Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
The Four Most Dangerous Mistakes any Christian Can Make

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 The Second Most Dangerous Mistake Any Christian Can Make Is To Attribute Every Personal Testimony, Unexplained Phenomena, Miracle, etc. to God.

Carol Brooks

Index To The Four Most Dangerous Mistakes Any Christian Can Make
1) Believe that we, or our pastor/denomination/spiritual leader cannot be fooled, 2) Attribute every personal testimony and “sign” as being of or from God, 3) Take Bible verses out of context and 4) believe that we, as Christians, are not to judge anything or any one. Not necessarily in that order.

Also See
Why Christians Are Deceived
That deception is so rampant in the church can be primarily attributed to just one underlying fact - the vast majority of Christians today are Biblically illiterate.

 Fraternizing With The Enemy
Few seem to realize that Christians are commanded to separate themselves from those who teach and practice false doctrine

True and False Unity
Although doctrine has often been allowed to divide people in disgraceful ways, division is not something that can be avoided. You could scour the Scriptures for the next ten years without finding a single word about being united at the expense of truth. Ignoring important areas in which we differ is simply a papering over of the rot in the walls.



Personal Testimony... The Essence of Witnessing?
Did Peter or Paul Use their Testimony To Evangelize?

Is Personal Testimony The Gospel?

Are Signs and Wonders Always From God?

Is Prophecy Always From God?

Not Going Beyond What is Written

False Beliefs So Prevalent In The Church Today
 And a Truth We Don't Want To Believe

The New Testament is filled with warnings to believers that as the end of this age approaches, there will be a proliferation of false prophets and teachers - Exactly what we are seeing today.

In all too many cases people pay great heed to personal stories and experiences that so many of these false teachers never tire of relating. The bigger, the bolder, and the more exciting the story the better. In fact, all too often personal testimony prevails over the Bible's teachings regardless of whether it is line with what the word of God says or not.

Personal stories do NOT convey the Gospel message.

Aside from their aberrant theology virtually all false prophets and fake apostles have one thing in common - they cater to how people feel They want us to experience God, but they take no responsibility for the fact that they may be unleashing in the church that which has nothing to do with God - quite the opposite.

Personal Testimony... The Essence of Witnessing?
In an article entitled How to share the Good News through your testimony Rick Warren said the "essence of witnessing" is ...

    ... simply reporting your personal experiences with the Lord. In a courtroom, a witness is not expected to argue the case, prove the truth, or press for a verdict; that is the job of attorneys. Witnesses just tell what happened to them. 

In support of this he quoted Acts 1:8 in the NIV in which Jesus told his disciples "You will be my witnesses." But does that statement apply to us?

Short answer - No!

A 'witness' is someone who can give a firsthand account of something they have seen, heard, or experienced. In this case, it was ONLY the disciples who could do so, which is why the 'Great Commission' says absolutely nothing about witnessing (See Footnote I for how other versions translate this verse.

Rick Warren then pointed to Paul as an example of the value of personal testimony saying

    Many people who won't accept the authority of the Bible will listen to a humble, personal story". That is why on six different occasions Paul used his testimony to share the gospel instead of quoting Scripture (Acts 22 to Acts 26). [01]

Did Paul Use His Testimony To Evangelize?
There are plenty of examples of the apostles evangelizing, preaching and teaching from the Word of God and a paucity of them using their testimonies to so. Certainly it seems reasonable to surmise that Paul and the other disciples/apostles told others about things they had experienced however, note HOW converts were persuaded of the truth of what they were being told. Hint: It wasn't by testimonies, exaggerated stories, or even signs and wonders.

In every case they appealed to Moses and the prophets as verification that their message was true. They emphasized Jesus as the Messiah whose coming fulfilled prophecy and that He was the one appointed by God to judge the world.

His miracles and resurrection simply attested to the above facts.

And, please read your Bible carefully - Paul did NOT use his testimony to share the gospel on six different occasions as Rick Warren claims. Much to the contrary,

    Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ." And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. (Acts 17:1-4 NASB)

    In his address to the Athenians at the Areopagus (the supreme court) Paul used reasoning and logic and said nary a word about his experiences. See Acts 17:22-34

    They came to Ephesus, and he left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.(Acts 18:19 NASB)

    When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. (Acts 28:23-24 NASB)

Paul's Message to the Jews in the Synagogue at Pisidian Antioch, Acts 13:16-41
His emphasis was on forgiveness for sin but he also warned the Jews that God had commanded the Gospel be preached first to them; but, seeing they had rejected it, it would be taken from them and offered to the Gentiles

Paul at the Areopagus in Athens, Acts 17:22-31
Paul discloses the nature of the "unknown God,” who is responsible for all creation, and n whom we all depend for our very existence. He calls all men to repent and went on to say,

  • "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:30-31 NASB)
  • The Times Paul Spoke Of His Experience On The Road To Damascus
    In Acts 22 to Acts 26 Paul twice described how he became a believer on the road to Damascus but both times he he did so as part of his defense, NOT when he was evangelizing.
  • 1.) The first time was when the Jews tried to kill him because they considered he was not only preaching against them, the law, and the Temple but had defiled the last named by bringing Greeks in (Acts 21:28). However, after the Romans intervened they gave him leave to speak to the people. Paul's first words were "Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you." (Acts 22:1 NASB). Much of this defense revolved around his Divine encounter on the road to Damascus and the events that followed.

      As he was addressing Jews Paul emphasized that his sight was restored by Ananias a devout Jew who also told Paul that he would be "a witness for Him to all men" and instructed him to be baptized. And most importantly that he was twice commissioned by Christ(Acts 22:10 and 21).

    2.) When Paul was finally brought before King Agrippa his defense involved how not wanting to be disobedient to the heavenly vision, he changed after his experience. (Acts 26).

    Because Agrippa was knowledgeable about Jewish customs and question (26:3) Paul customized his defense telling the king that the Jews were persecuting him because he was preaching that the message of the Old Testament had been fulfilled in Christ. In fact, Paul's final words to King Agrippa were

      "So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." (Acts 26:22-23 NASB)

    Certainly something incredible had happened to Paul on his journey to Damascus. Similarly, the disciples could have described many remarkable experiences that took place during the time they spent with the Messiah. However, while it seems reasonable to surmise that they did tell others of these events, the focus of their message was that Jesus, having fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies, was the Messiah. The Scriptures were the final authority.

    Did Peter?
    Please note that not once did Peter mention God's love or a relationship with Him. In every case the emphasis was on Jesus as the Messiah whose coming fulfilled prophecy, and that He was the one appointed by God to judge the world. His miracles and resurrection simply attested to that fact

     Certainly the miracle of speaking in languages and dialects unknown to them did catch the attention of many of the Jews gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost. However, Peter immediately made the Scriptures the focus of the evidence showing how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. The result? 3,000 were saved (See Acts 2) 

    Those that came to believe were persuaded, not by testimonies or even signs and wonders, but by the apostles reasoning with them from the Scriptures and showing how Jesus fulfilled the same. Peter preached Jesus as the Messiah attested to by miracles and by the resurrection that was prophesied and laid the burden of the crucifixion squarely on their shoulders.

    Peter's Message to Cornelius and his Household:
     In approximately 20 verses that describe what Peter said and did in Cornelius' home, all he said about his vision was "God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean".

    The emphasis is on Jesus - His miracles, death on the cross, and resurrection, that His coming fulfilled prophecy, and that He was the one appointed by God to judge the world. He told the Gentilest hat belief in Christ brings forgiveness of sin.

     Peter And The Lame Man Acts 3
    After Peter and John healed a man at the gate of the temple who had been lame from birth he asked the amazed crowd why they gazed at him and John as if they had made the man walk by their own power or piety. He then told them that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had glorified His servant Jesus whom they had delivered to Pilate asking that a murderer be set free and the Prince of life put to death, He then e then appealed to Moses' prophecy regarding a prophet who was to come and told them that every soul that did not heed that prophet would be utterly destroyed from among the people.'

    Considering the modern church's emphasis on God's love it should be eye opening to pay attention to the fact that none of the apostles EVER spoke of this love instead they focused on repentance and forgiveness of sin."

    Peter's Account of the Transfiguration
    There could never be a more glorious miracle than the one experienced by three of the disciples when Jesus was transfigured before their eyes. Not only did His face shine like the sun and His garments turn as white as light, and Moses and Elijah appear and talk to Him but, a voice out of a bright cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" (Matthew 17:1-8)

    Yet note what Peter said when he spoke about this event.

      For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:16-20 NASB)

    In other words, the transfiguration confirmed the truth of the Old Testament prophecies - made them "more sure". As glorious and miraculous the mountain experience was it primarily served to verify the Old Testament prophecies. which is why Peter warned his listeners to pay attention to the Scriptures as a lamp shining in the dark.

      Conclusion:  There is absolutely no question that personal testimony can be very valuable but it has its place - especially as encouragement to believers. Many, many people who have deviated from Biblical Christianity (The Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists etc.) can and do give powerful testimonies of how their lives have changed.

    Is Personal Testimony The Gospel?
    It is true that as Rick Warren said, "Personal stories are also easier to relate to than principles and people love to hear them; they capture our attention, and we remember them longer".

    Unfortunately, too many people are convinced by personal stories and experiences whether or not they have any basis or even agree with the Scriptures. Also, we would do well to remember that relating ones personal stories and experiences does not mean we have done what Jesus asked or instructed us to do.

