Prophets and Apostles
While many of the details in "The Collective" have been changed to protect people’s privacy, and I have taken some liberties in altering the story, something like this did happen to me and my family.
When we came out the other side, we were confused and very lost. How had this happened to us? And, especially for my husband, how had he not discerned that he was being deceived? I needed to clarify for myself that we had indeed been fooled and that we had not made a mountain out of mole hill. Over the weeks and months after coming out of the ‘cult’ we did a lot of research and the things we learned were very disturbing. I decided to write our story as a warning to other Christians. We discovered that this was happening in churches all over the western world and that we were not the only people being deceived. If only there had been some sort of check list we could have used to identify the danger we were facing.
Once I started digging, I discovered that there were warnings from other Christians out there. Several researchers helped us understand that what we had experienced was not biblical, and actually very dangerous. It is an insidious evil that is slowly infiltrating many churches. But what should you look out for and how can you protect yourself? First and foremost, you must know your Bible. Jesus and Paul warn us continually that there will be false teachers and those that call themselves prophets but are not, and we need to be able to recognize them. If you are concerned that you or your church is being led astray these are some of the red flags we have identified:
- A person who calls himself a Prophet. I’m not talking about a person with a gift of prophesy. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 v 10 that some will have a gift of prophesy. We were not faced with that.
- ‘The Prophet’ believed he heard directly from God and that he heard clearer than anyone else in the group. We had to defer to him and his authority.
- When it came to ‘The Apostle’, I found it very confusing. Did apostles still operate today, and should they hold ‘office of apostle’ in the church? Holly Pivec, who speaks often about prophets and apostles answered the question for me. An apostle was a man who walked with Jesus. There were 12 of them. When Judas betrayed Jesus and then died he was replaced by Matthias and he had also been a follower of Jesus and witnessed his death. Paul was the final apostle and he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. After the apostles died men were not appointed by the church to replace them. Men calling themselves apostle and appointing themselves is not found in the Bible. They will tell you that God is doing a new thing and bringing fresh revelation, even though this was not modeled in the Bible, which must be our source of truth.
- ‘The Prophet’ and ‘The Apostle’ continually told us to follow our hearts. However, the Bible tells us in Jeremiah 17 v 9 that ‘The heart is deceitful about all things, and desperately wicked’. We were expected to check our brains at the front door and the word of God along with it. Everything was about experience. How do you feel, what is your heart saying? This was supposed to be God speaking to us. Unless it was different than what ‘The Prophet’ heard, and then we had to check again.
- The music in the meetings and in our church was all about the created, not the creator. This is not worship. The songs were all about me and what God is doing for me. And while it can be enjoyable (but potentially dangerous) singing along with the melodious, hypnotic music, how often do you check the words of a song and decide if you want to declare them or not.
- We learned the hard way to follow the money and the power. This should be something you hold to in all parts of your life, but it’s very disturbing that we also need to identify it in the church. If someone is telling you that God has told them that you need to give to them, or their ministry I would caution you to be very suspicious.
- And if someone tries to control your life, and I’m not talking about a friend or a Pastor pointing out sin, but someone who tells you what to do with your job, marriage, education and money and expects you to comply without question there might be a problem. Spiritual abuse is a real thing, but it can be hard to identify as it can creep in slowly.
- If you think something isn’t right talk to people you trust. We had amazing counsel from a Godly couple. Our good friends Elle and Rob recognized what was happening as soon as we explained the situation. They told us to get out and run. We followed that advice and it was one of the best things we ever did.
This is not a comprehensive list. It is a starting point for you to do your own research. Every situation will be different. But if you find yourself in a church that is changing, and people are popping up and wanting to take control it might be time to talk to your pastor. Ask God to open your eyes, and know the word. It can be painful, but in some cases you might need to find a new church. In the end you need to be responsible for what teachings you accept as truth, and for what your children also learn. Below are some bible verses that we found helpful.
- 2 Kings 5
- Deuteronomy 13 v 3
- Matthew 24 v 4
- Matthew 13 v 24 – 30
- 2 Corinthians 11 v 13 - 15