By Francis Frangipane
Over the years we have received many encouraging emails and letters from people who appreciate our call and passion for Christlikeness. We are both thankful and humbled by those who have taken the time to write. On occasion, however, we hear from Christians who have been troubled by criticisms they've read about us (and others) on "attack websites." These sites often exude an air of legitimacy since they focus upon false religions, new age teachers and openly heretical doctrines. Yet, many of these sites also aggressively misrepresent and attack true Christians as well.
Who are their targets? The fact is, if you open an Internet search engine (such as Yahoo, Ask or Google), type in the name of a well-known Christian leader, and then add the words "false teacher" next to his or her name, as fast as you say, "Oh no!" you will likely find a number of sites that openly, and often viciously, attack that leader. Frankly, having had my life and teaching repeatedly misrepresented by these attack sites, I would not trust their opinion about any ministry.
As for us, when we hear from a disquieted believer, we usually direct them to our "Statement of Faith" page. Our beliefs square with the Association of Evangelical's statement of faith. (Since the Lausanne Covenant clearly communicates our doctrines, we actually use it to define our spiritual positions: Statement of Faith). We also adhere to the truths stated in the Apostles' Creed.
This is not to say we've never made a mistake or that all our peripheral doctrines are infallible; each of us in this ministry is still growing and learning. Yet when an attack site fails to list even one good thing about a ministry, you cannot help but believe their goal is not to discern, but to destroy.
Biblical Test of Faith
Yes, there are false teachers in the modern church. But let us remember that throughout history, true Christians have always been accused of heresy. Jesus Himself warned, "Beware when all men speak well of you" (see Luke 6:26). He also taught us to examine the fruit of a prophet. In other words, what kind of life does a ministry inspire in those who ascribe to its teaching?
Yet, beyond our statement of faith, the Bible itself provides a number of fundamental tests to authenticate the soundness of one's doctrines (see the book of 1 John, especially the verses that contain the phrase "by this"). Another important test comes from the apostle Paul. He writes,
"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Paul takes all of Christianity and boils it down to one irreplaceable reality: "Jesus Christ is in you." You might be wrong about the timing of the rapture or off concerning spiritual gifts, but you still are a true Christian because you have accepted the living reality of Christ in you!
Do you see this? You are a Christian, not because you said a prayer at an altar, but because when you prayed the Spirit of Jesus Christ actually entered your life! When He promises, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," He means He is with you forever. The devil knows you are a Christian not because you carry a Bible, but because he actually sees Christ's presence burning within you.
It is Christ dwelling in us that produces fruit, works deliverance and manifests power through us. Our living union with Him makes us His temple; our connectedness to Him enlivens us as His body. In the swirl of religious deception in our world, Jesus reduces all we truly need to know about truth and error by focusing us upon Himself. He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). "Truth," Paul tells us, "is in Jesus" (see Ephesians 4). And when Jesus is in us, He transforms us.
Listen carefully my friends: many of these attack sites do not believe that Christ actually dwells within His people! Of those who accept Christ as dwelling within them, an additional number do not believe we can actually hear from the Lord Jesus! They will accuse you of heresy if you believe you can have a relationship with Jesus Christ! This is in spite of the fact that Jesus affirmed: "My sheep hear My voice" (John 10:27).
Consider also Paul's quest. His magnificent obsession was to know Christ, being conformed to His life and death (Philippians 3:10). Consider also the profound words Paul wrote to the Galatians:
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Paul wrote, "Christ lives in me." The Son of God is not a mere doctrine, He is Emmanuel, "God with us." Eternal life comes from knowing God, and Jesus Christ whom God has sent (John 17:3).
So, when a number of these attack websites posture themselves as "keepers of the true faith," then reject the reality that Jesus Christ lives within His church, they reveal that it is they, in fact, who are walking in deception.
So, in an era of great confusion, we must see truth as a person: Jesus Christ. Everything we need to know about God, heaven, hell, salvation, sin and redemption is centered in Him. We must also apply our hearts in humility and focused faith to become like Him, even as John taught: "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:6).
Eternal life does not come from having a religion about Christ, but from actually knowing Him (see John 17:3). He has purchased our forgiveness, our healing and our well-being. As our Redeemer, He works all things for our good. As our King, He grants us His authority and sends us as His ambassadors. He calls us His body, not just His people, underscoring His oneness with us, and also extending to us His sanctification and righteousness. We are His bride, wooed by His love to His side.
If anyone tries to convince you that Christ does not dwell within His people, remind them of His word: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him" (John 14:23).
Beloved, truth springs from our oneness with Jesus Christ. The vision of those walking in truth is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 2:27). Warn those who deny the indwelling of Jesus Christ that the test of true faith is the reality that "Jesus Christ is in you" (2 Corinthians 13:5). Yes, remind them truth is a person, not merely a doctrine.