    Jesus said He was sent to announce coming God's kingdom which is eternal life in a perfect world.  See Jesus' Message

    Our job is to tell people that we are all sinners and the penalty for sin is death. However, Christ gave his life in order that the Father would forgive us our sins and save us from this fate (the salvation that so many Christians speak of but fail to clarify), offering instead eternal life in His kingdom - that is if we choose to accept the offer. It really helps to tell people a little bit about this kingdom which will be right here on earth - not some ethereal place somewhere out there.

    And, somewhere along the line we should not forget to mention that claiming a belief in Jesus is not enough. What God requires is repentance for sins, obedience to Christ's commands, and living a righteous life.

    Confusing and unexplainable clichés like "Ask Jesus into your heart" need to be avoided at all costs. Nor should the listener be given the impression that everything will come up roses once they commit their lives to Christ

    The Heart of The Matter ...  Sin,  Repentance, Salvation

    Why NOT To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

    What and Where is Heaven?

    Are Signs and Wonders Always From God?
    C. Peter Wagner, supposed expert on church growth and a strong proponent of signs and wonders, convinced John Wimber of the Vineyard group of churches to study the relationship between spiritual gifts and evangelism. The result was the development of what he called "power evangelism" predicated upon the supposition that the Gospel is largely ineffective unless accompanied by signs and wonders.

    These two men were catalysts for the surge of fake apostles and false prophets that dominate so much of Christian belief today.
    C. Peter Wagner and The New Apostolic Reformation HERE

    Are supernatural manifestations evidence that God is at work?

    Another short answer - no!

    In fact, it is one of the most dangerous of the mistakes being made today.

    Even members of other religious groups can testify as to how they or someone else was healed by "the power of prayer" or their "guru" or holy man. Even atheists sometimes have powerful testimonies of supernatural occurrences through mediums, channelers, clairvoyants, diviners, mystics, shamans, yogis, psychic and holistic healers, etc. etc. etc.

    However, in our headlong rush to embrace the extraordinary we have forgotten that, in the effort to lead people astray, demonic forces are more than happy to cause people to demonstrate supernatural ability.

      Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?  And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23. NASB)

    There are several significant points we need to pay attention to

      The first is that the people make a verbal confession of faith by calling Jesus "Lord" and claiming that they did all manner or miraculous things in His name. Even believers in name only can do some extraordinary things that prove nothing

      Secondly, note that Jesus didn't deny that they prophesied, cast out demons, or performed miracles but emphasized that only those who do the will of His Father will enter the kingdom. All that counts is knowing Jesus and being known by Him.

      Finally, Jesus' statement that He never knew them may indicate that they had not lost their salvation but may never have had it.

    Warnings For The Modern Church
    Paul's warning to churches in "later times" was that people would give heed to "seducing spirits and doctrines of demons". In a second letter to his protégé he added that that the days would get worse and worse as time inexorably grinds down to the end.

      But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,  (1 Timothy 4:1 NASB)

      But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)

    He wasn't wrong. The 'Slain in the Spirit' phenomena is a clear sign that a different spirit has infiltrated much of the modern church. 

    See Slain? Slain By What Spirit?
    Regardless of spread and popularity the question we need to ask is whether or not there is a Biblical basis for being "Slain" or "Resting" In The Spirit? Part IV compares this supposedly Christian phenomenon with the ancient Hindu tradition of 'awakening' kundalini - the concentrated life force associated with the goddess Shakti.

    And More Doctrines of Demons

    Is Prophecy Always From God?
    In the modern church well-advertised and well-known self-proclaimed 'prophets' abound.

    In churches around the country, on national television, or on one or another stage somewhere, people like Cindy Jacobs, Bill Hamon, Ché Ahn, Bill Lackie, Patricia King Mike Bickle, Kris Vallotton, Bill Johnson, Lance Wallnau, Mark Lindell, Dutch Sheets, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson and countless others have all at one time or another made statements - some of which were pretty outrageous, others unbelievably bizarre, and yet others just plain daft.

    Man, if not most, are non-specific prophecies that cannot be tested objectively and could be made up on the spot by a very imaginative person.

    Most of the bilge spewed out by these modern day so called prophets FLATLY CONTRADICT the Scriptures with their messages of a great revival to come and how God is going to do great and wonderful things. Paul minced no words when he warned that the world will get progressively worse prior to the coming of Christ - that terrible times were to come.

    See The Conditions That Exist Just Prior to Christ's Return

    The Old Testament emphasizes not one, but two tests of a true prophet. The first one is usually misconstrued. It says

      'But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' "You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.  (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NASB)

    However, one needs to read the words very carefully. Contrary to popular opinion, they do not teach us that any prophet whose words come true is a true prophet. The text only says that any prophet whose words do not come true is a false prophet.

    Read what was said five chapters earlier.

