Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue11 – “Scope” them out! – By Rev. Robert Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
“Scope” Them Out!
Rev. Bob Liichow
I cannot put my finger on the exact moment in time, but at some point church “culture” changed from being more direct and confrontational when dealing with sin and error to growing more silent, complacent and accepting of doctrines and practices that formerly (in my fairly short life time) would had gotten one publically rebuked or possibly excommunicated.
One of the reason’s the Church is in the pretty sad and confused condition it is today is because a generation of leaders have fostered a non-Christian practice of “see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, and speak no-evil.” this is great advice if you are a monkey, but it is hardly biblical or practical counsel for Christians.
We’ve been wrongly counseled to “not judge” others, when the Bible plainly tells us to do exactly this. Most certainly, you and I do not know the spiritual state of those professing belief around us; however we are called to examine their fruit. We can surely see their lifestyles and we can easily determine whether or not some one is living a godly life according to the scriptures. Obviously the doctrine they proclaim is open to scrutiny, after all were not the Bereans declared nobler by Paul than the Thessalonians in Acts 17:11 for scoping out what Paul was declaring as truth?
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf; but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and innocent concerning evil. (1) Romans 16:17-19
In the Apologetic and Polemic arena of ministry one is often wrongly rebuked for having the audacity to name names when exposing the sources of doctrinal error. Some think it is uncharitable and a form of sinful judgment to be too specific in warning the church of the dangers facing her from within and without. Others accuse us of “casting stones” (John 8:7) and even serving Satan by being his mouthpieces “accusing the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Virtually all sign-gift aka charismatic devotees continually warn us to “touch not God’s anointed and to do His prophets no harm” (Psalms 105:15). On the surface it would seem in the light of these and some other texts often cited that perhaps our critics are correct and that we have been behaving in an ungodly manner. Let us not be guilty of being superficial people and dig beneath the surface and uncover the truth of this matter; after all we are told in Proverbs 25:2 “that it is the honour of kings to search out a matter.”
The Apostle Paul in ending his letter to the Roman Christians beseechs (begs) the brethren to “mark” (transliterated as skopeo) them that cause divisions: 5023 (skopeo): vb; = Str 4648; TDNT 7.414—1. LN 2432 notice carefully (Ro. 16:17; Php 3:17+), for another interp, see next; 2 LN 27.58 watch out for, implying a response to the danger (Ro. 16:17, Gal 6:1+), for another interp, see prior; 3. LN 27.36 be concerned about (Php 2.4+); 4 LN 30.20 keep thinking about, ponder fix attention toward (Lk 11:35; 2 Co. 4:18) (2)
Let me ask you a question —- who is it that causes divisions in the Church? Is it the one who spreads false doctrines and spurious practices within the Church or is it the ones who contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3)? I can assure you it is the former and not the latter.
How important is this as an issue in our lives as believers? The Holy Spirit through Paul seems to think it necessary enough to be placed in God’s written Word. Here is Paul, having not even visited Rome, yet he begs these young Christians to notice carefully and to keep thinking about with a fixed attention on those who cause divisions and offences of a specific type. What type? We are told to carefully watch out for and take note of (what discovered) anyone who causes divisions and offenses regarding the true apostolic doctrine which has been learned.
Once we discern such tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:25) what are we to do? We are to avoid them which in the Greek carries the meaning to turn away from to no longer trust and avoid associating with. Why? Because these people do not serve Jesus Christ, they serve instead their own appetites. These false brethren couch their message in “good words and fair speeches” and by their use of “God talk” deceive and ensnare the hearts of the simple (unsuspecting). Iraneaus, the “patron saint” of all heresy-hunters stated it in the following manner as he dealt with the heretics of his time:
“Error, indeed is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced more true than truth itself.” (3)
Paul knew well the reality of the danger of false doctrines spread via false apostles, prophets and teachers and he unfailingly fought them by exposing them and their errors as well as proclaiming God’s truth.
It is not enough to say there are “some” among us who do not teach the truth. Everyone hearing such a statement will automatically think their own school of teachers are doctrinally sound, until and unless named by name which normally evokes a response on the part of the hearer. (4)
To merely declare that there are some people on television preaching lies in Jesus name is insufficient unless one clearly states who it is teaching error and where they have in fact erred. Paul had no problem naming names:
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Php 3:17-20
In this case Paul tells the Philippians to “mark” them that walk properly following the apostolic example set before them by Paul and the genuine leaders. “Many” in the Greek is denoting a large amount of people are in fact enemies of the cross whose end is nothing less than eternal destruction. Paul did not rejoice over their impending judgment, he wept for them, which must be our attitude as well in this field of Christian servant hood. Note that Paul says that he has told them OFTEN about these people, he did not keep silent regarding them and the eternal danger they pose.
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:20
If Paul wrote such things today he would receive emails after the manner of those sent to DMI, something along the lines of: “Get over it Paul, forgive and forget.” Or maybe, “How unloving of you Paul, I rebuke your unloving attitude it sickens me and god.” I doubt these missives would affect his actions any more than they do ours, for we are truly of the same like precious faith (2 Peter 1:1) as the blessed apostle. Paul named the source of the problem “Alexander the Coppersmith,” someone who was still alive and causing divisions in the church. Ultimately the Lord will repay him according to his works, but until that time the Church needs to be warned regarding the existing threat flowing through Alexander (Ephesians 6:12). (5)
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. 1 timothy 1:19-20
WOW! Not only did Paul name Alexander, he cited him twice in his letters to Timothy. Paul saw their error so damaging that he turned them over to Satan, i.e. excommunicated them from the church and handed them over to be tormented by demons for the purpose of instruction and possible reconciliation.
