By Their Fruits

Who will we recognize? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My interpretation of this passage is really different from many others. This is the one that says you will know people by their fruits. Many of us apply that to regular Christians that we meet everyday, but I wonder if since the next section talks about those claiming to speak in Jesus’s name if Jesus has more in mind prophets claiming to speak for Him and that those you will know by their fruits.

In other words, look at the kind of lifestyles leaders will hold as those would also be seen as prophets in the sense of teachers who speak with authority. While Christian leaders should often lead the best lives, too often we seem to live the worst lives. Naturally, the media loves it whenever a scandal breaks out involving a Christian leader.

If a person is a Christian leader truly, their lives will reflect their devotion to Christ. This doesn’t mean perfection. None of us have that and it’s ridiculous to demand it. It means overall that that person produces far more in character with Christ than the other way around.

This would also I think include the reliability of their statements, especially along the lines of when someone claims to hear from God. My advice to you is when someone tells you God told them something or the Spirit is showing them something, be on guard. I wouldn’t believe it unless they tell you something specific, not vague, that they couldn’t have known any other way.

I would also include the more subtle ideas of this. I see no basis for the idea that the Spirit leads us through our feelings, but many Christians will say that regularly. I remember in an old church I used to attend that the associate pastor at the time of offering used to say “Give as you feel led” and I was tempted to go up so many times and very publicly put in a penny and say “That’s what I feel led to give.” Who could argue against me?

Jesus’s warning is a serious one. At the next entry, we’ll see that not everyone who claims to speak for God really is speaking for God. Look at the character of the person you encounter and the way they claim to speak. Do they line up? Many people have been damaged by people claiming to speak for God.

Above all, watch yourself. How is your life? It’s easy to complain about the rest of the church, but that just takes our eyes off of ourselves, the one person we can do something about directly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: God’s Super-Apostles

What do I think of Holly Pivec and Douglas Geivett’s book published by Weaver? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes Christians get caught up in ideas I consider sensational. Many Christians think they need to be listening for the voice of God and finding God’s will for their lives. I disagree with them, but I don’t think they’re getting into something that’s overly dangerous. Yet at the same time, could there be extreme forms? What if you think you need to go to a specific person to know what God has to say and find out what you should do? What if that person thinks they have a superior level of authority with a superior title?

Pivec and Geivett have written about a movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. In this movement, people have risen up calling themselves apostles and prophets. They often claim to work miracles. They see themselves as a sort of end times fulfillment and that they are restoring the church with the offices of apostles and prophets.

Unfortunately, that has also left chaos behind it. People are following these leaders and hanging on their every word. You might think that this is one person leading one church. No. These people are often over a network of churches. Some of those networks can contain thousnads of churches all of them heeding the beck and call of one man.

Maybe here in America we might not see it so much around us, but there are other countries in the world where these kinds of people are rising up. They are becoming what Christianity is to those who have not heard the Gospel before. This can lead to exploitation as well if done wrongly. After all, greed and sexual lust are something that can hit anyone.

This book is a good and brief introduction to the movement. The authors tell you who the leaders are and what they believe in their own words. They also tell you the Scriptural passages that these people use in order to convince people that they are the real deal.

The writers will then look at those claims and provide a solid response from Scripture. They work to show that a Scripture is being misunderstood or used outside of its context. Fortunately, these people do not have many Bible verses that they can use.

They also include accounts of people who have been burned by the new movement. These are testimonials of those who trusted in an apostle or prophet and lost. Sometimes this can also lead to a division within families where one person believes the new movement and the others don’t. The movement is essentially cultic in nature.

The book also includes words of warning for others. Parents and youth have a section dedicated to them. What if you are a young person who is hearing about one of these leaders? What if you are the parent of someone who is a teenager or college age? There’s also a section for pastors. What can you do to prepare your own flock in case one of these people comes? It’s better to be prepared beforehand than have to deal with the problem when it arises.

I found the work to be very eye-opening. We can often look at the sensationalists we see on TV and we know about them. These people are not always the ones who are there and even if they’re not as common over here, they are around the world and the church needs to be ready to present real Christianity in an age of fakes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters