Any given day we can find something heretical and dangerous on the internet (do we even call it the world-wide-web anymore?). An exhaustive list of heresies would fill more pages than Scripture. Some of those errors are obviously wrong — for example an article claiming Jesus is not God. There are other doctrines that seem to skew Scripture ever so slightly and yet reek havoc on the soul like the family integrated faith movement. So how should we respond to error?
Before answering the question, there is another question needing attention. Do we address the error? Do we contend earnestly for the faith? The short answer is yes and probably not.
Yes, believers need to contend for the faith. But not every blog, article, or conference out there deserves a response. Why?
Good question. Because God’s Word teaches us to be on guard for the truth in our local church. Paul told the Ephesian elders,
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Act 20:28).
Now, those words are not addressed to you or me. But we do learn something from them that we can apply to our ministry. I (and you) need to watch out for my own life. Shepherds need to watch out for the flock. What flock? The church at large? The church in Seattle? NO. I am to watch over the souls of the people physically in my church — among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Those committed to the ministry and can say with you, “I go to (insert your church name here).”
Those are the people the Lord placed in your local flock whom you are to shepherd. Those are the people you are to nurture and guard. Yes, it is possible one of those people is a false convert and will bring a false doctrine into the church. Therefore, be on guard.
Are false teachers out in the world? YES!!! The real question is, “Are they in your church?” “Is it you?”
So what do we do because Benny Hinn is false? Yes he is. Teach the truth to your people and let the Spirit convict, exhort, teach, and direct.
Paul tells Timothy, “Prescribe and teach these things. . . . Until I come, give attention to the reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Tim 4:11, 13).
We are to teach and preach the Scriptures to those in our church. Teach yourself and those under you the truth. Help them to grow in their convictions about the truth. Train your people to know the truth so well so that when a person encounters heretical doctrine, he or she will discern it. As a bank teller I could recognize counterfeit money because I knew what real money felt like.
Why not respond to false teaching or enter into the dialogue and contend with the “church at large”? One, because there is not church at large where we answer to elders (a separate blog post coming on this later). Two, because we probably do not know the people we are about to tell “you are wrong.”
I have opened my mouth in many circles I should have kept it closed. I learned (and am learning) you may know the truth, have a valid observation, or a valid question, but due to a lack of relationship, I will probably not be heard. In fact, I should probably focus on winning people more than winning the argument. When reading people, I need to strive hard and seek to understand what the person is communicating rather then be quick to talk. (Always make sure you can be fair to the person’s argument). But this goes back to the main point. How long should I spend with someone on the internet to win them when there are people in my church I can spend time with? It seems obvious God placed me in a church to help mature the church (Eph. 4:11-16).
My fruitless discussions on the internet remind me of the truth. I am to devote my time to my local church and the relationships there. God ordained those relationships for my edification (and theirs). Focus on the people God places in your life. Love them. Teach and study the truth. Be on guard.