Posted in discernment, false teachers, God in a box

"God can use it…"

“I don’t agree with everything [insert false teacher’s name here] but there are some good things he/she says.” In rebutting this notion, author Michelle Lesley phrased it best. She said in her essay titled,

Mayoral Candidate Opal Covey Rebukes Fred and Speaks in Tongues

Ladies, you want to know why I warn against false teachers? This is why. You start out with “gateway drugs” like Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, thinking, “It’s OK. It’s only a little unbiblical teaching. I can stop any time I want,” and pretty soon you end up like this lady, strung out and face down in the gutter of blasphemy and false doctrine. This is an embarrassment to the church, an awful witness to the lost, and a black eye for Jesus. Just say no to false teaching.

There is the story of the demon-possessed slave girl in Acts which relates here.

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. (Acts 16:16-18)

Why didn’t Paul say, as so many pastors and teachers and women say today, “She is speaking truth. I don’t agree with everything she says, but God can certainly use her. I’ll let her speak for me”?

Because it isn’t about the words such a person says, it’s the source. Paul taught,

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).

He made four explicit points:

Righteousness v. lawlessness
Light v. darkness
Christ v. Belial (satan)
Believer v. unbeliever

He made four implicit points. The goal among believers is to be in:
in common

Whatever flavor your favored partly or all-false teacher demonstrates from the second column, God will not use it. The dividing line is clear. Have nothing to do with those who are lawless, or dark, or of satan, or are an unbeliever.

EPrata photo, not EPrata

For people who say, well, ‘Don’t put God in a box, He can use anything’, you’re right, God can use anything. He can turn me into a giraffe. But will He? No, He created animals after their own kind. Just because God CAN turn me into a giraffe doesn’t mean He will.

He can do anything, even use a demon-possessed girl speaking truth – but He won’t. He didn’t. The Holy Spirit inside Paul was tormented hearing the slave girl speak heavenly glories from a satan-polluted mouth! (Acts 16:18). Any false teacher is demon influenced. In Galatians 1 Paul was astonished they were deserting the Gospel so quickly. In 2 Corinthians 11 he chastised them who put up with a different Gospel so easily. In Revelation 2, Jesus threatened the Thyatirans for tolerating a false prophetess. No, God won’t use falsity. His Son is too beautiful to Him and His Gospel is too pure. Why should he?

God chose to speak thru His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2), not through satan. So why would you limit God and put Him in a box by saying He can’t follow through on what He said He will do? Trust Him. If He said He will work through the Gospel given rightly, He will.

And what if…”God can use” a false teacher’s words not to draw women to Christ but to harden them in their sin? Be careful what you say “God can use.” God DOES use sinners, wolves, and false doctrine, but not in the way most people think. God CAN use Beth Moore to harden women in their self-esteem, legalistic, selfish ways.

I’ll end with another best quote from a sister in Christ. When the TV series “The Bible” was released by Roma Downey, Sunny Shell reviewed it. She put in a Q & A to her review. She hypothetically asked,

Q. “Even though there’s a lot of error in this movie, still, don’t you think it’s a great way to show people who God really is, I mean, can’t God use anything to save someone?

A. No, I don’t think this movie is a great way to reveal the truth about God since it’s filled with lies about God. And yes, I realize God can use anything to save someone, but He only chose to use the message of the true Gospel to save all men (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). Nowhere in Scripture does God command or allow His children to use the work of Satan to proclaim His truth. And God is clear, anyone who denies Him and defiles His holy character or word, works for the devil, not for God. 

Since the beginning of time, the devil has attempted to minimize and blaspheme God’s holy character by lulling us to disregard His holiness, justice and righteousness. God has never called His children of light to partner with the works of darkness (2 Cor 6:15-16). As God’s children, we are commanded to pursue holiness, rather than try to find a way to compromise the glory of Christ in order to “reach more people”.

Well said, Mrs Shell. As for false teachers, just a little bit of poison kills. We know that satan speaks through these teachers, and satan only speaks lies. He will meld a few lies in with the truth so that the two are nearly indistinguishable, and therefore appear harmless. His lies involve the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, and the lust of the flesh.

