Test the churches – Ways to find a sound church.

http://www.forestwander.comSome of the criteria I included will be in jest.   Similarly to, “you might be a Redneck if….” 

You will find some truth in them, however, obviously a disclaimer, it does NOT mean that if your pastor has a tattoo he is not saved, nor does it suggest he is not a sound teacher.  (If he talks about his newest tattoo he is getting next week, you might reconsider) 🙂  It does NOT mean if it is a large church, or has a nice coffee shop, or any of the other external things I said (could be considered a judgment according to appearance,) this is not how to judge something to be unsound.

This is only a small (not all-inclusive) list of possible warning signs.  Although Mega churches more often than not, DO have serious issues doctrinally, it does not make a Mega church false (need to clarify from someone’s misunderstanding yesterday).  Mega churches, just by the sheer fact there are a lot of tares in a large church, many times have doctrinal issues because two cannot walk together unless they be agreed.  Not only that, more people, more opinions that can be outside of Scripture in order to be ‘seeker friendly’.  Church is the body of Christ, not a building.  Therefore where we meet, is for believers to assemble.  Surely a non-believer will enter, but the point of the assembly is for believers to fellowship, grow in grace, learn, teach, etc.  Assembling together is not a missionary outreach, though is an arm of the church itself.  We have somehow missed there, and believers are not fed, and goats and wolves are leading the flock.

Please feel free to add any of your ideas in the comment area if you would like me to add to the list.  Let’s help protect the body of Christ and find places to fellowship.


This is a basic list of some ways to test the spirits, to see if you are looking for a church to fellowship with.  (Some tongue in cheek, but actually important).  They can be a caution, or even a ‘flee’ suggestion.

  • Go to their ‘about’ page.  Does it tell you about the church and their beliefs, or is there only talk about what they are ‘doing’, etc.?  Not necessarily a bad thing to discuss their ‘doings’, but we need to know first and foremost, what it is they teach.
  • How transparent is their webpage?  Can you easily find their statement of faith and a clear gospel?  If not, ask yourself, why not?
    • I do not like a video statement of faith.  Videos can have music, graphics, and be very compelling, AND they are not in writing and can be replaced.  Their statement of faith should be very transparent and include Scripture on each point so we can “prove all things” by His Word (1 Thess 5:21, Acts 17:11)
  • Check for their gospel first.  Again, can you find it easily or did you have to search for it?  If so, does it include any of the things that do not go with the preaching of the gospel?
    • Repent or turn from sin. (They may say repent, and that is o.k. if they correctly define repentance as a change of mind).  Repent from sin is not in the Word in relation to the gospel.
    • Stop sinning.  (Yes, this is a message I have heard from both Ray Comfort and Joyce Meyer’s own mouths).
    • Sinner’s prayer.  Say a prayer, repeat a prayer. (What is necessary to be saved, is to believe upon Christ and Him crucified for you.  We need to believe on who He is and what He did in our place.)  I am NOT saying that if they have a suggested prayer for one who has believed, that they are wrong.  We are to talk to God and after they have believed, it’s a good time for them to tell God what they have believed and thank Him.  But it must include an explanation that prayer does not save you.
    • These should not be part of the gospel message:  Repent from sin, stop, or turn from sin.  Give or commit your life to Him, surrender or submit to His Lordship, put Jesus on the throne of your life, give your heart to Jesus, accept Him into your heart, make Jesus the Lord of your life, abandon all, etc.  (Before you post in protest, I am not saying some of these are not things we strive to do ONCE we are believers, or things that happen WHEN we believe, i.e., Jesus comes to live in our hearts by faith – Eph 3:17)
Make sure their gospel includes our need to believe on Christ dying for our sins on the cross, as the Scriptures prophesied.  That He was buried and rose again the third day as the Scriptures said.  This was witnessed by people, and was the same gospel all the apostles preached.  It must also include the fact of His resurrection (proves He is Lord-Deity, Lord means God, the Messiah), and that we too will be resurrected as Scripture tells us. (Eternal Security) 


Warning signs

Once again, just possible warning signs to look for.  These things could be a judgment by the appearance, so remember, just ‘signs’ to consider, not necessarily a be-all end-all form of choosing a church.

  • Prevalence of quotes of men, most especially men like Calvin, Luther, Augustine or monks, church fathers, mystics, philosophers, Freud, Jung, etc.
  • They teach from the John MacArthur Study Bible or frequently cite him.  I speak from experience of seeing a teacher change teachings because of this 3,4,5.
  • Lack of Bible verses or teachings.
  • Plenty of catch phrases or buzz words.
  • Presence of man-made creeds.
  • References to the ‘church fathers’ or extra-biblical books.  This should not be included as part of doctrine (not saying one cannot reference them, but doctrine should not be decided on a majority of the so-called church fathers)
  • Multiple Campuses, Mega size – not saying that is always a bad thing, they may decide to not grow into a mega church, but instead branch out into smaller fellowships.
  • Tithing, Prosperity, Name it and claim it declarations – tithing is not a commandment to the church, and never has been, the Mosaic law was given to Israel and has already been fulfilled in Christ.  (Matt 11:13; Luke 16:16; Luke 24:44)
  • A church that looks more like a nightclub – dark, colored lights, concert atmosphere.
  • The staff look more like celebrities, or bartenders at a local pub.  Better hair, and half shaven beards, and more artsy tattoos along with the tight clothing. (O.k., I’m just having a little fun at this point, but some of you know it’s true).  I walked into one church and just about tripped as I entered – very dark, pub-like tables, latte’s, band playing punk style music, spot lights and other such interesting things.  I had to stay and listen to the pastor (ahem) preach.  Very interesting, not a church I would recommend.  Oh, they also have yoga and all the latest fads going on. 🙂
  • A lot of people wearing Christian t-shirts with logos, sayings, and/or images of Christ (not saying a Christian logo on a t-shirt is bad, just creating a word picture for fun, remember the ‘you might be a redneck’ pun, don’t get me started on the Hawaiian shirts 🙂 ).  I am convicted that we likely should avoid images of Christ based on Romans 1:23, but see what you think about it.
  • A youtube channel that plays the newest secular or worldly songs.
    • For example: Imagine Dragons and their song “Radioactive”, just search it with ‘Christian Church’ on youtube, and you be surprised to find a quick list of 100 churches you might not want to visit…
  • A bookstore as big as your neighborhood mega-book store with a coffee shop they likely would envy.
  • The “Message” used or quoted in place of the Bible.  I would never attend any church or take any teaching from a pastor/teacher, etc., who was not discerning enough to see the error of quoting the new age Mess-Age AT ALL, or ‘The Voice’, New Living Translation, etc.
  • Likewise, be cautionary about any church that insists upon KJV only with even the members. I am not saying one that prefers and uses or teaches from the KJV, but rather one that insists the KJV is the Word of God and holds it up above the original languages such as a Gail Riplinger or Peter Ruckman. The Word of God is not just contained in a translation, although a very good one. The Word of God can be found in the original manuscripts and God preserved His Word through the manuscripts.
  • Women admonished to wear dresses only vs. a request of modest dress.  Likely you will find this in IFB – Independent Fundamental Baptist churches.  If someone again PREFERS to wear dresses only vs. the legalism and bondage of the strong admonition, that is different.
  • Over or under-emphasis of prophecyRick Warren’s Saddleback church is a good example.  Search for the Rapture or the Great Tribulation and you will not find either, not ONE lesson.  Prophecy is about 30% of the Bible, it is the testimony of Jesus (Rev 19:10), and should be included in the teaching lessons.  On the other hand, some seem to do nothing but have classes, conferences, etc., on prophecy. The teaching should be balanced.

Catch phrases or buzz words that may give you a clue to avoid them

  • Sovereign – God IS Sovereign, but it is a word that was not in KJV or Bibles originally translated into English.  It has become sort of a reformed code word for ‘you have no free-will’.  The bottom line is it means God is the author of all—meaning, He chooses some to hell, others for heaven, makes people do evil, or good, etc. (they may not explain it that way, but the sum of the equation is still the same, people have no choice, it is fatalism.1)
Charismatic Reformed Author Wayne Grudem: By fatalism is meant a system in which human choices and hu­man decisions really do not make any difference. In fatalism, no matter what we do, things are going to turn out as they have been previously ordained. Therefore, it is futile to try and influence the outcome of events or the outcome of our lives by putting forth any is offered to them in a truly scriptural proclamation of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1–3). (Source – Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1995), 674. — thank you Cheryl I have edited in the source.)
  • Total Depravity (which means total inability to respond), it does not mean that we believe there is none good, no not one.
  • T.U.L.I.P. doctrine of Calvinism.
  • Limited Atonement – Christ died for ALL men!  He bought even the false prophets who would deny Him, 2 Pet 2.
  • Spiritual Formation
  • Purpose or Purpose Driven
  • Reformed
  • Disciples – unfortunately, many people can be most taken by this, because many of us can relate to not having been discipled, taught, helped to grow within the church.  This does not make it a bad term, but be careful; some use it to bewitch you into finishing in the flesh.
  • Torah, God’s commandments or instructions (again, understand, not suggesting we do not want to rightly follow the Lord’s desires for us, but lawkeepers will put you back under the law.
  • Radical, Paradigm, Jesus followers, Relevant, Revolution, Change Agents, etc.
  • Spirit-filled – Yes sadly, usually suggestive that other believers do not have the Spirit.  Usually Pentecostal or Charismatic, most who believe it is a separate event, against Scripture (Romans 8:9; 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:4-6)


Misleading Words

The Counterfeiter will often take words that we have learned to associate with a certain belief system, and hijack them.

  • Grace – Caution: Unfortunately, (NOT ALWAYS) many of the reformed churches will use the word grace, often, Sovereign Grace.  Some will call themselves ‘free grace’, again hijacking a term, but teaching something completely different then His gift of grace being free 3,4,5.
  • Bible, God or Christian, etc., may be used – although, at times, may not mean any of them.  I.E., Church of Christ or Church of God.
  • Non-denominational – (used to be all I looked for, now it may simply mean ultra-liberal).
  • Evangelical – used to mean those who were Bible based, and believe in missions, not so much so any more.

Good things to look for

  • A sound gospel.
  • A good definition of repent or repentance.
  • Expository teaching – (books by chapter in order).
    • Topical teaching is fine, but be careful that is not all they do.
  • Bible studies where they use the Bible, not necessarily men/women’s books.  If they do, ask for the person’s name, ‘prove all things; hold fast that which is good’.
  • Pastors open to questions on doctrine and willing to answer with Scripture.

Church denominations to leave out of your search

This comes with the assumption you already understand about Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons, etc.

  • Pentecostal, AOG, Foursquare (All say you can lose your salvation along with other problematic areas).
  • Any church at all that says you can lose your salvation.
  • Most charismatic churches like Bethel (Redding), IHOP (Mike Bickle, Rick Joyner), any signs and wonders word of faith, etc.
  • Oneness Pentecostals – T. D. Jakes is a good example.
  • Non Trinitarian churches.  They speak of Jesus, they just don’t happen to believe He is God.
  • Reformed/Calvinist – churches that are reformed may not just be Presbyterian, Lutheran, Dutch Reformed, Anglican, etc., but may have generic names such as: Covenant, Bible, Community, however, may still be reformed.
  • IFB – Independent Fundamental Baptist – Not saying each and every one is to be avoided, some have told me a few had good teachings, but many have gone the legalist, Lordship, or Calvinist route.
  • Church of Christ – adds baptism as a necessity in order to be saved.
  • Watered down gospel churches that leave out the Word of God and do not preach about the wages of our sin, and Christ’s death upon the cross, and His resurrection again, His victory over death.  His Work for us on the cross IS the gospel message.  This includes small as well as mega churches like Joel Osteen’s or Rick Warren’s for an example.


These are citations only and do not necessarily mean I recommend the source, just a citation.  It also does not mean I do not think it is a good source, I believe the quote to be true.  Wayne Grudem attends my old church, Scottsdale Bible Church in Arizona.

1 Wayne Grudem, while attempting to defend Calvinism from the charge of fatalism, gives a very good definition of what I have in mind when I speak of fatalism. Unwittingly, he also concedes Calvinism to be a fatalistic sys­tem. According to Grudem:

By fatalism is meant a system in which human choices and hu­man decisions really do not make any difference. In fatalism, no matter what we do, things are going to turn out as they have been previously ordained. Therefore, it is futile to try and influence the outcome of events or the outcome of our lives by putting forth any is offered to them in a truly scriptural proclamation of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1–3).

These factors alone more than justify the kind of probe into Reformed Theology that The Dark Side of Calvinism is meant to be. 2

2 Quote from: “The Dark Side of Calvinism”, by George Bryson, can be found in book form, or in pdf form online here, http://www.calvarychapeltheology.com/the_dark_side_of_calvinism.html

3 John MacArthur’s Gospel – see here

4 John MacArthur, asst. Phil Johnson on taking the Mark of the Beast – see here

5  Is Grace really Grace? (John MacArthur’s Grace to You church) – see here

43 Responses to “Test the churches – Ways to find a sound church.

  • Good work Holly. There is really good advice given with this post. Sadly for me, all of the many many churches in my area get eliminated from contention pretty quickly.

    • Thanks Jim. Saddens me too. I haven’t given up hope, but it’s heartbreaking for us all. Thank the Lord we have His Word and other believers online.

  • Interesting blog. I agree with part of your list of churches to avoid (especially NAR, Word of Faith, IHOP and Oneness Pentecostals) but disagree on a lot of them. Some of the best sermons I’ve ever heard were in Lutheran and Presbyterian (PCA) churches and even though I couldn’t/wouldn’t become a member there and had to agree to disagree on non-essentials, I’d hardly say they aren’t Christians.

    You also left out a church group that should be avoided – many “Bible Churches” are way off. I visited one in particular that had “Jesus is my buddy” and “go in your imagination to your alone place with Jesus” sermons with only snippets of Scripture and played “worship” songs from Hillsong and Bethel.

    • Thanks for commenting Jan, you must have missed it, read on… 🙂 I did include those who use the name “Bible”, and I agree with you as far as some of the things you “might” find there. Others may be just as they advertise, good Bible churches.

      As far as the sermons in Lutheran or Presbyterian churches, anyone can get sermons to sound appropriate, the issue is, that Calvinism maligns God’s character, and does not get the gospel right. Regeneration does not precede believing, nor does God choose some for heaven, and some for hell, die for only some, along with a multitude of the other points of TULIP which are all essentials that need to be marked and avoided in my opinion. It is extremely important. Whether some have believed on the gospel alone, I cannot say, the Lord will judge in that day. But I’d never recommend one to a friend or a loved one because the gospel is completely essential. Whether some get it right (if they have veered off from the basic tenets of their standard denomination) I cannot say.

    • Hi Holly,
      I have a few questions on KJV “only-ism”.
      You stated under “Warning Signs”,
      “The Word of God is not just contained in a translation, although a very good one. The Word of God can be found in the original manuscripts and God preserved His Word through the manuscripts.”
      So, we Christians must have or read “the original manuscripts” to have the “true” Word of God?
      Where are these “original manuscripts?”
      How do billions of people through out history get and read these “original manuscripts”?
      So the king James Bible, the infallible, pure, refined seven times Word of God, is Not the Truth?
      It is not the inspired, translated and perfect Word of God through the Holy Spirit?
      It is Not the Truth through King James that God gave His Word to the entire world?
      The Word that Millions of believers have been martyred for?
      The Word that Satan has tried to destroy and pervert and change to many other “versions” -so called “modern bibles”?
      So Genesis 3:1
      Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said,
      “Yea, hath God said”?
      Did God “really” say in His Word?
      Which Word?
      The “original manuscripts”?
      So God did not “really say” in His Word, the King James Bible?
      So the King James Bible, ( “The Word of God is not just contained in a translation, although a very good one”), is only a “Good” version of Gods Word???
      A “good version”?

      So billions of people on the earth need to have the “original manuscripts” to have the REAL Word of God?
      When God Gave His Word for All the world through the King James Bible?

      There is ONLY one Word of God Holly, accessible to All men through out history, through the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus- the King James Bible.

      1 Peter 1:23
      Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
      1 Peter 1:25
      But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

      The Word does not agree with your statement of belief, Holly.The KJV denies this “viewpoint”

      Other wise you are Spot On with all the other “Warning Signs”!
      Glory to God.
      Keep up the good work.

      • Saint in the Light, thank you for your comments, and although I appreciate your viewpoint, I have heard these exact arguments before. I cannot agree with KJVOnlyism, otherwise, God did not preserve His Word for the other 1600 years for all people. And God then did not preserve His Word for all nations but Old English speaking ones. And even your translation has changed the old words, so the original 1611 would not have been pure and needed purification according to people like Gail Riplinger or Peter Ruckman. Worse as I said, these discussions actually malign the Word. I will not set about to prove the problematic areas of translation in KJV because I don’t want to do the same. His Word is not only contained in KJV, and so I think we should all study to show ourselves approved unto Him, appreciate your input. But I won’t continue the discussion regarding KJVOnlyism, I am always happy to enlighten others on the great translation of KJV. In Christ.

      • Saint in the light. I did not post you subsequent comments as I said I would not continue the KJVOnlyism discussion. But since you said in those comments (I did not post) that I was a “deceiver and deceived from the simplicity in Christ, I’d like to mention that context on 2 Cor 11 is not KJV translation, but the gospel itself, please also take His Word seriously and don’t misquote His Word to protect your ideals.

        You said in your comment above,

        “So billions of people on the earth need to have the “original manuscripts” to have the REAL Word of God? When God Gave His Word for All the world through the King James Bible?”

        I am sorry but do you realize how specious this argument is, to hold up a translation from 1611, as THE REAL Word of God, and malign the older manuscripts that the translation actually came from?

        And it’s for the whole world?

        So they have to all learn Old English in order to be saved?

        And the ones before 1611 doomed?

        As you told me, don’t answer, it’s between you and God. And this will be my last comment to you on it.

        It doesn’t matter what I think, but I do pray (as you prayed for a spirit of humility for me from Him – thank you), I pray you might also see how your arguments tear down God’s Word.

        This is why I do not go into these conversations, because it is you who are not seeing that you are making others doubt that non-English speakers or people who have read another version can even be saved.

        As I said, KJV is a very good translation, my favorite, and I believe the most accurate in English, but…. I do not hold it up above the manuscripts we have, nor somehow elevate it to the status of the ONLY Word of God.

        In Christs love to you.

      • Saintinlight, could you tell me by what authority you get your claims regarding the KJV as being the only translation of God’s word? Specifically, what chapter or verse backs the teaching that one must only use the KJV? Thank you.

        • I will add his comments Angie if he/she will respond to your question with sound speech that cannot be condemned.

  • Holly, would teaching tithes be a warning sign on your list?

