The Emerging Heresy

Those of you who follow this blog know that it’s been my primary focus to dissect and study the Word of God and to pass along the things that God teaches and shows me through the written word here.  However it has become increasingly necessary to refute those members of the church body that consistently preach and teach a corrupt Gospel.  The half-brother of Jesus, Jude, describes this perfectly in the introduction to his book:

 3Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 3-4 ESV

Jude had originally felt compelled to write a letter about salvation, but the Holy Spirit inspired him to instead write a message urging the churches to recognize and challenge those who were preaching an alternate Gospel message.  Just as the Apostle Paul did in his letter to the Church at Galatia,6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7 ESV  Again in his second letter to the Corinth Church Paul states, 4For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” II Corinthians 11:4 ESV  As believers who make up the same body of Christ as those in Paul and Jude’s day, we must realize that these false teachers did not simply “disappear”, instead they are as pervasive as ever, cleverly packaging and repackaging their message to lead as many astray and away from the true Gospel as they can.  There are none as dangerously deceptive as those who preach “another Jesus” as Paul alludes and those who use and say all the words to tickle our ears, but in fact the message is completely false.  I wanted to provide the biblical background for pointing out these false teachings/teachers so that those of you reading will realize that to speak out against them is not an attack on the Church, but a defense of the Church.  We’re not talking about differences in interpreting a Scripture passage, instead the focus of defending the Truth goes to the heart of the issue, a blatant, ungodly perversion of the Word of God.

A few days ago I was getting caught up on some posts in the Christian blogosphere and I ran across a clip from a sermon given by Shane Hipps.  For those who don’t know (and I didn’t), Mr. Hipps has recently been named as Rob Bell’s assistant pastor at Mars Hill Church in Michigan.  To read more about Bell’s blatant false theological assertions click Wolves are Emerging.  This hiring lends additional credence to the fact that Bell could care less about correct, truthful expositional teaching, by not only endorsing Hipps, but hiring him.  Listen to the sermon excerpt below, but please pray for discernment first.  If you would like to get your Bible and read along, the message comes from the Gospel of John, chapter 1.  I’ll discuss more after you listen. 

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

I’ll walk through the parts, but click here to listen to the segment (approx. 5:00 minutes) Shane Hipps sermon on wind/sails

Ok, so there’s a lot going on in this brief clip, some of which is just plain wrong, most of which is heretical.  Our first point of contention comes 00:48 on the clip.  Hipps asserts that by referring to Jesus as the “Word”, the Greek Logos or a word signifying “Wisdom” that the Apostle John is somehow endorsing both the religions of the Jews and Greeks by borrowing from their usages of particular words.  This could not be further from the truth because in using this term Logos to refer to Jesus he is speaking to both religions in the hopes to connect to them with the Gospel (and is actually pointing back to Genesis 1:3).  This is the Apostle John, this isn’t a 3rd or 4th hand account of historical information, he was there when Jesus died!  No Apostle of Jesus is going to condone the religious nonsense that the Greeks and Jews believed.  In fact, the Apostle Paul states,22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” I Corinthians 1:22-24 In this passage, Paul gives reprimand to the religious beliefs of both Jews and Greeks, while affirming the truth of Christ crucified.  To say that John’s reference to the Word (Jesus) doesn’t “nullify” other religions, but instead it transcends them, goes against the very gospel that the Apostles taught!  This would be like saying it’s ok to be Muslim or Hindu and if you can work Jesus into your religion that would be great.   

Hipps goes on next to state at 01:54 that, “To lose your religious identity is like losing a sail at sea.  The sail is like religion.  The wind is the spirit.”  Oh boy.  I hesitate to even address this one, but the truth is at stake.  First of all, losing your religious identity is EXACTLY what Jesus came to cause.  Jesus’ entire ministry centered around telling people that their religion was wrong, specifically the Jews, that the way they were doing things must change and that He is the ONLY way to believe.  There isn’t some kind of hybrid religion, there is Christ, period.  6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:7 ESV  In the next statement, Mr. Hipps seeks to merge the spirit (which he will later confirm is the Holy Spirit) with multiple religions.  His assertion here is that it doesn’t matter what religion, or “sail” you have, you can harness the wind, or spirit.  False.  Let’s go into the next set of quotes to further address this one.  02:29 he states that the spirit doesn’t need sails (religions) to move about the world.  Well he’s correct there.  John 3:8 ESV states, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  Here’s the thing with false teachers, especially those of the Emerg-ing/ent church, they take you so close to the truth through twists and turns that it’s difficult to spot the fallacies. At 02:48 he begins saying that we need sails in order to catch the wind.  No sir, we need Jesus to catch the “wind”, not the religious system that Hipps describes at 02:50.  He goes on to say (03:13) that some religions (sails again) are better equipped to catch the Spirit of God.  Kind of sounds like “all roads lead to the same God” doesn’t it?  He continues (03:23) to say that it matters what religion you “choose.”  This is one reason why it’s so critical to understand that through our total depravity, meaning complete sinfulness, we cannot “choose” God.  Maybe one can “choose” Islam, Buddhism, or Hindu, but darkness can never choose the Light.  Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV tells us that we were chosen in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the earth, yet we still have the responsibility to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved.  There isn’t a buffet of religions (or sails as Hipps continue to press) to choose from and we pick the one that best suites us.  There is only Jesus, believe on Him and be saved.   In concluding his confusing discourse on sails and wind, at 04:05 Hipps states, “Just because we claim Jesus as the center of our religion does not make us one and the same with the wind of God.”  The only way to receive the Spirit of God is to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.  John 14:26 ESV says, 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  Finally the portion of the message wraps up with, “This logos affects everybody including Osama bin Laden, as long as he’s got breath, in him, is a spark of the divine.”  I don’t even think that ridiculous assertion warrants a response, other than John 3:18-21.

You may be asking why I took the time to walk through this portion of Shane Hipps sermon.  The answer is twofold: First, since he is now the assistant pastor of Rob Bell, whom Time magazine ranked as their most influential pastors and whom the Chicago Sun Times declared “The Next Billy Graham”, then it’s so critical to understand what these men believe and teach.  The second reason, and more importantly, is to stand up and refute the false gospels being taught using sound biblical truths.

Contend for the faith!

Jude 18-21 18They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

You can find the text version of this sermon excerpt here: Partial text version

Listen to full sermon here: Full audio version

LESSON VI – Run with Endurance

The final installment on the study of John the Baptist – The Model Ministry

John the Baptist’s life provides the perfect model for an uncompromising, obedient ministry that glorified God and completed fully the mission that he was called to before birth.  Despite the many challenges John faced such as a nation who had abandoned God, opposition from religious leaders, and the enormous feat of preparing the way for the coming Messiah, John persevered to the very end.  Think about this from John’s perspective, he has to know that his ministry will not last long, because his sole purpose is to lay the groundwork for Jesus’ own ministry.  Immediately this confines John’s ministry to the time that Jesus was ready to take center stage, but this never changed his focus on completing what he was called to do.  In fact, as the Gospel of John (The Apostle) records, “30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John 3:30, John the Baptist was well aware of when this transition was to occur.

The Obedience of Baptism

John’s ministry culminated with the baptism of Jesus, as this was the first public appearance of Him and the recognition of the beginning of His ministry.  When Jesus approached John, he recognized Him immediately as he proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 John recognized the divine authority with which Christ had come and knew that the rightful order of baptism would have been for him to be baptized by Jesus.  As one author points out, “John the Baptist there declares the superior authority and divine agency of Jesus.”  Yet John obediently performed the request of Jesus so that all may know the words of God who said, “11 You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”2 Mark 1:11 In effect through his ministry John prepared the bride for her bridegroom, and the baptism served as the marital anointing by God, yet at the time of the wedding John’s role will be diminished to the point of merely watching through the window so that the bridegroom may receive all of the glory.  Beginning from this moment, the apostles of John and the crowds that followed him literally shifted to Jesus.  As John confirmed to his own followers, “28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:28-30

John’s Legacy

Clearly the legacy of John was one cemented in history, as he was the only person ever tasked with the opportunity to prepare the way for the Messiah, yet his earthy praise was non-existent.  True to the words of the angel Gabriel, John was great in the sight of God, yet in the sight of men he was seemingly an enigma as the people who heard him never seemed to fully understand who he was as evident in their inquiries, “21 And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ 22 Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?'” John 1:21-22 We don’t hear from John again throughout the New Testament, so in essence, he faded into the glorious sunset, never hearing the tribute that Jesus would offer.  “11 Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:11 What magnificent praise from the Son of God!  Yet pay close attention to the words of Jesus that follow this commendation, “[The] least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  On the surface this may seem to be a conflicting proclamation by Jesus; on the one hand there is none greater, yet on the other hand even the least of the kingdom of God will be greater?  John was great, his mission formidable, yet he was well equipped for the tools necessary for success.  All those who are of the kingdom of God are equipped with the Holy Spirit to perform the same mission as John, pointing toward Jesus, boldly proclaiming the Gospel, preaching repentance, and confronting sin unto death.  Jesus’ statement is qualifying that Spiritual greatness trumps human greatness every time.       


