Well, I come today humbly.
We live in a society where it is increasingly difficult to say much of anything without angering someone.
But it is one of the jobs of the pastor to teach you. And to not just teach you whatever I feel like at the time, but to teach you this book and the way of Jesus that’s found in it. And sometimes it’s encouraging us, and other times, it’s instructing us, other times it’s correcting us and other times it’s warning us. Those all happen for us in scripture, so they all happen in the life of a pastor.
In fact, Paul tell his protege Timothy:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)
And so the thing I want to talk about, and I’m going to take 3 weeks to do it, is something that I believe God put on my heart about 6 months ago. And so I took it to my pastors and we felt like it was important to find the right time to talk about it, because it is a serious subject, but it’s something that I truly believe God has for us for the season that we’re living in.
If you’re in the mood to be offended
And so to let you know right out of the gate that if you’re in the mood to be offended, there is plenty to choose from this morning.
But I hope to make clear to you that my words this morning are not careless. I’ve studied, I’ve prayed, I’ve sought Godly wisdom.
I was talking to Pastor Shirley this past week and she said ‘Well just tell them that if you step on their toes, to put out the other foot so you can step on those too.’
Title – Sheep’s Clothing
And my title, which you probably saw on your handout is Sheep’s Clothing.
And my heart is to equip you with biblical tools to help you discern which voices to listen to and which voices to ignore.
And that’s a phrase that keeps coming up for me: Discernment. Because there has never been a time in my lifetime where discernment is more needed than it is right now.
LOUD Voices Especially when you’re in a season where there’s a whole lot of LOUD VOICES.
There’s a whole lot of people
- Speaking with authority!!!
- Claim to be speaking for the Lord!!! With LOUD VOICES.
- Who seem to be ANOINTED AS MOUTHPIECES. And I don’t just mean that in a Christian way.
New Christians Do you know who I feel bad for? New Christians in 2021. Just trying to figure out what the heck they’re supposed to believe when nobody agrees about anything.
How can you tell? And so the question then becomes “How exactly can you tell?” – It seems like a lot of people are being the voice of the Lord right now, and it sure feels like a lot of them are disagreeing with each other, so what voices am I supposed to listen to and which voices and I supposed to reject.
Trump I want to add this disclaimer. This has absolutely nothing to do with the people who prophesied that Trump was going to win the election. I just want you to get that out of your head. That could be another topic for another time perhaps, but when I’m talking about Prophets, I’m not primarily talking about people who are ‘Prophesying about the Future’. No I’m addressing what I believe the New Testament is addressing, which is people who claim to have the truth of God but it’s a distortion.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matthew 7:15)
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:16)
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:17)
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:18)
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:19)
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:20)
I wonder how many of you have heard of a man named Eli Cohen? Eli Cohen was a Jewish man who became a spy for the Mesad, which is the Israel Intelligence Agency in the 1960’s.
The Mesad sent Cohen to Damascus, Syria, to pose as a wealthy Arab businessman engaged in the import/export business. He worked his way up in the Syrian government by giving large sums of money to Syrian politicians. And before you know it, he became a personal confidante to high level government leaders.
Cohen found out that that Syrian government were planning to cut off this water supply to Israel that passed through this contested area – Golan Heights. And so there was of course going to be a war over this. So what Cohen did, was he convinced the Syrian president to plant eucalyptus tress around the major military installations all throughout that area. He said that it would provide good cover against the Israeli army’s air surveillance.
Well eventually, his cover was ruined, they learned he was a spy and was hanged.
But a few months later, during what is called the Six-Day War, Israeli fighter pilots had very little trouble knocking out all the Syrian targets, because they were all marked by Eucalyptus trees.
And to this day, that area, Golan Heights, is still controlled by Israel because of an imposter who infiltrated the government. He posed as one of them and led them to their destruction.
