The Sifting of the Church & Why You Shouldn’t Drink the Kool-Aid

siftingThe church is called to be a Bride made ready for the Bridegroom.[1] Her passion and pursuit is to be of Him and His presence. Bringing others to Him should be her commitment and dedication but not her preoccupation. Love for Him is to consume her as she eagerly awaits His return. Her hope is not in her ability to change the earth but on His promise to come back for her. This is the true apostolic teaching – the true apostolic emphasis (Consider Paul’s concern for the Corinthians in 2Cor 11:2-3). Today however, many are rising up within the church calling themselves apostles and leading believers astray. Whole movements and networks are embracing a man centered agenda of social transformation and calling it the kingdom. Others are embracing the age old heresies regurgitated and photo shopped for the 21st Century. The Scriptures clearly warned us that this would happen, yet it was hard to imagine it would come on such a grand scale and with such ease that the majority would be swept off their feet. But this is exactly what is happening. It is what John the apostle warned:

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” 1John 2:18-19

Twisted Brothers

It is absolutely astonishing to see how false teachers have become so popular and gained such ground, so much so that hardly anyone is confronting them. Something in them is awry as they twist the Scriptures and deceive people. They take the true doctrines of the faith and distort them replacing them with doctrines of demons, and the church is eating it up. And of course, they mock those of us who believe Jesus is coming soon. Peter warned us of this, and it is clear from his writing that he was referring to believers, since only they would speak of creation or “the fathers.”

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’”2Pet 3:3-4

 Peter also identified two types of people who confuse and distort End-Time teaching – the untaught and the unstable.[2] The untaught distort Scripture because they do not have the background or training necessary to interpret it correctly. They are simply missing the context and information required to unlock passages or interpret revelation. They have either not been taught or they have been taught wrong.

The second group that distorts Scripture, according to Peter, is the unstable. The unstable have a propensity to twist the truth or spin it in such a way that it promotes their agenda or inner motive of the heart. This is a serious warning for all who teach the word to consider. It is not merely about some troubled souls who cannot overcome temptation or sin. It is addressing the ones who preach and teach the Bible but are operating out of some inner conflict or woundedness. This inner instability is distorting their perspective and leading them to erroneous conclusions and revelations that will ultimately result in derailment for them and their followers. They may have started well, but over time, this inner instability led them to force conclusions on Scripture that were complimentary to their “ministries.” They began to take license and liberty with verses, distorting their context and meaning because it was advantageous to their agenda.

Teaching Matters

Make no mistake about it, the condition of our heart and the healthiness of our soul will determine the soundness of our teaching. In addition, what we teach will have a profound effect on our practice as well. Wrong teaching will lead us to wrong conclusions and wrong conclusions can lead down the wrong path. How many good people have gone astray because they neglected the inner issues of the heart? How many good men and women have gone astray because they would not listen to the gentle rebuke of another and took their own perspective too seriously? This is a vital truth and one that all teachers, and especially those who make confident assertions about eschatology, must understand. In the same way, those who say that one’s position on End-Times or the Rapture is not important, are making a colossal mistake and throwing away the compass and revelation of God’s Word given to guide them through the difficult canyons ahead. They are assuming that “so long as we love the Lord it doesn’t matter.” By this, they are already embracing error. The End-Time revelation contained in God’s word is not just for debate and discussion. It is intended to guide us in faith and practice and to ensure that we have the correct stance at the end of the age.

The end of the age is a time of great sifting and testing and indeed, it has already begun. Those who are not aware of this are nonchalantly paddling their little boats toward the great Niagara. They may think all is fine and dandy but a rude awakening is coming. The Scriptures tell us that God will send a strong delusion in the last days and that the enemy will deceive all who have the ability to receive error. Anyone who has had to deal with error and deception in their own life, or the life of a friend or colleague, knows how easily it can creep in. And, though it is the result of something wrong in the heart, it can be brought on by wrong teaching or unhealthy reactions to something with which we disagree. Bad teaching sows bad seed in the heart that can latch on to some area not yielded to Christ. One has to prepare inwardly as well as outwardly for the Lord’s return. We need to keep our spirit, soul and body blameless until His coming.[3] How easy it is to become discouraged and take our eyes off Christ. How easily we can become arrogant, adopting some new plan or “revelation,” and dismiss those who do not “get the vision.” This kind of arrogance can set us up for failure and deception.

Too Nice to Confront Evil

Whenever one brings up the issue of false teaching, there are many who immediately flinch. Any thought of false teaching or Christian celebrities being confronted is “negative” to them. They find the thought of challenging the message of anyone who “loves Jesus” as divisive and against the Father’s love. Of course we know there are many who sow division and strife in what they write, particularly on the internet. The so-called Heretic Hunters are everywhere with poison on their lips. However in reaction to them the church seems to be refusing to confront anything no matter how outrageous it is. Surely this is not the attitude of leaders who are caring for Christ’s sheep.[4] It certainly wasn’t the attitude of the apostles who publicly admonished God’s people, often mentioning names. In fact, in one of Paul’s letters which was read publicly, two women were rebuked and told to get along (Phil 4:2). Indeed, when it comes to false teaching the Scriptures are very strong. Consider the following verses.

“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. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” Rom 16:17-18

“This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” 1Tim 1:18-20 

“…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” 2 Tim 4:2

“Watch yourselves that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 8-9 

The Apostles of the Lord seemed to have this idea that they were protecting the church. Therefore, they confronted everything that was off whether it was absolute heresy or simply somebody saying something that is false. And they did this without being, critical, judgmental, or legalistic. They knew that false teaching would produce bad fruit, and that God’s people should be protected from it. But today however, one can hardly confront anything without being labeled divisive. Believers find it shocking when anyone disagrees with their celebrities. It’s the spirit of Hollywood among us. They have no use for theology and almost never read anything scholarly. Consequently, people just make up their own doctrine without checking the Scriptures. And rather than confronting what is false, they will often promote it because of the popularity of the speakers and their ability to draw crowds. It is no wonder that the church is in such a time of sifting and testing. Indeed, we have created the perfect environment for false prophets to flourish. When will we catch on? When will we speak the truth in love to one another?

When doctrine is promoted throughout the world that is false, we not only have a right but a responsibility to confront it publicly. And if it is dangerous we must mention names. How else will people know what we are talking about? Do we expect them to discern everything on their own? Hardly! That is not the attitude of a true pastor or apostle but merely political correctness masquerading as godly behavior. We must speak the truth in love and stop being children tossed here and there by the craftiness of those who call themselves apostles and prophets. If you love the truth, you will value correction. If you do not value correction, then you do not love the truth. It is possible to love one another while still confronting false teaching and/or simply disagreeing with direction or emphasis. If what we are teaching is true then scrutiny will only prove it. If it turns out to be wrong, shouldn’t we turn away from it?

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Drinking the Kool-Aid is a figure of speech unknown to many millennials but it refers to an event that took place in the 1970’s. A cult leader named Jim Jones led his followers in a ritual drinking of poison laced Kool-Aid and they all died. Hence the expression, “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid. The apostle Paul said something similar when he told us to “examine everything carefully” and “hold fast to what is good” (1Thess 5:21). Sadly, most are not in the habit of doing this especially in this era of social media. What is popular is embraced as the truth. After all, such famous and “anointed” leaders couldn’t be wrong, could they? If that’s the way you think, the Kool-Aid is already in your system. Wake up! Don’t just believe what is popular! Don’t just drink it because all the people in your network are! Don’t just believe it because it comes from some big name “prophet” or “apostle.” Examine it carefully! Ask questions. Is this true? Is it Biblical? What is the fruit? Since when has the truth become popular? There have always been more false prophets than true ones. Beware of all fads and new teachings that spread like wildfire! Reject any ministry that is unwilling to be challenged or submit to Biblical scrutiny outside of their circles. And never allow anyone to label you a rebel or divisive because you ask questions or respectfully decline to sip the liquid or align yourself with the latest “apostolic decrees.” This is a very serious matter because your eternal future may depend on it!

[1] Eph 5:25-27

[2] 2 Pet 3:14-16

[3] 1Thess 5:23

[4] John 21:15

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