Biblical Discernment Will Always be Politically Incorrect

by Mike Ratliff

There is a myth in our time that has deceived untold numbers of professing Christians. The deceived have believed the lie that Christians are not to confront and rebuke false teachers nor preach or teach anything that has the potential to cause division within the visible Church. The visible Church contains the churches we see all across this globe. This would include denominations and local churches and ministries that we can see visually and of which we can partake. The invisible Church is made up of the elect. This is the true Church of genuine believers. It is within the visible Church. Therefore, the visible Church contains both genuine believers and professing believers who are not genuine. 

Someone confronted me not long ago about what we do in exposing the false prophets and their false doctrines. The verses that were quoted to me that was intended to rebuke me and show that it is wrong to do this was actually spoken by the Lord Jesus.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17 ESV)

This passage is addressed to believers who have a brother or sister in Christ who sins against them. Our Lord describes how we are to confront the one who has sinned that they may hear the truth and repent. I have actually been part of Church Discipline where we applied this passage to a man who refused to repent and return to his family from an adulterous relationship. This has nothing to do with dealing with false prophets and their false teachings. Instead, those who have been given the ministry of discernment are to apply passages such as this one.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV)

True biblical discernment is sadly lacking in our day. There are so many false teachers out there teaching things people want to hear in order to assuage their itching ears, that we must be very careful and discerning in order to avoid their poison. We are to never despise preaching, but we are to examine everything.

Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 ESV)

The Greek word used here that is translated a ‘prophecies’ is προφητεία or prophēteia. This word refers to the spoken revelation from God (Acts 11:27) or the written word of Scritpure (Matthew 13:14; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Revelation 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18, 19). These ‘prophecies’ Paul is referring to in v20 are authoritative messages from God through a well-recognized spokesman for God. Because these messages are from God then they are not to be treated lightly. Therefore, when one preaches to a body of believers we are not to just believe everything we hear, but receive what is said with great seriousness and test it all. This is the careful examination utilizing biblical discernment. When we do this we will never discount what is quoted from God’s Word, but we must examine how it used in the teaching along with its context in the message. When we discern that what is preached is correct and edifying then we rejoice and hold fast to it because it is good. However, if the preacher or teacher is misusing scripture then we must confront, rebuke, and expose because what is being taught is evil from which we must abstain.

The Greek word used here for ‘abstain’ is ἀπέχομαι or apechomai. It literally means ‘to keep oneself from or to refrain from’ the object of the sentence, which in this case is the evil of false prophecies. The myth of non-confrontation in order to preserve unity would tell us here to just keep quiet and let God deal with them. Well, He will deal with them eventually, but we are also told in God’s Word that we are to use the discernment and wisdom given to us to be salt and light. We must tell the truth to the body of Christ to show what is true and what is false. This will never be popular with the majority and will always be looked upon as Politically Incorrect.

The elect, the invisible Church, has the role of presenting the true Church to the visible Church. We are to preach the truth. We are to preach the Word in season and out of season. We are to stand firm and never compromise with what is evil. The only true biblical unity is found in the invisible Church, the true Church. Only they are united in Christ. On the other hand, there is a tension that brings pressure to bear when what is true and of God is presented to the visible Church as God’s absolute truth. This is when we witness divisiveness, which can become quite ugly. However, we must never refrain from our obedience to God in being salt and light in this lost and dying world.

Therefore, when the false teachings of someone like Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Tony Jones, or Brian McLaren are exposed to the body of Christ as we test what they teach against God’s absolute truth, we are being obedient to the command of God. Through this, He will preserve His Church and cleanse it of what is evil. We must also be alert to the fact that what we are doing will incur the wrath of our enemy and his seed. He is a liar and an expert deceiver. He has his people spinning lies disguised as prophecies in that they contain some truth, but these are coupled with teachings that tickle itching ears and will never result in their followers being edified or lead into the truth. Instead, they produce followers of men who have created another Jesus and another version of His truth, which is false.

