Pamela Couvrette of Guarding the Deposit offers some sound advice. She writes:
“Imagine, you have finally found some time to sit down and relax, so you turn on the Trinity Broadcasting Network just minutes before your favorite teacher (I’ll call her Joyce Osteen), comes on the air. With these extra few minutes, you check Facebook and to your horror, someone has posted a warning that Joyce Osteen is a false teacher and a wolf in sheep’s clothing! How dare they touch the anointed Joyce Osteen! Although you might be tempted to respond to this in a fury of rebukes in ALL CAPS, please read the considerations below.
The purpose of this article is not to point a condemning finger, but to address obstacles to fruitful conversations such as, immature defenses and wrong presuppositions. Naturally, people on both sides of the conversation must act with integrity and humility. Most importantly, we must be imitators of Christ Jesus.
First, let’s take a quick look at who the Bereans were. In Acts 17:1-15 we learn that the Bereans tested and compared what they heard to Scripture; daily, the Bereans researched what they were taught. We are commanded to follow their example (1 John 4:1; Hebrews 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:21, etc.) so that we will not be taken captive by lies (Colossians 2:8). Not only are we commanded to be Bereans, we are also commanded to expose evil (Ephesians 5:11; Titus 1:9-13; Galatians 6:1). False teachings in the church are evil because they lead to damnation. We don’t hesitate to warn about physical danger so how much more important is it to warn about spiritual danger?
When Conversing With Bereans:
1. Pray for Discernment, Knowledge, and Wisdom
Be slow to address your concerns and take the time to pray to God for discernment, knowledge, and wisdom (Philippians 1:9-10; James 1:5; Proverbs 4:7). The path to destruction is wide (Matthew 7:13) and there are many false teachers WITHIN the church walls (Jude 1:4) so unless you are behaving as the Bereans did, you might be deceived. The nature of deception is that the deceived do not know that they are being deceived. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is faithful to guide those who are in Christ to truth (John 16:13).
2. Respond as a Child of God
Some people take advantage of the anonymity of the internet, however, as Christians we know that God is watching and that we will be held accountable for what we say (and type!). Even if a Berean is rude, respond with integrity. A mature Christian woman is gentle, kind, self-controlled, loving, and teachable. Be assured that warnings about faulty doctrines are not a personal attack any more than a caution sign along the road is meant to offend.
Also, be assured that warnings about faulty doctrines are not a personal attack any more than a caution sign along the road is meant to offend. There may be an immediacy to these warnings since we do not know when the return of Jesus will be, or how much time we have left on earth; please do not mistake immediacy for lack of love.
3. Do Not Resort to Name-Calling
Since God gave us the gift of understanding His truths (2 Thessalonians 2:13b), we should be humble and reverent when discussing His Word. There is no place for immaturity or condescension, such as the following remarks.
“You’re just jealous!”
Worldly success is not something a Christian should strive for, so it’s highly unlikely that the Berean is jealous of material success or popularity ratings, and they are certainly not jealous of the dire eternal destination of a false teacher (1 John 2:15; Galatians 1:10;Galatians 1:8-9). Regardless, this accusation does nothing to help the conversation.
Warning the Church about false teachers is an act of love. Would you call someone a “Hater” for warning you if you were about to walk off a cliff? Jesus, Paul, and others warned about false teachers and revealed who they were – were they “Haters”?
“You’re of Satan!”/”You’re grieving the Spirit!”/”You’re a Jezebel!”
Resorting to histrionics does not further your position; rather, it leads your hearer to assume you do not have a Scriptural defense.
4. If You Respond With Cliches, Make Sure You Know What They Mean
It’s easy to respond with a statement that sounds good or that you’ve heard many other church-goers say, however, please take the time to understand what your remarks mean.
It’s a catchy phrase, but what does it mean? Regardless of the definition, Jesus exposed false teachers – was He putting God in a box?
“Touch not my anointed!”
Not only is this verse is about physically harming a prophet, but since we are commanded to expose false teachers and because Scripture does not contradict itself, this verse obviously does not apply.
“You’re creating division!”
Let’s look at Romans 16:17: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” This verse explains that division is caused by those who teach contraryto the Word of God. Truth naturally divides itself from lies, therefore, Christians should not seek unity at the expense of truth; that’s what the world does.
“No one has perfect theology!”
True, but, that’s not an excuse for heresy.
“This teacher has blessed me!”/”This teacher helps the poor!”
If you are following false teachers, they are leading you to destruction and that is not a blessing. There are many leaders and teachers in the world who help people, but that doesn’t mean we should follow after tham.
Since false teachers have an appearance of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5), we can’t assume their teaching is sound just because they do good works. Remember, Atheists also help the poor.
“They’ve led hundreds/thousands/millions to Jesus!”
Yes, but which Jesus have these teachers led them to? Jesus warned that many people will be misled because of false teachers who come in His name and preach another Jesus (Matthew 24:5; Matthew; 24:24;2 Corinthians 11:4). These people are in the church today.
Additionally, Scripture informs us that only God knows who is truly saved and that there are false converts sitting in the pews (Matthew 13:21; 1 John 2:18-19; Matthew 7:21-23). Continue reading…Judging
Does the Bible Really Say We’re Not to Judge? By Marsha West