This is the same Paul who rebuked Peter openly in front of everyone (not quietly in a corner with a quick hug and back slap). What is more he even told those who were not in attendance, the Galatians, what he did and to whom he did it!
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? Galatians 2:11-14
Paul did this because Peter was wrong and his actions caused others (other Jews, Barnabas) to enter into his hypocrisy and sin. Rebuking Peter openly was not only the right thing to do but it was the loving thing for Paul to do. Paul loved his Lord and this love demanded he take a stand for God’s truth regardless of the personal consequences. What is more, Paul loved Peter and this agape, this divine love shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) compelled Paul to rebuke Peter first for Peter’s own sake and then for the sake of those following Peter’s errant behavior. One of D.M.I.’s goals is to see these people come to repentance, recant their errors and teach the truth —if I can do it, and by God’s grace I did, so can anyone.
Jesus in His earthly ministry openly rebuked the religious SINisters of His time:
Wow unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our father, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Matthew 23:29-33
Can you hear these words coming out of the mouth of Joel Osteen or Robert Schuller? Jesus did not pull any punches, yet who among us would dare call Him “unloving” or being an accuser of the brethren?
Woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them. Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Luke 11:43-46
Speaking “truth to power” is not without its risks. Jesus was crucified at the hands of wicked men (Acts 3:15). Historically we believe that all the Apostles but John the Beloved died martyrs deaths, Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7:59) and Hebrews chapter eleven speaks at length about those of whom the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:38). The world loves its own (John 15:19) and anyone who dares to stand up and denounce it and expose it for what it is makes them an enemy of all that the lost and deceived count as of great worth. Paul no doubt felt the sting of being misunderstood when he rhetorically asked “have I become your enemy by telling you the truth” (Gal.4:15)?
Speaking the truth in any generation has never been easy, and yes those who tread this path are indeed on the road less traveled; but then our Lord said Himself that the way was narrow and few were on it (Matthew 7:14). In all of the above examples we’ve been considering the godly exposure of those proclaiming false doctrines and misleading God’s people or misrepresenting Himself to the lost world. Yet Paul urging us to scope out some other indicators which denote people to “mark” and “avoid” Paul says:
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought, but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you; Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
Not only are we to mark and rebuke openly those in doctrinal error (1 Timothy 5:20), we are ALSO to mark and avoid those who walk (live) contrary to the apostolic traditions given to the Church. Paul as an apostle, was responsible for helping establish religious traditions in the young Church. Some people within the young Church were already casting aside the genuine apostolic traditions for their own novel ideas while the Apostles themselves were still alive!
“Tradition” is a dirty word to most American evangelical Protestants, (6) after all we are a people who loudly confess “I’ll do it my way” throughout our days. Anything old is quaint at best and outdated at worst. It is the “new” we adore; new is fresh; new bespeaks innovation; new is good and old is bad. Sadly, this culturally driven point of view has been carried into the Church.
The New Apostolic Reformation SINisters not only are guilty of propagating a wide variety of doctrinal error they are also guilty of subverting the genuine apostolic traditions handed down through the ages with their own non-biblical traditions. Here is a short list of practices now accepted and traditional in and among these brethren (let them be ashamed) which include: (1) altar calls to receive salvation & impartation of spiritual gifts, (2) being slain in the spirit, (3) all Christians can/should speak in tongues, (4) demonic deliverance of believers, (5) 24/7 praise/prayer/fasting centers as the means God is using to glorify the Church. These novel-praxi have replaced the orthodox practice of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, supremacy of the Word in preaching, etc.
Over the last several months DMI has been exposing specific individuals such as C. Peter Wagner, Mike Bickle, Francis Frangipagne, Paul Cain, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland and others as false ministers. Some of them may be genuine Christians, but they and all that follow their doctrines & practices are to be avoided by the Church so that they may be restored to genuine Christian fellowship.
Do not allow any misled devotee of whoever browbeats you into being silent about the danger these people pose to the spiritual welfare of those who listen to them. There is no deeper nor more painful wound than that caused by spiritual abuse. Truth Matters, it really does.
We are commanded to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and by doing so we grow in Christ. My love for God and the integrity of His Word impel me to action, even so my love for all the Church. If I love someone and I know of something that will seriously harm them I will tell them. Obviously, if I know someone is peddling poison then I will warn them and then others (Matthew 18). Why should I care, if I am not drinking their poison? Love can do no less than all it can for the sake of others, and it is that love motivates what we do and those who support us.
Copyright 2011 Robert S. Liichow
Abbreviated End Notes
1. The Holy Bible King James Version Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. 2009). Bold type, italics and underlining added for emphasis.
2. James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 1997). Bold type added for emphasis.
3. Obtained from http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1579882.Irenaeus_of_Lyons on 10/20/2011 , taken from Against Heries. Underlining added for emphasis.
4. For example if someone said to me, “Bob, your Pastor Braden is teaching heresy regarding….” At first I would probably be angry at the messenger in that I respect and love my pastor, however, as a thinking person, I would also examine the changes being brought against my pastor and determine whether they are in fact true—-then I will respond appropriately.
5. The problem was coming from/through Alexander. The originator of the error is Satan and his hosts, with whom we do wrestle with, but not flesh and blood per se. Satan uses people and our battles are ultimately spiritual, but that does not give a “mulligan” to those used by Satan, Alexander is still culpable before God as is Hinn, Copeland, etc. . . . .
6. I am an American, but not a “protestant” per se. I am a true “evangelical” a term coined by Dr. Martin Luther to describe what was taking place in what became known as the Reformation. I am an “Evangelical Catholic” I guess if one must call names and label.