Our goal in all of this is never for self-promotion or self-aggrandizement even though that is the accusation from many of those who hate what we do. If we attempt to do this from any motivation other than God’s glory and the edification of His Church then we will eventually find ourselves in a very ugly desperate place in which we will spend way too much time in self-defense. No, we must not do that. Instead, we must tell the truth with the proper motives, defending the faith, and honoring God. Then when the enemies of the truth attack, all they will be able to do is attack us personally because God’s truth is unassailable. Then we are to simply turn our defense over to God as we humbly endure our enemies’ wrath.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:10-16 ESV)

Political Correctness consists of compromise in order to preserve a false unity. That is not what we are called to do. Instead, we must be discerning as we confront, rebuke, and expose those who teach what is false because that is what God has commanded us to do.

Soli Deo Gloria!

21 thoughts on “Biblical Discernment Will Always be Politically Incorrect

  1. We did that and got into trouble with the pastor and his wife. The pastor was using the scripture to bang the heads of the congragation and try to make them feel guilty, when the scripture that he was actually using was to the preachers! He totally inturpreted the scripture wrong. In fact, the whole sermon. Well needless to say, he did this on many occasions. He even admited in front of everyone he did his sermons on the way to church while his wife drove to the meeting! Which takes about 1/2 hour. No one seemed to mind!! We did. So we quit going there and told them why and tried to show them why dispensationalism was wrong by asking them questions they couldn’t answer. We told them about TULIP. And as most arminians do, they disagreed with us being totally dead and God coming to get us and that He regenerates us. Anyway, long story short, you don’t win friends by telling the truth! Atleast in this situation. Oh well, Jesus said it would be like this. So when has He ever been wrong?? 🙂 Good post Mike.

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  2. “Our goal in all of this is never for self-promotion or self-aggrandizement even though that is the accusation from many of those who hate what we do.”

    Amen Mike! And logically if a man’s goal was self-promotion or self-aggrandizement he wouldn’t point out the heresies of the false teachers (who are well-spoken of and loved by the majority) – but instead he would use the popularity of the false teacher as his own means to sellf-promotion.

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  3. Amen to your message Mike!

    The one thing that becomes more and more obvious to me, is that it’s usually self professing Christians who seem to come against the truth of Scripture most vehemently.

    I reckon that preaching a watered down Gospel has a lot to answer for, and is right at the heart of something going on at Faith Defenders even now.

    I believe to preach a gospel from the flesh, as many do nowadays, seems to do little more than to actually immunize the hearer from receiving the truth in future!

    God bless,

    John.

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  4. Amen John, I agree. The corrupted gospel is not the gospel and causes people’s hearts to become hardened. Very sad and so we must stand firm and never compromise God’s Truth.

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  5. Mike, I hope that you can see this from a little different angle, I noticed a few things you said that are probably from your experience and religious tradition, rather than sola scriptora. First of all the scriptures say that we are to know those who are among us. I noticed that you defined prophecy as “authoritative messages from a well known spokesman for God”, however, it is the very traditions of men that turn the so called order of the meeting into a assembly hall after the manner of Egypt rather than the brother and sister family room of scripture. You cannot possibly know one another when almost all of the time you spend together is given to a religious format that certainly seems good to the pragmatist, but is clearly lacking Biblical authority. The remnant, the elect, the chosen, the poor, however you want me to refer to them, are scattered on the face of the earth, they are like sheep having no shepherd, they are subjected to all kinds of dangers with beast, storms and troubles. The problem is not only in discernment of what is being preached from the podiums, in the manner of Egypt, at your local assembly hall, but the JUDGMENT that placed these unfaithful men in such influential, powerful, un-scriptural positions to begin with. You are NEVER going to stop these men from getting worse and worse, no matter how influential your rebuke of them is, they will get worse and worse because the Bible, the prophets of old spoke about this very thing and described this judgment exactly the way it is transpiring! If my people (elect, chosen, poor, remnant) who are called by my name will humble themselves, pray and seek his face, they will be heard. There is no humility when the elect want to re-erect the un-biblical traditions of the past and call it so called “historical Christianity”. We don’t need the reformation, we need a higher standard and become that bride without spot of wrinkle awaiting the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As for me, I don’t want to rebuke Rick Warner, Kenneth Copeland and such ilk, I want to rebuke that dispensationalist, John MacArthur, and many like him! It is those people who speak 80% truth, the elect are listening to, I don’t believe the elect are listening to Creflo Dollar, may be one, but the vast majority of the scattered elect are listening to preachers like MacArthur, who set the tone of righteousness and salvation, these people are causing far more damage to the elect, because the elect need a raised standard. They need to have faith not based on the studies and theological degrees of men, but faith based on the power of God unto salvation. Now I know that I am stepping on toes here, never the less what I am saying is true and I can prove it! What good would I be anyway if all I did was chime in to say “good word bro!”, you have plenty of people here doing that. Make straight the Way of the Lord!
    Sincerely Robert Begnaud