    • Yes, absolutely, thank you, I will add that, and if you have any more suggestions, please let me know, I admit, I didn’t put much about the word of faith movement, but that’s important, so many…

  • http://pnissila.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/what-in-the-world-is-going-on-in-church-how-to-figure-out-whatsemerging-what-you-can-do-and-a-story-that-might-sound-familiar/

    My sister and I went on a search a few years back for a Bible believing church. Many of your points sound familiar! The post, above, from my own blog, is the results of our (sad) mission. I hope, however, it helps and encourages others realizing some of the same realities we did.

    • Thank you for sharing, I’ll go look and read, I appreciate it, we need to encourage each other. Many of us are in the same situation, and don’t want to see people over correct and get into legalism either. More errors than not in the places for the church to gather, we truly are representative of the church at Philadelphia….

  • I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but could you be more specific on God’s sovereignty and total depravity? I didn’t think the latter meant ‘total inability to respond.’ I’ve never heard such an explanation.

    For me, total depravity = only God is good (Matthew 19:17). “Our righteousness is like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). David said he was conceived “in sin” and “brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5). “In Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

    God’s sovereignty isn’t fatalism either. It and man’s free will work together, i.e. mercy/ judgment and law/grace. God does choose some for heaven, others for hell. He makes some do good, others bad. Have you read Romans 9? “The wrath of man shall praise you; the remainder of wrath you shall restrain” (Psalm 76:10). If man’s sin can’t praise God, he won’t let it happen. I think your God is too small!

    • Thank you for your comment… I have to start I guess with the end, interesting how you summed up Ps 76:10. You may believe total depravity sums up that only God is good, perfect, I would agree, and agree that any of our righteousness is as filthy rags. But the majority of Calvinist’ teachers would not agree with you that the sum does not = total inability.

      I don’t know if you are familiar with Wayne Grudem, Calvinist scholar known for his book on systematic theology. So he might better articulate the truth about fatalism in the Calvinist doctrine. See the article.

      God makes no one ‘do bad’, He does not sin, and there is no sin in Him. That is another overemphasis of the creation of calamity/evil by many Calvinists. So I’d have to say maybe get some more of His Word, the whole counsel, and try to stay away from some of mens’ teachings, especially just proof-texts of reformed theology. Calvinism over-emphasizes some Scriptures to the under-emphasis or altogether exclusion of others.

      My God, is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who sent His only begotten Son, because of His great love for the whole world, because He desired that none should perish. That whosoever would believe on Him would not. This is not because I deny that God is Almighty, but because He is good to the children of men. He commands His lovingkindness in the daytime, tender new mercies await in the morning. He died for not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world. He bought and paid for, not just His elect, but even the false prophets who would deny Him (2 Pet 2).

      I feel sure you believe what you are saying, let me ask though, since Calvin and Augustine both taught that God would trick some into thinking they believed, but were never the elect, how do you know you are one of the elect? I think if you are honest, you’d have to admit, you cannot know, and will not know until it’s too late to do anything about it. That’s my biggest concern for you. I pray you will seek God in this, and be willing to have Him show you. If we mislead ourselves, it’s a death penalty for us. But what about also our children, our loved ones, our friends that we’ve preached another way to? Please, please do consider what you are stating is God’s truth. Ps 50:16-17

    • 220Lily – I didn’t post your previous link because you have the typical hyper-Calvinist understanding of “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated”. Even Calvinists like Matthew Henry and Spurgeon saw it as a corporate election (Israel). I read the entire article, although this comment from you was enough to reject your teaching. I will not be posting errant teachings.

      You said: “God is Savior. But does he want to save everyone? No.”

      The Bible says differently.

      • Who does God not wish to save and what scripture reference do you have to back that up? Book, chapter and verse would be great.

      • Did God want to save the Pharaoh of the Exodus? No. He hardened his heart! The truth about vessels of mercy and wrath escape you people!

      • Lilly, did God pick you? How do you know?

    • Lily, if God chooses some for heaven and some for hell, there where is personal responsibility? This would make God a liar, unjust judge, and therefore he could not even be God. For, those who are sent to hell have no choice in the matter and even if they wanted to trust Christ it would not be possible according to your doctrine. You are taking Romans 9 out of context and this happens quite often.

      Luke 14:25-26 (KJV)
      25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
      26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

      Are we really supposed to “hate” our father, mother, wife etc? REALLY? Since we know that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest is like unto it that we are to love each other how does this apparent contradiction exist? How do we deal with this?

      We search the scriptures!

      Matthew 10:37-38 (KJV)
      37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
      38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

      It is not that we literally hate, it is that we love LESS than we love God. God is to be our first love, our greatest love. When we learn of his love for us and he teaches us how to love him then and only then will we know how to love others. There is a difference between a brotherly love and unconditional love.

