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The Christian Woman’s Guide to Conversing with Bereans

How should you respond when someone calls your favorite teacher a wolf in sheep's clothing?

 

Imagine the scene: You have finally found some time to sit down to relax; you tune into the Trinity Broadcasting Network only minutes before your favorite teacher (I’ll call her Joyce Osteen) comes on the air. During these few minutes, you check Facebook, and to your horror, you see that someone has posted a warning that Joyce Osteen is a “false teacher“, a wolf in sheep’s clothing! How dare they touch the anointed Joyce Osteen! Although you might be tempted to respond to this claim in a fury of rebukes in ALL CAPS, please read the considerations below.

The purpose of this article is not to point a condemning finger but to address possible obstacles to fruitful conversations. These obstacles may include immature defenses and wrong presuppositions. Ideally, people on both sides of the conversation should act with integrity and humility. But it is most important that we must be imitators of Christ Jesus; yes, even during these conversations.

First, let’s take a look at who the Bereans were. In Acts 17:1-15, we learn that the Bereans researched, tested, and compared what they heard and were taught to Scripture … daily! We are commanded to do the same (1 John 4:1; Hebrews 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:21, etc.), so that we will not be taken captive by lies (Colossians 2:8). Not only are we commanded to be Bereans, but we are also commanded to expose evil (Ephesians 5:11Titus 1:9-13; Galatians 6:1). False teachings in the church are evil because they lead to damnation. We don’t hesitate to warn about physical danger, so how much more important is it to warn about spiritual danger?

When Conversing With Bereans:

1. Pray for Discernment, Knowledge, and Wisdom

Be slow to address your concerns, and take the time to pray to God for discernment, knowledge, and wisdom (Philippians 1:9-10James 1:5; Proverbs 4:7). The path to destruction is wide (Matthew 7:13), and there are many false teachers WITHIN the church’s walls (Jude 1:4); so, unless you are behaving as the Bereans did, you might be deceived. The danger of deception is that the deceived do not know that they are being deceived. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is faithful to guide to truth those who are in Christ (John 16:13).

2. Respond as a Child of God

When responding to something, many people take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet; however, as Christians we know that God is watching and that we will be held accountable for what we say (and type!). Even if a Berean is rude, respond with integrity. A mature Christian woman is gentle, kind, self-controlled, loving, and teachable. Be assured (in giving and receiving) that warnings about faulty doctrines are not a personal attack any more than a caution sign along the road is meant to offend. There may be an urgency to these warnings since we do not know when Jesus will return or how much time we have left on this earth; please do not mistake immediacy for lack of love.

3. Do Not Resort to Name-Calling

Since God has given us the gift of understanding His truths (2 Thessalonians 2:13b), we should be humble and reverent when discussing His Word. There is no place for immaturity or condescension, such as the following remarks:

“You’re just jealous!”

Worldly success is not something a Christian should strive for, so it’s highly unlikely that Bereans are jealous of material success or popularity ratings, and they are certainly not jealous of the dire, eternal destination of a false teacher (1 John 2:15; Galatians 1:10; Galatians 1:8-9). Regardless, this accusation does nothing to help the conversation.

“You’re a Hater!”

Warning the Church about false teachers is an act of love. Would you call someone a “hater” for warning you if you were about to walk off a cliff? Jesus, Paul, and others warned about false teachers and even revealed who these false teachers were. Was Jesus a “hater”?

“You’re of Satan!”/”You’re grieving the Spirit!”/”You’re a Jezebel!”

Resorting to histrionics does not further your position; rather, it leads your listener to assume you do not have a Scriptural defense.

4. If You Respond With Cliches, Make Sure You Know What They Mean

It’s easy to respond with a statement that sounds good or that you’ve heard many other churchgoers say; however, please take the time to understand what your statements actually mean.

“Don’t Put God in a Box!”

It’s a catchy phrase, but what does it mean? Regardless of the definition, Jesus exposed false teachers – was He putting God in a box?

“Touch not my anointed!”

This verse is about physically harming a prophet (1 Chronicles 16:22), but since we are commanded to expose false teachers, and because Scripture does not contradict itself, this verse obviously does not apply to anything else. So, there’s nothing wrong in a fair, biblically-based criticism of a teacher, whoever that teacher may be.

“You’re creating division!”

Let’s look at Romans 16:17: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” This verse explains that division is caused by those who teach contrary to the Word of God. Truth naturally divides itself from lies; therefore, Christians should not seek unity at the expense of truth … that’s what the world does.

“No one has perfect theology!”

True, but that’s not an excuse for heresy.

“This teacher has blessed me!”/”This teacher helps the poor!”

Following false teachers will lead you to destruction, and that’s not a blessing. There are many leaders and teachers who help people (including those in the secular arena), but that doesn’t mean we should follow after them.

Since false teachers have an appearance of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5), we can’t assume their teachings are sound simply because they do good works. Remember, atheists also help the poor.

“They’ve led hundreds/thousands/millions to Jesus!”

Yes, but which “Jesus” have these teachers led people to? Jesus warned that many people will be misled because of false teachers who will come in His name and preach another “Jesus” (Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:24;2 Corinthians 11:4). These false teachers are in the church today, preaching their Jesus to their unsuspecting flocks.

Additionally, the Bible informs us that not everyone in church or fellowship is a born-again Christian, and that there are false converts who attend church services (Matthew 13:21; 1 John 2:18-19; Matthew 7:21-23).

5. Please Realize that Proclaiming “Do Not Judge!” is a Judgment

Not only is this crowd favourite a judgment, but if you take Matthew 7:1 out of context and apply it to everything, this then only displays a lack of biblical knowledge and application. There are many great teachings regarding the biblical use of judging, but for the sake of brevity, here is a short video that explains how we should judge:

 

 

6. Make Sure You Know What You’re Talking About

What you think is right, or what your “heart says” is right is not a substitute for the Word of God. Use Scripture in your arguments and interpret verses correctly.

A Berean examines what a teacher believes about important doctrines such as the Deity of Christ, the Gospel, the Trinity, and salvation. Do you know what the teachers you follow believe about these things? It may be difficult to know everything that a television preacher or Christian author believes, but the information is available. It’s also wise to educate yourself on the beliefs of movements that are within evangelical circles. Too many Christians are deceived by the belief systems of the Word of Faith Movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, the Emergent Church, and other unbiblical factions.

7. Converse with Etiquette

As with any conversation, make the effort to understand what is being communicated and read any information that is provided. It’s time-efficient and practical to link to information, especially on social media, so don’t ignore this information. Additionally, ask questions or ask for examples if you are unclear about anything, and remember that even if the conversation ends in disagreement, the goal of communication is understanding, not winning.

Remember Who You Are and to Whom You Belong

Christians belong to the royal priesthood and are joint-heirs with Christ. We have been saved out of the darkness by a merciful and loving God who does not want us to respond out of the flesh with tactics that are better left on the playground. We are a chosen race (1 Peter 2:9) and daughters of the King, who reigns in truth. Let’s make sure we act (and type!) like it.

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

 

25 Comments

25 Comments on The Christian Woman’s Guide to Conversing with Bereans

  1. charityw2013
    January 18, 2016 at 8:41 am (1 year ago)

    Amen good teaching. It’s always good to go the word of God and see what God says before we say something. God Bless.

    Reply
    • Pamela
      January 18, 2016 at 11:07 am (1 year ago)

      Yes! God bless you as well.

      Reply
    • Pamela
      January 18, 2016 at 11:06 am (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Michelle! I remember that article, I pray that they both help a lot of women 🙂

      Reply
  2. nickipicki123
    January 18, 2016 at 4:48 pm (1 year ago)

    It’s easy to think of it this way when “Joyce Osteen” is the one being attacked, but what if someone says John MacArthur is a false teacher? Or Phil Johnson? Will you listen to their claims and concerns, then compare them to the BIble? And then compare JM’s or PJ’s teachings to the Bible?

    One thing that somewhat bothers me about fans of JM is that there is a kind of cult-like following, and that seems very dangerous.

    Reply
    • Pamela
      January 18, 2016 at 4:58 pm (1 year ago)

      Absolutely – Biblical truths apply across the board. I think everyone has been called a false teacher at some point on the internet and John MacArthur is no exception. I always check out the claims, and while I don’t always agree, I’m grateful that there are people pointing out possible concerns.

      John MacArthur definitely has his group of supporters, however, I haven’t seen anything dangerous (but I would check out any information you have :-)).

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Reply
        • Pamela
          January 24, 2016 at 8:36 pm (1 year ago)

          First, I researched a bit on Do Not Perish and it’s their opinion that Christmas, Easter, and funerals are pagan. The Christmas and Easter viewpoint I understand, because it’s common these days. But funerals? I guess anything can be pagan if we look into the history…even celebrating our own birthdays can be viewed as pagan. Also, Do Not Perish’s beliefs under Christian Appearances are usually what is found in cults. Yes, dressing modestly is important, but as a principle, if women and men desire to serve God, their hearts would follow and they would dress modestly. It’s not a command that we should be covered head to toe, it’s a principle. They don’t seem to like any teacher…except themselves.

          With those things in mind, I’m wondering if what he says about John MacArthur is from his preference, or from what he thinks is bad theology. There’s a lot of focus on what MacArthur is doing rather than teaching (which is fine, we are to look at the fruit).

