these situations I’ve found it helpful to have written the bible verses and issues down on paper so they can look at it later. It also guards against being misquoted. Third, it helps me maintain my focus. In these kinds of talks with sisters, since women are emotional, we tend to stray to the emotional side of the conversation. Having the verses written down helps keep the focus on Jesus. It is the Word that changes minds, not our tears, and not our persuasion.

Other pastors I listen to said they have asked to person to coffee at a later time some they could discuss it. This works too.

If you are considering approaching a sister who has strayed into false territory in lockstep with a false teacher, I encourage you to read the link above, and to pray. Ultimately the battle is the Lord’s and the battle is spiritual. The dear sister we wish to approach is not the enemy but the spirit behind her favored book or curriculum is the enemy.

As you pray, the Lord will open your mind as to what He wants you to do in any given situation. And don’t be startled if the person gets huffy or angry. The more genuine a sister is, the more they may get embarrassed thinking that they have been spotted doing something wrong by carrying this book or touting that teacher, because they truly love the Lord. If they do indeed truly love the Lord, they will calm down and thank you for it later.

If they don’t, then you have a clean conscience before Jesus because you tried. Continuing to pray for them will help soften any disharmony in your own heart you may feel after the encounter. 🙂


Further Reading

Responding with Grace: When Emotionalism Trumps Discernment

Nine Reasons Discerning Women are Leaving Your Church

Posted in discernment, doctrine, false prophets, false teachers, love

Should we love false teachers?

It’s always nice to talk about love and tolerance. We know that God loved the world. He loves His Son. We are told to love each other, that is how they will know us (John 13:35). But sometimes love is not appropriate or warranted. Do I mean this, really? Well, we know we are supposed to hate sin. We know there are six things, no, seven, that the Lord hates. (Proverbs 6:16-19). We hate sin so much we’re supposed to kill the old man in us. (Colossians 3:5). We don’t endlessly give the Gospel to those who hurl it back, those hurlers are called swine. So when it comes to love, we know we don’t ‘love’ everyone or everything, at least not according to the romantic or secular definition of love. So here is the question: are we supposed to love false teachers?

At The Berean Call, the question is posed:

To the world it might appear that all is well in the Christian realm. Much-beloved speakers hold forth from the pulpits of some of the largest churches in the world. Believers and nonbelievers alike buy their books, avail themselves of their programs, and utilize their methodologies. One might come to the conclusion that Peter must not have been referring to the church in our day regarding false teachers. Tolerance is the word of the day. We hear admonitions on a regular basis to “just get along” with those of opposing faiths. “Love” reigns supreme.

But what is this “love” of which they speak? What about those who identify a false gospel or a false teacher among some of the popular speakers these days? Does this “love” still apply to those who expose the ones who are actually deceivers among the flock?

A dear sister in the faith posed the question to me. To love those who are deluded and cannot understand the Word and care for them and not be critical. I thought about it for a long time, because I love poorly and I’m always appealing to the Lord to teach me love better.

So I began to think hard, should we love false teachers? Are they to be pitied? I decided, no. Though I value the opinions offered and they DO make me think, I don’t necessarily always agree. I’d like to offer an alternate view about how far not to go in pursuing love, and to offer a different perspective of what love actually is.

If we read Jeremiah 14:16, there is not even a hapless non-believer who accidentally can’t understand God’s truth and accidentally follows false prophets because they don’t know better. They DO know better. God said He will pour out their evil upon them because they knew better but followed false prophets anyway. 2 Timothy 4:3 also puts the blame on those who choose to follow false teachers because they wanted their ears tickled, so they went out and accumulated for themselves false teachers who told them what they wanted to hear.

But back to the false teachers themselves. I reserve my highest caring in this situation- for Jesus. We do care for the state of our neighbor’s souls, and we do care for brethren, but in all this let us not forget caring about Jesus.

I care about His name and what people do in His name. The harshest criticism in the Bible from everyone, (Jesus, Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, John, James, Jude, etc) was aimed at those who pervert God’s word. It is not a situation where we say “poor, poor false teachers. Let’s understand them and open our hearts to them and care.” I do hope they are saved someday, but beyond that they get no caring from me. I am highly CRITICAL of them in righteous indignation. Here is why-

The Bible tells us they do it on purpose. They disguise themselves- that isn’t an accident. (2 Cor 1:13). They do it for greed. (1 Timothy 6:5). They do it to put us in bondage again. (Gal 2:4). They do it because they hate Jesus and love themselves. (1 Tim 6:4). They do it because they enjoy lying. (2 Peter 2:1).

These false teachers are already cursed and destined for hell. In the essay “The Pathology of False Teachers” we read,

Unfortunately, their prognosis is not hopeful. Their spiritual condition is terminal. Those who are deprived of the truth are headed for judgment. Hebrews 6:6 solemnly warns of such men that “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.” Peter says that they bring “swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Peter 2:1). The severest hell will be reserved for those who, having been exposed to the truth, turned away from it (cf. Hebrews 10:26–31).

The goal of the false teacher is not to create an environment of love, but to feed his ego and fill his pockets.
~John MacArthur

You notice they don’t pervert Buddha’s words. They don’t pervert Allah’s words. They don’t pervert Shiva’s words. They choose to pervert Jesus’ swords for gain, for fame, for an audience, and all the other reasons. I am critical of that because I care about Jesus.

