The mere fact that I'm a sinner like everyone else who needs God's forgiveness, grace, and mercy should never prevent me from speaking up and speaking out against the sin I see taking root in the lives of my family members and friends.
That is what Satan wants. In fact, I bet he's counting on it (1 Peter 5:8). See, the devil would like nothing more than to paralyze believers to the point where they become completely silent about sin. I imagine he's ecstatic when there's silence about sin from the pulpit, silence about sin when looking at ourselves in the mirror, silence about sin's presence in others in the fallen world all around us, or silence in regards to all of the above.
Satan then whispers in our ear, "Why would you dare to point out the sin in another brother or sister's life when you know perfectly well all about the sin in your own life right now? Do you think you're somehow better than them!?! What right do you have to even comment on their life? Why don't you just mind your own business? You hypocrite!"
To which I reply...
Romans 8:1-2 (ESV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Galatians 6:1 (ESV) Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Matthew 7:1-6 (ESV) 1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. 6 "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you."
With that in mind, I would like to issue a friendly reminder to my fellow Lutherans (one in particular who I sincerely hope is reading this) that we are supposed to believe, teach, and confess that God only promises to speak to us through His Word and Sacraments -- not in some book on the Christian Bestseller's List like "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.
Sure, He could choose to speak to us in any way He chooses. After all, He's God. That's His prerogative. However, I'm not saying that He "can't" speak to us in other ways, but I'm saying that He doesn't promise to speak to us outside of His Word and Sacraments.
That's why it's time to stop playing games and start getting real. We believers need to exercise much more discernment (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29; 1 John 4:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22; 2 Corinthians 11:1-15).
Case in point, if you're a lifelong Lutheran who's going to proclaim the truth of Law and Gospel to an angry, broken, hurting non-Christian, and then want to tell everyone else about it, then please don't claim that you told them all about the power of God's Word and Sacraments to convert and save them in one breath, only to follow that up by giving them any material found in Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling" book for them to read once you depart in the very next breath.
Otherwise, you yourself may be the one responsible for leading them down a crooked path (James 3:1; Matthew 15:12-14) that ends with them becoming the ones to depart from our very Lord and Savor Himself. To put it another way, you could conceivably lead them from what they believe is "hell on earth" right now to hell itself!
Matthew 7:15-23 (ESV) 15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 21 Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'"
The sad irony? You, the well-meaning lifelong Lutheran who thought you were "doing God's will" by sharing that "Jesus Calling" devotion with the non-believer He put into your life, are not only inadvertently hurting them, but you're actually hurting yourself in the process too.
I hate to break it to you (Ephesians 4:15), but you're precisely the type of Christian who Jesus is talking about here, my dear friend! You firmly believe you are doing "good works" and doing "God's will" all in "His name" even though Christ says that's not true, because you're constantly emphasizing the good works you do in Jesus' name over-and-above the very work that Jesus Himself has done and continues to do.
Worse, you're distributing nothing but false doctrine -- spiritual poison cooked up in the pit of hell -- all in His name too, and so you might as well be the one who's not only putting it gift-wrapped into their hands, but pouring it down their throat for them to drink and swallow with the promise of healing and hope.
Sure, there's some truth mixed in with your confession to this woman in desperate need, but we all know that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9) and so a delicious home-cooked meal with a single pellet of Rat Poison mixed in with it is fatal. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 5:6 underscores this warning while also adding another one to the mix.
My dear friends, dearly beloved, whether you're the individual I have on my heart and mind while writing this or you're just someone who's like him, please, please, please listen to my plea for you to stop sharing these half-truths and outright lies with the broken and hurting who are in dire need of the pure and unadulterated Law and Gospel, and repent of your sins!
I know you think you did her a great service, but it actually hurt her more than it helped, especially if she likes any of the devotions you shared from that "Jesus Calling" book and asks you if she can borrow your copy or goes out and gets one for herself. Plus, we haven't even considered the number of people from church who will read your story and want that book for themselves mainly because you're a "trusted leader" within the congregation.
I know this is like the umpteenth time that I've addressed this topic and written to you about it, but it's not something any one of else should ever take lightly or mess around with particularly when it's been proven to you time and time again that we Lutherans (and Christians in general) should not be putting any trust in anything that is found in that book that's claimed to be part of a direct revelation from God to the author.
Yes, I understand that you personally may have gone through a very difficult time in your life and that you credit Sarah Young's book and what you believe to be her "God-inspired words" for helping you get through that extremely dark time. I get it.