      Romans 9 deals with the same thing. It was that Jacob received the blessing and therefore was loved MORE than Esau. Furthermore, Romans 9 is dealing with nations not individuals.

      • As I said earlier, God’s sovereignty and personal responsibility are NOT opposed but work together! It’s a paradox, not an oxymoron.

        I know brotherly and unconditional loves are not the same. Have you read about love on my blog? You should. But that’s not the distinction here.

        Jacob received the blessing b/c he wanted it; Esau didn’t. Jacob sought God; Esau didn’t. God knew their moral characters before they were born! Have you traced the lineage of Esau/Edom through the Bible? You might learn something.

  • I’d also like to encourage you Lily to stop teaching. That may sound unkind to you, I do not mean it to be, but your understanding of some of the things you are teaching will lead people astray and you will be subject to greater condemnation.

    I see you identify yourself as a trinitarian pentecostal southern Baptist. Interesting combination of doctrine. I do hope you will get into His Word without preconceived doctrinal identications (which is carnal) and realize His Word alone will be like fire, and a hammer that breaks rocks into pieces, your words will not ever approach Gods (as you suggested they will along with saying they will be anointed).

    It is paramount to use His Word correctly, in context, but first you need to understand the gospel, that is the first thing Lily. If you do not understand and receive by faith/belief alone, what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross, without adding works, repenting from sin, turning from sin, abandonment, etc. to believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ, you are not Hi. I pray you will get out of these doctrinal pitfalls and into truth. In Christ’s love.

    • I put my doctrinal background to let people know where I came from. It doesn’t affect what I write, but doctrine is important and different denominations and cults teach very different things. I want to know if someone is Mormon, Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, etc. I also want to know if they’re Episcopal or Baptist. These churches don’t teach the same things!

      I am NOT leading people astray, either in my comments or in my blog. But you are. Good day.

  • Lot of interesting thoughts here.

    One who alludes to James 3:1 should make every effort to then rightly divide the Word [2 Tim 2:15] by quoting Scripture to back up what follows–what essentially is a list of opinions and speculation.

    Too bad the principle of God’s providence–once a necessary component for anyone who sought to have a discussion such as this–is practically unknown in the times in which we live. If it were better known, there would be more a sense of awe–instead of pride–in presenting our opinions of what God can do, will do and has already done.

    “…although the plan of God has been partially revealed to us, in its totality it remains an ultimate mystery. We are not capable of grasping what it ultimately means because God himself is ultimately beyond us ( Job 11:7-9 ; 26:14 ; 36:26 ; Eccl 3:11 ; Eccl 11:5 ; Isa 40:28 ; 55:8 ). This limitation on our part is not designed by God to humiliate us, but to humble us, to help us realize our creaturely status and find our appropriate place in His scheme of things. We are not God. We will never understand the depths of God. This should call us to faith and trust in Him and teach us to obey Him, whether we discern what God intends or not.”

    His ways are higher than our ways. To pretend to know His ways beyond what Scripture has clearly revealed is risky.

    However, it happens daily across the Internet.

    • For me Jeremiah, there is no pride in presenting anything here, a soberness for sure, a sadness for those deceived. Where God wills for us to know Him and where He has revealed Himself to us, and the truth available for us to be sanctified by, I go there for my source. I am not sure who you were addressing exactly, but I don’t disagree with what you said, I just disagree if spoken to me, in that, I do have a sense of awe regarding His ways and thoughts, a desire He has given to me when I asked for it, to study with His approval in mind. No pride regarding others error, only sadness and responsibility to warn, exhort, encourage, rebuke, whatever is necessary in the individual situation including marking and avoiding divisive doctrine. I pray always for the Lord to keep me humbled, whatever it takes, as I’ve been in the position of being resisted, so don’t want to let pride creep in, realizing that His Word is working effectually in me and I do need to cooperate by hearing His Word, loving and treasuring it. Letting it light up my path as I meditate on it, spend time with Him, studying, searching, hiding it in my heart. Taking heed to His Word, being cleansed by it. Getting counsel, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, all given as we apply our hearts to His knowledge, He will teach us, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. We will become students as we abide in His Word obediently. So many Scriptures there, but you probably recognize what I’m quoting. I don’t pretend to know anything other than what He has given me through His Word, and His Holy Spirit.

      God bless your day, In Him.

      • Very nice reply.

        Very carefully considered and biblical!

        “… I do have a sense of awe regarding His ways and thoughts, a desire He has given to me when I asked for it, to study with His approval in mind.”

        Yes, when contending for the faith, I find it is very hard sometimes to stay calm and Christ-like! Many times, I have to throw away my original, off-the-cuff answers (a reflection on my past) and answer with more meekness.

        “I don’t pretend to know anything other than what He has given me through His Word, and His Holy Spirit. ”

        That is a recipe for continued success.


