Who to believe in this day of deception?

(Robert) #1

Hello Everyone.
I have been raised ina Christian home (Church of God) and tried several times through my young life to be a christian. I recently was almost killed in a accident working at home. This was my “come to Jesus” moment for sure. I have been delivered from a foul mouth, and from a 30 year smoking habit. It was like a switch was turned off inside me when I gave my life to Christ. So, with that said, I am having a very hard time knowing what and who to believe.
See, I’m not able to comprehend KJV bible very well. Nor can I sit and read it for long. I am a visual and hand on learner. I have been told and am considered to be highly intelligent, just not when it comes to the bible.
My first question is: What other versions are OK for me to read? I do use the Blue Letter Bible, which allows me to have 2 different versions open at same time and side by side.
Second question: With my method of learning, I watch a lot of YouTube pastors and such. But once in awhile ALL of them have preached something that made me take a step back. Even John Hagee. So with the bible warning us to beware of false doctrines and prophets and teachers etc, I am overly paranoid. To the point where I can’t find a Church to attend, and I SO miss the fellowship.
Ironically, I live in Powder Springs, no too far from Ravi. But I do not like impersonal large Churches. I want one with like 50-100 people tops lol. Not that large ones are bad, I just like small churches.

Anyway, I have watched dozens of Ravi’s videos and so far he is only one that never made me hesitate in his teaching. So I pray I can trust what ever advice any of you can offer me to help me in my journey with Christ. I pray many times a day and always ask for guidance and knowledge. He’s being difficult at the moment LOL.

God bless and thank you in advance for any advice.

(David Cieszynski) #2

Tim Keller & Pastor Robert Morris are preachers to listen to on YouTube, I live in the UK so can’t recommend any churches.

(SeanO) #3

@Robert_D May the Lord Jesus grant you wisdom as you seek to walk with Him. For Bible versions, I would recommend HCSB, NIV or ESV (a more detailed thread is below explaining why we have different versions). For teaching pastors, I would recommend the following for starters:

Tim Keller
Don Carson
Chip Ingram
Francis Chan
Alistair Begg
John Stott (now with the Lord, but All Souls Church still broadcast sermons)
Andy Stanley

The Bible Project is a great resource for understanding your Bible better (link below). I would avoid John Hagee personally.

In terms of finding a Church, may the Lord grant you wisdom. I have put some notes you may find useful at the bottom. Feel free to ask further questions. Christ be with you.

Tim Keller Free Sermons

All Souls / John Stott Sermons

Finding a Church Home

Determining My Stage of Life / What Type of Church Appropriate

What are my gifts (teaching, leading worship, administration, etc)? How do I want to plug in?

Who am I responsible for (spouse, children, friends who join you, etc) and what are their spiritual/safety needs? How do they want to plug in?

Qualities I Look For in a Church

1 - Clear, Biblical teaching - sermon outlines are helpful in my opinion and show the teacher actually prepared well (or at least tried)

2 - Healthy community (no recent splits, apparent bigotry, irresponsible use of finances) - I find that Churches where the pastor has stayed around for ten plus years seem to have this more often

3 - A Place to Serve

4 - Accountability (Leader are not appointed without background checks, etc)

5 - Clearly stated beliefs - no clear statement of faith sends up red flags for me

6 - Good google reviews - def should not be the determining factor, but if half of the people who have reviewed it are upset, this may be a sign of broken community or manipulative behavior on the part of the leaders

Making the Decision

I tend to attend a Church for months before joining and put the needs of my family above my own (or at least I try) since I believe God calls me to lay down my life for them. I think it takes time in a community and daily prayer to discern if a community is the right place to invest and be invested in - especially if you are responsible spiritually for spouse / little ones.

I would rather go without a home Church for 3-6 months while discerning God’s leading than jump in somewhere that is unhealthy spiritually or socially only to be hurt or forced to leave. That could still happen, but it seems to happen far less when I take the time to discern.

(Ethan Thomas) #5

Sean, I’m very curious about your views on John Hagee. I ask because I grew up among close family that were heavily influenced by his teachings. I haven’t followed his work in many many years so I don’t ask in order to mount a defensive, but rather to understand and learn. Thank you!

(Desiree Lanzino) #6

Hello, @Robert_D!
I would just like to add onto the “qualities I look for in a church” provided by @SeanO - you should be able to find Bibles in the pews! Any Bible-based church will have Bibles readily available for parishioners to use in case they did not bring their own. Praying God guides you to the right church community. Blessings

(SeanO) #7

@eot1990 I am cautious of John Hagee chiefly because of his erroneous and misleading four blood moons prediction (see two articles below). I believe that this type of prediction shows mental instability and I would not be able to trust a teacher who had erred in this particular way not to err in other ways. I am not making any accusations against his character, but simply stating that this false interpretation is troubling. He may be a perfectly decent fellow, but I would not sit under his teaching or recommend anyone else do so.

Sam Storms on Four Blood Moons

(David Cieszynski) #8

Interested to know why you didn’t list NRSV at college we have to use the NRSV in class.

(SeanO) #9

@David_Cieszynski I was listing only translations I know are good - not excluding others because I know they are bad. I have not taken the time to study every translation (as I do not have that time), but I am fairly certain based on my past experience that those three translations are trustworthy. It sounds like the NRSV is a pretty good translation. Some people have concerns because it uses gender inclusive language and they are concerned that may have resulted in interpretive decisions that may not be accurate. But this is why when we do deep study we use multiple translations to compare them.

So, simply as a Bible to read, it sounds like it is fine. Below are a few articles - Piper, being a strong complementarian, does not like it so much. But he does say that in general it is a good translation.

What are your thoughts on it? I have not used it much.


(David Cieszynski) #10

Hi Sean, sorry for the delay in response. I only started using NRSV as we have to use it on our course. With it being gender inclusive language it explains why as parts of the church want to be inclusive.

By my bedside I have the HCSB apologetics version, which I find easier to take in.