The Berean Call again:

Every epistle in the New Testament was written to correct error in the church. Did Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude not understand that to correct those who were in error was in truth a failure to love them? Did they believe that it was none of their business to bring correction to the false teaching? Do we consider them divisive for confronting error and holding fast to the truth? No! They boldly addressed the error and at times even named the offenders.

No, I do not love false teachers. I do not care about false teachers. I care about Jesus. I love His followers. Tim Challies said in his essay 7 Marks of a False Teacher,

False teachers are concerned with your goods, not your good; they want to serve themselves more than save the lost; they are content for Satan to have your soul as long as they can have your stuff.

Jesus called false teachers broods of vipers and hypocrites. (Mt 23:33)
So did John the Baptist in Mt 3:7
Paul said they were cursed. Twice in 2 sentences. (Gal 1:8,9)
Paul said their talk is gangrenous. (2 Tim 2:17)
Jesus called them ravenous wolves (Mt 7:15)
John called them deceivers (2 John 1:7)
Jude calls them ungodly perverters (Jude 1:4)
Peter called them depraved, disobedient, and destined for hell (1 Peter 2:8, 2 Peter 2:1,2)
John called them antichrists (1 John 2:22)
Never mind the harsh language from God in the OT against false prophets.

So. Were they wrong not to “love” the false teachers?

Indeed, we are told repeatedly we are to mark them, avoid them, not listen to them, close the hospitable door on them, put them out, warn them, keep away from them, give them to satan, but nowhere does it say to love them, care for them, or pity them.

Indeed, John advises the elder lady and her children not to even allow false teachers into their house NOR give them a greeting! If we do, God considers that we are participating in their evil deeds. (2 John 1:10). The John MacArthur Commentary on 2 John 1:10 says this-

Irenaeus relates that the church father Polycarp, when asked by the notorious heretic Marcion, “Do you know me?” replied, “I do know you, the firstborn of satan.” (Against Heresies, 3.3.4)

John himself once encountered Cerinthus (another notorious heretic) in a public bathhouse in Ephesus. Instead of greeting him, however, John turned and fled, exclaiming to those with him, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of truth, is within.” (Against Heresies, 3.3.4)

Charein, (greeting) means ‘Rejoice’ It was a common Christian greeting, conveying the joy believers had in one another’s presence. But it is an affirmation of solidarity that is totally inappropriate for false teachers, who have no part in the truth of genuine Christian fellowship.Such emissaries of satan must be exposed and shunned, not affirmed and welcomed.

False teachers like to decry such treatment as harsh, intolerant, or unloving. But love forbids dangerous spiritual deception to gain a foothold among Christians. John’s pastoral admonition is perfectly consistent with Jesus’ denunciation of false teachers as ravenous wolves, thieves and robbers, whose only purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. The church cannot aid or abet such spiritual outlaws by doing anything that would acknowledge them as Christians. The one who does so, even by doing something as seemingly innocuous as greeting them, participates in their evil deeds by helping them to further their deception.

I reserve all my criticism, judgment, and righteous indignation for the false teachers, and all my love for Jesus the Man-God, His people, and His revealed word. During the few times I’ve had opportunity to engage directly with a few of the false teachers I’ve written about, I hope I was lovingly showing them the error of their ways. THAT also is love, though the world doesn’t call it love. Love is to admonish and correct so hopefully they do not persist in their tragic path, or worse, taking others with them.

Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)

Here are two resources on the subject:

How to Treat False Teachers

The Danger Facing the Church
Love also comes out of sincere faith, not the hypocritical faith manifested by false teachers. Faith that has no pretense creates love. A false teacher has a dirty heart because it’s never been cleansed by the true gospel of faith in Christ. A false teacher has a guilty conscience because his impure heart triggers it. But his conscience may have reached the point where it’s so scarred that it’s lost its sensitivity. And a false teacher has hypocritical faith. He’s a phony–he wears a mask. That kind of life will never produce the love of God. The goal of the false teacher is not to create an environment of love, but to feed his ego and fill his pockets.

A Final Warning: Beware of False Teachers

Lesson 107: A Final Warning: Beware of False Teachers! (Romans 16:17-20)
Years ago, a seminary professor told his class at the beginning of the semester that they would work together on one major project during that semester. They would move systematically through the New Testament to categorize every area of truth and determine how many times each area is addressed. Their goal was to find what one thing is emphasized more than any other in the New Testament. When they completed the project, they were amazed to see that warning against false doctrine is emphasized more than any other thing, even more than love, unity, and experience (Renald Showers, in “Israel My Glory,” [April/May, 1995], pp. 24-25). I have not verified their conclusion, but they’re probably right. …

J. C. Ryle was a champion for the truth in the Church of England during the 19th century. I’d recommend that you read him. In Warnings to the Churches ([Banner of Truth], p. 110), he wrote about how difficult yet necessary controversy in the church is. Then he added, “But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation.” After acknowledging that many would view what he writes as exceedingly distasteful, he states (p. 111), “Three things there are which men never ought to trifle with—a little poison, a little false doctrine, and a little sin.”