      "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. "You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:1-4 NASB)

    While these verses clearly say signs and wonders could be the work of false prophets, they also give us the acid test of a true prophet i.e. is his adherence to the Word of God. The wolves Paul warned about use prophecy, signs and wonders etc. to persuade people that they are of God and tragically, vast number of Biblically ignorant believers will follow them... all the way to hell.

    See Prophets Or Deluded Charlatans
    The Bible tells us that that false prophets are ferocious wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15) and if a prophet presumes to speak a word in God's name that God has not commanded him to speak, that prophet shall die (Jeremiah 14:15. Yet false prophets abound and thrive in the Christian world. Therefore any prophet that says "Thus saith the Lord", has to be willing to be put to death if it doesn't come to pass.

    Not Going Beyond What is Written
    Paul advice to Timothy tells us exactly what will protect us from being deceived by false teachers.

      But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:13-17 NASB)

    Timothy knew the Scriptures and Paul warned him to abide (continue) in them, because they alone are able to make the man of God complete and fully equipped to carry out every good work. Timothy's work of reproving, correcting, and instructing was to be based not on personal testimonies, signs and wonders, or any "word of knowledge", but on the Scriptures.

    Notice the same emphasis in 1 Corinthians 4:6, where Paul tells them not to go beyond what is written i.e., the Scriptures. Remember that Paul's letter was written to a church that had a strong inclination towards the sensational and the experiential.

      Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. (1 Corinthians 4:6 NASB)

    In order to know what is written you have to understand that the Bible is not a single sheet instruction book. Occasionally reading a few favorite texts will get you absolutely nowhere. The whole counsel of God can only be ascertained by a very careful and in depth study of the Holy Book which means reading, rereading and comparing Scripture with Scripture. It also involves meditating or carefully considering what you are reading.

    Although the basics are not at all complicated it takes years (not days or weeks) to come to a more complete understanding of the Holy Scriptures. Like an onion, the Bible has layers upon layers of depth.

    But all that sounds like work... hard work. Why start an in-depth study of the Word of God when the preacher can deliver in just a few minutes every week. After all, wasn't that what he went to seminary or Bible school for? Isn't that what he is being paid to do? So, the man in the pew sits back and passively absorbs any flotsam and jetsam that happens to float by.

    False Beliefs So Prevalent In The Church Today.
    In 2 Timothy 4:2 Paul urged Timothy to "preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching". The note of urgency in his exhortation is understandable considering what he said in the next verse,

      "the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts" (Vs. 4:3)

    And how accurately his words have come to pass. Just as Paul predicted so many centuries ago, we have stopped our ears to the truth, and have pursued teachers who tell us exactly what it is we want to hear. ...

    And on and on

    And a Truth We Don't Want To Believe
    On the flip side, one of the things we DO NOT want to believe is that Christians will suffer in the end times (God will have nothing to do with it) yet that is exactly what the Scriptures teach.

      Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12 NASB)

    Many believe that the Seven Seals describe an escalating series of plagues that God will pour out on this earth in retributive justice, but that He will 'rapture' us out of here before the trouble really starts.

    I am afraid that is nothing but wishful thinking.  If one avoids a superficial reading of Matthew 24, then compares what Jesus said in that chapter with the Seals of Revelation 6, it becomes quite clear that the Seals represent the persecution of Christians.

     See The End Of The Age Part II... The First Six Seals HERE

    Footnote I - You Will Be My Witnesses
    Saying that "Witnesses just tell what happened to them" Warren quotes the NIV.

      Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses." (Acts 1:8)

    However, as Vincent's Word Studies says "The best texts read, of me". This subtle but important difference is reflected in many versions

      But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth. (Douay-Rheims)

      But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  (King James Version)

      But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (New King James Version)

      But you will receive power, the Holy Spirit having come upon you, and you will be witnesses for Me, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth (Berean Literal Bible)

      but ye shall receive power at the coming of the Holy Spirit upon you, and ye shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the end of the earth. (Young's Literal Translation)

      But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world.” (Contemporary English Version)

      But when The Spirit of Holiness will come upon you, you shall receive power. You shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and also among the Samaritans, and unto the borders of The Earth (Peshitta Holy Bible Translated)

    A witness is someone who can give a firsthand account of something they have seen, heard, or experienced. This means it was the disciples who were to be Jesus' witnesses simply because they were the only ones who could do so.

    The 'Great Commission' on the other hand says nothing about witnessing (Emphasis Added)

      And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20 NASB)

    They were to tell people about Him and make disciples by teaching them to observe all things the Lord had commanded. {PLACE IN TEXT}

    End Notes
    (1) Rick Warren. Pastoral Leadership Means Sharing Your Life Message.


    Index To The Four Most Dangerous Mistakes Any Christian Can Make