Gary Campbell Jr.
6 min readFeb 18, 2023

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On False Teaching:

Dear Beloved Family of Groton Bible Chapel,

What follows is long, longer than usual. Please take a few minutes and read when you can read the entirety, for it is most-needed, and it is my heart, the heart of the leadership of our church, for you -for all of us…

Over the last, almost year, the elder’s and some of the pastoral staff here at GBC have witnessed a concerning trend with regard to false teaching permeating the American church, and our area is no exception, nor is our own community.

This includes false teaching from outside the believing community (those who are not Christians, but teach historically heretical doctrines/teachings), as well as false teaching within the Church (those who seem to be genuine believers in Jesus Christ, but who are communicating teachings either not found in the Bible, or those that contradict other biblical teaching).

This week I want to occupy this space with some tools to equip you with the ability to discern whether a group or individual is biblically sound and should be listened or subscribed to.

First and foremost, it should be noted that the spiritual authority for the individual Christian is the local church (Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Timothy 5:17, 19), and specifically the elders and pastors of the local church (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1; 1 Peter 5).

So right away, when a believer encounters teaching, particularly online, they should bring any issues of confusion, or those needing clarity or wisdom, to the elders and pastors of their church for help in clarifying, rather than doing this backwards — that is, coming to their local church leadership with a direct challenge from something that they’ve. found online and have already determined to subscribe to.

From outside of the Church, individuals or ministries most often teach false doctrine in two principle areas having to do with: 1. Jesus’ nature (Christology) or, 2. The means of salvation (how we are redeemed and saved).

Regarding the nature of Christ, most often these false teachers will deny the deity of Jesus and the doctrine of the Trinity. This would be the teaching of major cult-groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon’s, but other smaller groups as well.

With regard to salvation, they will most often add “works” (behavior) as necessary “ingredients” for salvation.

One simple tool to “filter” teachings or ministries in question is to apply what are known as the “Five Solas” of the Protestant reformation — That salvation is by…

  • Grace Alone (Ephesians 1:7, 2:8–9)

through…

  • Faith Alone (Titus 3:5; Romans 3:24–26)

in…

  • Christ Alone (Acts 4:12; Acts 16:31; 1 Timothy 1:9)

according to the…

  • Scriptures Alone (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 5:13)

to the…

  • Glory of God Alone (Isaiah 42:8; Philippians 2:10; Jude 24–25)

The second area of false teaching, that which comes from within the greater Christian “big-C” church, can be more difficult to spot. These folks will honor salvation through Jesus, and will teach the triune nature of God, as well as having what at least appears to be a genuine conversion to faith in Christ. Many of these individuals are either formally or loosely associated with either the “prosperity gospel” or what is known as the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR, for short.

So, for the rest of this space, I want to simply give you six things — “markers” if you will — of a false teacher (individual or a ministry) within the church. Then I’ll also include seven things to look for that identify a healthy ministry.

The first three markers of a false teacher are practical “signs” and the last three are theological in nature…

  1. An overemphasis on money- Beyond solicitations to support the ministry, the “ministry” will often also be a “front page” to a business, not just for them — but opportunities for you to make money as well through selling the products of the individual and their movement and “brand”.

2. A focus on the self- The personality drives the ministry — IS the ministry — and God seems to be incidental or have a “supporting role”. (This is closely tied to the first marker).

3. An overemphasis on past testimony- Lots of time and material on the details of the past before Christ, both for dramatic effect, but also in a way that either comes close to the line (or in some cases steps right over it) of glorifying the sinful past OVER the work of God in surrender and conversion.

4. New knowledge- This marker and the next are the most concerning. The person and/or ministry will most likely present teaching/content/material as something new, usually claimed to be directly from the Holy Spirit. This new knowledge, or revelation, is often said to be under Apostolic authority — that is that these people see themselves as modern-day Apostles, equal to John, Paul, Peter, and James. While they often won’t say it directly in this manner, what is being said is that this new knowledge is on par with, or even in some cases abrogates, (replaces or completes) teaching in the Bible.

5. Teachings not in the Bible- Closely tied to the previous marker are “Christian” practices that are simply not in the New Testament in particular. Praying over people in tongues (something the Apostles never did), as well as praying over things in Jesus name in a manner inconsistent with Scripture — whether that be for healings, exorcisms, or other un-biblical practices (as opposed to rightful prayers for the same things, see the latter part James 5 as one helpful teaching).

6. An Over-emphasis of the Holy Spirit/under emphasis of Christ and the gospel- (These are probably two points). The gospel is rarely clearly presented, and is NOT brought to bear as THE solution to Christian living, enduring suffering, attacks of evil, etc. Rather, the Holy Spirit is emphasized as some sort of spiritual ring master, there to do our bidding in the supernatural for us, as God’s agents, (under apostolic authority of course). This does not mean that the Holy Spirit ought be de-emphasized either, but there is great error in reaching on what the Holy Spirit does. One of His key roles in the God-head is to magnify Christ and make clear and prominent the Gospel.

While the above points may prove helpful, the following points are equally necessary to recognize a sound ministry:

  1. Centrality of the Gospel- The Cross of Christ and His subsequent resurrection for the salvation of lost sinners takes center stage in the ministry.

2. Emphasis on God’s glory over man’s- God is the One held aloft, spoken of in superlative terms, and honored.

In his book, “Replenish”, Lance Witt writes-

“In the last thirty years within the church world, there has been a subtle shifting of the spotlight. Inadvertently, in many places, it has become all about the bride (the church) rather than the groom. (Jesus). John reminds us (John 3:29–30), [that] the bride exists for the groom.

There should never be anything blocking the bride’s view of the Groom’s glory. [Our] constant challenge … in the church is to get … out of the way so that the bride will be awestruck by the incomparable majesty of her Groom.”

3. Emphasis on teaching from the Word of God as authoritative- God’s Word is not only emphasized, the believer is implored to be in the Word personally- to submit to it and obey it.

4. Minimization of money/business- If this is even a “thing”, it is not prominent.

5. Reinforcing of the local church as the spiritual authority and source of community for the believer- See Matt Chandler’s videos on YouTube where he consistently points believers away from himself and his ministry and back to the local church as one example.

6. Reliance/dependence on the Holy Spirit over the gravitas of personality- GOD’s leading is sought, modeled, and taught as opposed to that of the ministry leader.

7. Fragrance of humility- There is an evident appreciation for forgiveness, grace, and even having a ministry platform at all.

Church, as elders and pastors, we share these things because we love you and know that we will be held responsible for how we shepherd the flock that God has entrusted to us (1 Peter 2:5) So, let’s be a community of God’s people who are wise and vigilant, about where and from whom, we are receiving teaching. (Over the months of March-May we’ll be preaching through the book of Galatians and we’ll expound on some of the points above in that series).

Let us, like Paul, strive to make of first importance the work and application of the gospel of Jesus Christ and through truth and grace preach that to each other.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” Romans 1:16.

With Christ’s love for you all,

Pastor Gary

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Gary Campbell Jr.

Writing for Groton Bible Chapel & the larger Body of Christ on cultural issues, parenting, marriage, theology & other light-weight topics.