This meme, a quote attributed to Steven Furtick, pastor of famed ‘Elevation Church’, was making the rounds last week. Perhaps you came across it on social media.
In an effort to remain objective and to try my best to be fair and balanced, I thought for a while about how a believer might perceive this meme if they saw it, read it, and quickly moved on. I wonder but what most people would assume the general point that the meme is making, is that people evaluate others based on superficial criteria and selfish motives, but God looks past the outward appearance/social station. I can see why the meme would appeal to people, and maybe not raise a warning flag with just a cursory glance, as we all have been unfairly treated by others who judge us on things that do not matter, while we look to God as the standard of fairness. It seems to run along the lines of 1 Samuel 16:7 “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
However, as the idiom goes: the devil’s in the details. Meaning, the error is usually found in the small details or fine points. As C.H. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers famously said, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” As someone who loves the Word, and loves God’s Truth, I long for other believers to learn to be discerning. In so doing, we guard against being deceived, and we honor God by elevating His truth. Most people are familiar with the warnings in the New Testament about false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and false gospels. What they do not seem to realize is that typically, false teachers and false theology are subtle. Like Spurgeon said, it’s not obvious; not black and white. It is detecting the right from the almost right.
Here is the discernment lesson part of our essay today: What does the Bible say about how God chooses us?
- He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5)
- who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, (2 Timothy 1:9)
- just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
- You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. (John 15:16)
Mr. Furtick says that God choses us for our potential, but the Bible says that God choses us according to his own purpose, will, grace, and for His own glory. See the problem? Mr Furtick’s assertion appeals to the flesh. It pleases us to believe that it is all about us, that God sees potential and that is why He felt compelled to choose us. My friend Elizabeth rightly says that “the pagan man always seeks to elevate man and diminish God.”
Claims like Mr. Furtick’s are not biblical and are designed to keep one’s eyes on themselves. He is not pointing people to God and His glory, but getting people to point right back at themselves. This is grievous. Saints, be careful that you are not seeking to have your ears tickled, as Mr. Furtick has done here. True biblical teaching will always direct your attention to Christ and Him crucified. If you have been listening to Mr. Furtick, run. The problems with him and his ‘ministry’ are myriad. I will link to several resources down below for your further research and study.
As believers, our mantra should be:
by faith alone, by scripture alone, through Christ alone, by grace alone, and glory to God alone!
Soli Deo Gloria!
The Culture of Meme Theology an essay by myself
#memeheresies on Facebook, how to spot them and how to refute them essay by Elizabeth Prata
List of Essays about the problems with Steven Furtick by Chris Rosebrough pastor of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church
List of Essays examining Steven Furtick by Berean Research