by Hariton Deligiannides, head of the elder board of Bethlehem Bible Church
The sign read BEPEA(Ve′ – re- a), Greek for Berea. The year was 1999. I was visiting my home country. As I drove by the sign, all I could think of was…
“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
Where are the Bereans today? Where are those examining the Scriptures to see if these things are so?
On January 17-18, John Piper was one of the key note speakers at Passion 2014, in Atlanta GA. The other speakers on the ticket were Christine Caine, Hillsong Church Australia and Francis Chan, who loves founder of IHOP, Mike Bickle (Kansas City Prophets).
On February 14-15, Piper will be at the Linger Conference with another IHOP guy, Stephen Venable, who promotes Contemplative Prayer.
Piper is a Reformed continuationist because he believes in the apostolic gifts for today. Many look at Piper and Chan and say, “Well, they are godly, Christlike men whose ministries have blessed me, so why make a big deal out of their association with charismatic groups like IHOP?”
Here are 3 dangers that show why it IS a big deal.
Danger #1: Sola Scriptura minimized
The Reformers fought for this. Scripture Alone. After all, everything else is man-made, but Scripture alone is the Word of God and thus sufficient for life and ministry.
The apostolic testimony is consistent. Paul explained the authority and sufficiency of Scripture(2 Tim. 3:16-17) Peter said that even his own personal experience of seeing Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration as an eyewitness of His Majesty was not comparable to the more sure word of Scripture(2 Peter 1:16-21)
Piper and Chan are endorsing these ministries, heresies and practices by being there. They are minimizing Scripture Alone when they minister alongside IHOP because the founder Mike Bickle believes he has heard from God outside of Scripture. And what of ministering alongside a female pastor when Scripture is explicit about that(1 Timothy 2:12-14; 3:14-15)?
Danger #2: Discernment downplayed
The Trojan Horse has come into the church, and from inside of it has come out an insipid version of love that is not Bible-based. It goes something like this: “Let’s not fight over these things. Let’s just love one another.” Or to use Francis Chan’s words, “I love this guy”(referring to Mike Bickle.) But true love rejoices with the truth(1 Cor. 13:6) , and it cannot be separated from discernment(Phil. 1:9).
Danger #3: Spiritual Maturity redefined
Spiritual maturity is NOT when you believe you hear a prophetic word from God or when you believe you have spoken in tongues, or even when you practice Contemplative Prayer, as Stephen Venable endorses. However, spiritual maturity is directly related to doctrinal maturity. You simply cannot be spiritually mature if you are not doctrinally mature. And for that very reason Paul wrote to the Ephesians that the characteristic of being spiritually immature, a spiritual child, was to be carried by every wind of doctrine((Eph. 4:13-14).
Contemplative prayer is being quiet in a transcendental, mystical way so that you can try to hear the still small voice of God. But biblical prayer is talking to God, not listening to God. When asked by one of the disciples “Lord, teach us to pray.”(Luke 11:1), Jesus did not say, “When you pray, listen,..”, rather He said, “When you pray, say…(Luke 11:2)
Spiritual maturity is not trying to listen to the still small voice of God in prayer through some whisper or inner impression, but listening to the loud and clear voice of God in Scripture.
Rather than participating in their ministries, Piper and Chan ought to fulfill their God-ordained calling by charging certain persons not to teach any different doctrine(1 Tim. 1:3) and by rebuking those who contradict sound doctrine.(Titus 1:9)
A pastor who does not expose false teachers by calling them out by name has abdicated his God ordained calling and is endangering God’s sheep from savage wolves!
My questions still stand. Where are the Bereans today? Where are those examining the Scriptures to see if these things are so?