“These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.” – 2 Peter 2:17-19
For almost four years that I have been blogging, I never made an entire blog entry about how I became a Reformed Christian. I kept this story to myself because once this one will come out, there will be people in my life that will not understand. But I realized that keeping silent about this will not help them. Instead, they will keep on believing that they are right.
Now is the time for me to speak up.
I live in the Philippines. The Southern part of the Philippines to be exact. Some people thought that if you’re from the South, you’re not a Christian, but the fact is, there are many Christian Churches in the South. Sad to say, most of them carry false teachings.
Although I grew up in a Bible-believing Church — firm in their theological teachings, my faith wasn’t firm yet. I think most church kids struggle with that. I was complacent and flooded with many doubts. Those doubts did not help me at all because when I entered College, instead of choosing a church that preach sound doctrine, I decided to choose going to a mega church. They are the biggest one in the University. Around 2000 to 3000 students go to that church. Before, I did not care about doctrines. I used to believe that if a church profess to be believers of Christ, it’s already safe. But I was wrong. I don’t know anything about New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) or the rampant spread of Prosperity Gospel, and I think, most people inside those churches also are clueless about those things as well. So instead of practicing discernment, they choose to embrace whatever comes their way.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Inside that church, there were activities that were seems to be okay. They read the Bible, interpret it and relate it to their personal experiences. But they don’t dig in. They stop there. They twist verses and relate it to themselves. They love being rebuked about their sins and even thank those people who preach firmly. It was even through them that I knew about Paul Washer (through his famous message to the youth). I remember we had a Sunday fellowship wherein we listened to that video, but despite hearing from a real teacher from God, there were still errors inside that church that should not be neglected.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. – 2 Peter 2:1-2
1. COUNTERFEIT WORSHIP
The worship service style that they have in that church are patterned to the style of worship in Hillsong Church and Bethel Music. If you’ve read my article ‘Modern Christian Music Can’t Save Your Youth’s Life’, they’re the church that I am referring on that entry. There were many times that the worship service were longer than the sermon itself. I remember worship leaders who sang in front like it’s their concert. There were also times we wait for someone to stand up and tell the congregation about ‘visions’ they saw during the service. They considered those people ‘falling down’ during the worship service as ‘spirit-filled’. You’ll hear people inside the church shouting, crying and laughing. If you keep silent, they’ll think you are not filled by the ‘spirit’. There was even a gathering that all of us were forced to kneel down. The Pastor started to raise his voice when he saw some people still standing.
2. APOSTOLIC GIFTS
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1
I know there is still a debate over the gifts. Some believers think they still exist, some don’t. But I think, it’s easy for some people to be continuationists if they haven’t seen the massive error of too much emphasis on gifts rather than preaching the inerrant Word of God. I saw, first-hand, how dangerous it could be. Just to clarify things, I don’t put God in a box. If He wants to do Supernatural things today, I know He will do it, but are we going to believe everything just because some people say it is from God?
That church I mentioned above founded the ‘School of Prophets’ inside our university. They also gather weekly for a ‘Prayer Encounter’ wherein people will just pray, seek for ‘visions’ and ‘speak in tongues’. The churches were divided into tribes (patterned from the twelve tribes of Israel). We meet (per tribe) during weekdays to have a fellowship. Believe me, they’re prayerful, but even though we always gather, they don’t read the Bible that much. There were times that we just wait to ‘feel’ God’s presence or wait for someone to stand up and talk about ‘visions’. I was even one of those whom they don’t understand because I just keep quiet and resist in feeling too much emotions. I was already doubting my faith because I don’t have the ‘fire’ that they have. But I can’t fake speaking in tongues nor convince them of a prophecy that I’ve just made up.
3. PROSPERITY GOSPEL
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. – 1 Timothy 6:3-5
They put too much emphasis in the music, and when it comes to preaching, they preach the Prosperity Gospel. There were many times that we were encouraged to give tithes and offerings because God will give us more financially. They preach the way Joel Osteen does. They welcome Cindy Jacobs’ prophecies and the teachings of Joyce Meyer and Rick Warren. They praise Benny Hinn’s power to heal, and got amazed with the ministry of Kenneth Copeland.
Every member are forced to have a ‘Bible Study Contact’. Once you enter that church, they will give you a Bible Study Leader who supposed to be teaching us the truths of the Bible, right? But that’s not always the focus everytime we meet. I only felt like I found a ‘Guidance Counselor’ whom I can share all my troubles. When I reached 2nd year college, I was forced to become a Bible Study leader. They believe that the people I will invite to the church are my ‘fruits‘. They said if I don’t have one, I’m not a matured Christian yet. They measure your maturity to the number of Bible Study contacts. This is their means of multiplying the number of people inside the church.