          Regarding Calvinism (I prefer to call it the Doctrines of Grace, since they existed before Calvin, and the doctrines were only named after him because of a dispute, and Calvin himself did not even believe in all the points), there is a misunderstanding that Do Not Perish makes, which is that Calvin was enacting out the law of the land when heresy was punishable by death. Also, Calvin was a citizen of Geneva then, so he couldn’t have been responsible for the execution of Servetus.

          Onto Do Not Perish’s estimation of MacArthur. Yes, The MacArthur Study Bible is named after him – it’s his notes, what else is it going to be called? I don’t see that as being arrogant. He didn’t rename the Bible after himself.

          Regarding MacArthur speaking with teachers/pastors who teach unbiblically, are these teachings essentials of the faith? I don’t know what specific teachings he’s referring to, or what context, but MacArthur speaks out against all of them, so I don’t know what he’s referring to. Yes, to be fair, he did quickly mention some teachings, but it wasn’t enough to know the context in which MacArthur was with these teachers or when this was. Some teachers have gotten worse over time. Also, while he was sharing a platform, did he speak out against these wrong teachings? I can’t draw any conclusions.

          Regarding the heckler incident, I heard it as it was happening, and it certainly wasn’t a situation in which MacArthur could have spoken to him calmly, nor should he have given him the floor. I find it odd that Do Not Perish critiqued MacArthur for this and said that the proper way is to allow everyone to voice their opinion, but yet he disabled the comment section for his video proclaiming this.

          Regarding Camp Regeneration, if lewd and pagan things are happening, that is a cause for concern indeed. However, Do Not Perish seems to disapprove of everything secular, including sports and that viewpoint combined with his view on how women are to dress (and that funerals are pagan!) makes me wonder if he would approve of anything. So, I don’t know what he means by “lewd dressing” – does it mean anything above the ankles? What are the horrible secular activities? He didn’t seem to approve of volleyball. I respect that he didn’t want to post the examples if it violates his conscience, but it does make it difficult to know what is lewd or pagan.

          Again, I’m wondering if this critique was based more on preference.

          Regardless, discussion is good.

          Blessings,
          Pamela

          I don’t want to assign motives to Do Not Perish, so I won’t. If he could have pointed out MacArthur’s errant theology, that would count for more than reporting about his behavior and the behavior of the camp, both which are either illogical (being arrogant is naming a study Bible after himself), or out of context (the heckler) or without context (MacArthur’s affiliations) or no data to cross-check (Camp Regeneration).

          The theology issue he brought up is when MacArthur said that a person can take the mark of the beast and still go to heaven. The original quote has been taken out of context and edited. We should always research to make sure that a person’s views are represented accurately. He says that those who take the mark of the beast will perish in the link below:

          “So here’s a warning to the whole world, you take that mark and you are going to receive the wrath of God. Now you can make your choice, you can refuse the mark and get the wrath of the Antichrist, or you can take the mark and get the wrath of God. The wrath of God means torment with fire and brimstone and it says in verse 11, “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image and whoever receives the mark of his name.” You take it and you will suffer torment forever.”

          https://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/66-48?Term=who%20is%20the%20antichristwho%20is%20the%20antichrist?Term=worship%20the%20beast

          Regarding MacArthur’s behavior, as stated in the video (I only watched the first one)

          Reply
          • nickipicki123
            January 24, 2016 at 9:13 pm (1 year ago)

            Hey Pamela,
            Thanks for checking that out for me! I agree with you about biblical dress, although I do think they Christmas and Easter are pagan (but that’s another discussion for another time). Thanks for clarifying MacArthur’s comments on the mark of the beast.
            Do Not Perish made a few videos about MacArthur, but I didn’t post them all. My understanding is that he thinks that the modern church structure of having one pastor is unbiblical, and I think that he thinks celebrity pastors are unbiblical too. I would actually somewhat agree with him on this point, but I don’t agree that “modern pastors” are entirely unbiblical.
            I am going to seek out God’s word on these things though! I hope you do the same. 🙂 Have a great evening!

          • Pamela
            January 24, 2016 at 9:23 pm (1 year ago)

            Hi Nicki,

            You’re welcome! I don’t know enough about the church structure and whether having one pastor is biblical, and if it is, to what extent, but it would be good for me to learn about it.

            Depending on how “celebrity” is defined, the celebrity pastors I’ve seen are unbiblical – the world hated Christ and the world should hate any Biblical message, so it’s pretty clear that it’s a false gospel (or no gospel!) that is being preached when the world loves a preacher.

            Have a great evening as well 🙂

          • nickipicki123
            January 24, 2016 at 9:16 pm (1 year ago)

            I will also look up the Camp Regen thing. Thanks again!

