Gold dust. Angel feathers. Smoke machines. Jewels. Fire tunnels. People laying all over the floor. "Sunday Experience" instead of "Sunday Worship." Churches with names that don't sound like churches. New revelation. Progressive revelation. Branding. Logos. Stage lighting. Healing ministry. Deliverance ministry. Big time buildings. Big time budgets. Big time pastors.
Have we in America become bored with Jesus?
When did He manifest gold dust, or any other "heavenly" props? When did He create "experiences" for His listeners? When did He speak with any other label other than what the Old Testament had named the Messiah? When He speak without the Old Testament as THE reference? How did He succeed other than by word of mouth? When did He have an event that singled out one area of ministry, and did only that, such as healing?
For someone like Jesus, who did not have a "place to lay His head," He was far from big time anything. His one worldly possession was gambled over by His executioners: a tunic.
We follow Jesus, but do we really FOLLOW Jesus? Are we so spiritually immature and inattentive that the only way to get us to attend church Sunday after Sunday is to up the entertainment ante?
Would we be bored if Jesus entered a church, sat down and started teaching us? No lights, no camera, no action. Just Jesus. Just the Word.
So, what do false teachers do? Look at these verses in Timothy about false teachers. I have summarized them:
B. 1 Tim. 1:18-20: "whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel"
C. 1 Tim. 6:3-5: does not agree to Jesus' teachings and God-centered teaching; "conceited"; no understanding; preoccupied with being controversial; all sorts of divisions occur; people constantly vying for power, who are not interested in truth but use the faith for "financial gain."
D. 2 Tim. 4:3-4: People don't want "sound doctrine;" listen to those teachers who tell them what they want to hear; don't want truth; "myths" are preferred
So, what do these verses have in common? Where is the Word? It seems that these folks want to talk about everything but the Word. The teachers want to be center stage stage and known for what they do. It may be in the name of Jesus, but Jesus is so far away from the ideas they teach that they have not noticed He's left the building.
In A, false doctrines and a lot of spiritually empty talk rule the day. Purity of heart, a clean conscience and a sincere faith are set aside, because that means the teacher is not the focal point but what they say. When you compare what they are saying to the Word, the difference is obvious.
In B, the Word is not the source of the doctrine. In the previous verses, Paul uses the Law as a starting point of what is not considered godly behavior. He moves from the behavior to the ideas that allow such behavior to be allowed.
In C, the Word is not considered to be the truth, and in their arrogance, these teachers are stuck on themselves, wanting others to listen to them with their wild claims. Of course, in order to gain followers, one teacher's claims have to be more wild than the other teachers' claims, because power means money. Truth? Nah. That's for losers. Money, power, control. That's the endgame here.
In D, "sound doctrine" is boring. It doesn't appeal to our pride as followers and it doesn't appeal to the pride of the teachers. The word for "myths" is translated "fables" or "inventions." Teachers just make up doctrine. But because they are in positions of authority, people listen. And because people listen, the teachers continue to make things up, because it keeps the people coming back and wanting more.
When we are centered in the Word alone, pride isn't welcomed there. The Word must be central: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16)
It's not as fun as going out with youthful enthusiasm and seeking to heal everyone you encounter.
It's not as exciting as going to a graveyard and raising the dead.
It's not as fun as watching others fall to the floor and lay there shaking.
It's not as novel as having a prophetic puppet.
It's not as overwhelming as a loud concert environment for worship.
But the Word reins us in, and teaches us what God approves of and wants us to carry out into the world. It shows error, and how to live righteously, so we can be true servants of God, not representing ourselves but representing Him alone. The works consequently done are fruitful and not faddish; productive and not experiential, and ultimately bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
One last, sad thought: 10 years from now, when all these young followers of these disturbing trends and self-centered teachers are adults and life hits them hard, the teachings that they have stood on will be sand. Their faith-houses will be washed away because they did not build their house on the Rock--Jesus and His words.