Category Archives: DENOMINATIONS, CULTS, & FALSE TEACHING

What about snake-handling?

WHAT ABOUT SNAKE-HANDLING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18).

Friend, have you ever heard of handling venomous serpents in religious services? As you read in the above verse, the Holy Bible indeed mentions such a practice. Yet, should we participate in it? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Situated mostly in the “Appalachian” (eastern) and southeastern United States, roughly 100 snake-handling churches exist today on the North American continent. They are usually small assemblies with a Pentecostal or Charismatic background. A special room is maintained to keep the snakes until such “ceremonies.” Some practitioners say that snake-handling demonstrates one’s faith and salvation. Others believe it is necessary for salvation. Whatever the case, they all believe the “Holy Ghost” has come upon them and is now manifesting Himself. They supposedly express their faith in a literal interpretation of the Bible by picking up serpents. (Later, we will treat the Scripture verses to which they appeal.)

Obviously, such endeavors involve great risks. “Worshippers” will pet venomous vipers, hold them, let them slither across their bodies as they dance, sing, roll on the floor, jump, and perhaps “speak in tongues.” There are dozens upon dozens of documented reports of people dying from snakebites in such religious ceremonies. These injuries do not have to be fatal, as medical treatment can be sought. However, that treatment is often refused. They believe God will get them through the pain and help them survive, or He will take their life if it is their time to go. It is better to “do the will of God,” they say, than go to a hospital and receive anti-venom. One such minister, who died some years ago, was bitten nine times before a venomous snakebite killed him. He never once received any medical help and actually lost a part of a finger—then he ultimately lost his life!

SHOULD WE FOLLOW THE BIBLE LITERALLY?

Snake-handling religionists say that they “take the Bible literally.” At first glance, it seems they are correct. But, do they really follow the Bible literally? In the ensuing pages, we aim to evaluate that claim by examining the two passages they quote to defend their practice.

Their primary proof text, of course, is Mark chapter 16: “[16] He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. [17] And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; [18] They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Indeed, the Bible does say that the above miracles “shall” result. Notice the certainty—it is not “might” or “may,” as in maybe so and maybe not. These supernatural abilities “shall” (not “may” but “shall”) be given to “them that believe.” There is a 100% probability—no question!—that these events will occur. If we take the Bible literally, it does endorse casting out devils (evil spirits). If we interpret the Bible at face value, it does sanction speaking with new tongues (languages never formally learned). If we take the Bible at face value, giving it the literal meaning, it says people will take pick up snakes and not be harmed. If we take the Bible literally, people will drink “any deadly thing” (poison) and they should have no fear of dying. If we are believers in a literal Bible text, we know people will “lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (rather than die). What are we to do, then? Should we practice these things?

Friend, here is what we cannot do. We cannot deny the Word of God. The Bible speaks of exorcism in Mark chapter 16. It mentions speaking with “new tongues.” God’s Word says to “take up serpents.” It speaks of “drink any deadly thing” and “it shall not hurt them.” It supports physical healing—laying lands on the sick and them being cured. By this point, friend, you may find the Bible revolting. You might even want to throw it away completely! Would it surprise you then that some, to sidestep this most vexing passage, have actually argued (because they firmly believed) that Mark 16:9-20 does not belong in the Bible text? Indeed, such people exist… more than you and I realize!!

FAULTY BIBLE TEXT? OR FAULTY ASSUMPTIONS?

It is a sad commentary, but people have been trained to discard any Bible verses they do not understand. Here is an excellent case in point. Textual critics have influenced many to believe and claim that Mark 16:9-20 is not (!) inspired of God because it is “not in the two oldest and most reliable manuscripts.” Of the 600-plus surviving manuscripts that contain Mark, only two omit the passage in question—Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. How can two manuscripts overrule the testimony of 600-plus others? “Scholars” argue that those two are “the most ancient” manuscripts, preferred because they are assumed to be closer to the original writings of the Apostles. This, of course, is a faulty assumption for two reasons.

Firstly, the notion that “minority is best” is silly. If God’s intention was to use two manuscripts to preserve His Word, then why did the saints of old bother to make all the thousands of copies we presently have? Why do textual critics scrutinize 5,500-plus New Testament manuscripts when all they “need” (claim to need) are Vaticanus and Sinaiticus? By their own admission, those two manuscripts have tainted and divergent texts—and the blemishes and discrepancies are “settled” by appealing to other manuscripts. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are not as reliable as they declare!!

Secondly, “oldest is best” means that alterations to the Bible text occurred long after it was written rather than immediately after. Such a claim is utterly foolish. False prophets and false teachers were conducting “ministries” while Jesus’ Apostles preached in the first century! It would be downright absurd to assume no one corrupted the Bible text until centuries later… especially since we have verses to prove there were Bible corrupters during the days of the Apostles!

Second Thessalonians 2:2 says, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” Here is a false letter—someone forged it and pretended like Paul wrote it! Paul himself reminded us in 2 Corinthians 2:17, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” Finally, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15: “[13] For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. [15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

IF MARK 16:9-20 BELONGS IN THE BIBLE TEXT, THEN SHOULD WE PRACTICE IT? (PART I)

At this point, you sense that this author is advocating the retention (rather than the deletion) of Mark 16:9-20. We should not throw it away simply because two faulty manuscripts eliminate it. The Bible shows us that God the Holy Spirit will preserve His Word through a multiplicity of manuscript copies (Deuteronomy 17:18-20; Psalm 12:6-7; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; et cetera). We do not “re-construct” a “lost” Bible text using a few ancient manuscripts. This is where the textual critics are in their thinking, and it is nothing but human viewpoint. It is not how God views His Word, and it is not how we should understand it either.

Dear reader, maybe you think of this author as a “kook” or “nut” for claiming the bizarre passage of Mark 16:9-20 as inspired of God, genuine, and worthy of our faith as the rest of Scripture. If we keep it in the Bible, does that mean we have to practice its baptism for salvation, casting out devils, speaking with new tongues, taking up serpents, drinking any deadly thing, and laying hands on the sick for them to recover?

Let it be known that this passage is actually a “Bible buffet” like none other—a “pick-and-choose” frenzy!!! You will never find someone doing all of verses 16-18, but only snippets. Most Protestants reject the baptism for salvation, but Roman Catholics and Catholic-sympathizing Protestants enjoy verse 16. Some people like to cast out devils and speak in gibberish today in religious services (verse 17). As noted earlier, an even smaller group of church members will pick up snakes (verse 18). Who drinks the poison and survives (verse 18)? Of course, a great number will grab the end of verse 18—lay hands on the sick to heal them. Mark 16:16-20 is not this either/or situation that Christendom has made it out to be. One or two sections of the passage should not be seized; all of it goes together, and all must be taken. All of it is valid at once and it all works exactly as the verses say.

If you have been following thus far, another question has been surely prompted. “Brother Shawn, if these verses are true, then why do people die while joining in ‘faith healing,’ why do they perish from snakebites, why do they lose their lives after drinking poison? Is this not contradictory to the Bible’s declarations? Does God not care to keep His people from such evils? Did He not promise to protect believers in Jesus Christ?” Dear friend, these are wonderful questions. As Bible believers, we have no need for embarrassment or disappointment. God’s Word has the answers. If we are truly willing to look in His Book with open hearts and minds, sincere in our quest, we will be inundated with a flood of illumination. Watch and see!

“NO FAITH?”

Whenever the verses do not work like they say they will, religionists dismiss the activity and dispel the awkwardness by declaring, “The sick person died because of a lack of faith! If he had faith in God, the snakebite would not have been fatal! She should have drunk that poison believing the Lord would protect her! It was just that person’s ‘time to go!’” As you can imagine, friend, these comments are but little comfort to grieving loved ones. Furthermore, such excuses draw the mockery and ire of Bible-haters and Christ-rejecters everywhere. Their response runs along the lines of: “Look at those ignorant hillbillies believing in their book of fairytales! We are people of logic and not blind superstition! Organized religion is the enemy of progress in our society! I abandoned the Bible years ago because of such nonsense! No thank you, I can do without that ‘Jesus’ they praise and worship with snakes and poison!”

How can the average Christian respond? Other than silence, there is a weak answer. They adopt the aforementioned view of the textual critics: “That passage of Mark 16:9-20 is not inspired of God, so it was not backed by the power of God anyway.” This position, while often assumed to be the “safe” one, just undermines the authority of the Bible. It further confuses the minds of the lost people mocking the Book they already hate! To take a negative view of Holy Scripture is to agree with them. As they see it, if Mark 16:9-20 is not of God, why bother to believe ANY of the Bible is? We want to be careful here, friends. Be quite careful here. The Gospel of Grace is in jeopardy.

Mark 16:9-20 belongs in the Bible text, but that still leaves us with a problem. Suppose you take the verse of snake-handling as your own, and you have full confidence in God’s Word—“They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them…” (Mark 16:18). So, you take up a rattlesnake, you let it slither on your body, and then it strikes you, sinking its fangs deep into your skin. As you collapse to the floor, the venom coursing through your veins, you cry out with your last breath, “Oh, God, You said nothing would happen! I trusted Your Word and you failed me!” You die.

Any Bible skeptics observing the above situation have all the “proof” they need (they believe) to show “God” is nothing but a figment of our imagination. Snickering, they shake their heads. “Me? Believe the Bible? Never in a million years!” For the rest of their lives, they carry the memory of this appalling experience with them. They venture out on a perpetual crusade, shouting at every Bible-believer, “Go away! What foolishness your Christianity is! Let me tell you about that snake-handling episode I witnessed….” What is saddest of all is that they have been just as deceived as the snake-handlers—confusing Christianity with religion—and now they go around confusing millions of others. More and more people grow opposed to Scripture, all because of misunderstandings.

IF MARK 16:9-20 BELONGS IN THE BIBLE TEXT, THEN SHOULD WE PRACTICE IT? (PART II)

Does the existence of a passage in God’s Word automatically necessitate that we follow it as though it is applicable to us? To wit, can we be Scriptural (follow the Bible) and not do God’s will? Indeed, friend, we can. How dangerous it is to mishandle God’s Word! If we isolate Mark 16:18, we can say, “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Yes, that is what the Bible says, so now let us go do that! Hold on just a second. There is another verse we should look at first.

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” (Genesis 6:14). Friend, God says to go and build a giant boat of gopher wood. Man did not say that—GOD said it! When are you going to follow the Bible as it reads here? If you have any common sense at all, you would say, “Brother Shawn, God did not tell me to built that boat. God told Noah to build it.” You would be right, my friend. How silly of this author to grab a verse out of context! Maybe he should have read verse 13 first? “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Yes, you are correct. This author was wrong. A Bible verse is not necessarily written to us to follow.

You ask any snake handler, faith healer, or poison drinker if they follow Genesis 6:14 and they will laugh at you. They would be justified in finding levity in the matter, too. However, they are manifesting inconsistency. They refuse to take Noah’s verse as their own but they will steal Israel’s verse! They laugh at one instance of folly yet claim another for themselves! Such is the madness of religion, dear friend, the subtlety of Satan’s policy of evil and the deception of human emotions. Not only must we use the Bible, we must also rightly divide the Bible. It is most hazardous to be Scriptural and not also be dispensational.

Whether you recognized it or not, friend, you just rightly divided the Word of Truth! Instead of trying to follow Genesis 6:14, you knew God was speaking to Noah. You understood God was not addressing you. The LORD God gave Noah some information to believe and act in accordance with, but that was God’s Word to Noah. This is a simple illustration of the heart of dispensational Bible study. Second Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” When we “rightly divide” the Bible, we recognize distinctions God has made in His Word. It is important to see that God says different things to different people at different times in history. The Bible is a progression revelation; more information is disclosed as time passes.

The most fundamental right division that God has made in His Word—and we would do extremely well to recognize it—is between prophecy and mystery. We need to compare two verses to begin to comprehend how God has set up the Holy Bible. We will look at Acts 3:21 and Romans 16:25.

Acts 3:19-21: “[19] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

This is the Apostle Peter preaching to the nation Israel. It is what the Bible calls “prophecy”—defined as that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” When God created man and commissioned him to function on the Earth, Adam was given revelation as pertaining to God’s earthly purpose. Notice Matthew 25:34: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:….” Since man’s creation, God has endeavored to establish His kingdom on the Earth. When Adam sinned, sided with Satan (the Devil), mankind became God’s enemy. Once the nations rebelled against God at the Tower of Babel, He responded by forming the nation Israel (Genesis chapter 12). Israel is the means whereby God will have an earthly people, individuals who can then accomplish His will on the Earth.

Now, we will look at another passage of Scripture. Turning to Romans 16:25-26, we read: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….”

In addition to prophecy, we have something in Scripture called “the mystery.” While God was unveiling prophetic information, He was simultaneously withholding mystery information. He never told anyone that secret until a certain point in time in the Bible. In Acts chapter 9, He began to show that secret to man. This event was the salvation and commission of the Apostle Paul. Paul thus wrote Romans 16:25-26—“the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now [as in Paul’s ministry] is made manifest.”

As we already discussed, God instituted the prophetic program to concentrate on establishing His earthly kingdom. However, what about Heaven? After all, Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There is more to creation than Earth, so what is God’s method for establishing His kingdom in the heavenly places? We know nothing about that until we come to Paul’s apostleship. In Pauline doctrine, God reveals the secret of His will—how He will gather all governmental authority in His Son Jesus Christ, not just on Earth (prophecy), but also in the Heavenly Places (mystery). Paul’s books, Romans through Philemon, speak of God’s heavenly people. This group is called the Church the Body of Christ. We would do well to read summary verses.

Ephesians 1:9-10: “[9] [Father God] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:….”

Colossians 1:16-20: “[16] For by him [Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

As Peter addressed the nation Israel (Acts 3:19-21), so Paul addressed the Gentiles or all nations. Romans 11:13 says, “For I [Paul] speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:….” What happened to God’s earthly program with Israel? Will He ever bring it to fulfillment? Is it abrogated forever because Israel crucified Christ? Have we replaced Israel? What is God doing today? Paul’s ministry and writings, Romans through Philemon, provide detailed answers. We have no reason to be ignorant, and yet that is exactly where most church members are today. They have not used the Bible rightly divided, and thus split off into thousands of opposing sects, denominations, factions. Immense spiritual darkness covers their hearts and minds. It is like they have no Bible, no revelation from God, at all!

Now, let us return to our previous comments about God’s earthly kingdom. The Bible says, “the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). In other words, God uses miraculous demonstrations—signs and wonders—to teach Israel various and sundry lessons (doctrine). When the Lord Jesus Christ showed up in the Books of Matthew through John, His earthly ministry, He had come to convert idolatrous, deceived Israel to Father God. Jesus was Israel’s long-promised King, so the good news God had for Israel was aptly termed “the Gospel of the Kingdom.”

Matthew 3:1-2: “[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, [2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 9:35: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”

Matthew 10:5-8: “[5] These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. [8] Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” Luke 8:1: “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,….”

The common theme in the above verses is, obviously, “the Gospel of the Kingdom,” but also miracles that confirm that message being preached. To demonstrate that God’s earthly kingdom was within Israel’s grasp, the signs of that kingdom were unmistakably evident. There would be no devil possession in the earthly kingdom of God (Zechariah 13:1-2); therefore, Jesus and His Apostles cast out evil spirits. There would be no bodily illness in the earthly kingdom of God (Isaiah 35:3-6); consequently, Jesus and His Apostles performed healing miracles. These were “the powers of the world to come,” Hebrews 6:5 remarks. Such “gifts of the Holy Ghost” signified that God’s earthly kingdom, “the world to come,” was near (Hebrews 2:3-5). Israel could have entered by faith in Jesus Christ!

All this was said—and yes, this author understands, it is a lot—simply to bring us back to Mark 16:16-20. The background has been painstakingly laid (thank you for your patience, dear reader), so now we can notice and better understand the context of the passage under consideration. Verse 15 is the context, so we need to begin there. Jumping in at verse 16, 17, or 18 is completely unwise!!

Mark 16:15-20: “[15] And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. [16] He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. [17] And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; [18] They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. [19] So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. [20] And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”

Verse 15 introduces this whole section as involving the preaching of “the gospel.” What is that Gospel message? Is it the Gospel of Grace that we preach today, as commonly assumed? No! Just days earlier, the Lord Jesus spoke of this gospel of the kingdom” in Matthew 24:14—“this” is a highly important word. The signs and wonders of Mark chapter 16 do not apply to our Gospel. It applies to “the gospel of the kingdom”—if, if, and I know that is a big if!!!—we believe the Bible instead of blindly following religious tradition. Look at the close of Mark chapter 16: “[20] And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” Does this not sound like what we were just discussing about validating the Gospel of the Kingdom? Indeed, it does! Do you see, friend, how the Bible just flows together so beautifully when we rightly divide it, comparing Scripture with Scripture, and keep religious tomfoolery and church tradition out of it?

Some argue that there is not one instance of snake-handling in Scripture (this, other than their “oldest is best” textual argument previously mentioned, is their “strongest” reason for rejecting Mark 16:18). While it is true that no Apostles ever took up venomous serpents to “worship God,” there is an interesting account in the Bible of a deadly viper attacking Paul and it not harming him. This is the second proof text of today’s snake-handling crowd, so it behooves us to examine it now.

Acts chapter 28: “[1] And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. [2] And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. [3] And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. [4] And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. [5] And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. [6] Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.”

It may help if you re-read that lengthy excerpt, dear friend. What was Paul doing? Was he handling snakes while singing hymns and dancing around that campfire? Of course not! He was gathering wood for the fire, and, without warning, a snake lashed out at him and bit him. This is certainly not like the serpent-handling of modern religion. Paul was not playing around with snakes to “praise God.” He was not seeking injury or deliberately attempting to put himself in harm’s way as fools do in religion today. Now, that may sound harsh, but it must be said. Today’s snake-handling is just plain foolishness.

There is no one operating in faith with snake-handling today. It is not the God of the Bible working. The Spirit of God will only do what the Word of God says, and the Word of God says the Holy Spirit is not doing this today. Such abilities have no relation to us the Church the Body of Christ. We are not waiting for the earthly kingdom of God. We are not looking for the signs of the coming kingdom on Earth. We are not preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Hence, we never read in Paul’s epistles (Romans through Philemon) about laying hands on the sick, casting out devils, and picking up venomous serpents. They are signs of Israel’s kingdom program, and that program is temporarily suspended while God is dealing with us in the Dispensation of Grace. Read Romans chapters 9-11 for all the details. Also see our “Can you explain Paul’s ‘Acts’ ministry?” article linked at the end of this study.)

So, you probably want to ask another question: “Brother Shawn, what is the explanation for what snake-handlers are doing today? If it is not God the Holy Spirit, then who or what is behind such a practice?” Such people feel an adrenaline rush, an emotional high, and they misinterpret it as the Holy Spirit of God coming upon them. “His presence” is actually nothing but deceptive emotions completely out of control! We naturally fear wild and dangerous creatures, and our bodies react by producing adrenaline (which “stirs us up” to fight or take flight!). Moreover, religion can have an extremely powerful influence over our hearts and minds, just as alcoholic beverages (Revelation 17:2). Therefore, we have to constantly (daily) stay in the Bible rightly divided. It guards our minds and hearts against Satan’s policy of evil. Do not forget, you can follow God’s Word and be completely out of God’s will. Not only do we use and quote the Bible, we use and quote the Bible rightly divided!

In addition, here is something else to consider about Acts chapter 28. Notice how the Holy Spirit is careful to write in verse 6 that there was not so much as swelling on Paul’s body. Not only did he not die, there was absolutely no indication he was even bitten!! He did not cry out in pain or fall to the ground. You look at snake-handling religionists’ bodies today, friend, and you see various scars. Some have permanent bodily impairment—missing or deformed fingers, limited hand dexterity, and so on. (And, of course, you can find them in the cemetery as well!!) They speak of suffering “excruciating” pain. One such minister claimed he hoped to never die in such a horrible manner. He eventually died from… of all things… a fatal snakebite!

Okay, so we understand that Mark chapter 16 is indeed God’s Word, but it is not God’s Word to or about us. What do we do now? Is there any hope in understanding this mysterious passage as it relates to Israel’s program? Will anyone ever successfully/safely practice the snake-handling passage of the Bible? Yes! (Just not us, and just not today!)

IF MARK 16:9-20 BELONGS IN ISRAEL’S PROGRAM, THEN WHAT PURPOSE IS THERE OF SNAKE-HANDLING?

The operating system of Israel’s program is the Mosaic Law (also called the Old Covenant). If Israel disobeyed God’s Word, she would be punished. He would use hardship to try to correct her misbehavior. Leviticus chapter 26 details those curses or chastisements. Notice: “[21] And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. [22] I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate. [23] And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; [24] Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.”

Did you catch verse 22? What will the LORD God do to rebellious Israel? Will He not send wild animals to attack and kill them? Yes, He will. As an illustration, read 2 Kings chapter 2: “[23] And he [Elisha the Prophet] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. [24] And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. [25] And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.” These young people mocked JEHOVAH God’s messenger, and so the LORD God introduced a new phase of intensified judgment (the chastisement phase described in Leviticus 26:22).

Numbers chapter 21 speaks of God judging Israel for her unbelief and wickedness: “[5] And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. [6] And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. [7] Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. [8] And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. [9] And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (Paul’s commentary in 1 Corinthians 10:9 summarizes—“Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.”)

Before the Lord Jesus Christ ever spoke of those serpents in Mark chapter 16, God had already judged Israel with wild beasts—including venomous snakes. He used His creation, the animal kingdom, to punish the faithless, idolatrous Jews. Notice now Jeremiah 8:17: “For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.” Remember, God sent literal snakes to kill rebels amongst the Jews in Moses’ day, and Jeremiah says it will happen once more.

As we look beyond our Dispensation of Grace, friend, to when Israel’s program resumes, God must finish Israel’s stages of punishment. The curses of Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28 will be brought to the full, and then God will cause all these times of suffering to disappear with the Second Coming of Christ. Israel, believing Israel, will be blessed of God as they enter His earthly kingdom. Unbelievers will be consumed in His wrath, but Israel’s believing remnant will survive!

The Apostle John provides the final piece of the “snake-handling” puzzle. We read in chapter 6 of the Book of the Revelation, yet future from us: “[7] And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. [8] And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Notice the wild beasts are consuming humans like never before. Unbelievers will perish. However, believing Israel will physically survive because God has promised them victory over serpents (and, by extension, all harmful creatures). Mark 16:15-20 is part of the Divine commission that Israel will follow in the end-times. Friend, it has nothing to do with us! Remember, dispensational Bible study! Notice the audience of the passage before you claim the passage as your own!! This is taking the Bible literally!

By the way, before we summarize and conclude, let us listen to Exodus chapter 4: “[1] And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. [2] And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. [3] And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. [4] And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: [5] That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.”

Snake-handling was one of the signs the LORD God gave Moses the ability to perform to convince unbelieving Israel. If you continue reading the passage, the second was the miracle of physical healing (verses 6-7—another Israeli kingdom sign, remember!!). Snake-handling symbolizes spiritual deliverance, exorcism (casting out devils—Satan is a snake or deceitful being in character, as Genesis 3:1, 2 Corinthians 11:3, and Revelation 20:2 show). No matter what Satan would do, God would ultimately deliver Israel from Satan’s grip. This was the purpose of Moses’ snake swallowing up the snakes Egypt’s satanic magicians had “conjured” (Exodus 7:10-13). Israel will have similar victory in the end-times, freedom from Satan’s control. The snake will harm the unbelievers, but Israel’s believing remnant will survive!

CONCLUSION

Particularly in the southeastern United States, one will discover small religious groups that participate in snake-handling ceremonies. Why this extreme behavior? Is it Scriptural to handle venomous vipers with the understanding that they will not harm us? What are we to believe if deadly snakes do strike and kill Christians?

If you follow religious news, you will occasionally find an article about an individual who has died at church because of a snakebite. This person was said to be “weak in faith.” Had he or she believed God when holding the snake, the snake would not have bitten. While we should certainly take the Bible literally—as we do any book, right?—there is a second key to keep in mind when approaching the Scriptures. We have to be very careful to look at contexts. If we take the Bible literally when it endorses snake-handling, should we not also take it literally when it says such a practice is not given to or about us members of the Church the Body of Christ?! We cannot claim a passage in “faith” when faith is also believing the passage when it says we are not its audience! Mark 16:15-20 is all about the Gospel of the Kingdom; it has absolutely nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with Israel during the end-times.

First Corinthians chapter 14: “[37] If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [38] But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” In snake-handling circles, “the Holy Ghost takes control of them.” It is all about “feelings.” Yet, if the Holy Spirit were truly leading them, they would listen to these verses that the Holy Spirit penned! Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13), and God through him commands us no such things about handling snakes, drinking poison, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils, water baptizing, and so on.

The test for spirituality today in this the Dispensation of Grace is not whether or not one handles venomous snakes, speaks in tongues, drinks poison, heals the sick, raises the dead, or even keeps the Saturday Sabbath. According to the Holy Spirit (see verses above), spirituality today is measured according to whether or not an individual pays attention to Pauline revelation. The Lord Jesus Christ committed to Paul the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:1-2), so it naturally follows that the Spirit of God would lead us to listen to the words He spoke to us in the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon. Again, there is nothing in Pauline revelation about taking up venomous snakes. Such instructions have a special place on the Bible timeline (future from us). When we “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we recognize that those directions do not apply to our time. Friend, right division is literally a life-or-death situation in this case. Playing with harmful snakes may be fatal… and we will die such a painful death while quoting Scripture!!

Also see:
» Does Mark 16:18 teach that chemotherapy will not harm us?
» Should I speak in tongues?
» Can you explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?

Should we call a minister “reverend?”

SHOULD WE CALL A MINISTER “REVEREND?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

No! While a common religious title, it actually is quite blasphemous to call a mere man “reverend.” The word appears once in the English (King James) Bible text, but it applies solely to Godnot a mortal man! Psalm 111:9: “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.”

The Hebrew word is rendered various ways elsewhere—“fear” (188 times), “afraid” (78 times), “terrible” (23 times), “terrible thing” (6 times), “dreadful” (5 times), “reverence” (3 times), “fearful” (2 times), “terrible acts” (1 time), and so on. Not only is JEHOVAH God’s name “holy” (set apart from all others), it is also “reverend” (instilling awe, terror, and respect). However, religion has watered down this majestic term to apply it to clergy (feeble, failing men).

In fact, observe this note found in The Oxford English Dictionary: “As a title Reverend is used for members of the clergy; the traditionally correct form of address is the Reverend James Smith or the Reverend J. Smith, rather than Reverend Smith or simply Reverend. Other words are prefixed in titles of more senior clergy: bishops are Right Reverend, archbishops are Most Reverend, and deans are Very Reverend.”

To be frank, these titles are nothing but empty obsequiousness. They are given to flattered people who belong to religious systems that exalt the creature above the Creator. It is no different than assigning the label “Holy Father” to a fallible man (Roman Catholic pope) when it too applies solely to God. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:11: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” In fact, even the religious title “father” is blasphemous. Jesus Christ declared in Matthew 23:9: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Religious tradition tosses all these verses aside.

It is most appropriate to use Bible titles for church leaders—“pastor” (Ephesians 4:11), “bishop” (1 Timothy 3:2), “deacon” (1 Timothy 3:8), “teacher” (Ephesians 4:11), “elder” (1 Timothy 5:17), or “evangelist” (Ephesians 4:11).

Also see:
» Are there modern-day apostles and prophets?
» Which is the correct title—pastor or bishop?
» But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!

What is 1 Corinthians 12:3 talking about?

WHAT IS 1 CORINTHIANS 12:3 TALKING ABOUT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible opens 1 Corinthians chapter 12 with the following: “[1] Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. [2] Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. [3] Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” What exactly is verse 3 talking about? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Remember, the context is “spiritual gifts” (verse 1). In fact, chapters 12 through 14 cover the operation and abuse of spiritual gifts, various special capacities the Holy Spirit gave the early Christians. Verse 2 of chapter 12 here speaks of “dumb idols”—idols that do not have the ability to speak. These dead idols, because of satanic deception in pagan religion, were believed to communicate “divine” words to their worshippers (Psalm 115:4-8; Psalm 135:15-18; Habakkuk 2:18-19).

Now we get to verse 3, the passage under discussion: “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Ghost through the Apostle Paul issues some understanding as related to “speaking” in religion. Actually, the theme is speaking in tongues (dealt with extensively in chapter 14—although chapter 12 here briefly touches on it in verses 10, 28, and 30—chapter 13 references tongues in verses 1 and 8).

While it is often claimed that speaking in tongues is strictly a Christian practice—supposedly “the initial evidence of the baptism with the Holy Ghost”—this is really a misconception. For instance, the heathen (spiritually-darkened, satanically-inspired Gentiles!) of the Old Testament had their own “ecstatic utterances,” “heavenly languages,” “private prayer languages.” The God of the Bible had absolutely nothing to do with these phenomena. Consequently, we cannot automatically assume a modern-day episode of “speaking in tongues” is the work of God the Holy Spirit.

Turn to Isaiah chapter 8: “[19] And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? [20] To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” This “peeping and muttering” involved various guttural sounds, chirping (yes, like a bird), high-pitched (but barely audible) utterances, incantations that supposedly summoned the dead. God told the nation Israel to go “to the law and to the testimony”—the Law of Moses, the Word of God, is the standard. If Israel encountered any “peeping and muttering” in religious circles, she was to ignore the “speaking phenomena” and listen to the Word of God. Satan was attempting to corrupt her with witchcraft, devil worship, necromancy, et cetera. The Bible was to take preeminence over the experience!!

It was this “peeping and muttering” religious system out of which the Corinthians came. Back to 1 Corinthians 12:2 for the proof: “Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” The only reason these idols are said to be “dumb” is to emphasize the fact that they are mute; they cannot talk! Many commentators, though, have no idea how to handle verse 3: “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” Dear friend, as long as we keep verse 2 in mind, verse 3 is ever so easy to grasp.

The Corinthians had allowed various religious experiences, supernatural encounters, and emotional highs, to distract and entertain them. You can see this dominate the Charismatic Movement today. The authority in that system is not the Holy Bible, sound Bible doctrine. It is all about emotions and experiences. They “felt” a certain way (warm, fuzzy feelings; great love; inexplicable peace; and/or abundant joy) and/or they “saw” a certain event (miracle healing, vision, dream, angelic appearance, speaking in tongues), and this caused them to believe it must be from the God of the Bible. Scripture means nothing to them—unless it teaches something they want to teach or do. They completely disregard verses that are contrary to their claims. Indeed, they may be sincere or kind people, but remember Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” No what they say, or believe, they are deceived! Their emotions have misled them! The experience is their authority, not the Bible. Such dangerous ground on which they tread!

“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” In 1 Corinthians 12:3, the Holy Spirit urges the saints at Corinth to look beyond experiences because they are not the final authority. We gauge whether or not the God of the Bible is involved with a particular system or activity by looking at its underlying doctrine. In other words, it does not matter what the phenomenon is, it must align with the Word of God rightly divided. Again, this is not something new with the Apostle Paul. Remember, we can find the idea in the Old Testament. Isaiah the Prophet spoke of it; Moses talked about it as well.

Deuteronomy chapter 13: “[1] If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. [5] And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.”

The LORD God warned Israel to be extremely careful concerning people who would perform miracles, claim to have supernatural dreams, or say they had received a supposed “word from God.” No matter what the experience was, if the message being taught did not conform to the Mosaic Law, the experience was from Satan and thus Israel was to ignore that person. Yea, rather, God Himself commanded Israel to execute that false prophet by stoning! When you think about it, such a procedure would rid us quite quickly of today’s false teachers! The standard is not the miraculous or supernatural experience, but the Holy Bible. This is what God is teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:3; the verse is a test to expose false teachers. Speaking in tongues alone does not automatically validate it as the work of the Holy Spirit. The message is what matters most. What is being communicated by the speaking in tongues?

CONCLUSION

“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3). When the tongue speaker was talking, was Jesus said to be accursed (separated) or was He said to be Lord? That is, was He being slandered/criticized or praised/glorified? What is most important is the doctrine being conveyed, rather than the experience itself. The Holy Spirit will never lead someone to say in tongues that Jesus is accursed, but the Holy Spirit will lead someone to say in tongues Jesus is the Lord. Again, speaking in tongues alone was not necessarily validation! The message is what mattered, and if it did not agree with God’s Word through the Apostle Paul, it was false. Some people in Corinth “speaking in tongues” were frauds, pretenders (like “tongue-speakers” of today). If Jesus was being accursed, spoken evil of, the charlatan “tongue-speakers” were exposed!

SUPPLEMENTAL: MORE TO SAY ABOUT THE GIFT OF TONGUES

By the way, as for the gift of tongues operating today, the answer is no. Tongues was a temporary spiritual gift operating during the Acts period. It ceased when Paul’s provoking ministry to Israel ended (Acts closed), when the Bible canon was completed.

First Corinthians chapter 13 says: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. [13] And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Spiritual gifts were temporary; they were not meant to last forever. When they were operating, God laid out guidelines that were to be followed concerning their exercising (see 1 Corinthians chapter 14—below). God wanted them to focus on the message rather than on the experience. No matter how enjoyable the experience was—awesome, appealing, fascinating, exciting—the words said were most important. If the message could not be understood, then there was no way to ascertain a meaning. It was false, Satan’s counterfeit. If it were gibberish or inaudible sounds (like today), it would profit nobody. There is no edification, no spiritual enlightenment, and no understanding imparted. No sound Bible doctrine is being communicated. It is nothing but a satanic mockery of God’s ministry.

First Corinthians chapter 14: “[1] Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. [2] For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. [3] But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. [4] He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. [5] I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

“[6] Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? [7] And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? [8] For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? [9] So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. [10] There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

“[11] Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian [foreigner], and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian [foreigner] unto me. [12] Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. [13] Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. [14] For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

“[15] What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. [16] Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? [17] For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.”

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! 🙂

Also see:
» Should I speak (or pray) in tongues?
» What about modern “faith healing?”
» What is the “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10?

Does Mark 16:18 teach that chemotherapy will not harm us?

DOES MARK 16:18 TEACH THAT CHEMOTHERAPY WILL NOT HARM US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Recently, a friend who claims to have the “spiritual gift of healing” was telling me that Christians battling cancer could withstand the effects of chemotherapy because the Bible says we can drink any deadly thing and it will not hurt us. She cited Mark 16:18: “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” We can endure cancer treatments because no deadly thing can harm us? Is that really what the verse is teaching?

The above scenario is just another example of the deception and confusion in the Charismatic Movement. There is no logic or sound Bible thinking in this religious system. Firstly, if God were still operating the gift of healing (which He is not), then why do we have cancer threatening our lives in the first place? Before we claim the “drink any deadly thing” as referring to chemotherapy, we need to read the whole verse. “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” If the “drinking any deadly thing” part of the verse is to be claimed, why not also follow the “lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” portion? See, we are following bits and pieces of verses, not entire verses. If God has given us the ability to heal the sick, including those stricken with cancer, why do they have to endure the poison of chemotherapy at all? Would not their cancer be healed, and be totally nondependent upon drugs anyway? It does not make any sense; it is nothing but a terrible mishandling of the Scriptures.

Secondly, the verse says that “drinking” deadly things will not harm Jesus’ audience. Chemotherapy does not necessarily involve drinking anything. The drugs can be administered on the skin, as an injection, or as an infusion. According to the United States National Cancer Institute, chemotherapy is: “Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, or infusion, or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or biologic therapy.” In that case, if you have the gift of healing, chemotherapy is totally unnecessary! (Dear friends, you can only fake it so long before reality catches up with you.)

The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of “drinking any deadly thing” in light of a future period. Mark chapter 16 is the commission Israel’s Little Flock will carry out during the seven-year Tribulation. These various signs and wonders are not to or about us as members of the Church the Body of Christ. “The Jews require a sign,” 1 Corinthians 1:22 says. However, we are not Jews. Never once does our Apostle Paul, in the Books of Romans through Philemon, tell us that drinking a deadly thing will not hurt us. That is because Mark 16:18 is not God’s Word to or about us. Mark chapter 16 has a special place on the Bible timeline and it not our Dispensation of Grace. It is Israel’s end-time commission. Confusion and duplicity will result when we fail to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Revelation chapter 8 explains why Jesus spoke of drinking deadly things: “[8] And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; [9] And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. [10] And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; [11] And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”

In His righteous judgment, God will poison the waters—particularly in the Middle East, and especially the Mediterranean Sea—during the future seven-year Tribulation. As per Mark 16:18, Israel’s believing remnant will be able to survive this lack of potable water. It will be a sign that they are believers in Jesus Christ. They will be able to drink the poisoned waters and it will not hurt them, exactly as the Lord Jesus said! Friend, do you see how much more sense the Bible makes if we leave religious tradition out of it and just let the Scriptures interpret themselves? The commission in Mark chapter 16 has nothing to do with us.

Also see:
» Is a Christian a “poor testimony” for taking medication?
» What about modern-day “faith healing?”
» Should I “speak in tongues?”

How do we identify false teachers?

HOW DO WE IDENTIFY FALSE TEACHERS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

How do we go about identifying false teachers? An extremely broad question, it has no simple, concise answer. It would be impractical and impossible to provide here an exhaustive list of all such heretics and heresies. Primarily, false teachers support and defend an enormous range of theological positions. Secondly, each erroneous doctrine has nuances, or varieties, further multiplying the false teachings that would have to be covered in this study. No solitary article could adequately cover it all.

The author has thus judged that the best way to address such a topic is to provide fundamental guidelines. These criteria are designedly not restricted to a select few false teachers; they are valuable in revealing them in all sorts of systems and situations. Nevertheless, in an effort to maximize this study’s effectualness, there will be provided specific examples of dangers of which you the reader need to be vigilant.

Dear friends, it is with great joy in our Lord Jesus Christ that we now present to you our special-edition 500th Bible Q&A study!

I. CAUTION

We will begin with something we will call “The Patterns Rule.” It is quite critical that we pay very close attention here!! Recognizing patterns is your greatest strength in recognizing false teachers. Instead of focusing on just a few instances of doctrine or behavior, your goal is to see long-term patterns (habits) in doctrine and behavior. This will minimize the chances of you wrongly accusing good, honest, sincere Bible teachers who (like all of us) simply suffer the limitations of fallibility. Believe it or not, all preachers and teachers (including this author) make mistakes. We misspeak. We give a wrong reference, say an incorrect name, read a verse too quickly and skip over a letter or word, misquote a passage, use poor grammar, mispronounce or misspell Bible terms, and so on. These slip-ups do not make us false teachers. It is the Christian approach to give people the benefit of the doubt when they make mistakes. Let us consider a few examples.

Not long ago, this author heard a preacher reading Mark 15:43. Where Scripture had “boldly,” he said “bodily.” On another occasion, he said “armies” when the Bible read “army” in Revelation 19:19. Yet another time, in Zechariah 1:17, he read aloud “spared” when Scripture said “spread.” There is no need for alarm here. This does not make him a false teacher. Instead of saying he is a “false teacher,” a better way to describe him is “dyslexic”… or maybe just someone who reads too quickly to pay attention to individual letters. This is still a case in point: we need to have a Bible in front of us as much as possible when listening to someone else read the Bible out-loud to us. Why? The next preacher might be deliberately misreading the verses! We would do well to discuss that kind of individual now.

When someone gains a reputation (remember, long-term patterns!) for misquoting verses, for repeatedly misrepresenting the same passages, for usually or always giving wrong Bible-verse references, for constantly claiming “The Bible says” and yet never providing specific chapter and/or verse numbers, these are strong indications the person is being willfully dishonest. Let us take it a step further now.

If one single sermon or book—or perhaps several sermons and countless books—abounds with these errors, those are warning signs that the preacher or teacher is not under the control of the Holy Spirit. Such numerous inaccuracies in rapid succession are not honest mistakes. Human wisdom, speculation, and religious tradition have obviously replaced the pure Word of God. The words of God are being deliberately altered, purposefully suppressed, and intentionally ignored. Someone has a theological system to maintain, a pet denominational doctrine to uphold, a vain speculation to guard, or a heresy to hide. Therefore, that person will not think twice about violating the Scriptures. What they want is control, dominance, over a person or group: they do not care where they are going with it, so long as they are leading!! It happens more often than we would care to think, dear friends. Do NOT think it cannot happen at your local assembly! (This cannot be stressed enough—oh, how this cannot be stressed enough.)

First John 4:1 speaks of Israel in the future: “[1] Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Did you notice the liars? There are many false prophets”many deceivers. Yet, they are quite “pious” in their appearance and vocabulary. Just as God has His preachers, so Satan has his counterfeits.

Notice 2 Peter 1:19–2:3, also Israel in the future: “[1:19] We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: [1:20] Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. [1:21] For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. [2:1] But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. [2:2] And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. [2:3] And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

Now, consider the Apostle Paul’s comments in 2 Corinthians chapter 11: “[13] For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. [15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Finally, hear Paul’s words to the elders (church leaders) of the church at Ephesus. We read in Acts chapter 20: “[28] Take heed [Beware!!!!] therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. [32] And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Not only are there Satanic men outside the church aiming to come in and deceive; they are also in the church leadership (!!!!) those wanting to deceive people and draw them out so as to form new groups (sects)!

In light of these verses, and numerous others we could have listed, we think it best to address false teachers. There are doctrinal perverts not only outside the Grace Movement, but (unfortunately) in it as well. It would do us well to learn doctrine to guard ourselves against falling prey to them. Now, we will get to the bulk of the study.

II. CRITERIA

1. Doctrine

Doctrine is the most important criterion; it must be considered first. Other criteria—those that are supplementary—will be discussed later in this section.

Read 1 Timothy 4:1-2: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” There is such a thing as “doctrines of devils.” Friends, not all doctrine is equal; not all supposed “Christian” people preach and believe the same thing. Therefore, when the “Ecumenical Movement” proponents tell us to throw away doctrine and just gather with all professing “Christians” around “the love of Jesus,” they are telling us to ignore verses that scream against false doctrine. When such ecumenists make the claim they really do not care what people believe or teach, that is a warning to us. Having such a carefree attitude toward doctrine is to be contrary to dozens upon dozens of Bible verses. Notice some other Scriptural admonitions about false teachers.

Reading from Titus chapter 3: “[9] But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. [10] A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; [11] Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” The “heretick”—or false teacher—is flipped about, turned over, perverted. What he believes and teaches is SIN. It does not glorify Jesus Christ. If he twice refuses to be corrected, the Bible says to leave him alone. If he twice refuses to be corrected, the Bible says to leave him alone. Did we get that? If he twice refuses to be corrected, GOD says to leave him alone!

As we saw in 2 Peter at the beginning, there were false prophets in ancient Israel. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 describes them: “[1] If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. [5] And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.What was God’s solution to false teachers under the Law economy? Israel was to put them to death! Friends, God does not take false doctrine lightly!!

We can categorize false teaching into two groups. One is a false gospel message—this is the most serious. Then, there are the other types of misleading information. We will look at both classes now, one at a time.

A. GOSPEL PERVERSION

As touching the Gospel message for today, the easiest way to spot the false gospels is to listen for the emphasis of religious works. The constant stressing of human effort to get into Heaven is a false gospel. A false teacher’s “gospel invitation” is dominated by pleas to walk an aisle, say a prayer, make a confession of sins, make a public profession of faith, get water baptized, keep the Ten Commandments, kneel at the “altar” and weep, turn from one’s sins, and so on. It is a lie straight from the pits of Hell to suggest to a lost person that he has something to offer God, some inherent goodness or sincere effort that will cause God to pass over his sin. God’s grace is pushed aside in favor of pleasing man. The cross of Christ is ignored. God’s grace is hidden. What a damnable message!

Galatians 1:6-9 says that if someone is preaching anything other than Paul’s Gospel, we are to have nothing to do with that person: “[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Paul’s Gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….”

Notice Acts 16:30-31: “[30] And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? [31] And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.The Apostle Paul was under the impression that faith in Jesus Christ was enough to get someone into Heaven. We would do well to agree with God’s spokesman to us Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:2). You may also see Romans chapters 1-5 for a fuller treatment of the Gospel of the Grace of God. This is your “litmus test” to see what is a true Gospel and what is a false one (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:1-4).

Romans 3:24-28: “[24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

While a clear Gospel message is important—the most vital of doctrines—there are other types of Bible information of which we need to be aware.

B. OTHER DIDACTIC DEVIATIONS

The Bible is the world’s most important Book. It threatens Satan’s policy and plan of evil. God’s Word equips the lost person with the Gospel that can save his sinful soul from the everlasting wrath of God in eternal hellfire (what we just covered)! Also, Holy Scripture furnishes the Christian with the mind of God as pertaining to daily grace living (which we will now address). If Satan can attack God’s Word in the subtlest of ways, he can keep lost people on their path to Hell and keep Christians on their path to more ignorance!

Beware of those who say, “It makes no difference what Bible version you use; they all basically say the same thing.” Stated another way, “Doctrine means nothing to me.” (As per copyright laws, all modern English bibles must read differently. The way publishing houses achieve variety is by relying on assorted Bible manuscripts, texts that the Church the Body of Christ has refused to accept over the centuries because of those texts’ obvious faulty readings. There are significant resultant alterations to the Bible text. They are not minor differences!!) As English-speaking Christians, we need to use an Authorized Version King James Bible. This author has spent many, many years researching the Bible versions issue. He had to abandon his modern-version position because it was incorrect—theologically, historically, and morally. We will get to that later.

The most important Bible study verse is the only verse that tells us to “study” the Bible. Second Timothy 2:15 is that verse: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Since Paul tells us to “rightly divide the word of truth,” he will also tell us how to do it.

Genesis 1:1 opens the Bible with, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There is a program for the heavenly places, and another program for the Earth. It is absolutely imperative that we keep these two programs separate!!

Peter the Apostle preached in Acts chapter 3: “[19] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

God spoke some truths “since the world began” (when He placed Adam on the Earth). We see that He used prophets, or spokesmen, to manifest that information to man. Therefore, the Bible says this is “the prophetic program.”

Paul the Apostle wrote in Romans chapter 16: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….”

In stark contrast to God speaking information “since the world began,” He also withheld some information. This body of truth was “kept secret since the world began.” It is “the mystery program.” God did not make it known until He first revealed it to the Apostle Paul. This shows us that Paul has a unique apostleship, a special place in God’s dealings with man. Notice how the Holy Spirit led Paul to write my gospel” in verse 25. God entrusted to Paul a special Gospel message, some good news that no man prior ever knew anything about.

Paul also wrote in Ephesians 2:11-13: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

We should think of the Bible as a timeline. There is “time past” (verse 11), and there is “but now” (verse 13). Verse 7 talks about “the ages to come.” Such divisions show us that there was a time when God made a distinction between Jew and Gentile, Israel and the nations (verses 11-12). However, with Paul’s ministry—“but now” (present-day)—that racial and religious distinction is temporarily suspended. In this “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2), God does not see Jew and Gentile. He sees saved (those in Christ) and lost (those in Adam). You may read Ephesians 3:1-9, for example. Those who are saved (who have trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour) are members of the Church the Body of Christ. The Church the Body of Christ is separate and distinct from the nation Israel because the former belongs to the mystery program and the latter belongs to the prophetic program. We the Body of Christ do not belong in prophecy. The nation Israel does not belong in mystery.

The ministries of Peter and Paul are not to be combined. They are to be rightly divided. Israel and the Body of Christ are not to be mixed. We must rightly divide them. Prophecy and mystery are to be separated. Law and Grace are to be rightly divided. Earth and Heaven must be separated. The most common form of false teaching is when all these distinctions are “smoothed over” as though there is only one church in the Bible, only one Gospel in the Bible, only one group of apostles in the Bible, only one realm in the Bible, only one program in the Bible, only one operating system in the Bible, and so on.

As noted earlier, Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13): he is God’s spokesman to us. If we ignore the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon, then we are ignoring God’s Word to us. Alas, there is the constant plea today that we need to “go back to Pentecost, Acts chapter 2.” While such people may be sincere, they are sincerely wrong. Our pattern is found in Pauline doctrine, Romans through Philemon. We do not go to the Old Testament—Genesis through Malachi, or even Matthew through John (Christ’s earthly ministry)—to find God’s Word to or about us. We do not go to the early part of Acts, and we do not go to Hebrews through Revelation. These are all God’s Word to and about Israel. We study the whole Bible, for it is all the inspired Word of God, but we study it rightly divided. Paul’s ministry is to and about us Church the Body of Christ, believers in the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

That being said, we should see that a false teacher is someone who does not make the above distinctions. They do not like dispensational Bible study. They may actually and openly declare it to be “heresy,” a “manmade system,” “cultic,” and so on. Rather than answer the doctrine point-by-point, they resort to character assassination and insults. Dispensational Bible study is a threat to their religious system, their denomination, and they recognize it as such. They will fight it as much as possible to maintain their preconceived ideas. Whether they realize it or not, they are false teachers. They are teaching error by grabbing Israel’s verses and making them fit us today—legalism (Law-keeping), water baptism, confession of sins, spiritual gifts (tongues, healing, et cetera), Sabbath-day observance, kosher food laws, tithing (forced giving), feast days and holy days, and so on. They will even try to fit us (the Body of Christ) into the Tribulation period, the wrath to come, the reign of the Antichrist. Such people are not serving Jesus Christ with their perverted (non-dispensational) teachings.

The most dangerous false teacher is a legalistic one. First Timothy chapter 1: “[3] As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. [5] Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: [6] From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; [7] Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. [8] But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; [9] Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, [10] For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; [11] According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” 

Paul told Timothy to command those in Ephesus not to change the doctrine (verse 3). Doctrine is important. They would change the doctrine by moving from Pauline revelation (grace) over to the Law (see verses 7-8). They were legalists; their motto was, “Perform, work in religion, to get God’s blessings! Keep His commandments or receive the curses!” (Does that sound familiar?) That is indeed what Moses instructed, it is Scripture, but Moses is not God’s spokesman to us. Paul is God’s messenger to us, and Paul said nothing of the sort in Romans through Philemon. We are blessed because of and in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)—not because of something we did but because of something He did (Ephesians 1:6; Colossians 2:10; Titus 3:4-7).

In 2 Timothy 2:15-18, we see some false teachers who mix prophecy and mystery by having the Church the Body of Christ enter the Tribulation period: “[15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.They would tell Christians that they had missed the Rapture (resurrection of the Body of Christ into Heaven) and were now experiencing the wrath of God. We hear that even today—a placing of the Body of Christ into the Antichrist’s reign. They are false teachers… and Paul was not afraid to name them in verse 17!!

2. MANNERISMS

Romans 16:17-18 tells us: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark [identify] them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.What are the “marks” of such people? They change the doctrine by moving away from sound Bible doctrine (dispensational Bible study—namely Pauline dispensationalism). Their goal is to attack the Bible text, discredit God’s Word, so they can then replace it with an introduction to their opinions and biases. How sad it is, but they use their convincing words to sway the ignorant masses to their side!

Let us show you, dear readers, 18 specific instances of how these false teachers operate.

A. Entertaining Preacher

False teachers seek to entertain because they want popularity, the acceptance and approbation of men. Now, dear friends, please do not misunderstand. A preacher or teacher telling a joke is not a sin. What is a sin is when the minister gains a reputation for “comic relief” (remember, long-term patterns!). People go to his “services” simply to get a good laugh. They love to hear his myriads of jokes and hilarious stories. He places little emphasis on teaching the Word of God because that Word is not always palatable. The Bible offends, dear friends, the Bible offends. We will discuss the “Ear-Tickling” and/or Prosperity Preacher later.

B. Generalizing Preacher

False teachers try to avoid dealing with controversial matters in public. They do not get into too much detail in their teachings. Mostly (remember, long-term patterns!), they stay general or vague so as not to offend. Their goal is not to preach Bible truths; rather, it is to entice the audience to keep coming back. While time and space constraints limit us all, false teachers waste time. They will focus most of their efforts on one indistinct or non-specific issue. Or, if they go into some detail, they try to focus on nothing but teachings that most people would agree on—the shallow things or basics of Christianity. This way, people of “all denominations” will come without hesitation. Their information is usually common knowledge. They read Bible verses but actual commentary is lean—perhaps totally nonexistent. At their home Bible studies, for example, you ask them pointed questions about what they have just read, and you see them “wiggle.” They will comment on specifics only if you ask them to do so. They will not naturally be specific in public. “Putting them on the spot” is the only way to catch them in duplicity. Sometimes, they will not comment at all.

C. Disinclined Preacher

Everyone can be shy when meeting new people. Due to our personalities, some of us are naturally introverts and we retreat. We do not like mingling with others, particularly strangers. Please do not misunderstand us here either. Shyness is not sinful. However, when a preacher has very little social interaction with you—especially in-person—he may have something to hide. He does not greet you first; you usually or always have to approach him if you are to have a conversation with him. He does not want to draw too much attention to himself or his teaching, and he has little to no interest in discussing doctrine with you. False teachers show no real enthusiasm when dealing with people over the Word of God. There is apathy—no outward joy or enthusiasm, no emotion at all—when they are given opportunity to evangelize or teach others. They could not care less. There is disinterest in ministry opportunities. Of course, this is to be expected. The Holy Spirit has been quenched, hindered from working. (Remember, long-term patterns!)

D. Prayerless Preacher

False teachers rarely, if ever, open and close their messages with public prayer. If any preacher or Bible teacher simply begins and abruptly ends his sermon without praying, that is a major problem that cannot be ignored. Friend, you should be careful getting involved with that ministry. Sometimes we forget to pray, either before or after the sermon. That is unintentional and no need for alarm. However, when a minister habitually skips public praying entirely, this is serious. Remember the patterns rule! The incessant absence of prayer indicates that the speaker has no interest in God blessing the time of study, no desire for God the Holy Spirit to speak through those words read from the Holy Bible. This prayerless speaker has an agenda—he wants to teach what he wants to teach, and he brings his Bible only to hide those intentions. In the energy of his flesh, he delivers a message that the Spirit of God would never endorse. He certainly will not involve the Holy Spirit if he knows the Holy Spirit disapproves of his message.

E. Pestering Preacher

A false teacher will continue to beleaguer you, time and time again, trying to convert you to his line of thought. He may repeatedly send you his literature/media, when you did not subscribe to that mailing list. He keeps calling your phone, emailing you, and/or sending you physical mail. When you make it clear to him that you are not interested, he continues sending booklets, visitors to your home, and so on. These patterns all suggest he is desperately attempting to proselytize you. He is not interested in giving you free will; he wants to control you.

F. “Unapologetic-Bible-Scoffer” Preacher

The false teacher will openly laugh at you when you show him from the Bible how he is teaching heresy. When you confront him about the wording of a specific Bible verse that he misquoted, he will further misquote it just to maintain his theological system he tried to advance earlier. He will make light of serious matters; his lighthearted attitude about doctrine is obvious, and his unbelief cannot be hidden. You caught him erring in doctrine, but he refuses to be corrected by the verses.

G. “Ear-Tickling” and/or Prosperity Preacher

If there has not been a controversy at that teacher or preacher’s assembly in recent years, that means that he is telling people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. If there has not been a dissonant voice in the near past—a long-time adherent breaking away from the group, or a newly-come visitor soon leaving—this author would wonder about the doctrinal integrity there. God’s truth offends; doctrine divides. Departing individuals are expected. When you hear nothing but flattering remarks, complimentary language, “always positive” content, that means the preacher is there just to entertain (which entices individuals to stay). He will avoid using the “negative” Bible words—“sin,” “Hell,” “judgment,” and “wrath,” for example. He will share nothing but positive stories, heartwarming ditties to soothe people’s troubled ears. False teachers also say that Christians are to never be sick, never to be poor, and so on. (This would naturally cause poor and/or ill believers in Christ to doubt their salvation, right?) Such a minister is to be avoided at all costs.

H. Eloquent and Bombastic Preacher

Related to the Ear-Tickling Preacher, the persuasive orator uses polished, inflated language. Please do not misunderstand. There is nothing wrong with being educated, having an extensive vocabulary, and using good grammar. Still, it must be said. Some preachers and teachers are nothing but intellectuals. You can hear it in their voice and read it in their books. They gather their people to have a “philosopher’s club,” where they talk about Scripture and various “spiritual” ideas, but they never really get into the meat of the Bible. There is no serious Bible study. They make it a point to use all these elaborate, multi-syllable words that very few (if any!) in the audience understand. Such mental gymnastics actually hinder the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. Theology is preferred; academics are emphasized. First Corinthians chapters 1-3 should be consulted here, as the Corinthians were rebuked for worshipping philosophy!

I. Habitual Original-Bible-Languages Preacher

Some false teachers refrain from using common language (in our case, English). They have been trained (at seminary, Bible College, et cetera) to depend mostly—if not entirely—upon Greek texts, Hebrew texts, Aramaic texts, Latin texts, and so on. Occasional references to Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek are okay, but false teachers become addicted to appealing to original Bible languages (remember our patterns rule!). “Bible study” for them is nothing more than flipping through a lexicon, reading a Bible dictionary, writing entire Greek passages on a chalkboard, and so on. A Bible may not actually be present in the room either! The common person does not speak these (technical) languages, so they are at the mercy of the false teacher. It is a form of control, a “beating up of the ‘lowly, unenlightened bumpkins’ in the pews!” They have no idea of what is really going on; they have no way of verifying what the teacher is actually saying. The “Anti-King-James-Bible Preacher” and “Private-Translation Preacher” are closely associated with this.

J. Anti-King-James-Bible Preacher

Some teachers have simply been misinformed here. They have good intentions but have been taught wrong about Bible versions. (This author was once a false teacher in this point!) Still, others are willfully ignorant of it. They do not want to give the King James Bible the benefit of the doubt. In their mind, it is wrong and that is that! In the English-speaking world (much of our ministry’s audience), the false teacher will constantly correct the King James Bible. What makes this ministry so problematic is that people are taught in church to question the Bible. This minister decries how colleges destroy people’s faith in the Bible; meanwhile, he tells us the King James Bible is flawed throughout and we must look to him (and others like him) for a “more accurate Bible text.” His sermons and books abound with such phrases as, “This word should have been this…,” “A better translation is…,” “The most ancient and reliable texts read something else…,” “Our 1611 translators goofed here…,” and so on. Authority is taken away from the Protestant Bible—the King James Bible line of witnesses and manuscripts—and given over to Roman Catholic texts (modern English versions). It is really a continuation of the Counter-Reformation that the Roman Church initiated 500 years ago to: (1) discourage Protestants from using their personal Bible, and (2) cause them to seek counsel from the tradition-worshipping Roman priesthood that possessed “the better text.” Many Protestants, sadly, have adopted such a practice; they attack their own Bible text! How Satan loves it!

K. “Private-Translation” Preacher

Another type of minister you want to watch out for is someone who makes his own Bible translation as he goes long in the service. He refuses to use a Bible in his audience’s language: he deliberately avoids using a Bible written in the language of his spectators. Rather, he uses a Greek/Hebrew/Latin Bible and translates as he teaches. A private interpretation is dangerous. Friend, you have no way of knowing if he translated correctly or just fabricated something! (And, what difference does it make… he is the authority and you are the know-nothing peon in the pew who cannot make comparisons between languages!) While in translation, our 1611 King James Bible was reviewed many, many times by many, many qualified men. This author will take their judgment over the opinions of one man in this day of mass apostasy!

L. “Experience-Based/Extra-Biblical” Preacher

When something other than the Holy Bible is the authority, that is false teaching. That offends people, but so what. It must be said. In such groups, experiences will take the place of the Scriptures—“I saw this miracle, I heard that voice talking to me, I felt this inner impression….” They make it a point to tell stories of other people’s superstitious experiences as well. “God spoke to me…. Angels appeared throughout the room…. I am filled with the Holy Ghost and let me tell you what He said… I had this vision, dream, hunch, leading inside to do this or that….” Second Timothy 3:15-17: “[15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Friends, the Bible is all we need to know everything God wants us to know and to do everything God wants us to do! We do not need angels, hunches, opinions, visions, and so on.

M. “Praise and Worship” Preacher

This man is akin to the “Experience-Based/Extra-Biblical Preacher” and the “Ear-Tickling Preacher.” When a preacher or teacher spends most of his ministry stressing music and singing, this is precarious. The Word of God is not studied at his meeting-place; instead, priorities here include dancing in the church building, loud (perhaps deafening) “concerts,” and the like. Loss of self-control is rampant. Emotions are exalted. Entertainment is key. There is no semblance of spiritual sanity. The flesh (sin nature) is in complete control—God the Holy Spirit is not! We can find such people in 1 Corinthians chapter 14

N. “Lone-Teacher” Preacher

False teachers claim that they do not need anyone to teach them the Bible. They say that “God” (?) has taught them and they alone are equipped to teach others. No one can teach them anything because they know it all. Some will tell you outright that you do not need preachers, teachers, or commentaries. Who are these individuals? They are preachers, teachers, and writers of commentaries! This is actually a cult in the making, if not already a well-founded one. Their so-called “revelations” deny the sufficiency of the Scripture itself. In fact, they may exalt their own writings as “the Word of God.” When they isolate you so as to make you believe that you have to come to them and them alone for Bible answers, that is dangerous and certainly not of the God of the Bible. Their flesh is running the show, and they will not submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading. You have no reason to stick around that assembly or Bible study group!

O. “Spiritualize-to-Tell-Spiritual-Lies” Preacher

This individual tells you that when the Holy Bible says one thing, it really means something else. They depart from a literal interpretation; this error is also known as the “allegorical/figurative method” of approaching Scripture. For example, “Babylon” really means “Rome,” “Israel” actually means “Body of Christ,” “grace” really means “works,” “Jerusalem” actually means your hometown, and so on. You are always supposed to be looking for code words, hidden meanings, clandestine definitions, mystical implications, and so on. If that were the case, how would you ever figure out anything in Scripture?

P. Self-Professed “Infallible” Preacher

False teachers refuse to hear where they are wrong. They waste all their opportunities they had to correct their mistakes. They do not want to have anyone questioning what they teach. They discourage all opposition and all discussion. They may tell people in their assembly, “You are correcting me about the Bible? What do you know about the Bible? You let me teach you and you be quiet.” They come into groups and try to make major doctrinal changes without Scriptural authority. They are despots. Leave them be!

Q. Tradition-Dominated Preacher

Every religious traditionalist is a false teacher (whether they realize it or not is beside the point). That is brutal but that is honest. Whenever church tradition creeps in, it will soon push the Holy Bible aside. Their unique expressions are, “The Church says…,” “Brother So-and-So teaches…,” “Doctor This-and-That holds to this…,” and so on. Jesus Christ addressed this crowd in Mark chapter 7: “[8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…. [9] … Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…. [13] Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

R. “Scant Verses” Preacher

A false teacher will use just a couple of verses in each sermon. He will not do comparative verses because verse comparisons restrict the meaning of the verses he just read. In order to have as much latitude with a verse as possible, the false teacher will concentrate as much as possible on that verse (or a few verses). This way, he can read the Bible, appear to be teaching the Bible, but actually not let the Bible define more fully what it means.

3. CONVERTS/CONGREGANTS

We have seen how doctrine can be examined to expose false teachers. Also, we have discussed how mannerisms can be considered to uncover false teachers. Lastly, we will look at how the preacher’s or teacher’s own audience will demonstrate him to be sound in the faith or sick in the faith.

Try, as much as possible, to interact with any converts or congregants of the teacher or preacher you are evaluating. Individuals who have sat under a false teacher’s ministry will exhibit a great number of the above doctrinal and practical departures and oddities. They have such a basic understanding of the Bible—perhaps even no understanding.

When gaining information from congregants or converts, you do not want to say, “Hey, your preacher is a false teacher. You know what I heard him say? You know what I read in his book?” No, that will draw attention to your investigation, and that may “tip off” the alleged false teacher to change or hide his teachings just so you not catch him in the act. Rather, you ask their position on various issues and see what they say. The more converts or students you ask, the more things they say in common, you are safe in concluding they have likely heard it from that one preacher. The preacher, whether good or bad, will set the example. His ministry will duplicate himself in the minds and behaviors of those under his ministry. For example, if someone from one person’s ministry usually asks the same related questions concerning one particular controversial issue, the chances are great that that ministry embraced that quirky position.

III. CONCLUSION

1. DOES THIS REALLY MATTER?

What better way to begin closing this article but by answering objections? (This author has heard them, and he will be glad to address them now.)

A. “We all sin—no one is perfect!”

Indeed, see Sub-Section “E.”

B. “We are all still learning—no one has all the answers!”

Indeed, see Sub-Section “E.”

C. “We cannot read hearts—only God knows if they are truly false!”

Indeed, and No. See Sub-Section “E.”

D. “We all have our disagreements—no big deal there!”

Indeed, and No. See Sub-Section “E.”

E. What God says

We all sin, but that is no excuse for false teaching. We are all still learning, but that is no reason to accept false teachers. We can disagree, but there are places where we cannot disagree. God knows we all sin, God knows we are still learning, God knows we can disagree, God alone can read hearts. Yet, He still told us on numerous occasions to “avoid” false teachers. He did not say, “Well, everyone sins, everyone disagrees, everyone does not know everything, no one can read hearts, so you need not be so concerned with someone teaching error here and there!” It is as if God thought He gave us enough information to spot and avoid false teachers. Are we willing to hear those words? Or, are we just going to blindly gravitate toward personalities?

Galatians 1:6-9 says that if someone is preaching anything other than Paul’s Gospel, we are to have nothing to do with that person: “[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Is that clear enough?

Romans 16:17-18 tells us: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark [identify] them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.Is that clear enough?

Second Corinthians 6:14-18: “[14] Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? [15] And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? [16] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. [18] And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Is that clear enough?

First Timothy 6:3-5: “[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” Is that clear enough?

Christians who have no appreciation for the Word of God rightly divided, as well as those who are unsaved (outside of Jesus Christ), will tell us not to “attack” false teachers. They tell us we should not be giving out names, we should not be criticizing “other Christians,” and we should not be “nitpicky” because nobody has all the answers. Why? They have their own flawed theological systems that they do not want you to expose! They want to defend the false teachers they embrace. They want to soothe their raging emotions. How they will lash out at you, and call you the most vicious of titles!

Contrary to what many people would have us believe, doctrine matters. The Holy Spirit knew all our limitations, our lack of perfect understanding in every Bible detail, and yet He still warns us over and over and over again in the Scriptures to be on the lookout for false teaching. God called those people liars and deceivers, so we need not worry about “reading hearts.” He said if they are teaching bad doctrine, they are not worthy of our time and support. They are not serving Him. End of story. Period! The only reason for being unable to discern truth from error is just plain laziness. People refuse to get in the Bible and study it for themselves. That is offensive, but that is the truth. We all need to accept that.

It should also be pointed out that even the smallest of departures from the truth are problematic. Just as a building under construction is “offset” little by little as each floor is constructed—the result being a massive difference from the blueprints—so “little” doctrinal errors will combine to form one gigantic apostasy. Galatians chapter 5 speaks of legalism (doctrinal error—works-religion) creeping into the Christian groups throughout central Turkey: “[7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” As a little yeast would make a whole ball of dough expand, so a little false teaching corrupts an entire assembly. It will grow worse and worse. And, to think—it all started with a “little!” (Do you want to eat just a “little” poison?)

2. THE SIMPLE PREY

Read 1 Timothy 4:1-2 once again: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” These “seducing spirits” are preacher’s voices. They draw naïve people away from the truth by delighting or pleasing them in some way.

Romans 16:17-18 tells us: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark [identify] them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” False teachers fool the simple. These “simple” are innocent and unsuspecting. They do not realize what is happening to them—that someone is spiritually weakening and destroying (poisoning) them. Galatians 3:1 says, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” The false teachers put their people under “spell,” sort of like hypnosis. They are no longer thinking clearly; they are like spiritual zombies now. How awful!

Finally, 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “[3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” The false teachers are telling them just what they want to hear!!

3. PERFECTING YOUR “FALSE TEACHER RADAR”

My dear friend, be not discouraged if this study has caused you to see where false teaching has affected or misled you. This author his had his own “rough experiences” in religion. It has taken him over a decade in ministry to see his own faults and false ideas he once held and defended. We are all growing, purifying our ministries, and (Lord willing) we will do so until the Rapture (or physical death). As long as you heed the verses quoted in this study, and consider the advice presented here, this author is fully confident that the Holy Spirit will give you the readers the strength to perfect your ability to spot false teachers. How does he know? It has been his firsthand experience. Diligent Bible study, long prayer, careful investigation, and a believing heart are all key to fine-tuning how you discern the ministries of preachers and teachers.

4. THE RISKS

If you take this information to heart and act on it, this author guarantees you that you will lose friends. (He knows firsthand many times over!) As he has become accustomed to saying in recent times, “So be it!” You will also gain the friendships of people who do want to know God’s truth, who share your desire to maintain sound Bible doctrine. Just remember when Paul confronted the deceived Galatians in Galatians 4:16: “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”

5. CAN FALSE TEACHERS BE “SALVAGED?”

One final note before we wrap this up, dear readers. This author has learned that some preachers and teachers can indeed turn from error to the truth. Usually, however, this is not the case. They have too much too lose—power/influence, popularity, wealth, and so on. This author would greatly caution (!) anyone who is attempting (or considering attempting) approaching a false teacher close to them. Unless the person is grounded in the Word of God rightly divided, the false teacher may very well corrupt the well-meaning person. This author would advise those people to be very careful here, and perhaps seek the advice and/or aid of more skillful Christians.

While we should attempt to recover those in Satan’s trap (2 Timothy 2:24-26)— particularly as it concerns brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:1-2)—it is never wise to risk a whole congregation just to reform one errant Christian. A group that openly and significantly disagrees with a false teacher, that group should be very careful in any “salvaging” operation. It is highly likely that the false teacher will further corrupt the group. If he does eventually turn from his evil teaching, fine—praise the Lord. He should be showing progress in his reformation. If he is still retaining and teaching his errors after a significant amount of instruction in the truth, it is best to leave him alone (Titus 3:9-11). He wants to stay confused, and we give him his free will choice (1 Corinthians 14:38).

For the sake of our ministry, for the sake of our audience, we will have to separate from false teachers. We should not apologize for it. It does not matter how kind he is, how comical he is, how knowledgeable he is, how handsome he is, how articulate he is, how much he claims to “love the Lord,” it is time to let him go his way. With a broken heart, you give him over to his error. It is what he wants. It is what GOD wants (Titus 3:9-11).

Also see:
» Does doctrine matter?
» But what if they read the Bible at my church?
» Are we merely interested in breaking up churches?

But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!

BUT WHAT IF THEY READ THE BIBLE AT MY CHURCH…?!

by Shawn Brasseaux

What a wonderful question, and I would be so glad to answer it!

Not many church members know, friend, but the Devil highly encourages Bible reading. Did I surprise you there? Let me say it again. The Devil highly encourages Bible reading. Got it? I will say it a third time so it can sink in. The Devil highly encourages Bible reading. Oh yes, dear friends, Satan does not have a problem with people reading the Bible. So long as they do not know the key to understanding the Bible, they can read it all they want and still get nothing out of it. I know people who have read the Bible for many decades… and I still would not dare sit under their ministry!

Having the Bible is a start, but owning and/or reading it in and of itself is not threatening to Satan, as he has his own set of “bibles” (counterfeits) in circulation. How badly he wants you to buy one—there are plenty of his phony “bibles,” modern English versions, to go around! Usually, though, people never understand the Bible they do own or read. They keep buying the latest version to hit the market and stay in an endless loop of confusion. If people ever find a pure copy of the Bible (King James Bible in English), and do learn how to use it as God intended, only then will they be a bother to Satan. (This rarely happens though, to the Devil’s delight.)

What if Satan wanted to read the Bible to you, friend? Perhaps you think I am being facetious, joking around. No, I am asking you as gravely and sincerely as possible. Do you know that Satan reads the Bible? If you came into his classroom, he would read you the Bible for hours and hours and hours. Actually, he knows it better than all professing Christians combined! Satan has been reading the Scriptures for thousands of years. Do you know that he also enjoys telling the Bible to others? Maybe you doubt me. Perhaps you think I am being ridiculous. But, what if I could substantiate that claim? What if I had the testimony of the Bible itself to prove it?

My friend, has it ever struck you as odd that Satan quoted the Bible to the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry? Did you even know that ever took place? Read it for yourself, as found in the “temptations of Christ” passage of Matthew chapter 4 and Luke chapter 4.

Matthew 4:5-6: “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

Luke 4:9-11: “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

You should be careful to notice that Satan did not deny God’s existence; he did not blatantly deny the existence of angels either. Furthermore, he never openly refuted the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. Satan is much sneakier than that. The Bible speaks of the “wiles” of the Devil (Ephesians 6:11); these are schemes or strategies designed to manipulate and persuade people to do what he wants them to do. Satan was highly calculating in his dealings with Jesus, just like he was with Eve, and just like he wants to be with us today.

Genesis 3:1 reports: “Now the serpent [Satan, Revelation 12:9] was more subtil [sneakier, craftier, more cunning] than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Second Corinthians chapter 11 affirms: “[3] But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled [tricked, fooled] Eve through his subtilty [trickery, fraud, deception], so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. [4] For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (1 Timothy 2:14: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”)

While Satan prefers you not to use the Bible, but that has an appearance of evil, and he knows this can be remedied by someone giving you a Bible. Additionally, he knows that the Bible plus church tradition is more convincing because it has an appearance of truth, but someone can come and show you the authority is in the Bible alone and not in religious tradition. That can be avoided. Lastly, Satan understands that the Bible not rightly divided is the most confusing, the subtlest of all ploys, because it seems like the Bible alone is the authority. Verse after verse is quoted, with no reference to church tradition, but mindlessly grabbing/quoting verses can be dangerous.

Take Satan’s handling of the Bible. Let me impress upon you once again that the Devil himself actually quoted Scripture to Jesus! Read it once more!

Matthew 4:5-6: “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

Luke 4:9-11: “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

Satan loved to quote the Bible but was careful to call attention only to the verses that he liked. Yes, he deliberately skipped the next verse, the one that described his own defeat (Psalm 91:13: “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.”)! Not only so, but the verses Satan used were perverted as he repeated them.

Pay close attention:

  • Psalm 91:11-12 (Satan’s version): “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Luke 4:10,11). Compare this to the verses below. Satan omitted “in all thy ways” at the beginning and added “at any time” near the end.
  • Psalm 91:11-12 (God’s version): “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

Satan was sneaky, huh? Of course, the Lord Jesus Christ, being God in human flesh, was very much aware of Satan’s mishandling of Scripture. Christ was never on the verge of being fooled as Eve had been (or liable to be fooled as we still are). What we see in the above verses is an example of Bible corruption from master counterfeiter and corrupter himself. Remember, Satan is all about Bible reading, so long as the Bible is not quoted fully and not handled properly. Satan was grabbing verses that applied to the Second Coming of Christ and tried to make it fit His First Coming! Yes, Satan was not “rightly dividing the word of truth” (more on this later).

In 2 Corinthians 2:17, we read, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” Did you catch that word “many?” Did you see the phrase, corrupt the word of God?” This means that, when you find someone teaching or preaching the Bible, there is a high probability that they are perverting the Scriptures. That is not what I said, that is what the Bible said. If you do not like it, take it up with God. He said it.

Look at 2 Corinthians 4:2: “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” God’s Word can be handled dishonestly, it can be handled craftily, and it can be handled deceitfully. That is what the Bible says. Go back to Satan’s handling of the Scriptures.

Jeremiah chapter 23 is a very disparaging rebuke directed towards Israel’s religious leaders. Watch God’s words to them: “[1] Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. [2] Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.”….

“[13] And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err…. [16] Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. [17] They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. [18] For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?”…. 

“[21] I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. [22] But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings…. [26] How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; [27] Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. [28] The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. [29] Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”

[30] Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. [31] Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. [32] Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.”…. [36] And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.”

Do you sense God’s burning anger in this chapter? These religious leaders have so misled His people that the whole nation is now going to experience God’s wrath! They claim to be speaking on God’s behalf, and yet He says He never sent them. All they do is lie, deceive. Israel is so ignorant of the Scriptures that they cannot survive the apostasy, the deception. People who handle the Word of God dishonestly, craftily, and deceitfully, have fooled them! Oh, but we can never say they did not sound correct in the messages they preached!

The Bible says in 2 Peter chapter 3: “[15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Notice the word “wrest” in verse 16. It means to twist, as in distorting the meaning or interpretation in order to suit one’s own interests or views.

If we wrest/twist/distort/pervert the Bible, spiritual destruction will certainly result. See, the Bible is being used; it just is not being used properly. The Bible is being read, but it is not being understood rightly divided. Instead of being helpful to its readers, profitable to its hearers, it is harmful. What was Satan’s strategy here? To cause people to doubt the Bible, to hate it and finally avoid it. But, since they want it to support their denomination or church, they will hang on to it and “pick and choose” what they want to quote from it. Every “Christian” cult in the world, every “Christian” heretic on this planet, quotes the Bible to some extent. Without the Bible, they would not even closely resemble Christianity enough to pass themselves of as part of it.

At this point, it is noteworthy to share this tidbit with you. A church leader who converted from a cult to faith entirely in Jesus Christ, spoke at great length about serving in his old denomination. While the group claimed to be “Bible-believing,” and they indeed read Scripture at every church service, they had prearranged passages to read. They had three choices of Bible verses. The two passages not read each service, were to be read respectively for the next two years. In three years, then, all the selected Bible verses were read from the denominational handbook. This sounds like a good Bible education, huh? Reading all these verses seems so impressive, right? Surely, you would want to go attend church services there, huh? Well, you have not been given all the information yet.

As that former cult leader explained, all that Bible reading amounted to was, most amazingly, five percent of whole Bible! In other words, a scant 1.7 percent of the Bible was read in that denomination’s thousands of churches every year!!! (That is scary!!!) It was enough to give the denomination a “Christian” appearance, to fool the masses—but upon closer inspection, it amounted to spiritual crumbs! No wonder these cult members, like all others, have no clue what the Bible really says! They know little bits and pieces, specks of a whole. Unless someone actually takes the time to know what the Bible really says, they have no idea how much of it they are being robbed of!

Interestingly, while Israel was worshipping the pagan idol, the golden calf, they wanted to have a feast to JEHOVAH God. This alone shows us that somebody can appear godly and really be committing evil. Exodus 32:1-5: “[1] And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. [2] And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. [3] And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. [4] And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. [5] And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.”

Jesus Christ Himself affirmed some quite “offensive” truths in Matthew 7:21-23: “[21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

These people claimed that they did mighty works in the name of Jesus Christ. Notice, they did not (NOT! NOT! NOT! NOT! NOT! NOT! NOT!) claim affiliation with Buddha, Mohammed, Allah, Confucius, Mahatma Gandhi, Socrates, Dalai Lama, Plato, Sun Myung Moon, Homer, or even Satan himself. No, they said they did these wonderful deeds in the name of Jesus Christ!!! How did the Lord Jesus Christ respond to them? Did He say, “Oh, My children, what wonderful works you did in My name indeed!”? No! Did He say that it was really Him working in and through them? No! Were they not preaching according to His power? Were they not casting out devils and glorifying Him? No, not according to Him. Instead of commending them for being faithful servants of His, He said they were “workers of iniquity.” He affirmed that He had no association with them whatsoever, and they had no relationship with Him whatsoever. Think long and hard on that, friend. Mark it well and never forget it! Did you see how they called Him “Lord?” Claiming Jesus is Lord does not make one a Christian either. Quoting and reading the Bible does not make one a Christian—unless we categorize Satan as such too (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10,11)!

Second Timothy chapter 3 warns: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” They have “a form of godliness,” the appearance or pattern of godlikeness. The Bible says to “turn away” from them, to leave them alone, abandon them, not to attend their meetings, and not to promote their denomination. It does not matter if they “read the Bible!”

In 2 Timothy 2:15, we read the only verse that tells us to “study” the Bible and how to study it: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” While much could be said about this, suffice it to say that the Bible must be “rightly divided” if it is to be understood. All of the Bible is for us, but not all of the Bible is to us or about us. We study all the Word of God, but we study it dispensationally. The Apostle Paul is God’s spokesman to us, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). God’s Word to man changes through time, and not all verses are valid at every point in human history. (Go back to how Satan mixed up the First and Second Comings of Christ.)

Ephesians 3:1-4: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)….” The “Dispensation of the Grace of God,” the instructions that God has for us today, are found only in the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon. Sadly, most “Christian” groups do not teach or understand the Bible dispensationally. They constantly go back to Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) to try to find God’s pattern for us. They try to hang on to Christ’s earthly ministry, Matthew through John. They want the Lord’s Prayer, the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments (Law keeping), the miracles and signs and wonders, the prayer promises, the Sabbath Day, and so on. Perplexity! Futility! Absurdity!

The Bible says that we are “not under the law but under grace” (Romans 6:14-15). Yet, there was a time when God dealt with the nation Israel on the basis of the Law of Moses. For example:

  • Matthew 23:1-3: “[1] Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, [2] Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: [3] All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”
  • Matthew 5:17-19: “[17] Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. [18] For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. [19] Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Luke 5:14: “And he [Jesus] charged him [the healed leper] to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”

Since we live in the Dispensation of Grace, however, we are not under the Law. In 1 Timothy chapter 1, the Apostle Paul told Timothy to tell people to stop teaching the Law of Moses as means of Christian living. They were to teach grace, for grace is the means of successful Christian living in the Dispensation of Grace:

“[3] As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, [4] Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. [5] Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: [6] From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; [7] Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. [8] But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; [9] Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, [10] For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; [11] According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”

Thus, it is possible to be Scriptural—Mosaic-Law oriented, for example—and still be totally outside of God’s will. The people in 1 Timothy chapter 1 were. When we try to insert the Mosaic Law, a performance-based acceptance system, into the Dispensation of Grace, a Jesus-based acceptance system, we hinder the Spirit of God from working in us who believe. The Spirit of God never leads anyone in the Dispensation of Grace to place themselves under the Law. “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). If ever we find someone under the Law today, the flesh, the denomination, led them there. God’s Spirit did not lead them there!! It does not matter if they quote the Bible or read the Bible!

CONCLUSION

Satan does not mind us reading the Bible; after all, he does it. Satan does not mind us quoting the Bible; yea, he does it. What Satan does not want is for us to find the right Bible (King James Bible, in English) and discover the right study system (dispensational Bible study), for then we are encouraged to believe the Bible (we cannot fully believe what we do not understand). It is when we believe the Bible that God’s Spirit goes to work in our lives (1 Thessalonians 2:13). This is where we are most threatening to Satan, as we are most aware of his tactics and fully equipped to hinder his work and will designed to rob the Lord Jesus Christ of His due worship.

When we understand the Bible, bringing about Christian good works, and knowing how to use it to help others (saved and lost), that is where Satan is vulnerable. How he hates to have strong Christians who are skilled in doing God’s work and fulfilling God’s will. If he can keep them ignorant, he will do WHATEVER (!) he can to keep them ignorant. Satan is relentless, friends, absolutely relentless, but he is no match for God. As long as we have God’s Word (King James Bible), understand God’s Word (dispensationally), and believe God’s Word, we will not be deceived. We had better not be so shallow in our spiritual understanding so as to think that Satan does not work in churches where Scripture is read. (Remember Israel’s religious leaders in Jeremiah chapter 23!!!)

In closing, let me provide a simple analogy and then ask you some simple questions, friend. Suppose you require emergency surgery. While I have an extensive background in science, including biology, I am not trained to perform surgery on anyone. I am not a licensed physician by any stretch of the imagination. However, what if I read a medical textbook before I operated on you? Would you be comfortable in me being your “surgeon?” Probably not. You would want (understandably) someone who is highly skilled in medicine and more than merely “aware” of the underlying science. You would prefer someone who has had much practice studying and actually dissecting the human body first.

Likewise, it would be quite foolish of you to go to a church simply because they “read the Bible there.” They had better be reading the whole Bible, and not just little snippets here and there. They had better be studying the Bible, and not skimming it. They had better be using the Bible rightly divided, not defending denominational biases with it. Above all, they had better be using the right Bible, and not peddling some counterfeit!!

Also see:
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?

How was Jesus Christ crucified among the Galatians?

HOW WAS JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED AMONG THE GALATIANS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Galatians 3:1 concludes with some very interesting words: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” Was not the Lord Jesus Christ crucified just outside Jerusalem, Israel, some decades prior? Then how could the Scriptures say here that was He crucified among Paul’s converts in Galatia (modern Turkey)?

Today’s “Gospel” preaching and teaching usually blurs and obscures the simple truths of God’s Good News to mankind. You hear “the Gospel” (?) preached today in the average church, and you hear nothing but discrepancy and contradiction. There are pleas for individuals to straighten up their lives first and then come to Jesus Christ. At “invitation time,” various and sundry enticements are heard. They are invited to do everything but rely on Christ and Christ alone—walk an aisle, say the “sinner’s prayer,” make deals with God, shake the preacher’s hand, kneel at the “altar” and weep hysterically, “ask Jesus into your heart,” give money, fill out a visitor’s card, pray for the “fire” to zap you, help the poor, support missions, join the church, get water baptized, “make Jesus the Lord of your life,” confess your sins, keep the Ten Commandments, obey the denomination’s precepts, repent of your sins, turn from your sins, feel “so sorry” for your sins, on and on and on.

All the above activities focus on us—what we can do to rehabilitate, reform, and manage sin. They are not pure Gospel messages because Jesus Christ’s work is not preeminent in them. Law is emphasized and grace is thus hidden! Contrariwise, the aforementioned conundrums and confusions were not the case with the Apostle Paul’s ministry. It was before the eyes of the Galatians that Jesus Christ was presented as the crucified Saviour. There were no gimmicks, no lies, and no traditions of men to clutter and cloud the minds and hearts of these idolatrous, Hell-bound souls! Laden with religious works already, they needed the grace of the Creator God they knew not! When the Apostle Paul arrived in Galatia and preached the Gospel of the Grace of God, there was such authority and clarity that his audience saw Calvary with awesome vividness.

First Corinthians 15:1-4 delineates Paul’s Gospel: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….”

With Paul’s ministry, there was nothing difficult to grasp, nothing mysterious, and nothing unclear as to what God’s justice demanded as payment for our sin. Our works were not the issue; Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for our sins, THAT was the issue! The Galatians saw it with startling lucidity, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. They immediately passed from death to life, from Satan’s family to God’s family. However, Satan would not be outdone and would not give them up without a fight!

Galatians 1:6-9 is a sad commentary: “[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Immediately after Paul left Galatia, the Devil worked his “magic.” Some Jewish legalists came in and used the Law—Moses’ writings, Scripture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!—to confuse those saints. Paul’s advice was for the Galatians to separate from such false teachers. He called those Galatian Christians “foolish” in Galatians 3:1. They let people “bewitch” them: false teachers had cast a spell on them, causing them not to think clearly when it came to spiritual matters. They had abandoned the clear message of God’s grace and its accompanying blessings, and returned to religious bondage (Law) and its associated spiritual ignorance! Instead of “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), they were mixing the dispensations God had separated.

Acts 15:1-5 highlights this problem that existed between Jewish kingdom saints, Jewish false teachers, and Paul’s Gentile converts: “[1] And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. [2] When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. [3] And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. [4] And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. [5] But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.Verse 5 was the message preached in Galatia after Paul left.

To correct the mix-ups, the Holy Spirit through Paul said in Galatians 2:16-21: “[16] Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [17] But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. [18] For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. [19] For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. [20] I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. [21] I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

Now, Galatians 3:1-5: “[1] O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? [2] This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? [3] Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? [4] Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. [5] He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”

Galatians 4:21: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” What was the problem at Galatia? Those saints wanted to follow the Law of Moses instead of the Grace of God!

Also, Galatians 5:1-9: “[1] Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. [2] Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. [3] For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. [4] Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. [5] For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. [6] For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. [7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” How awful—these dear saints had been polluted with non-dispensational Bible study! Sound familiar?!

Lastly, Galatians 5:18: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” The Spirit of God will never, ever, EVER (!) lead anyone in the Dispensation of Grace to place himself or herself under a performance-based acceptance system! Grace operates today; it tells us how to be justified and accepted before God unto eternal life (Romans chapters 1-5) and it tells us how to live as Christians before God on a daily basis (Romans chapters 6-8, 12-16). It is all about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins, and it is all about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as means of conquering sin on a daily basis. Our performance is not the issue because we are weak and unreliable. Never once has Jesus Christ failed, though. Never once will Jesus Christ fail. That is why God put Christ in us—He wants us absolutely, totally, completely, eternally to have victory. Sin will only come about when we rely on ourselves.

CONCLUSION

My dear friends, we need to be extremely vigilant concerning false Gospels. They always have some element of works attached to them. They are widespread, and have—yes—led millions to eternal damnation rather than eternal bliss. Still, we need to be warned concerning clear Gospel messages also. We can hear all the clear Gospel of Grace messages we want, but, unless they are coupled with our faith, those divine words will do nothing for us. A pure Gospel message without personal faith will do as much good for you as a false Gospel message. We can be saved and on our way to Heaven, never to go to Hell, and still be so warped in the Scriptures that it is beyond comprehension (remember the Galatians!). We can be saved by grace through faith without works, and then be fooled into thinking we can maintain our salvation by our works. What deception! Satan’s evil world system is very subtle—it comes in so many forms.

By the way, in closing, let me stress this. Your greatest handbooks to combat false Gospels today are the Bible Books of Romans and Galatians (major tools Protestants used during the Protestant Reformation to discredit Roman Catholic works-religion). Read Romans chapters 1-5 and Galatians (all six chapters), and you will see the Gospel of Grace like never before. This instruction will enable you to spot any erroneous Gospels. Above all, they will help you in evangelizing others, that you too may evidently set forth before their eyes Jesus Christ crucified among them! 🙂

Also see:
» Can you explain Galatians 6:11?
» Is Galatians 1:6-7 contradictory?
» What about the “Jewish Roots” Movement?