I'm sorry, but I'm going to be blunt, once again, for your own sake (Ephesians 4:15). Your crediting that author and her book with helping you through that time (or for even suggesting that it was God who used her book to help you through it) is incredibly misplaced. The Lord does not comfort you and draw you to Himself through false teachers and their false doctrines about Him.
That's why I have to draw the line, speak up, and speak out when it comes to religious material, especially religious books that contain a ton of false doctrine by some pretty notorious false teachers who are out there right now (a.k.a. the "wolves in sheep's clothing" that the Bible warns us about).
Someone has to do it, because no one else will, and I hate having to be the one to have to do it all the time, because I know that I'll be looked at by you and others even more negatively than I already am. And for what? For merely standing up for the truth that we are to believe, teach, and confess.
The Bible gives us crystal clear teaching about the need for and means of discerning spirits.
1 John 4:1-3 (ESV) 1 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. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
I'd be happy to identify the specific reasons behind this decision if you want me to, but, for what it's worth, perhaps you'll find the following links helpful instead, because they will give you some insight into why I just had to write about this today after learning that a close friend not only loves the book himself, but that he also shared some of its content with a grieving mother (the non-Christian who was so angry about her daughter's death that she wanted to "punch God in the face!") and who recently purchased a copy of "Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids" which means he is planning to give it to his own children if not also share it with the kids at our church and school given his role at both institutions.
Excerpt: Notice that the "spirits" speak through human messengers: "many false prophets have gone out into the world." When Sarah Young claims that the words of her book are somehow the words of Jesus, it is rather off-putting to her readers. Many decide Jesus is the source of the words and then use no discernment. They believe that Jesus is a romantic mystic who wants us to respond accordingly. But Sarah Young wrote the book, and by citing a spiritual source (Jesus Christ) she makes herself a prophet whose words must be judged by Biblical sources. She immediately fails the test because she confesses a "spirit Jesus" who is still speaking, rather than Jesus Christ "come in the flesh." But we live in the days of mystical spiritual deception so that few see a problem with this. That being stated, I will identify a number of key category errors in Jesus Calling and correct them Biblically. I will show that Young's book is New Age panentheism and does not portray a Biblical, Christian worldview.
Excerpt: How do you distinguish between something fabricated by an overactive imagination and something truly demonic? That's a great question, and one that ultimately we can't really know the answer to. However, when I see the ferocity with which professing believers defend the false "Jesus" of Jesus Calling, I tend to strongly suspect that there is a demon or Satan involved, and thus a spiritual component to the battle. Spiritual warfare is a battle of words, concepts and propositional truths, and those who want to defend the false "Jesus" of Jesus Calling are arguing AGAINST Bible truths with worldly concepts (like pragmatism....."It 'worked' for me!") for the right to cling to their false "Jesus."
Excerpt: A couple months ago I was given a devotional book called Jesus Calling, and although I never read devotionals I began to examine the book. What I found shocked me. The author, Sarah Young, claims to have received revelations from Jesus through dialogue journaling (something she learned from two “listeners” who wrote another book called God Calling. I’ll get to that in a minute). Her book is even written as if Jesus is speaking those messages directly to the reader, which I personally think borders (or crosses into) blasphemy. ... The reformers called relying on scriptures solely as the authority for the Christian faith (and sufficient for the faith) the principle of Sola Scriptura. Equip.org offers a very full and rich explanation of Sola Scriptura (I recommend you read it!), but for the sake of brevity they define sufficiency of scripture as “all that is necessary for faith and practice.” It was one of the key principles of protestantism. It is obvious Young does not hold to that doctrine. Rather she seeks and accepts experiential, subjective and by the sound of it, mystical, personal revelation. It is my view that abandonment of the sufficiency of the Bible opens us up to all kinds of deception (self-deception as well as demonic deception). The Bible even warns us that our hearts are “deceitful” in the book of Jeremiah. The Bible proclaims itself to be authoritative, whereas experiences are entirely subjective. If extra-biblical revelation is acceptable then how can it be verified? Alarm bells began to clang in my head. Young writes that a year after reading that book, God Calling, “I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more…” The first question that I think needs to be asked. Is it Biblically appropriate to desire more revelation from God?
Excerpt: A heretical daily devotional from a false prophetess who mixes her mystical ideas with random bits of the Bible and wants you to believe they both come from the mouth of Jesus. Burn your copies unless you are using them as reference material to warn others.