This is a picture of what’s known as a Judas Goat. It’s something that’s not used much anymore, but in decades past, in slaughterhouses there would be a castrated trained goat, that would convince the sheep that were to be killed to follow him (thinking they were going to get food) and he would lead them to an area where the floor would give way and turn into a ramp where the sheep would slide onto the killing floor. The sheep believed they were going to get food, but this Judas Goat was actually leading them to their deaths.
Scripture has a great deal to say about what it calls False Prophets, False Teachers, False Apostles. Peter and Paul in particular spend a quite significant amount of time discussing false teachers and how followers of Christ are to recognize and respond to them.
It seemed quite important to them that if there were any Eli Cohens or Judas goats in the Christian community that we be able to identify them and not be deceived by them.
It has always been the work of the devil to infiltrate Christian communities with people who say they speak for God when they do not.
Today This is absolutely happening in our culture. It’s happening like crazy. It’s all around you, and I (for one) almost never talk about it. But scripture teaches that this isn’t a thing of the past, that it actually RAMPS UP as time goes on. So according to Jesus, this actually happens more in our day than it did in his. And it was a big deal to him, and so I believe it needs to be a big deal to us.
Scripture teaches that many of us, if we’re not aware will be pulled into false doctrine by false teachers what Jesus would call wolves in sheep’s clothing, leading people astray. They appear as angels of light, but they are really angels of darkness. And so it’s absolutely vital for you to understand the principles that we’re going to discuss.
And you might be thinking “Uhh… Pastor David, can you relax? The sun is shining, it’s a nice day. There’s no need to be Mr. Conspiracy” – Well listen, the reason I’m taking this seriously is that the biblical authors, the New Testament writers in particular, take this INCREDIBLY seriously. More seriously than we take it.
Something that I’m deeply concerned with is how unbelievably FLEXIBLE the average Christian has become when it comes to truth.
That’s not a recent phenomenon, that’s not even a ‘just in the last 2000 years’ phenomenon, no this has always been the case…
In fact, by way of introduction, I just want to fly through some scripture to show just what a recurring, constant problem this has always been for the people of God.
Here God is telling the Israelite people what to do if a prophet comes along and suggests a misrepresentation of God, or the things that he has spoken:
But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:5)
He goes on to say to kill these people immediately even if they’re members of your own household.
Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says concerning the prophets: “I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water, because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land.” (Jeremiah 23:15)
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:16)
I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. (Jeremiah 23:21)
So here God through the prophet Jeremiah is condemning these “prophets” for two main things:
- For spreading unGodliness
- And filling people with (what he calls) false hopes
those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign LORD.” ’ (Ezekiel 13:16)
“Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them (Ezekiel 13:17)
And God goes on to give judgements towards to people who claim to speak for God but don’t.
In Matthew 24, Jesus is speaking of the last days. “Are we in the last days, Pastor David” – Well I can say we’re closer to Jesus returning than we were yesterday.
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, (Matthew 24:10)
and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (Matthew 24:11)
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12)
but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13)
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)
Wow, did you hear that? So these false prophets will even have miracle working power. Talk about hard to tell what’s what.
Here we have Paul speaking to the elders of the church of Ephesus.
Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:30)
Wow, so here Paul is saying that false teachers will arise from their own church leadership.
So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. (Acts 20:31)
So here we have the apostle Paul weeping over the seriousness of false teaching leading people astray. Wow.
Here Paul is writing to the Church of Rome.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. (Romans 16:17)
So here Paul is warning that people will bring division into the church through false teaching.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— (Galatians 1:6)
which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:7)
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:8)
Wow. If you read the Pauline Epistles, which is to say the letters that Paul wrote that comprise the majority of the New Testament, you will find quite clearly that Paul has no interest in un-orthodox, lets say “Creative” theology. He doesn’t. If fact, he says if anyone starts distorting the ‘orthodox’ teachings of the apostles, he says “Let them be under God’s curse.” Wow.