As we’ve seen throughout each of the lessons on John’s Model for Ministry, following Jesus, is not for the faint or weak of heart, yet at the same time those are the kind of people God wants for His service, because just like John, they require complete and total reliance upon God.  Just as the author of Hebrews says, this requires us to “run with endurance” Hebrews 12:1


Throughout this study, we’ve learned that John’s life is the model of ministry for all of those who answer the call of God into His service.  In answering God’s effectual call for his life, John also was obedient in his mission of preparing the way for the Messiah, yet he did so by denying himself, increasing his wisdom in the Word of God, and understanding the divine authority of Jesus Christ.  In doing so, John was able to preach an effective, bold, and penetrating Gospel that confronted sin and taught repentance all the while ignoring the life threatening consequences of his message.  In the end, John’s life was the ultimate sacrifice unto service and he completed his task with vigor unto death.  There is so much more we can learn about John, but just like John we should deflect all glory and praise to Jesus Christ, the One whom we ultimately serve.

LESSON V: Serving the Lord means Sacrifice

Continuing on with the John the Baptist series, 2 lessons left.

Jesus made it clear during His ministry that anyone desiring to serve Him, must be willing to sacrifice everything, “24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'” Matthew 16:24  As we’ve seen, the very life of John the Baptist from the beginning was the epitome of sacrifice, therefore it seems only fitting that it be sacrificial to the very end.  In fulfilling his mission, John preached throughout Judea, baptizing in repentance and preaching a bold, effective truthful Gospel.  It was prophesied in the Old Testament that he would turn the hearts of the children of Israel back to God and that’s exactly what he did.  The duration of his work was short and while he accomplished the task set before him, his life as a whole might have been considered a failure if measured by today’s worldly standards of success because it ultimately resulted in his imprisonment and death.

Disregard Consequences

As we alluded to earlier, John rebuked not only the religious leaders of the day for their false ideologies and religious practices, but also King Herod for his inappropriate and incestuous relationship with his brother’s wife.  In ancient Judea it would have been considered a death sentence to rebuke those leaders of the church, yet John was fearless and bold, disregarding any and all consequences because he knew his entire purpose was to fulfill the will of God at any and all costs.  To understand exactly what John was up against when he challenged these religious leaders of old, we need to examine briefly their beliefs to fully appreciate on what grounds he stood regarding his rebuke. 

The Pharisees were a small, yet influential group that was extremely legalistic in their views of obeying the Mosaic Law.  In addition to obeying the written law as handed down from generation to generation, they instead added oral traditions to their beliefs.  These extra-biblical beliefs were the source of their legalism that caused them to hold fast to every “minutiae of the law.”  During His ministry, Jesus boldly pointed out that, “3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.” Mark 7:3 which is what Jesus was alluding to also in Matthew 23:25,” 25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.”  As we pointed out in the previous lesson, their humanistic traditions were precisely what John was calling into question when he pointed out in Luke 3:9, “9And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”  Simply put, their religion rested in the belief that it was passed down through a physical heritage. 

Like the Pharisees, the Sadducees held equally significant role in the Bible.  Unlike their blue-collar religious brethren, the Sadducees were elitists, interested primarily in financial gain, power, and prestige.   Though they held elite priestly status in the temple, they denied all supernatural qualities of God.  So as we can see, John basically has the representatives from the Jewish leaders of that day at his disposal and he takes full advantage of the opportunity to present the bold truth.  If we think forward to Christ’s trial and subsequent crucifixion, it came at the hand of the Pharisees and Sadducees, so to speak out against them would have not only been deemed heretical, but life threatening.  Still John persevered.    