If I hear a woman saying “I know [such and such false teacher] doesn’t teach everything according to the bible, but I like some things she teaches” then I know one thing for sure. Something in that false teacher’s doctrine appeals to her flesh and she is unwilling to give that up.

Yet we are called to slay the old man in us. Romans 8:13 says,

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Mortify the flesh, and kill off that part of you that wants to cling to a teacher others have said or shown you with the Word are not giving an authentic Gospel.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

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

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

This 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, whilst 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.

However, Charismatics rely on experience as a standard of what God is revealing to them. They put their experience as high or even higher than the Word as revealed in the bible. If something spiritual happened to them, they believe it is real, and it therefore really reveals something God is doing, or saying, or thinking, or whatever.

When I show that that charismatic experiences count as nothing, that they are unbiblical and unworthy of attention, I receive responses saying, “Don’t put God in a box!” Or, “Don’t limit God!”

Let’s take a look at what a person is really saying when they say those things.

The issue: IS God in a box?

First, God cannot ever be ‘put in a box’ nor can God ever be ‘limited’ by humans. The thought is simply absurd. However, as He has chosen to reveal Himself and His will, He is confined to pages of scripture. Secondly, experience never trumps scripture. Ever. You can have all the “passion” you want for God, to the point that at spiritual events you jerk around so much look you like bacon in a fry pan, but that is not truth, it’s not doctrine, and it’s not from God. That isn’t even passion. It’s only impulses, and you’re being led astray. (2 Timothy 3:6).

If a person has a dream or a vision that is especially vivid, they say it is from God, that God is talking directly to them (And I mean YOU, Beth Moore…Sarah Young…Kim Walker Smith…). They ascribe all due spiritual gravitas to their experience and go about replaying it for any and all who would listen (and many who would not). They make themselves the hero of the story.

If confronted with the fact that though the Spirit is alive and working in sanctified Christians, but that tongues and miracles and signs have ceased, that is when they trot out the charge that by our denying their experience as perfectly and uniquely sent to them by God, we are putting God in a box, and we are limiting Him.

We know He is limitless, that is not the issue. However He has said He will operate in certain ways. During this Church Age He has said that He will use the Spirit to grow us in sanctification and will illuminate the scriptures for us. (John 16:13-14 ). He won’t suddenly decide to sky-write the messages He wants us to know. He can. But He won’t.

He has said that He listens to prayer as a method of communication. (Philippians 4:6). However, He won’t suddenly put notes in our mailbox (like in The Shack) or call us personally. He can. But He won’t.

Though we know He is alive, He is in heaven and will not come back until the Day. (Matthew 26:64). He won’t appear in our bathroom while we are shaving and put His arm around us. He can. But He won’t.

We know He CAN do those things, but we have confidence that He won’t. Why? He speaks through His word, His Son, and His Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 1:1-2, John 14:17, 1 Corinthians 3:16). He has said how He will operate. He spoke through men to write down His inspired word. And He doesn’t break His promises.

Inspiration is the doctrine that the Bible was written by the influence of God. It is, therefore, without error in the original documents. It is accurate and authoritatively represents God’s teachings (2 Tim. 3:16). As such it is a revelation from God which implies direct knowledge about God, creation, man, salvation, the future, etc. It is an illumination in that it shows us what we could not know apart from it. “

We cannot know apart from it. That includes knowing something of God because He supposedly rained gold dust down, or put a thought in your head or seemed to heal a guy at a faith crusade.

Yet the Charismatic will cite John 21:25, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” And they will say that “See? Jesus did many other things. We can’t limit Him!”

We are not limiting Him by acknowledging what scripture says, that He performed many other wondrous things during His incarnation. It’s just that we don’t know what they were. Any speculations on what those things were is just that: speculation, guesswork, and vaporous estimations. If God had wanted us to know them, He would have put them in scripture. That He didn’t is no excuse to make some up. He told us not to go beyond what is written. (1 Corinthians 4:6)

The truth of the matter:

The problem is, the people who take God out of the box are really people who want to make God into what they want Him to be. It sounds all humble and everything to claim that it is limiting God by sticking to who He says He is in pages of holy writ. But it is really not humility. It’s pride. It is pride in their vision, pride in their alleged special relationship to Christ, who, after all, gave them a second blessing when they asked to be ‘filled with the Spirit.

