Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).

It Is Certainly Written

Test the spirits to see whether they are from God. It will be critical in these perilous times as we stand for Christ for us to better understand the Bible, and to then be able to use God’s Word in our lives and witness. This is also a subject you are going to see me cover with increased emphasis because Satan has such a firm grip on this nation—and on more and more of the Church as well—through his postmodern philosophy of relativism and the skepticism it inevitably produces. All of which is really just the same old trick that the Devil first used on Eve in Genesis 3:1 where he asked her, “Did God Really Say?”

You need to know that this quite faulty line of thinking is very deeply rooted in most people within the Emergent Church movement and perhaps even more-so with its pastors and leaders. Oddly enough one of the foundational reasons that this movement exists is their supposed superior “enlightenment” that the Christian is really unable to actually know for sure what given texts of the Bible in fact say. In other words, we are told that because no one is omniscient, then it logically follows (so they say) that we have to allow for various interpretations as no one can say conclusively what key verses of Holy Scripture really mean.

This is a basic idea that Rob Bell, a very prominent and popular pastor in the Emerging Church who’s currently gaining much ground even within evangelical circles, puts this forth in his first book Velvet Elvis. As Apprising Ministries shows you e.g. in Rob Bell in a Nutshell: The Bible he begins by undermining our confidence in arriving at what a given text in the Bible means when he tells us — “Everybody’s interpretation is essentially his or her own opinion” (053). Bell then discusses “an intense meeting” where leaders within his church “were discussing several passages in the Bible.” Finally one of them said that after studying them out thoroughly she had “decided to get back to the Bible and just take it for what it said” (ibid).

The Postmodern Skeptical Smokescreen

But here’s where Bell jumps right off the track as a pastor when he goes on to say:

Now please understand that this way of thinking is prevalent in a lot of Christian churches,… But this view of the Bible is warped and toxic, to say the least. The assumption is that there is a way to read the Bible that is agenda—and perspective—free. As if all these other people have their opinion and biases, but some are able to just read it for what it says (053,054)

Since the focus of this work is the testing of the spirits I refer you to When Rob Bell Tells You What The Bible Means, It Is Not True for further discussion. Here I just use the above as an example to illustrate how we test a pastor-teacher. This is an immensely important issue concerning a proper view of Scripture and one which is affecting our young today. They are just not equipped to deal with the type of argument advanced by Rob Bell above nor for that matter are many evangelical pastors now allowing his Emergent rebellion against Sola Scriptura into their churches.

For you see in his statement Bell is revealing his own postmodern and postliberal bias and skepticism here by saying that the historic orthodox evangelical Protestant position regarding proper hermeneutics and exegesis “is warped and toxic.” To begin with in an attempt to make his point he must first misstate our position by saying that those of us who teach that God spoke to us in propositional Truth which we are then capable of understanding also assume “there is a way to read the Bible that is agenda—and perspective—free.”

Obviously we are human beings whose reasoning has been corrupted by the Fall. However, within what the Protestant Reformers meant by Sola Scriptura is that proper Biblical interpretation with the illumination of the Holy Spirit will allow us to come to understand what the Bible is teaching in given passages. For example consider 2 Peter 1:20-21— Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 

As Dr. Edwin Blum points out in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation is even telling us that:

no prophecy of Scripture is to be interpreted by any individual in an arbitrary way. This fits the problem of the false teachers’ distorting Paul’s writings and other Scripture mentioned at 3:16, and the next verse clarifies that the prophecy originated with the Holy Spirit. [Verse] 21 Each prophecy originated in God (apo theou), not in the will of man. To understand each prophecy, one must interpret it not according to one’s own “private” ideas. (275)

And the following from pastor Bob DeWaay as he discusses these verses will also prove helpful concerning the false view Bell has expressed which, as you’ll see, is essentially the position of apostate Roman Catholicism and a repudiation of Sola Scriptura:

Now the [Roman] Catholic Church said that means lay people—ordinary people—can’t possibly know what the Bible means so the teaching magisterium of the church has to do it for them. But that is not the point. The meaning of the Scripture is determined by the Holy Spirit inspired author. In other words, these writers were inspired by the Spirit, and so [what they wrote] didn’t come from their will, it came from the Holy Spirit Who spoke from God. So therefore the interpretation of the Scripture is to determine the meaning of the Holy Spirit inspired author.

Now your own interpretation would be the postmodern idea that the reader determines the meaning. A private interpretation is “this means this to me.” Have you ever been to a Bible study where they do that? Everybody gets their Bible. “Read a verse.” And you read a verse. [Then someone asks], “What’s that mean to you?” [Looking around the room], “What’s that mean to you? What’s that mean to you?” [And so on]. “Okay, next verse.”

Well, what do you have but private interpretation? Somebody’s saying I’m going to infuse my meaning into the Scripture rather than finding out what the Holy Spirit said to me through the Holy Spirit-inspired author. 

The Mind Of Christ

The Body of Christ has always taught exactly what the Bible itself says — The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). And further we most certainly can know what God has revealed to us and we can come to full understanding of what our Lord means to tell us in the Bible about Himself for two very important reasons—among many others. First, Christ Jesus Himself told us that God the Holy Spirit has an important job to do for the true Christian. Our Lord said — “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His Own” (John 16:13).

Then as any good instructor the Master Teacher anticipates the logical question that follows His teaching: “Who is He going to speak for; where will He get this ‘Truth’?” So Jesus says in the next verse —“taking from what is Mine and making it known to you.” We see here that this Truth is going to come from Jesus; but there’s more because we see that the entire Trinity is involved as our Lord then says —“All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is Mine and make it known to you” (v.15). Which leads us nicely into the other reason that the true Christian will be able to know with assurance what God has said in the Bible — we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

So now the postmodern or Emerging Church pastor like Rob Bell who wishes to deny that the Christian can understand what Holy Scripture says has a problem that not even N.T. Wright can solve for them. An eyewitness reports Jesus telling the born again Christian that the Holy Spirit of Truth will guide you into all God’s Truth and then God the Holy Spirit further informs us that we have the mind of Christ. And then a little later on in John’s Gospel Jesus asks the Father to sanctify His true followers “through Thy Truth.” Jesus then informs us God’s —“Word Is Truth” (John 17:17). Can you see now why all cultic-like groups have to lower someone’s trust in Holy Scripture before they can begin to indoctrinate them? If you read the Bible for what it says, you will see there is no need for skeptical postmodern spirits like Rob Bell to come along and teach us his own biased view of the Bible.

We need to recognize the following logical flaw of this postmodern skepticism. For them to tell us no one can really know for sure what God is saying in the Bible is itself an absolute statement about truth that they wish us to believe is true. However, this argument itself is based upon their own presupposition and biases that someone can’t know for certain what words mean. But for them to be able to prove this circular and self-defeating statement they would themselves have to be omniscient (all-knowing) in order to know if it is in fact true that no one can know for sure what words mean. Until that were to happen what they have told you is nothing more than their own agenda and perspective against knowing truth. Ultimately since they don’t think anything can be known with certainty then we would have no way of knowing for sure if their statement itself is even true.

Therefore based upon the certainty of the Truth I have just shown you in God’s Word, as we test the spirit here ala 1 John 4:1, Rob Bell fails the test. For Christ Jesus, the LORD God Almighty Himself in human flesh, has said — Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” So it’s sure a whole lot wiser to turn your back on the mystical musings of Emergent rebels against Sola Scriptura like Bell and just take Jesus at His Word.

See also: