Paul, having received a letter from a young minister who was fearful of death and the pressures of His pastoral responsibility, wrote a letter which we know today as 2 Timothy. At this time, Paul was in jail for preaching the gospel. He was thirsty, starving, and yearning for the freedom he once knew, but all of that was not a concern. Paul’s concern was to encourage Timothy and to warn him of what it meant to be a believer and a pastor. Paul’s words echo in our hearts even today in 2 Timothy 4:2-5 (ESV), “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Paul’s words to Timothy are still true today. I might even add especially for today. There have been many “churches” that I have visited in which the Bible has become a crutch. It is nothing more than a typical accessory, one with the same worth as sunglasses or jewelry. These “churches” are led by pastors who would rather put off saying, “Open your bibles,” in favor of saying, “the Lord told me ___.” The Word of God, once exalted as being the highest authority on earth concerning Church matters and ministry, is now being neglected in favor of a more gnostic approach to Christianity.
There are even some who use the Scriptures to lead others astray. In the same way Satan tempted Jesus in the desert with a verse from the Psalms, modern false prophets lead many astray. One good example of wolves preying against the Church is TBN. It is still the most major non-profit (though not even close to non-profit) broadcasting network, and certainly one of the biggest networks in television history. However, no other network is home to more charlatans. False teachers like Kenneth Copeland, Andrew Wommack, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, etc. are all on TBN and they are spreading a false gospel. The sad thing is that much of what they are saying, they claim to back up with Scriptures. They take verses from the Old Testament about prosperity out of context, and they misinterpret the texts of the Bible to the congregation.
In a time when there are many false prophets, it’s important to hold fast to the Word of God. It is foolish to close our eyes to the Scriptures and take in every teaching as if it is safe. Just because something has the label “Christian” doesn’t mean it is actually safe. History is full of examples who are “Christian” leaders, but in reality they were simply twisting the Word for their own gain. The Scriptures were not in agreement with their actions, but like sheep who go astray, the people followed after these false prophets. We have heretical groups such as Jesus Culture, IHOP, TBN, etc. and we can’t just simply use our discernment. If we look at many of these groups from a purely humanistic point of view, then there is nothing to address. In fact, many of these groups support many of the ideals an average non-believer would. But if our hearts are captive to the Bible, then we must stand up for what it says.
I am not writing this post to point out the heresy of these groups, because that would be for another time. Though I have addressed Jesus Culture (click here to read), and though I anticipate being able to write on the heresy taught by the Word of Faith/Charismatic preachers, my main goal is to simply wake up the hearts of anyone who would read this. The Reformation was initiated by a monk named Martin Luther, not because he didn’t like the style of the Catholic mass, the Catholic clergymen, or because he didn’t like the music style of the Catholics, but because there were heretical teachings. The gospel was being polluted by silly tradition, the Word of God was replaced with superstition, and Jesus was no longer any more glorified than the Pope was. Now, it seems we too, must awaken our hearts like Luther.
In the Diet of Worms, known by all Reformed Christians, Luther was put on trial for all of his teachings and was pressed by the Catholic leaders. He was forced to make a defense of what he believed from the Bible. They asked of him to recant all that he had taught, but Martin Luther replied, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God…here I stand, I can do no other.” Will we stand by the Word of God today? Will we stand against the vain prophesies spoken by many false prophets? Will we stand against myths that were born out of false teachers who are simply itching the ears of the carnal-minded? We have no other choice but to open our Bibles and say, “Thus saith the Lord.” There are too many people in the Christian faith claiming to receive the secrets of God’s Kingdom, when the secret of the Kingdom is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Perfect, final, and last revelation to mankind. He is the amen of all heavenly revelations and knowledge.
When we open the Bible to speak, we are like prophets in the days of Elijah, in the days of David, and in the days of Christ. We proclaim the Word to the very world that so desperately needs to know its Master, Creator, and God. May the Lord awaken our hearts to combat heresy and to make our hearts captive to the Bible. If it was important to Paul, even unto his last days on earth, should it not be any less important to the believers today? If it was important to Luther, even unto the possibility of his death, should it not be any less important to the believers today? The Scriptures are clear: preach the Word. Be ready to do so, be sober-minded, do the work of an evangelist, and may our lives be fulfilled as we live for God’s glory by proclaiming on the mountain tops, with Bible in hand, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Soli Deo Gloria.