Here are some bullet points that should help you get “up to speed” about many of the confusing ideas in the Messed Up Church:
Consensus does not equal truth! Just because someone has a large church or is very famous/popular, that doesn’t mean they are teaching correctly.
Discernment is not a mystical process where you ask God for discernment and He magically drops ideas into your mind. We receive discernment from studying the Bible and understanding what it says, by the guidance that the Holy Spirit provides.
Our experience is not an indicator of truth, and our feelings are not to be trusted.
Truth comes from God’s Word: The Holy Bible.
The Bible isn’t a starting point that merely contains information about God-it is the very Word of God. That’s why it’s called the HOLY Bible.
Having a “personal relationship with God” isn’t a bad concept, but it can be a confusing phrase (and it doesn’t appear in the Bible). Too often, it implies that we need more than the Bible. But if we want to hear God speak to us, we simply read His Word. If you’ve been frustrated by a thousand different experts who claim to have the secret to “hearing from God,” this should come as a big relief.
The Christian Church, as understood by the original Protestant Reformers, has not taught Christians to expect God to speak directly to them in their hearts and/or minds in order to give them specific personal messages. This idea has caused great confusion and has its origins in Gnosticism and some early monastic orders, but it isn’t taught in the New Testament in the Bible.
The entire counsel of God’s Word points us to Jesus Christ; both the New Testament and the Old Testament. Pastor Chris Rosebrough has a terrific series of teaching videos on this topic; here’s the first one: “A Pirate’s Guide to Understanding the Old Testament”
The New Testament provides the teaching that applies most directly to people in the Christian Church. If someone is constructing doctrine for Christians that requires exclusive Old Testament usage, they are leading people on a useless bunny trail. Examples: “Joel’s Army,” “New Order of the Latter Rain,” “Bridal Paradigm,” “Dominionism.”
The Gospel message is a specific message that come from the Bible; it is not a vague group of ideas that changes according to the surrounding culture.
The Gospel message is about Jesus Christ dying on the cross to atone for the sins of fallen people. It isn’t about “raising our dreams from the dead,” “making the world a better place,” “finding our purpose and destiny,” or a million other man-made ideas that sound good, fill seats and sell books.
We should never try to validate our Christian faith and/or the Bible by making it seem relevant to meet our particular needs. God determines what our real needs are, and only He determines what is “relevant.” God has determined that we need our sins forgiven above any earthly needs.
Jesus didn’t “win people over” by meeting their physical needs first; he healed people and did supernatural miracles to prove He was God.
Jesus didn’t heal people in order to set an example that we are to follow; He showed that He was uniquely God in human flesh by performing miracles that no man has ever duplicated. This should come as a great relief if you’ve been frustrated by your lack of supernatural miracle-working power that never matches up to the stories from today’s “Super Apostles” (who never provide verifiable proof of their claims).
Jesus wasn’t a motivational speaker or life coach. He often confronted people and made enemies (because He was Holy God!).
Jesus did not “talk about money more than any other topic,” but people keep repeating that catchphrase anyway (especially bad preachers who want you to give them more cash!).
The Pharisees were self-righteous and thought they needed nothing from Jesus, so their problem wasn’t the result of being too “Bible-focused.” They rejected the Messiah who would have forgiven their sins if they had asked for mercy. Today’s Pharisees will tell you all about their good works and will boast about their ability to duplicate the works of Jesus. In some cases, today’s worst Pharisees will claim to live sinless lives.
Pharisees are lovers of money: Luke 16: 13-14 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him.”
Doctrine is a word that simply means “teaching” and Theology is just a word that means “teaching about God.” Anyone who teaches that doctrine isn’t important is guilty of doing the very thing they claim to be against-they are teaching something, namely, they are teaching that teaching is bad. Every single Christian idea is a type of doctrine; some ideas are just camouflaged behind emotional language and layers of unchallenged assumptions, beliefs and half-truths.
The Holy Spirit is not demanding that you do weird, awkward and unbiblical things in order to prove how much faith you have (or in order to get lots of power and authority).
The Holy Spirit is not about to punish you because you failed to do weird, awkward or unbiblical things. That’s not what the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is, anyway.
It’s okay to be skeptical when somebody tells an outlandish story of supernatural events without any verification. That’s not what the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is either.
The Bible very clearly warns us of an end-times “falling away.” It does not mention a great end-times revival.
The end-times falling away will be marked by false prophets who do great signs and wonders. Matthew 24: 24-25: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance.”