His sovereign will is different from His revealed will. He has hidden from us some things He intends to do. The most glaring examples of His inscrutability on some matters are:
–what He was doing before creation and also,
–what we will do in eternity.

His revealed will, however, is just that: revealed. He has set down in words through men via the Spirit what He wants us to know about Him and what He wants us to know about what He plans to do and what he wants us to know to do for Him.

Therefore God IS IN A BOX, at least, as far as the pages of scripture go. And there He will stay this side of the veil.

Because, you see, once we take God out of the box, we make Him into whatever we want Him to be in our imagination. Once you take Him out of the pages of scripture, you say, ‘It’s not a box. It’s a highrise. My God is a fireman.”

Erroll Hulse wrote in his book, “The Blessings, Main Problem and Dangers of the Charismatic Experience,” that many Charismatics have a “Preoccupation with experience.”

During 1977 a believer described two revivals which he had witnessed in Borneo. The first was classical in the sense that it was typical of revivals down through the centuries. Preaching, conviction of sin, repentance and transformation of life were the predominating features. The second revival which followed a couple of years later was Charismatic in character. The speaker himself reflected the impact that the second revival had made upon him personally. He gave description after description of visions, exorcisms, healings, spirit baptisms and sensational events such as preservation in the jungle and the moving of lights in meetings. One felt while listening to this account that the Word of God had been supplanted by all the externals. It is possible to become so enamoured with the extraordinary and with excitements and sensational happenings that such matters become the daily diet of believers. Eventually it is all they can talk about which is the hallmark of most Charismatic books. Scripture is supplanted by the narration of events which goes on ad infinitum.

When you take God out of the box (pages of scripture) then you can say “It’s not a box. My God is a robot. But that’s OK if your God is a fireman. It would be limiting God by making Him be a definite thing.”

Many Charismatics who want God out of that box claim that by us conservatives sticking to scripture, we are denying the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. Not so. The great theologian J. Gresham Machan wrote,

Meanwhile we have the Holy Spirit, and we have the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments that the Holy Spirit uses. Much mischief has been wrought in the church by false notions of ‘the witness of the Spirit’; it has sometimes been supposed that the Holy Spirit makes us independent of the Bible. Just the opposite is the case.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He does not contradict in one generation what He has said in another. He does not contradict the Scriptures that He himself has given. On the contrary, what He really does is to make the words of Scripture glow with a heavenly light and burn in the hearts of men. Those Scriptures are placed in your hands. You may not say with the prophets of old: ‘God has spoken directly and independently to me; I appeal to no external authority; when I speak it is “Thus saith the Lord.”’ But you can do something else. You can mount your pulpit stairs; open reverently the Bible on the desk; pray to the gracious Spirit to make plain the words that He has spoken; and so unfold to needy people the Word of God.

Taking God out of the box (pages of scripture) opens one up to all sorts of mischief, as Machen wrote. We ascribe works to Him that He did not do. We ascribe attributes to Him He does not possess. We ascribe writings to Him He did not inspire. Taking God out of the box once too often, and you may find that it is satan you have loosed in your life, and not the Holy Spirit.

Hulse concludes,


Jesus is Lord indeed. He has been exalted, crowned, celebrated and is adulated because he has procured our justification by the agonies on the cross. Any obscuring of that, his greatest achievement, is to defame his glory. If experience is permitted to gobble up doctrine, if love is allowed to devour principle, if sentiment is suffered to obscure justification by faith only — then how will the world’s multitudes be saved? How can Jesus be Lord for them? Satan will continue to have his dominion over them. Those who are ready to unite on the basis of love and common Charismatic experience at the expense of Justification should remember that in doing so they will be celebrating the lordship of Satan, not the Lordship of Christ.


Further Reading

What We Talk About When We Say “You Can’t Put God in a Box (essay)

Is Experience a Valid Test of Truth? (sermon series)

One clear reason why Beth Moore is a false teacher:
Examining Beth Moore’s vision: the ‘Bride is paralyzed by unbelief’

God in a Box: Limiting Miracles is not Limiting God, Pt 1 (essay)