4. IMMORAL ACTS
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. – Matthew 7:15-20
Christ told us that we will know the false teachers by their fruits. This is one of the many reasons why I end up leaving that church. I’ve heard stories and witnessed some of them how the leaders of that church misbehaved. There were some who gather to drink and get drunk. There were some who had sex with some church members (despite teaching us that ‘true love waits‘) and live together with them. Some have vices that they tried to keep a secret, but were eventually exposed.
But what I don’t like the most is that, when people try to confront them, they will say we are judging them too much. I know we sometimes commit mistakes, but do we still have to live in sin? I think not.
IT’S TIME FOR ME TO DECIDE
On January 2010, I finally decided to leave that church. It wasn’t easy to leave a megachurch inside a University. There were many people from our school who go to that church. They’ve accused me so many times that I’ve lost my faith. The time I went out, I still don’t know about the teachings of the Reformed Churches. I just wanted to get out of that church because I know they’re not feeding me with the truth.
MEANWHILE IN MY HOMETOWN
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. – 2 John 1:7-11
When I was 12 years old, my family moved to a small town and tried to find an evangelical church there. Not knowing we end up in a Pentecostal Church. My family were aware that there was an error inside the church, but my parents tried to neglect it for some reasons, but when people started to question because my parents don’t ‘speak in tongues’, my Dad decided to leave that church and find a congregation that firmly believes the inerrant Word of God. That event made my Dad sad at some point, but when a member of a Southern Baptist Church came to us and explained well the clear and not twisted Biblical stand about gifts, my parents decided to become members of the Southern Baptist Church.
After I graduated in College last 2012, a friend of mine told me about the Doctrines of Grace. I got curious and studied the Word of God. I’ve read books and searched online about it, and finally concluded that what I’ve read was right.
Yes, my beliefs started from merely searching for the truth. I was hungry for the truth, and I know God allowed me to feel that way. It wasn’t that hard for me to accept the Doctrines of Grace because my parents told me about it as well. My dad is now a Deacon and my Mom teaches the women inside our church.
It seems like it looks so well for us, right? But most of the churches in our country welcomed false teaching already.
THE REAL SCENARIO
It’s so hard for me to find a Reformed Church in my country. In Southern Baptists, there were already churches that embraced some errors just because they find the ‘need’ to change the style of worship because other churches have this up-to-date worship style. Some churches have adopted the ‘Seeker-Sensitive‘ approach — the need to multiply the number of church members in a lesser time. I’ve seen people laugh at hymns and church members who don’t ‘jump’ and dance during worship service. There were many times that conservative Christians were called as ‘dead’ not because we don’t proclaim the Gospel. They’ve judged us solely because of how we worship.
I NEED YOUR PRAYERS
NAR churches in the Philippines have the largest number of missionaries. They send missionaries across and even outside the country. That church that I mentioned above is one of the largest missionary sending churches in the Southern Philippines. Some of their churches are all over the Philippines already. It sounds great that they’re in mission? But they carry with them some false teachings. They send ‘false prophets’ that were products of their ‘school of prophets’.
Lately, I heard there was a Reformed Church already in the University, but they’re currently being persecuted by the NAR churches around them. They’ve spread rumors that the Reformed Church is a cult. They’ve brainwashed the minds of the NAR churches members that Calvin is a False Teacher together with all the Reformed Preachers of this era. They told their members that ‘Calvinists’ are under false teachings.
Meanwhile, back in my home province, there are many Southern Baptist Churches who don’t have Pastors. My Dad is one of those who act as a Pastor in one of the churches in a far-flung community because no one wants to stay for too long in that place. It’s just sad that the churches who carry the right doctrines don’t have much power in our place while churches that carry false teachings prosper. I know Southern Baptists Churches are not Reformed as a whole (Or believe in the Doctrines of Grace perhaps), but where are the other reformed churches or evangelical churches who are faithful to the teachings of the Bible — who don’t treat the church as business wherein pastors should always try to attract unbelievers rather than edify the believers?
Help me pray that the truth will be proclaimed in our country, and that false teachings will not keep on spreading. I know there are Christians who are trying to thrive despite all the errors, but we are few — so few that we are the ones some people see as ‘false’.
I kept this story to myself because I don’t want to hurt anyone (I have so many friends who are under the NAR teachings), but I realized that I’d better say a truth that will hurt somebody than not to say anything at all.
This is my experience regarding false teachings, and I hope you won’t experience it the way I did.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14