In part one on giving someone the benefit of the doubt, it was discussed that we needed to be testing and trying the Spirits, fact checking those we listen to, and looking for true fruit of the Spirit; so that we can avoid being deceived and duped by false teachers.
It is reasonable to assume that part of the testing process is questioning. However, many of us who have ever asked a question to someone in leadership, that challenges their doctrinal teachings or have questioned their conduct (fruit) will and have experienced backlash and repercussions for doing so. The testing process is immediately subverted by the ones being questioned. Often the response will be a deflection away from clear contextual scripture to get off topic or the question will be meant with indignation or both. If leadership responds to questions in this way, it is a clear sign to dig deeper into their teachings.
Many years ago, when we were still swimming in the charismania pool of deception. We attended a weekend seminar/teaching of the Holy Spirit/Spiritual gifts. We arrived late on that Friday and attended the evening session. The instructor made this statement during the session, this is paraphrased as I recall it; they stated that, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit flow from the prophetic. It should be mentioned here that the church where the sessions were held were heavily into the prophetic. They held monthly prophecy services where they had teams of “prophets” record a prophesy over you after the service. The services lasted for hours well after midnight. The leadership were prophets and apostles instead of pastor. The focus was all prophetic. They taught that today’s prophesies were broken down into three; parts; Partial, Progressive, and Conditional of course the conditional depended upon how you received and followed their prophesy spoken over you. Note here; none of this is scriptural and cannot be supported by Scripture except to prove that it is error.
The session ended around 9 or 9:30 and we went back to our hotel room. But I couldn’t shake that one statement, it was troubling me. The next morning at the beginning of the session there was an opportunity to ask questions before the morning session started. So, I did. I asked why the statement was made that all gifts of the Holy Spirit flow from the prophetic? and I may have pointed out the prophesy is only one of the gifts of the Spirit, I don’t recall. All I know it that the atmosphere in the room changed immediately. The instructor launched into a long diatribe of how they view the gifts from a prophetic lens since their founder operated in the prophetic etc. at the end of the diatribe I said, so what your saying is that all gifts flow from the prophetic and the instructor said yes. At that point, the tension amped up in the room and the silence was very loud. The rest of the morning session continue to become even stranger and strained. There were some men from this church that positioned themselves at the doorways after the exchange and they did not give a morning break for bathroom and when I and a few others choose to use the restroom facilities following a “prophetic exercise” we were literally followed and watched. The morning session went long and needless to say we had determined that we were not going to return to the afternoon session, and we left. Discussing it on the way back home we both literally felt the shift in atmosphere when the question was asked and the increased tension of those leading the session.
It is ironic that the phrase “shift in the atmosphere” has been thrown around the hyper charismatic’s for years and this is one time I tangibly, literally, felt it! Truth is, the instructor could not bring Scriptural proof of what they were teaching. Not only that but more importantly the Scriptures would prove their teaching wrong, which they conveniently did not use during the “explanation”.
Every been there, done that? Have you ever asked a question that you knew would get you in “trouble”? You hesitate to ask for fear of backlash or rejection. If your question challenges the status quo of the leadership there may be problems ahead for you. Those problems, more often than not, are literally the answer to your questions. How the leadership deals with questions should show us quickly, truth from error. If the response is lacking little or no contextual Scriptural references, defensive, angry, condescending, deflecting or accusatory then you know it will not go well for you or the truth.
Legitimate questions should never lead to the one asking, being disparaged, ridiculed, marked as divisive or shunned. When those in leadership practice the art of deflection from difficult questions that they will not answer; then the problem lies with them and not the one questioning.
Where freely questioning and or fact checking results in spiritual abuse from those in leadership it certainly is a red flag and sends a message to any others that may be wondering also. That they too will be maligned if they dare ask or challenge.
Sadly in the church at large there is a very unhealthy master and subservient roles that are falsely taught and instituted into the church structure. This type of authority is not what Christ taught, nor the apostles. Not all are wolves, but many are. It lays at our feet to find out who’s who.
Mat 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
Mat 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Mat 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Mat 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
True Church leadership is designed to serve and not “exercise lordship” or “exercise authority” over the body as the Gentiles do. Christ’s example of the Gentiles exercising dominion/ lordship and great authority is the picture of what authority and leadership in the body of Christ is NOT to be.
The word for lordship and dominion is the same Greek word:
kat-ak-oo-ree-yoo’-o : From G2596 and G2961; to lord against, that is, control, subjugate: – exercise dominion over (lordship), be lord over, overcome.
To subjugate means “bring under domination or control, especially by conquest., to bring under control and governance as a subject : CONQUER” (1)
and the word for “exercise authority” in the Greek is:kat-ex-oo-see-ad’-zo : From G2596 and G1850; to have (wield) full privilege over: – exercise authority.
The word wield means to: “hold and use (a weapon or tool) – have and be able to use (power or influence)” (2)
The context of Christ’s explanation of servant authority as compared to worldly authority and who is great among you, comes from a request of James and John and their mother to have them elevated in power and authority to sit at the right hand and the left hand of Christ in His kingdom, Matt. 20:20. This request was self-serving and self-aggrandizing of James and John and their mother. Ever see any of this kind of positioning within the church walls?
If we are to utilize and apply the Scripture to our lives so that we can grow in Christ, then we must also embrace and apply Scriptural testing and discernment. For without it we are most certainly going to be deceived.
Joh 16:1 I HAVE told you all these things, so that you should not be offended (taken unawares and falter, or be caused to stumble and fall away). [I told you to keep you from being scandalized and repelled.]
1Co 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
1Jn 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
In both 1 Co. 11:19 and 1 Jn. 2:19 the words “made manifest” are used both to identify those that are approved and to be followed and those that are not of us and should be marked and avoided. In Corinthians it states there MUST be heresies so that those who are true are known and the same in 1 John that those who are not of us are also known and identified. We as believers must be able to discern and try both in order to identify truth from error and those who are teaching it. We must apply the scriptural testing, we must exercise our senses so that we know good from evil and we do that with scrutiny, questioning and searching Scripture comparing what is said and taught to the truth of the Word. Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.