As if reprimanding the religious leaders wasn’t enough, John took it a step further by pointing out the evil that King Herod had committed.  This Herod was Antipas, son to the equally evil Herod the Great, who reigned at the time Jesus was born.  To gain perspective on how wicked these men were, we need to look no further than Matthew 2:16 when Herod the Great responded in anger to the wise men’s disobedience of his command to find the young Jesus and bring Him back.  Herod’s anger and insecurity of his kingdom resulted in the brutal slaying of all newborns around Bethlehem.  Yet his wickedness didn’t stop there as his insecurity and distrust led him to ultimately kill his family, the leaders of the region, and even the Sanhedrin.  So here we have Herod the Great’s son who has now stolen his brother Philip’s wife, Herodius, because of her evil desire to be the queen.  So to say that this family of Herodians was morally corrupt would be an understatement.  Any challenge of their kingdom or authority was perhaps more of a death sentence than that of the afore mentioned religious leaders, because the king held ultimately monarchal rule. Nevertheless, John never hesitated and never faltered to point toward the truth and reprimand the evil actions of Herod as we read in Matthew 14:4, “4 Because John had said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.'”  He knew his exhortation of Herod could be costly, yet to ignore the blatant sins of anyone, would be considered a sin in its own right.  However, this challenge would be costly to the ministry that was decreasing as that of Christ’s was increasing.

Ultimate Sacrifice: Freedom and Life

Herod enjoyed listening to John, he liked him, but he had to make a statement for his public embarrassment of being called out on his sin.  Despite this, Herod imprisoned John.  Matthew 14:3 recounts this episode, “3 For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.”  Because of his ruthless, unforgiving and relentless attitude this embarrassment should have ultimately cost John his life.

But Herod feared him because of his great following and the declaration of the people of John being a prophet of God as we read in Matthew 14:5, “And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.”  So here is John, imprisoned and at this point, it would be easy for our sinful nature to question imprisonment, especially given all the grace that God has bestowed upon John to this point.  But this too was part of God’s ultimate plan, because now that John was in prison, the world stage was all Jesus’.  John’s entire purpose, for preparing the way, was now complete. 

Herod kept John in prison for nearly a year until a birthday celebration for the king required more entertainment than the normal feast.  In an effort to seduce Herod, his new wife, Herodias, requested of her daughter to dance for the king.  This would likely be the equivalent of a “stag” or bachelor party filled with strong drink, debauchery, and seductive dancing.  Keep in mind that this young girl was also a distant relative of Herod’s, but his lust filled heart could care less.  Essentially caught up in the moment, “7 Therefore he [Herod] promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.” Matthew 14:7 Equally embarrassed of the public rebuke by John the Baptist, Herodias persuaded her daughter to ask for the head of John on a platter. (Matthew 14:8) Likely because of the fear of public ridicule for backing out of a solemn oath, Herod, despite regretting his vow, followed through and had John beheaded and his head brought on a platter to the girl, who subsequently took it to her mother, completing the morbid request.  

John’s death was the result of a scheming evil plot by Herod’s wife that took advantage of the lust filled king.  While Stephen (Acts 7:59) may have been the first martyr of the early Christian church, it’s clear to see that John was the first martyr for the Gospel from the time Christ’s ministry began.  Upon his death, the disciples gathered up the lifeless body of the bold and obedient “Voice of the wilderness”, buried him, and told Jesus all that had transpired.  This in fact was the key for the full launch of Jesus’ ministry.  Upon hearing this news, 13 He (Jesus) departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.” Matthew 14:13


Through his ministry, John the Baptist sacrificed his entire life, even unto death.  In serving the Lord, he knew that speaking boldly may cost him certain liberties and he was aware of the dangers placed on his life by speaking out against the legalistic religious leaders and the corrupt and wicked king.  In disregarding all consequences including his freedoms and his life, John persevered with endurance until the very end.


As we pointed out, God requires those that serve Him to “lay down their lives, pick up their cross and follow Him.”  Despite our own insecurities, the fear of rejection, ridicule, or even persecution, we must persevere for the Gospel.  Would that we had the boldness to speak the truth like John the Baptist, to confront not only the sins of those within our circle of influence, but to have the unquestionable courage to confront all sin, regardless of who’s at fault.  Our lives should mirror John the Baptist’s and we must be willing to give up everything, even unto death, to serve the Lord.

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"