          • Pamela
            January 25, 2016 at 10:47 am (1 year ago)

            That’s interesting. I asked around about Do Not Perish and a couple of people also mentioned that his beliefs mirror that of cults. There’s a conspiratorial tone in the way he writes and speaks which doesn’t sit well with me. However, sometimes it’s difficult to present a message online in the manner you want it to be presented.

            The following link was brought to my attention where he states he doesn’t believe that our salvation is secure. We were bought by the blood of Jesus and we belong to God. God doesn’t lose what is His. To say that we need to make sure we don’t lose our salvation is a works-based salvation:

            http://spiritandtruthdiscernment.blogspot.ca/2013/12/once-saved-always-saved-is-lie.html?m=1

        • nickipicki123
          January 25, 2016 at 11:35 am (1 year ago)

          The dispute about once-saved-always-saved always gets my head spinning. It seems like people think there are two extremes: you are saved once, and now you can sin all you want OR you have to work for your salvation. It seems like the most biblical POV is that you are born again, and then you also need to obey and will bear fruit in keeping with salvation. There’s many verses in the NT that talk about obeying and keeping God’s commandments (i.e. Romans 6:1), lest you be cut off. It’s hard to reconcile this with the idea that you are once saved always saved, yet I don’t think we need to work for salvation. I have actually talked to DNP before, and I think they believe that you have to bear fruits in keeping with salvation, but I don’t think they believe that you earn your salvation through works.
          Great. Now my head is spinning again.
          If you could point me to any Bible passages that might help, that would be wonderful! Thanks Pamela. 🙂 I realize this has moved off topic, so if you’d like to email me privately about this, that would be OK!

          Reply
          • Pamela
            January 25, 2016 at 12:24 pm (1 year ago)

            Lol, Monday-morning-head-spins. Eek!

            If you want to email me privately, my email is pamelacouvrette@gmail.com, but I don’t mind responding here 🙂

            I agree with you about the two extremes; licentiousness is wrong and working for your salvation is wrong. I’m also in agreement that we bear fruit as a result of our salvation.

            Jesus says that one of our spiritual blessings is peace – how can we have peace if we think our salvation is not secure? I would be up all night dreading the possibility of hell!

            Here are just a few verses about our eternal security since there are too many to list. I will link to a list of verses that you can pray over.

            He will not forsake His saints, they are preserved forever (Psalm 38:6)

            I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you (Jer 31:3) God loved us before time and He’ll love us throughout eternity. He has never stopped and will never stop loving us or being faithful to us.

            God keeps us from being deceived:

            For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders to lead astray, IF POSSIBLE, the ELECT (Mark 13:22) Those who are elected are safe and God grants them discernment to stay away from destructive heresies that lead to eternal damnation.

            God helps us keep our obedience:

            …to bring about the obedience of faith (Romans 16:26)

            …and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

            And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:1)

            God is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

            My favorite verse for this topic is 1 Peter 1:1 “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” We are being guarded and our inheritance is kept in heaven right now! It’s imperishable! Nothing can touch it or destroy it. God is so good!

            It’s my opinion that when we focus on ourselves, we think that we can lose our salvation, but it’s not for us to lose. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we know that He is ours and we are His. God is keeping us for eternity; we know that He is able and that He is faithful to bring us home.

            Here is a link to verses about our secure salvation: http://www.openbible.info/topics/eternal_security

            I think it’s helpful to also look at verses about election. God chose us in eternity past and He’ll see it through. That is beyond words and so humbling! : http://www.openbible.info/topics/election

            Have a blessed day 🙂

          • Pamela
            January 25, 2016 at 12:35 pm (1 year ago)

            Thank you for the support Maria 🙂

  3. Sara Miller
    January 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you for the reminder! Well written Pamela.

    Reply
    • Pamela
      January 18, 2016 at 6:41 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Sara, thank you, sister!

      Reply
  4. ASPREE
    January 20, 2016 at 7:58 am (1 year ago)

    Pamela, this is excellent! I will share this over at Berean Research (linking readers to the full article back here, of course).

    Reply
    • Pamela
      January 20, 2016 at 12:17 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Amy, that is appreciate! 😀

      Reply
  5. Sharon Wylie Hagglov
    January 20, 2016 at 5:25 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank You for this article………appreciated the scripture…….have been trying to put together scripture that could easily be accessed….have written them down for the future. …..was able to read your article because of Berean research….. I receive their email….Thanks again….excellent much needed timely information. ….motherbe

    Reply
    • Pamela
      January 20, 2016 at 5:41 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Sharon! I subscribe to Berean Research as well – they are are a great source of information. God bless you 🙂

      Reply
    • Pamela
      January 23, 2016 at 9:41 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you, Maria! 🙂

      Reply

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