Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Mississippi College. She contributed to Barbour’s Heavenly XOXO’s for Women, Book Lover’s Devotional, and Every Good and Perfect Gift. Amy wrote short stories and articles for Focus on the Family,Mature Years, Significant Living, Vista, Encounter, and other publications. She won awards at St. Davids Christian Writers Conference and West Branch Christian Writers Conference. The Trojan Horse Traitor quarterfinaled in the 2011 ABNA contest. Her juvenile fantasy novel The Trojan Horse Traitor, releases in November, 2015, and her new adult suspense novel, Whitewashed, released February 15.
by Amy C. Blake
I graduated long ago, but I still sometimes wake up in a panic, thinking I have to take an exam for which I didn’t study. Ugh! I’d be content never having to take another test in my life.
Yet Scripture commands Christians to test the spirits to see if they’re from God. If we fail at this testing, the consequences are much more serious than flunking a class. The consequences are eternal.
False teachers are everywhere—television, radio, internet, books, movies. Even in Sunday School classes and pulpits. Everyone wants our ear, but not everyone should get it.
How can we discern who’s teaching truth and who’s spouting lies?
Here are three questions to help us decide:
1. What’s being said about Jesus? Lying spirits hate Jesus. If a speaker or writer professing to teach Biblical truth either ignores Christ or lies about Him, we must reject that teacher. I don’t mean we should nitpick every word that comes out of our pastor’s mouth. I mean we can’t listen to anyone who denies the basics of the Gospel—that Jesus is God who became man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, ascended into Heaven, and is coming back one day.
2. Does the world love it? Popularity doesn’t equal truth. In fact, if the world loves something/someone, Christians should beware. By nature, the world loves what is worldly and hates what is from God. Remember, labels can be deceiving. Just because somebody labels a book or movie “inspirational” or “faith-based” doesn’t make it Christ-exalting. I’m not saying every “faith-based” book that makes The New York Times Best Seller list is teaching lies. I’m just saying we can’t embrace it without careful testing because not everything labeled “faith-based” is based on faith in the right Person.
3. Is it Biblical? This question doesn’t allow laziness. We can’t simply point to a tacked-on Bible verse and call a teaching good. We have to ask if Scripture is being correctly interpreted. We have to watch for verses taken out of context. If the way a verse is used doesn’t fit with what the rest of the Bible teaches, it’s not being used correctly. In order to recognize whether a teaching is Biblical, we have to know what the Bible actually says. When we have trouble understanding passages, we can seek help from trusted Christians, read reputable commentaries, and check time-honored catechisms, creeds, or confessions. We should always pray for God’s help in discerning the truth.
How should we proceed when someone’s teaching fails the test? If the source is a book/movie/blog/radio program, etc., we can’t allow it in our homes, no matter how popular it is with our friends or family. If the false teaching comes from a teacher in our church, we should go to that person and respectfully present our concerns. Maybe we misunderstood what he/she said. Maybe the person will correct his/her false understanding. If the person refuses, we must bring the issue before other church leaders. If that doesn’t work, we must leave and seek a church where truth is proclaimed.
Above all, we can’t give up. Even if we get it wrong sometimes, we’re commanded to test the spirits. We must use the tools God has provided…and get testing.
by Amy C. Blake
Eighteen-year-old Patience McDonough has a plan. Despite her parents’ objections, she will attend Verity College in Hades, Mississippi, and live with her grandparents. She’ll complete her degree in record time and go on to become a doctor.
But things at the college are strangely neglected, her class work is unexpectedly hard, Grand gets called out-of-town, and Poppa starts acting weird—so weird she suspects he has Alzheimer’s. On top of that, she has to work extra hours at her student job inputting financial data for the college—boring!
But soon her job gets more interesting than she’d like: she finds that millions of dollars are unaccounted for and that something creepy is going on in the Big House basement. She discovers secrets tying her family into the dark beginnings of Verity, founded on a slave plantation, and she is forced to question the characters of people she has always trusted.
Finally, confronted with a psychotic killer, Patience has to face facts—her plans are not necessarily God’s plans. Will the truth set her free?
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