In 2018, I preached a series of messages entitled Proofs of Your Profession which told us who are authentic Christians. I then shifted the focus to discuss another timely topic—who are authentic preachers?
In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul outlined his credentials as a true minister of Christ by inviting the church to examine his life. If the people are judged by their character and the way they live, shouldn’t the preacher be judged by the same? As he reveals the character of the true minister of Christ, he uncovers the false, the pretender who leads the unsuspecting astray by obscuring the gospel of Christ.
Never in the history of twenty plus centuries of Christianity has there been such proliferation of false teachers. The communication age of satellite television, of radio, and the planet interconnected by the world wide web has given rise to the phenomenal growth of false Christianity. While we can reach millions with the truth of the gospel, Satan uses the same media to infiltrate the world with the lies of the false gospel.
One of the worst perpetrators of Satan’s deception is the Trinity Broadcasting Network. This satellite television network has hardly seen a heresy it does not embrace. TBN made popular the teaching of the prosperity gospel that is one of the subtlest perversions of truth the world has seen. TBN made popular the teachings of Paul and Jan Crouch whom Paul would call accursed, anathema, separated from God because of their corruption of the gospel. Though both are now deceased, their legacy lives on in their programming that reaches around the world to blind others to the glorious gospel of Christ.
Is this unusual in the history of Christianity? Only in the scope, for it is not unusual for Satan to transform his ministers into angels of light (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Our missionaries now contend with this perversion of Christianity in some places more frequently than non-Christian perversions. Sadly, to increase their revenues and popularity, some Baptists have gone over to it and helped promote what they once fought as heretical.
I recently read this assessment of the problem: “History proves that false teachers are often some of the most charismatic individuals you will meet. They have a ‘way with words,’ able to sound mostly orthodox while denying, perhaps subtly, particular points that are necessary for faithfulness to our Lord.” Thus, we see preachers that read a verse of scripture to lend orthodoxy, but then quickly abandon the text or pervert the text to their own ends.
In Romans 16, Paul said the false teacher serves his belly. By good and fair speeches, he deceives the simple. This is the heart and soul of TBN. It is a network that serves up daily delectable dishes of lies from preachers whose appetite is to line their pockets by preying on the poor and most vulnerable. Interestingly, what they claim is truth is opposite the apostle’s approach in verifying himself as an authentic gospel preacher. He did not use flattering words to cloak covetousness (1 Thessalonians 2:5).
There is much to be said on the subject. I have four sermons to help you spot the fake and verify the true. Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, and the rest of Sonoma County is infected with these spiritual vermin as is the entire world connected to the web with its deceitful lies. Be sure you evaluate every word you hear by comparing it to scripture. Examine, investigate, remember what you hear, and concentrate on the sincerity of the motive. Does it represent the lives of Christ and the apostles?
A false teacher is lurking near you ready to beguile unstable souls. Protect yourself with all the diligence required. We will help you squash the bugs and their deceitful lies.
Pastor V. Mark Smith