2 Peter 2
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. (2 Peter 2:1)
Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. (2 Peter 2:2)
Disrepute means a bad reputation. He’s saying false teachers will give ‘truth’ a bad reputation. Wow.
In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2 Peter 2:3)
That’s some creepy talk. He’s talking about their destruction like it’s an executioner, and he’s saying their execution hasn’t been sleeping.
The whole book of Jude by the way is just fiery condemnation of false prophets and heretics. It’s really a pretty good time.
For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 4)
Wow, so here Jude the Apostle is saying that one thing false teachers will do is they’ll pervert the grace of God into a license to sin. – Can you imagine such a thing?! Uhh… Yes.
So here’s what I’m getting at. If you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Then you must believe that false teachers are: a. Here and b. A tremendous problem.
Which brings us to our main scriptures for this sermon and really this sermon series. Now just to warn you, I’m going to read these verses, it’s like 11 of them, and you are going to have positively no idea how this helps us in any way. You’ll feel like I accidentally said the wrong chapter and just started reading. It feels like Paul is just mumbling about whatever.
But what I hope to show you this week and the following 2 weeks is that Paul here brilliantly and systematically shows us how to discern true teachers from false teachers.
For a little bit of context, Paul here is contrasting himself (a true teacher) from this group of people he calls the ‘Super Apostles’ who are absolutely false teachers.
And so I have for you 10, yes 10 tests that will help us identify true teachers and false teachers. – So as we read these verses, pay attention and see if you can pick any of them out. (And I highlighted some parts just to give you guys some clues).
You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. (2 Corinthians 10:7)
So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. (2 Corinthians 10:8)
I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. (2 Corinthians 10:9)
For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” (2 Corinthians 10:10)
Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present. (2 Corinthians 10:11)
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. (2 Corinthians 10:13)
We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:14)
Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, (2 Corinthians 10:15)
so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. (2 Corinthians 10:16)
But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 10:17)
For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:18)
So something you need to understand about Paul is that he was absolutely the DEEPEST theologian of all the biblical writers. His letters are DENSE. And they are crammed full of deep theological concepts, yet amazingly, the writing in most cases appears very simplistic.
And here he is writing to a church that has by and large, received false apostles as true apostles.
And as you’ll see his criticism with these “Super Apostles” (and that’s a term he coins facetiously) is really two things: Distorting the truth and harming the church. (Say those with me)
And this text that we read, is him systematically dismantling the arguments and false teachings of the super apostles.
So like I said, I have 10 ‘tests’ that you can apply to any pastor, and teacher, any blogger, any author, to discern how much weight you ought to give that voice in your life.
And so I am giving you criteria on which you ought to judge me, and judge pastor Marshall and Cindi, so this is not self serving.
And you might be thinking “Didn’t God talk through a donkey” – Yes, but God doesn’t want a bunch of donkeys (asses) to be primary source for wisdom.
And in each of his points, we find a test about false teachers, but we also, in each point find a principle that applies to our lives as Christ followers whether or not we are preachers.
1. Does their teaching and their life model intimacy with Christ?
v7 you are judging by appearances
Anyone can look spiritual in a moment. Talk churchy in church.
v11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
So Paul is saying that he and his traveling companions practice what they preach.
Let’s say we have a news anchor who’s reporting on something. Now in order for you to take him seriously, it requires that he has ‘creditability’ what does that mean?
It’s trust worthiness. It’s consistency.
I know that there’s some news anchors recently that were exposed in lies and it destroyed their career.
And when Paul is comparing himself to the False Teachers, he says that ‘What we are in our letters, we will be in our actions’.
He’s comparing his life with their life.
He’s saying you ought to listen to me because of my life. I don’t just teach you how to follow Jesus, I LIVE IT.
So maybe there’s this new ‘pastor’ on Oprah and he’s saying some interesting things. Should you believe what he says?
