by | Feb 26, 2021 | Christian Living in the Trenches, Depression and Faith | 2 comments

Some false or doctrinally challenged preachers are more dangerous than others.

Scene 1

He boldly claims that the viewer will receive a transfer of wealth from the world to their bank accounts.

Debts will dissolve, they’ll get their dream house or a new car, plus healing from debilitating disease to boot.

If only…

If only they’ll call and ask for his free packet of “miracle spring water” (now available in a larger size!) That’s their point of contact with his faith, the hinge on which their personal prosperity turns. If only they’ll ask for his miracle water, he promises a financial windfall. He knows if they ask for his packets of water, he’ll add them to his mailing list so he can solicit more people for donations. I’ve viewed snippets of numerous broadcasts, and every single time he talks about his miracle spring water. Not once have I heard anything remotely resembling a Bible exposition or a thorough plan of salvation. Hundreds, often a thousand-plus, pack his small-venue meetings across the country. Many of the gullible attendees and TV viewers send him money to pay for his broadcast time, and for a whole lot more.

But his is not the kind of false teaching I worry about.

Scene 2

She’s articulate and steeped in Bible knowledge. She quotes verse after verse without turning to the texts in her Bible. I’ve heard her give a clear plan of salvation and accurately explain the efficacy of the cross. She travels extensively to speak, often in large church venues. Thanks to Christian TV networks, satellites beam her messages across the globe.

She’s also a top-echelon proponent of the “prosperity gospel.”  After interviewing a well-known, wealthy entrepreneur, someone few people associate with a strong evangelical faith, she turned to the camera and exclaimed, “Jesus wants you rich! He paid a high price on Calvary so you can be financially wealthy!

Why is she a hundred times more dangerous than the huckster who hawks his miracle spring water? Because parts of her sermons, occasionally entire messages, are so right and true.

Extraordinary passion.

Compelling truth.

Spellbinding delivery.

All tempered by a deficient theology of suffering and money. Her erroneous teaching is so much easier to believe when she sandwiches it in between rock-solid stuff.

I wish she promoted packets of miracle water instead.

Encouraging Perspectives

For a while, the thought of such false teachers prospering and living luxuriously agitated me. But the following biblical perspectives injected into my mind a much needed dose of encouragement.

  1. God pledges to deal with people who employ the gospel to line their own pockets. Though it is appropriate to oppose teaching that is blatantly false (1 Timothy 4:1-6, Titus 1:10-11, Jude 3-4), ultimately God will be their judge. Every time I start getting angry about the proliferation of false teaching, especially concerning personal finances, I remind myself of 1 Corinthians 4:5: “Wait until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts.”
  2. These false teachers are merely fulfilling Scripture, which insists that they will proliferate. To the pastor of the church in Ephesus that was besieged by false teaching, Paul wrote, “Realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant….” (2 Timothy 3:1-2). The context of these verses is a discussion of false teachers that Paul weaved throughout both letters to Timothy.
  3. My role, and perhaps yours, is to teach God’s Word as accurately as humanly possible as a counter to what is false. The number one antidote to false teaching is a steady diet of truth. Over time, members of a church where the true gospel is regularly and systematically taught will be able to discern error simply because they realize that it doesn’t correspond with what they’ve been learning. It’s like the way bank tellers learn to spot counterfeit money. Rather than spending lots of time studying samples of counterfeit bills, they handle real bills so often that they are likely to spot a deviation from the norm, no matter how minor it is. And I’m not talking just to pastors on this point. Since false teaching is rampant, transmission of truth must begin with qualitative, creative teaching of the Bible to our children.

I heard a respected Bible teacher say this is response to proponents of the prosperity gospel: “Any gospel that, when clearly communicated, won’t work in the slums of Calcutta, India, is not the true gospel of Christ.”

Perhaps we should send the lady Bible teacher (Scene 2) for a series of meetings in those slums, her audience consisting of extremely poor social castoffs who will likely never have an opportunity to improve their lot in this life. Let her teach her “Jesus died on the cross so you can be rich!” message as she strolls through those slums. Then follow that up back in the states with her appearance on the “Doctor Phil” TV show. I can just hear him asking her about the trip to India, then posing to her the question he’s famous for asking his guests: “And how did that work for you?”

On the other hand, neither the lady preacher nor the proponent of “miracle spring water” would ever speak in India’s slums. Members of that audience don’t have any money to send them.

Please….write a note of affirmation to your pastor or to an effective lay Bible teacher you know. Thank him or her for intensive study and faithful expenditure of energy in providing folks a steady diet of truth.

Please note: comments are closed after two weeks. You are welcome to contact me directly after that time if you would like to share your thoughts.


  1. Terry!
    Thank you, again.

    • You are welcome, Kerry, Appreciate your note.


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