        • Thanks for visiting again Jeremiah, I am a work in progress 🙂 I thank God for His Word which enlightens me, and gives me counsel, and seasons my speech with salt and prayerfully grace. I have been through this a number of years (contending), I remember about 8 years ago, thought, I cannot do this Lord… the viciousness of some overwhelmed, hurt and discouraged me. But I found I can certainly do all things through Christ who continues to strengthen me. If I’m acknowledging Him in all my ways (I fail too often), I do much better with sound speech because that would be His Word of course… I know He has given me whatever wisdom I have, I continue to ask for it and apply my heart to His knowledge.

          I know what you mean about original, off-the-cuff answers or maybe I should say, by the seat of my pants lol! Praise God for His Spirit who often chastens me by the same Word I’m trying to deliver 🙂 He is so good… One things that’s really helped is keeping His approval in mind, not only as I study, but as I answer.

          The Lord is my help in all things. I thank Him for what He has done, is doing, and will do in this weak and foolish person’s life…

          God bless you Jeremiah 🙂 In His love.

  • I don’t censor people on my blog, not even atheists and pro-choicers. I approve their comments, even if they’re hateful to me. Censorship doesn’t belong in a free society.

    How do you read these verses? “Blessed is the man you choose and cause to approach you, so that he may dwell in your courts” (Psalm 65:4). “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). God draws us and we follow or run away, according to our own nature. God knows what that nature is and he knows exactly if/when we will respond in repentance and faith. Read REMOVED BY ADMID

    • 2 Tim 2 is a great chapter that Jeremiah brought up. In context we see two teachers, who are in error, and have overthrown the faith of some. We are to remind others, to charge them not to strive about words to no profit, this will subvert hearers. I try to shun profane and vain babblings that increase unto ungodliness, eating like a cancer, causing error in others and destroying their faith. Foolish and unlearned questions I am to avoid knowing they cause strife, so that’s where I am at. I will not share the teachers, books and links you’ve provided.

      As for the Scriptures, we must look always at the whole counsel. We are chosen and we can choose. How do (as Jeremiah mentioned) we understand completely God’s ways and thoughts (Is 55:8-9), we can’t. But followed up in context, we know we are given the Word to do that.
      John 6:44, besides context, I’ll just answer with Scripture.

      I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me. Ps 119:30

      And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. Jn 12:32

      And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
      That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
      For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. Jn 3:14-18

      Pharaoh hardened his heart, God in His foreknowledge knew there would be no change of mind.

      Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? 1 Samual 6:6

      18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    • You of course have to decide what is right for your blog, for mine, I try to look carefully at what the Word says about others who profess Christ, yet bring divisive doctrine. I do not and will not pass those kinds of teachings along. I am not of this world, whether we are in a ‘free society’ or not. 🙂

      In Christ, Holly

  • Funny, my site, this particular blog in general, seems to have offended some of the reformed persuasion. This person made several comments about me, including referring to me as possibly being these three things:

      1. Aberrant
      2. Apostate
      3. Heretical

    Her page was full of (let’s say) the ‘who’s who’ of the Reformed persuasion, creeds, dogmas, I assume this is why the accusations and ‘red flag’.

    Funny but sad, no statement of faith that I could find, or gospel… I did find the site was originally set up for a Women’s Bible Study for Sovereign Grace Community Church (Petaluma, CA). I include the name as it is publicly on the site suggesting I am aberrant, or apostate. And interestingly, of course, they include, Sovereign, Grace, and are Southern Baptist.

    This was her judgment of my page as she linked to me, see if you find a righteous judgment of what I might have said above:

      “redeemingmoments – seems like a KJV only but states not to go to KJV only churches, and has C of C/Restoration movement attitude that she “only uses the Bible” but says not to go to C of C; she labels almost ALL churches as being heretical including Presbyterian, Lutheran, Reformed/Calvinist, SBC….) and thinks only she and like-minded people are true Christians. Big red flag. ”

      (screen shot is archived)

    • I’d like to address some of the comments Jan F. suggested I may be in “C of C restorationism”.

        I do categorically deny being Church of Christ.

        I also am not a person that believes water baptism saves (baptismal regeneration)

        I also do absolutely believe in the deity of Christ and the Trinity. Jesus Christ is Lord (Kyrios-God, the Messiah)

        I am not an apostate.

        I am not a heretic.

        Nor am I aberrant.

      I am a Christian because I believe on the simple gospel, Christ and Him crucified, buried and risen again, all for me, and because of what He did, I live today. Praise You Lord…

  • By the way Jan F., I am praying for you right now. Not in a prideful way, but that you might see that all your books, and all your studies of men’s writings may give you worldly wisdom. may help you pass the time, but what will it profit you?

    The assessments you made of me, actually missed in that I didn’t say anything about “true Christians” once. Not a terminology I employ, although used quite frequently by Lordship/ Reformed teachers. Nor did I ever even use the word “heretical” or any other such comment.