Well, look at his life. Does he have 18 kids with 7 different wives. Has he had 48 scandals in his 5 years of ministry? Well if so, you might not want to just take whatever he says as gospel just because he has the word ‘Pastor’ in his title’.
So allow me to contrast that. With someone like Marshall and Cindi Townsley. Now I realize I’m partial but hear me out. For 40 years they’ve pastored this church, there have been precisely 0 sex scandals, publicity nightmares, they have been faithful in their marriage of 47 years. They raised two children to love God and serve God alongside them. You see, that’s someone who’s voice I respect. That’s someone who’s voice Paul would have respected.
And don’t worry, I’m not gonna kiss up during all 10 points, but I want to drive this home. Does their teaching AND THEIR LIFE model intimacy with Christ.
So if THEY have something to say to me, I’m going to listen. Because their life makes their message credible.
And to make it personal: Does my life add credibility to the message of Jesus or does my life detract from it?
In other words – Are you putting Jesus on display with your life or just your words?
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” (Brennan Manning)
No one’s perfect, least of all me, but Paul absolutely teaches that we should weigh someone’s life when deciding to listen to them or not. – Paul teaches that.
2. Do they speak the truth or only what you want to hear?
v9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters.
So what was happening here is that the False Teachers are saying “Oh that Paul, he’s so harsh. He’s so accusational. He scares people with the things he says. He’s an abusing leader.”
It wasn’t Paul’s intention to frighten anyone, but he spoke the truth even when it was hard.
For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. (Isaiah 30:9)
They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. (Isaiah 30:10)
So what’s happening here. So these ‘rebellious children’ are telling the prophets ‘Quit telling us what is right. Tell us pleasant things.’ – Do you think that attitude exists in 2021, you better believe it. I encounter it ever week.
Modern Culture: “Everyone should be free to determine for themselves what is true. Everyone should be free to determine their own truth and what is right or wrong for them.” – So to say ‘You’re wrong’ is a wildly arrogant thing to do. That’s what modern culture teaches.
And that’s not a new idea.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)
I think there’s this tendency that we have for some reason – That we have to balance truth and love.
No we don’t. We don’t balance truth and love.
You know why? – Because they’re not in conflict.
Truth is a part of love.
If I’m telling you the truth, it’s because I love you.
Beard You know, part of having a beard like I do, is getting food in your beard. Any bearded person can attest to that. We rarely go through an entire meal without getting something in our beard. It just happens. If you put you beard in your mouth, you can remember what you had for lunch. – Well I’ve told my wife that if I ever get something in my beard, I want her to immediately tell me. So she does. My wife is constantly looking at me and doing this (rubs hand on chin) – And I know that means I have some junk in my beard.
Now am I happy about her telling me that? In a sense yes and in a sense no. She’s pointing out something that I wish wasn’t true. I’m not glad to have a macaroni in my beard when we’re with company, but on the other hand, to NOT tell me, that would be the unloving thing.
So if you have something in your beard, (so to speak), do you want the people around you to tell you? You SHOULD want that.
In the same way, pastors, have the God given responsibility to confront when something is wrong in you. That of course happens from the pulpit, but it also happens one-on-one.
I believe all pastors can attest to the great temptation to become a preacher who only tells you what you want to hear.
We ALL feel that pull. Because believe it or not, we want to be accepted just like you do.
And sometimes telling the cold hard truth can be a total downer.
So while truth and love aren’t in conflict, I gotta tell you, telling the truth and being popular often times ARE in conflict.
Correcting is rarely a popular thing to do. So if a pastor only cares about being popular, they’ll just tell you what you want to hear.
People don’t want to hear the truth because it harms their ability to live a lie. – Which is a lot of times what people want to do.
You remember that cartoon where Wile E. Coyote would walk off a cliff but would just keep walking, and he wouldn’t fall until he looked down and realized there was no ground under him?
That’s what the truth does. It points out the reality that there is no ground under your feet. Which is an inconvenient truth. – To quote Al Gore.
So while we don’t balance truth and love, there IS a balance to be had.
We as pastors and leaders ARE called to be ‘Gentle’. AND we’re called to rebuke. So what does that look like to be gentle AND to rebuke. So for me, where I’m at with this is that we need to as hard hitting as necessary, but not harder. We don’t always get that right, but we do our best.
Paul’s teaching and life shows us that true teachers speak the truth even when it’s not what you want to hear.
To make it personal: Am I willing to speak the truth in love even when I know it’s not what the listener wants to hear?
The Gospel of Jesus is incredibly comforting. It really is. It’s the greatest comfort in the universe if you ask me. But it is also corrective and sometimes brutally so. And anyone who says otherwise is selling something.
3. Are they being pastored themselves or are they a “Lone Ranger”?
There’s something you have to understand about these letters that Paul writes.
These letters are to churches, but more directly, these letters are to pastors. Pastors who were under Paul’s authority.
In fact, you can see that in the New Testament there is not a single positive example of a ‘pastor’ that is not under the authority of someone else.
We live in an anti-authority society. We do. And it’s an awful mistake
A more subtle and pernicious form of anti-authoritianism in the Christian life is the belief that as long as you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you don’t need a pastor.
My personal experience has shown that this is something regrettably more common in men than in women.
OF COURSE pastoral authority can go too far. Pastors have no authority over you in a practical sense. They have no power to force you to do anything.
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. (Hebrews 13:17)
I recently heard about a church that no longer allows anybody on the pastoral staff to be called pastor because it’s an antiquated term. They’re now called motivators. That’s nonsense.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, (Ephesians 4:11)
to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:12
Motivating is a part of being a pastor – to motivate you to good works – but you know what, correcting and rebuking are also a part of being a pastor.
Ok so what does this have to do with false teachers? Well the majority of the time, false teachers will not be under a pastors authority. Not always, but usually. They will be zero accountability leaders.
Why? Well it’s obvious. They don’t want to answer to anybody. “Well Pastor David, he doesn’t HAVE a pastor, he IS a pastor.” That’s actually not how that works. True pastors are also pastored. True pastors are still accountable.
To illustrate this: Consider me – I am a father. I have a daughter. But while I’m a father, I’m also still a son. I have a father. And my father had a father. And his father had a father. In fact if you think about it, every father is also a son. Now of course some of our fathers have died, that happens, but before any of us were fathers, we were sons.
That’s how Christian ministry was designed to be.
Let me just give you an example from my own life: I am a pastor. So that means that I am a shepherd cares for the people God entrusts me with. I am not the only pastor of this church of course, but I am A pastor of this church. So that is a God given position that I have in your life that you opt into by submitting to me, and to Pastor Marshall, and Cindi, as your pastors. And you are free to leave that relationship at any time.
So how did I become a pastor? “You went to seminary.” Nope. That’s how I became a licensed minister, but you don’t leave bible college as a pastor. To quote John Maxwell “A leader with no-one following them is just a guy taking a walk”. You don’t graduate bible college and immediately become a pastor. No the way I became a pastor was my pastors (Marshall and Cindi) called me up and into the position of pastor. So I didn’t just DECIDE to become a pastor one day. “Hey guys, I now want you to call me Reverend Bishop, Eiffert” – No, my authority was birthed out of my submission.
Do you understand what I’m saying here? Now you might be thinking “Oh my gosh, how does this apply to me?!” – Look I am trying to help you understand the shepherds from the wolves.
So I’m a pastor who has a pastor. I have authority, and I’m UNDER authority.
Marshall has authority and in under authority. HIS pastor is Pastor Charles Neiman. Charles Neiman’s Pastor is Tommy Barnett. And it goes on and on and on. And there is a tremendous amount of protection in that.
