One of the most insidious problems Christian churches have today is that church members are being spiritually influenced and taught theology by teachers who are not under the oversight of their local church leaders. That can include people who teach on TV and Online, teachers and professors at Christian schools, colleges, universities and seminaries, and people who write books that Christians purchase. It also includes the people who write worship music sung in churches, conferences and concerts across the country and around the world.

The example we’ve used in this series is how a worship pastor and song writer can impact millions of Christians who don’t attend his church. “Reckless Love” is a 2017 Bethel Music production written by Cory Asbury, Caleb Culver and Ran Jackson. Asbury is the primary writer and is a worship pastor of a church in Michigan. He is also a member of the Bethel Music Collective. Asbury’s theological training includes several years with the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, MO and New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO.

If you haven’t read previous parts of the series, we invite you to click below to read –

[Podcast of this article is available at the end of the post.]

Asbury’s song “Reckless Love” has won numerous awards (e.g. Billboard Music, GMA Dove, Grammy) and is touted as one of the great examples of modern worship music. Is it?

As we have pointed out in this series, the song has problematic theology. So does Asbury’s comments during interviews about ‘Reckless Love.’ Here’s a quick review of his theology –

“Reckless love is really the song of my whole life. That phrase kinda dropped in my heart about maybe five years ago. I just started experiencing the kindness of the Father, the goodness of the Father in a way I’d never experienced before; and so that phrase ‘the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God was kind of lodged in here [points to heart]. I didn’t know what to do with it. One night I woke up, it was probably three in the morning, and I had the full melody for that chorus. I grabbed my iPhone and I ran in the closet and I closed the door and sang it into my iPhone and the next day I just sat down at the piano and kinda pounded out the chorus …”

Cory Asbury,  Bethel Music, January 2018

“A lot of people have asked why I used the word ‘reckless’ to describe God. I see the love of God as something wild, insane, crazy; the way He pursues, the way He chases us down, the way that He loves, I believe is reckless. So, we were going after that really furious, sort of violent language to speak of the nature of the love of God.”

Cory Asbury,  Bethel Music, January 2018

“In explaining the meaning behind the song, Cory shares, ‘When I use the phrase, ‘the reckless love of God,’ I’m not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. His love bankrupted heaven for you.”

As we’ve written before, God’s love is not ‘reckless,’ the love of God is not ‘something wild, insane, crazy,’ God’s love is not ‘furious’ and ‘violent.’ God’s love did not ‘bankrupt’ Heaven for you and me.  Wrong on all accounts.

These are not minor points that Christians should overlook. They are truth claims that are false. In other words, they are ‘false teaching.’ Asbury is a worship pastor at a local church, so what should be done about this?

At the end of the last part of this series, we wrote this –

“In the next part of our series, Is God’s Love ‘Reckless’?, we will look at how to reprove and correct church leaders (e.g. teaching and worship pastors, songwriters, college and seminary leaders and professors) for the purpose of purifying the message of the Church.”

Church leaders often don’t do anything about false teaching in their local church. If they do address the person teaching false doctrine, church leaders often don’t do enough or they overreact and respond from the flesh instead of from Scripture. But what can local church leaders do about false teaching coming to their members from outside their church? How can church leadership address the avalanche of terrible teaching that is overwhelming their members like a tsunami of bad theology?

That is an important question, so let’s look to the foundation of our theology to see what we can do. First, we’ll look at how local church leaders can address the problem inside their church, then we’ll look at what they can do to address the problem coming from outside their church. Our hope and prayer is that church leaders will discuss these ideas and build a plan on how best to address the problems they’re facing.

False Teaching: Inside and Out

“For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.”

Acts 20:27-30

Notice that the Apostle Paul warned that these ‘savage wolves’ would come from both the inside (‘from among yourselves’) and outside (‘savage wolves will come in among. you’) of the local church at Ephesus. That’s true today as well.

Paul also warned several churches in a region of the ancient world about false teaching that could destroy their faith. This happened because people from the outside came into the local churches in the region of Galatia and taught ‘false doctrine’ concerning salvation. Notice what Paul told church members to do.

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed … Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”

Galatians 1:6-9; 5:1-6
  • “Stand fast” in the liberty which Christian had made them free.
  • “Do not be entangled again” with a yoke of bondage.

Paul gave church leaders and members specific direction about how to deal with false teachers who came into their churches from the outside. Those directions were not ‘think about it, pray about it, put together a committee to discuss it.” Paul’s directions were blunt – ” Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

Imagine receiving an apostolic letter to your church and the apostle demonstrates his disappointment in your turning away from the truth of the Gospel and demands that you do something about it! Well, we don’t have to imagine that. Paul’s letter to the Galatians is for us as well. As he wrote to young Timothy –

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

I love those two verses because they encapsulate the power and purpose of God’s Word so well. God the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of all Scripture. That’s the power. All Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness so that Christians will be complete (mature) and thoroughly equip for every good work. That’s the purpose.

What Paul wrote to the Galatians and Ephesians and all of the other churches he addressed is profitable (useful, beneficial) to each of us –

  • for doctrine (instruction, teaching, the truth we believe)
  • for reproof (persuasion, conviction)
  • for correction (being set straight, straightened out, reformation)
  • for instruction (training, discipline) in righteousness (justice, judicial approval)

That’s how we should look at every Book of the Bible, every chapter, every verse. God inspired the writing of the Bible to guide us through life. If we’re going to teach the Bible, we need to get it right. False teaching is NOT getting it right.

Here’s how other apostles viewed the problem of false teaching in local churches –

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”

2 Peter 2:1-3

“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

1 John 2:18-19

“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jude 3-4

Here’s how Jesus Christ addressed the problem in local churches –

‘But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”

Revelation 2:14-16

“Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”

Revelation 2:20-23

“I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”

Revelation 3:2-3

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”

Revelation 3:15-19

The Cure

The cure to the problem is clear. We must stand strong in the TRUTH of God’s Word and not allow anyone, whether from inside or outside, of our churches to teach false doctrine. That includes worship songs, Bible study curriculum, denominational programs and literature – anything that is not true.

The cure to the problem is clear, but it is not easy. It’s not easy to stand up to church leaders or a congregation of family and friends and call out false teaching for what it is – false, not true. Many church leaders have lost their positions because they stood up for truth. Many church members lost friends and even their membership in the church because they stood up for truth.

There’s little we can do with a song writer who is not a member of our local church, but we can ask that any of their songs that include false teaching not be sung in our church. The same is true about authors and professors. We can talk about what books and schools could have a detrimental effect on our church. If we’re in leadership positions in a local church, we can object to books, videos, music, curriculum, special speakers, and songs we believe could be harmful. If we’re not leaders, we can share our concerns with leaders and support them in making difficult decisions that may face them for standing up for truth.

If your church is part of a denomination that supports any false teaching, you can share your concerns as a member or leader. Many denominations are promoting false teaching and need to be called out by pastors and members in those denominations. If we don’t say anything, nothing will change. If we do say something and nothing changes, we can decide whether to stay in that church and denomination or move to one that holds to a Biblical view of truth.

As I’ve written before, worship pastors are just as responsible for handling the Word of God correctly as the ‘teaching pastors’ in churches (e.g. 2 Timothy 2:15). Why? Because they have a teaching platform in their churches. Their audience will believe what they say and sing to be true and theologically correct unless the teaching pastors and church elders set them straight in front of that same audience.

Here’s another important aspect of this problem. Worship pastors lead the congregation in singing aloud the words of the song TO GOD!!! Think about that for a moment. A preaching or teaching pastor doesn’t usually have the congregation repeat their words out loud. The congregation ‘listens’ to the preaching/teaching pastor. Not so with the worship pastor. The congregation ‘sings’ the words of the song. A worship pastor is actually complicit in leading people to ‘speak’ to God through songs. If the song contains ‘false teaching’ in the words, then the worship pastor has led the congregation to ‘speak falsely’ to God and each other. Whoa!

That leads to the next point. Why rebuke in public? “… that the rest also may fear.”

“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

2 Timothy 2:24-26

If a Christian preacher, teacher, song writer, author, professor, church leader receives reproof and correction well and changes their teaching to match the truth of the Gospel, then we can have some surety they are truly Christian. However, if they do not receive reproof and correction well, then we can have some surety they are either not thoroughly equipped for their ministry or are not truly Christian. Either way, their mouths should be stopped (Titus 1:11).

‘False teaching’ does not necessarily mean the person is a ‘false teacher.’ Teachers are human and can make mistakes in their understanding and interpretation of Scripture. However, if their error is pointed out to them and they continue to teach ‘false doctrine,’ then we have this direction from the apostles –

“For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”

Titus 1:7-9

“But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.”

Titus 3:9-10

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”

2 John 7-11

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”

2 Peter 2:1-3

Peter’s point, in context, is that judgment is coming for false teachers. If God’s judgment is coming for false teachers, what do you think will happen to those who follow them?

Jesus and His apostles explained how churches can and should deal with leaders who will not accept reproof and correction.

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

Matthew 18:15-17

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

2 Timothy 4:1-5

Your Part

Our hope and prayer is that what we’ve shared in this series will guide you to making an informed decision about what to do about false teaching in your church. False teaching is often deceptive and challenging to point out to others in your church. They may not see it the way you do. That’s why we need to good students of the Word, ready to teach others the truth. Many of the people we see Sundays in church “will not endure sound doctrine.” Many of them will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to fables. We need to be ready to help them. We will need to be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, use our spiritual gifts, and fulfill the ministry God has given us.

In the words of our Lord and Savior – “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (Matthew 24:4)


We invite you to watch this video from a Texas pastor explaining why the church he pastors no longer uses Bethel and Hillsong music during worship.

‘Reckless Love’ eBook

We invite you to download and share our ‘Reckless Love’ eBook. You might share it on your social media and/or with your pastor, worship pastor and other leaders in your church. We pray this will impact the Body of Christ in a positive way for the future.

How To Build A Human From Scratch GraceLife Blog

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  2. GraceLife Thoughts – God Values You
  3. Living Christian In ‘This Present World’ (Part 8)
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  5. GraceLife Thoughts – The Christian’s Position and Mission

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.