A few weeks ago, I watched a movie on GAC starring Joey Lawrence. Of course, my brother, Jamie, took every opportunity to make jokes using Joey Lawrence’s famous catchphrase from the the nineties: “Whoa!” (He does the same thing whenever Joey Lawrence is on Hawaii 5-0.)
It’s a one-word phrase forever impressed in the mind of my generation. We don’t just see the meme, we hear his young voice saying, “Whoa!”
Because my mind doesn’t always work like other people’s, this catchphrase popped into my head as I was recently reading Jesus’ “Woes” to the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23.
Yes, I know the two words are different. Still, I can just imagine the crowds who were listening to Jesus speak, letting out an infamous “Whoa!” after they heard Jesus’ words. Why? Because NO ONE—and I mean NO ONE—else talked to the religious leaders that way.
Later, when I read the commentary in my new Fire Bible, I did my own Joey Lawrence impersonation as I saw things I’d never seen in this passage before. I was like, “Whoa!!!” Then, I knew I had to share it with you.
Let’s begin by setting the scene: It’s the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. Jesus has just cleared the money changers tables in the Temple and the religious leaders are ticked. They are looking for a way to kill Him, so they send religious leaders to try to trap Jesus with questions.
He’s not tricked at all and answers every question perfectly. After turning the tables and asking them a question they couldn’t answer, Jesus begins the Seven Woes. (Matthew 23) Right there in front of God, the disciples, and crowds of people He tells everyone exactly who the religious leaders are and why they are wrong.
--He accuses them of distorting the Word of God.
--Being hypocrites—not practicing what they preach. (Matt 23:3)
--Using their position to gain power, popularity, and profits. (Matt 23:5-7)
--Keeping people out of Heaven by presenting a twisted version of God’s truth. (Matt 23:13-14)
--They were “professionals” who appeared spiritual and godly, but they were really unrighteous and rebellious (Matt 23:14-15)
--They say good things about godly spiritual leaders of the past (the prophets) but they do not follow their instructions or their example. (Matthew 23:29-30)
(NOTES FROM FIREBIBLE--ESV)
As I saw it laid out that way, I had a “whoa!” moment.
These are the same characteristics we see in many of the popular progressive preachers today. (Although by now, most refer to themselves as ‘communicators’.)
Men and women whose books fill Christian bookstores, who have television shows, podcasts, and millions of followers and YET, they are following in the footsteps of the Pharisees rather than Jesus.
More concerned about power, money, privilege and fame, they twist the Word of God and preach culturally appropriate messages. They condone sin and immortality and promote social justice as the way to salvation.
The worst part is just like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day they are leading people astray and keeping people out of Heaven.
They look good—many are extremely successful. Yet, they are total frauds doing more harm to people and the Gospel than good.
How should true followers of Christ respond to these leaders?
Much like Jesus did.
First, we must recognize them as what they are: False teachers teaching a false doctrine.
We cannot simply accept every popular preacher or communicator or writer that comes along. Instead, we need to be wise and compare what they are saying to Biblical truth.
Are their teachings in line with the Bible?
Do their teachings align with traditional Christian theology?
Paul advised the church in Galatia this way, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.
You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.
I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)
This brings us to point #2: Don’t embrace false teachers.
It doesn’t matter how well they speak, how funny they are, or how empowered their messages make you feel…if they aren’t teaching the truth from God’s Word in line with traditional theology, we shouldn’t be entertaining their message.
Don’t read their books.
Don’t listen to their podcasts.
Don’t follow them on social media.
Don’t listen to their music.
It’s time for the true followers of Christ to rise up, follow Jesus example and stop entertaining false teachers and false teachings.
Finally, we need to speak out against false teachers and false teachings.
To warn other people.
The fact is that many who are earnest in their desire to follow Christ are not spiritually mature. They aren’t familiar with Biblical teaching or proper theology. All they know is that a particular teacher/preacher/author is popular. They say they are speaking for God, and without their own solid foundation they can’t discern the false doctrine.
Sadly, these Christians listen to false teachings and are led astray into sin.
It’s the exact same pattern as the religious leaders in Jesus day!
For the sake of the weaker believers among us, it is the responsibility of those who recognize false teachers and teachings to speak about whenever they encounter it.
We need to speak out from the pulpit, but also in our conversations and in our social media.
This is why I am so dedicated to speaking the truth about progressive Christianity, because just like in Jesus’ day, false teachers and false teachings are prevalent.
They are hurting people and sadly, keeping people from experiencing all that God has for them. This breaks my heart.
Apparently, it broke Jesus’ heart, too. That’s why He said, “Woe!”
He called them out and spoke truth that is still applicable today.
Following His example, we need to do the same.
Recognize false teachers/teaching.
Refuse to embrace it.
Speak truth so others can beware.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.