So let’s say I read some stupid book and it convinces of some false doctrine. Let’s say I now believe that Jesus was more of a ‘concept’ than an actual person, half God, half man. That Jesus is just a concept and when we love each other, we all become Jesus.
What’s my safeguard against that? Pastor Marshall.
And so can you see how being in submission keeps me from slipping into false teaching?
Traveling ministers. You know when you have a church of a decent size, traveling ministers want to come and have you pay them to come preach at your church. And so these ‘reverend bishop pastors’ will contact me wanting to preach here. Do you know the first question I ask them? “Who’s your pastor?” And if they say something like “Uhhh…. Well years ago I went to saddleback church..” – I’ll say. “Ah. No thank you.”
To make it practical: Am I submitted to Godly authority?
And maybe you’re thinking “Yeah I’ll submit to Pastor Marshall so long as he doesn’t say anything I disagree with.” – Well then your submission is an illusion. And the only person you’re fooling is yourself.
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. (1 Thessalonians 5:12)
Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. (1 Thessalonians 5:13)
This is an artistic way of saying ‘pastors’ – Those who care for you in the Lord.
Scripture has a great deal to say about what it calls False Prophets, False Teachers, False Apostles. We live in an age of loud voices and many who speak with authority. It is vitally important that today’s Christian use discernment in deciding which voices to hear and which voices to ignore.
Thankfully, the New Testament writers give us many principles that will enable us to discern the true teacher from the false teacher.
1. Does their teaching and their life model intimacy with Christ? – Is the person in question putting Jesus on display with their life? Do they have integrity?
- Do they speak the truth or only what you want to hear?
Paul’s teaching and life shows us that true teachers speak the truth even when it’s not what the listener wants to hear.
- Are they being pastored themselves or are they a lone ranger? True pastors and prophets are still accountable. Their accountability is a safeguard against drifting into false teaching.
The questions also apply to you: Does your life model intimacy with Christ? Do you speak the truth even when it hurts? Have you submitted to Godly authority?
Which leads us right to Jesus.
You wanna talk about a man under authority. Jesus himself said that he did nothing on his own, but he only did what he saw his father do.
And he came to earth, put on a earthly body, was tortured, humiliated, killed a traitors death on the cross. But on the third day, God raised him from the dead, and he offers forgiveness, love, grace, and mercy to all who would call on his name.
As we close service I want to give everyone both here and online an opportunity to invite Jesus into your life.
Maybe for you, you’ve never accepted Jesus as your savior. The most important decision you’ll make in your entire life is to start following Jesus, and to give your life to Him.
Or maybe for you, the invitation is to come back home to Jesus. To recommit your life to him. The bible tells us that there’s nothing that can separate us from God’s love. So that means no matter where you are tonight, Jesus loves you, and welcomes your with open arms.
We don’t have to earn God’s love, we don’t have to deserve his love, all we have to do is accept it. There’s an amazing scripture in Romans 10 that says “If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you’ll be saved.”
It would be my absolute honor to lead you in a prayer to invite Jesus into your life.
I want everyone to repeat this prayer with me.
Jesus – I thank you that you love me
I thank you that you died on the cross
And you rose again for me
I’m sorry I’ve sinned against you
Please forgive me
Come into my heart
And give me a brand new life
I thank you that you now live in me.
And I’ll follow you the rest of my days.
Put your hands together to encourage the people that just made that decision.
If that prayer was for you, I need you to do 3 things:
- Tell someone about the decision you made. Maybe that’s one of us pastors or a member of the host team or even the person who brought you. We want to encourage you and help you along the journey of faith.
- Get a bible and begin to read it. We believe that when you do that, God will speak to you. And if you don’t have a bible, please let us know and it would be our pleasure to give you one.
- Become a part of a church. Gathering together to worship God and to learn about him is absolutely vital to your Christian faith.
Welcome to the family of God. One more time, let’s all encourage and clap for the people who have made that decision today.