    I pray you will consider why this struck a chord with you, and why this particular post angered you enough to suggest those things of me. I do pray you will understand a “true Christian” is one who obeys the gospel by believing it.

    God bless you to find His truth and may all else not stick with you. And may you consider your words before you put words in another’s mouth. In His love.

  • PrincessRo
    10 years ago

    I started reading your blog and all I saw was religion, religion, religion. Tithing is not a commandment – what bible do you read?
    Then of course Non-demoninational. I am non-demoniational. What the heck is wrong with belonging to a church that is non-denominational? What is wrong with following the disciples examples in the Book of Acts. The early church had no buildings, no denomination, no creeds or doctrine – they didn’t even have the bible yet christianity exploded! They followed Christ’s example. That’s it. The bible guides us and it is a way to knowing who God is, but to live so strict and conformed is only putting the God of the bible in a box. For goodness sake, do you even serve the same God I do? Have you actually actively pursued God the way David did? Ah wow. I need to stop reading your crap hey you are just grieving my spirit. You are what we called veiled people. You don’t see what God is trying to show you, instead you are a vessel in satans hands and yes I can say it because Jesus said I will do what He did and more and he told Peter – get behind me satan! So for the love of all great things on this planet shut the heck up and go find God! You are the false prophet the bible warns us of! You know the Word but you don’t live it at all! In the words of my language – voetsek!

    • The early church most certainly had the Word of God, they quoted from it. And as the Word begin to be added by the apostles and the prophets that the Holy Spirit gifted to complete the epistles, they took careful heed to the doctrine.

      As you don’t seem to really be asking question, until that day, this will be the last post of yours I will likely allow. I don’t justify myself to men, as His Word says, it’s to Him I study to show myself approved, may your heart be established by grace and not by strange doctrines, which are based on false teachings of men. The early church most certainly had doctrine, which they continued in steadfastly, you need to read His Word. Acts 2 contains that information. And you need to love and treasure, and tremble at His Word (Ps 119:140, 162; Is 66:2) Those who just cast His Word behind them will regret it in that day they are judged by it (Psalm 50:16-17, John 12:48).

      I don’t love anything in this world, and I pray one day you might figure that out. We will know the false prophets by their doctrine. Paul warned throughout the epistles, the elders (Acts 20) in tears, to take heed to the flock, and to the doctrine (1 Tim 4:16). In Romans he warned them not only to obey the doctrine the early church had delivered to them (Rom 6), but he told them to mark and avoid those who did not (Rom 16:17).

      I cannot be a vessel in Satan’s hands, as I am sealed and indwelt by the Spirit and belong to Christ. Jesus dwells in my heart by faith. May the Lord rebuke the lying spirits in your life, and I pray that He might give you a hunger and thirst for His Word and take away your itching ears. May it be done as He is willing.

  • Holly, you are a discerning woman and I’m encouraged by your post. You’re also brave (haha). I read your list and was amazed at how many of those ‘red markers’ you raise. For years I’ve been warning people about the majority of these issues and people just don’t get it and don’t want to listen. Itching ears abound.

    We recently walked away from institutional Christianity Holly. No doubt there are many beautiful Jesus loving people within the four walls, but we cannot have a clear conscience and “attend” for “worship” in those places any more.

    It feels very lonely where we’re at right now, but God is good and we have not stopped “assembling together” with other believers. We’re meeting in our home informally and praying and “encouraging one another”.

    Have you ever read The Great Eccelesiastical Conspiracy? I found it very interesting and it made me go to the Bible and see what the Ekklesia truly is all about.

    So good.

    • I know what you mean about walking away. I do have a small Bible study I attend, I do not know how much longer we will be able to meet. We assemble online together too. I thank the Lord for a few sites that still stand for Biblical truth. No, I haven’t read too many books lately although I used to be quite a book lover and have a number of good ones. Mostly now, there is just one book for me 🙂 I have so much still to learn…. I’ll check into it though, thank you.

  • and that is so encouraging and challenging for me to read.

    There truly is really only One Book we ought to read.

    What’s your email? I’ll let you know about those books this weekend as I gather them all up.

  • Marie-Eve Martin, Brampton, Toronto
    7 years ago

    Holly, something else you can add to the list is the signing of a church “covenant.” These things are legally binding and people sign away their privacy, their whole life, sign over “authority and control” over to the church. These covenants are mostly found in the Calvinist/Reformed/Presbyterian churches. So, if you do a search, and these “covenants” pop up, run for hell, so to speak, or rather, run FROM hell!

    A friend right here in Canada had years of troubles with just such a “covenant” and ended up getting lawyers to get the church (Calvinist) to allow her to divorce her abusive husband.

    • Marie – good reason not to make a covenant with fallible man for sure… thanks for sharing, truly so sad…

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