Neon signs from God


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There are times when God gives us signs that we’re blind to. You know, the cute girl who tells you she loves you… in the Lord. Or your friend at lunch vaguely gesturing at his chin to let you know you have mustard all over yours. Or the giant neon sign of God telling everyone that a particular celebrity pastor is to be avoided.

Said neon signs are easier than ever to see, thanks to the advent of social media. Gone are the days of needing to walk into a Christian book store or tuning into TBN to consume heresy; it’s now available on the supercomputers we carry in our pockets.

Disclaimers in anticipation

And in anticipation of some who say we shouldn’t call out false teachers by name, I’ll just reference Jude and Romans 16 for the general principle, and 1 Timothy 1 where Paul says he has handed Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan. Gosh, Paul, way to promote unity. Satan? Really? Dudes are trying. Just cut ‘em some slack.

And for a record second disclaimer heading into the rest of this piece, I know some of you will tell me that the guy I’m about to call out has benefited you in some way in the past, to which I have three responses.

  1. God draws straight lines with the crookedest of sticks, which, yes, includes yours truly. That does not, however, excuse a supposed teacher of the Word from saying that the sky is plaid.
  2. Sometimes God protects his people from hearing garbage. The third person of the triune God indwells every born-again Christian, and he filters things we hear in order to help us set our minds on things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-8).
  3. If a teacher makes you feel better about your situation because you feel better about yourself, the point has been entirely missed. He didn’t help you; he just massaged your ego and ultimately pointed you away from Christ.

And finally, before someone asks if I’m willing to die on this hill, I will then ask him if he’s willing to kill me on it. The correct equation for the tango is 1+1.

Now that that’s out of the way, allow me to present: 

Exhibit Q

I present to you the following pull quote from a recent sermon, which was tweeted and Facebooked by Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, as a highlight of that sermon.

“Following Jesus doesn’t change you into something else, it reveals who you’ve been all along. What would it be like to see the you that God sees … [sic]” – Steven Furtick, Oct. 24, 2021

The post understandably generated massive amounts of pushback, what with being so clearly unbiblical and running afoul of 2 Corinthians 5, Ezekiel 36, and Ephesians 2. The post was eventually deleted, which is a true rarity for Furtick and his ilk, but the sermon it was pulled from is still readily available. No retraction or apology for the confusion has been offered.

Regardless, that post and most of Furtick’s sermons are honestly no different than Joel Osteen’s Become a Better You, but more on that later.

What goes around is all around

The saddest part is not that some will trash me for calling out a false teacher, nor is it that Furtick still somehow has defenders. No, the worst part is the sheer volume of shares and likes his post got before it was jettisoned into the Internet ether. It’s an indicator of how biblically bankrupt American pop Christianity has become.

As Ricky once said, what goes around is all around, and what’s truly all around Furtick is his associations with first-level heretics, which routinely comes out in his teaching.

He pals around with known modalist TD Jakes, and Furtick has taught that Jesus changed form into the Holy Spirit. He’s hung out with Joyce Meyer, Rod Parsley, and Jesse Duplantis, and has preached at Osteen’s “church” multiple times, so would it surprise you that he preaches the classic Word of Faith heresy that God is enabled or restricted by whether you have enough faith?

From the pile of dead horses

Lest you think I’m only willing to whip Furtick like a rented mule, I already have a pile of dead horses that we can beat. This is just the latest turd in the American Christian punchbowl that proves that we don’t care if it’s poop or sherbert, just as long as the consistency and texture is right. And if you are what you eat, the presence of flies and maggots should be self-explanatory.

Furtick’s nonsense comes right on the heels of a string of gaffes among those who claim the name of Christ. Todd White’s “Jesus became a child molestor on the cross” message was less than a month ago. Tack on Benny Hinn’s false repentance of the prosperity gospel and the amazing amount of false prophecies about COVID and Trump, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato, and baby, you’ve got a stew going.

But I’m the one who’s unloving for telling people that the bridge is out and that I’d prefer to not see my spiritual siblings Evel Knievel themselves into the Grand Canyon. I won’t apologize for trying to install detour signs to keep people on the straight and narrow, and what my detractors will miss is that I’m pointing to something deeper and richer.

Just answer the question

Before we adjourn, I’d be remiss to not answer Furtick’s question from his post. What would it be like to see the you that God sees?

We have two options.

The first is a corpse, and not one that has just been mostly dead all day but all the way dead. So dead that we can’t get deader. We don’t feel happy and we don’t think we’ll go for a walk, and the guy with the cart has to get to the Robinsons’ because they’ve lost nine today.

Or he sees the King instead. And how do we know he’s the King? Because he hasn’t got crap all over him. And by crap, I mean our pet sins to which we have erected altars, temples, websites, stadiums, and strip malls. The gremlins we feed after midnight like porn, lust, gluttony, gossip, murdering the unborn, bitterness, rage, self-righteousness, envy, slander, homosexuality, legalism, New Age spiritualism, laziness, and yes, unguided zeal.

We have that crap all over us, which is why our first federal head hid (Gen. 3:10), and it’s why Isaiah understood himself to be a dead man when he saw Christ in the temple (John 12:41, Is. 6:5).

But this is also the same God who didn’t clinch his Godness with white knuckles but added a real human nature to his divinity in order to raise the spiritually dead to life now and the physically dead to life later to make it against regulations to take the nine pence and put us on the cart.

The second person of the triune God learned obedience and was crucified in order to make men right before God because of those things and more, but the fact is that he took that punishment in order to make us a new creation and a royal priesthood in a Kingdom of his creating and choosing, and we will successfully storm the gates of hell, because even that can’t stand up to the God-empowered offensive of the church militant. 

But if we want reformation and/or revival, depending on the word brought to you by the letter R that you prefer, it’ll take more than big biceps attached to limp-wristed self-help talks, yelling at six overproduced services about how God has a wonderful plan for your life, if only you’d exercise your free will and let him give you a victory over your late power bill and unbearable boss. It’ll take more than adrenaline rushes and strobe lights and emotionally manipulative music.

It’ll take the idiocy of telling dead men to get up, and that’s the entire point.

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