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  6. Robert, those that I am referring to who have established “authoritative message and are well know spokesmen for God” are so because what they preach is subject to Sola Scriptura not what degree they have or how famous they are. When I wrote that I was thinking of Samuel when the people realized that God was not allowing any of his words to fail or fall to the ground. That is the prophets we listen to and we learn to listen to them by comparing what they preach with Scripture as I wrote in this article which I developed from the Word God.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  7. The comment that I made above is not a ‘cut down’ but a fact. I was wondering how many people would read it and launch some attacks. I guess that time will tell, eh Mike? 🙂

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  8. I guess that is the difference we have, I do not see or know of any Samuel in our time. I think I do have a sense of the sort you refer to, but they are no Samuel.
    Robert Begnaud

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  9. Amen Mike. Great article! Paul named names when he exposed the false teachings and blasphemies of Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20).

    Also loved your article on “God’s Grace and Justice in Balance”. I can relate to it because my mother suffered a stroke about two years ago. She went through rehab for a few months and is currently living at a board and care where she needs supervised care. She is suffering from dementia which will eventually turn into Alzhemiers. My mother also rebels, and wants to live on her own even though she can’t live on her own anymore because of her physical and mental condition so I know what you’re going through. I will pray for you and your family

    In Christ,

    Tony

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  10. Robert,

    Really? That is sad. I would put my Pastor into that category. I know of two others in my city, because I visited their churches, that I would put into that category. They preach the Word. I have the gift of discernment. I know the truth when I read it or hear it because I take it to the Word of God. That is what we are supposed to do and that is what this article is all about. The reason much of the church is so weak is that they do not have Pastors and leaders like this.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  11. Thanks Tony! SInce I shared this stuff about my parents I have learned how common this is. Many like you have the similar stories. I appreciate you sharing that.

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  12. Mike, sad as it is, I don’t know any such men. If you would like to direct me to some in the N. San Diego County I would be more than happy to check them out and report back to you. I have found nothing but compromise in the assembly halls around us, I have been in this town since the 5th grade and I am 48 now. It kind of makes me wonder whether I could be so unfortunate, so as to not run into a “true assembly” or if perhaps you and I have different standards. However, I can tell you that I do fear and tremble as I read the Word of God, I would never want to be against God and I have good solid scriptural reasons for my beliefs. Anyone wanting to demonstrate my error, is kindly more than welcome to proceed. I do have a sense that I know of what I am speaking.
    Sincerely,
    Robert Begnaud

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  13. Robert,

    My standards are simply what I have stated. I will not listen to any “preacher” or Bible “teacher” who compromises the Word of God. I have discernment and I check everything said by those I do listen to with the Word of God. We don’t know it all do we? Of course not. That is why God gave us preachers and teachers to teach us and exhort us. Our part is to verify that what they teach is biblical or not. We do this prayerfully and humbly.

    I have no knowledge of the San Diego area, but I do know a very good preacher in Orange County. His name is Kim Riddlebarger. Here is his blog. He is Presbyterian and a solid as they come.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  14. Yes I did listen to Jacob Prasch, that so called jewish worshiping, dispensationalist, very jewish educated, loves midrash as a form of biblical interpretation. Does prophetic conferences with the likes of Chuck Smith, Chuck Missler. Ok I know I am the bad guy here, but the Lord will never give his glory to another, NO LAST REVIVAL FOR YOU Mr. Prasch, unless you repent!
    Sincerely Robert Begnaud

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