Excerpt: Intrigued by the channeled messages of God Calling, Sarah Young was apparently not satisfied with the sufficiency of God’s Word. In her original introduction, Young stated: “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more.”27 While this statement—along with many others—has been deleted in recent editions, it is clear the author of Jesus Calling “yearned for more,” and more is what she got. As a result, she received “messages” from a “Jesus” that has proven himself to be one of the false Christs that the real Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for (Matthew 24:4-5, 23-24). Wanting a word from God more than the Word of God, Sarah Young ended up getting deceived. “Deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13), she has taken millions of Jesus Calling readers along with her. The Bible describes those who love and respect the power and authority of God’s Word as those who tremble at God’s Word (Isaiah 66:2). The Bible also describes those who do not tremble at God’s Word but rather use and manipulate God’s Word for their own selfish purposes (2 Corinthians 4:2). There is no nice way to say it. Jesus Calling is a gross affront to our true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And the self-serving effort by Sarah Young and her publisher to cover up some of the many problems found in Jesus Calling is a gross affront to the body of Christ. It is one thing for Sarah Young to be deceived, it is quite another for her to be the author of deception herself.
Folks, I hope it's clear that this is not just some "harmless" book. These are warnings being issued not from other Lutherans like me, but from other faithful Christians outside of the Lutheran church.
You don't have to take my word for it, but I hope you'll take their word for it, especially when they each show specific examples from the book itself and put it side-by-side with Scripture to show why this book should be avoided at all costs, because it's extremely dangerous.
In short, the author wants us to believe (among other un-Biblical things) that God speaks to us beyond His Word and Sacrament when that's simply not the case.
A very troubling aspect of Jesus Calling is that it claims that Jesus, who has spoken to us once for all (Hebrews 1:1, 2), wants to deny that Scripture and speak to us beyond Scripture. Young virtually rejects the Book of Hebrews! Young's new revelations come in the form of inner voices that are assumed to be Jesus Himself. Young used journaling to receive her voices of Jesus from heaven that she used for her book. She claims Jesus told her this: "As you spend time in My Presence, My thoughts gradually form in your mind. . . . Sometimes He [the Holy Spirit who might use Bible verses too] enables you to hear Me ‘speak' directly to you. . . . Take time to listen to My voice. (December 4)" Young's book is predicated on the idea that God speaks through Christ beyond Scripture. This effectively erases the boundaries between orthodoxy and heresy. A mystical voice that may or may not be God becomes the foundation of faith rather than Scripture alone. Young claims that these voices are not equal to Scripture. But in practice, as far as Jesus Calling reveals, she puts more weight on them than she does the Bible.
*- Bob DeWaay
To cite Bob DeWaay's book review once more, "such a book could only become a huge best-seller in an age of apostasy" and "it could only prosper where sola scriptura has been abandoned for pious feelings."
As I've tried to carefully, lovingly, and patiently point out time after time, just because a book is labelled "Christian" and is sold in a "Christian Bookstore" and is considered a "best-seller" by many believers doesn't mean it's not spiritual poison to your soul. Quite the contrary in many cases these days!
Whether you agree with me or not (or think I'm just being "nuts" and "unreasonable" and "ridiculous") is up to you. I can't change your mind and even if you do see why I'm so concerned and do finally repent and turn away from this garbage once-and-for-all it's the Lord Who will get all the credit, not me. I'm merely trying to "love my neighbor" like I'm supposed to the point where I'm willing to be marginalized, ostracized, and shunned even further by the very people who claim the importance of discipleship all the time.
Yes, despite it all, I still care about my friends enough and too much to continue to remain silent and to just let things like this go without challenging Satan by attempting to expose his deceitful schemes like using professing Christians to promote his syrupy and seductive false doctrines.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
I just hate to hear about hurting people being comforted with dangerous and deceptive false doctrine that will only make things worse for them (by people who certainly mean well, but who should definitely know better).
Look, I know for a fact that this man means well, and that he definitely cares about that woman he mentioned, but for him to constantly ignore the truth that's repeatedly brought to his attention by a close friend like me about how he needs to repent of his believing, teaching, and confessing false doctrine is nothing but a blatant sin on his part and, yes, I truly worry for him like I'm supposed to (James 3:1; Jude 1:23)!
For now, unfortunately, all I can do is pray about this since it's been made quite clear to me that talking about it one-on-one only seems to make things worse.
For now, I'll continue to be comforted by the truth of God's Word that proclaims...
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, Sarah Young is a false prophetess and her book "Jesus Calling" is overflowing with dangerous false doctrine, which no steadfast Lutheran should be toying with much less sharing with others who have yet to place their faith and trust in Christ Jesus after becoming baptized believers who have received His free gift of salvation.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!