Questions to Ask Before Following the Leader

Today, there are plenty of self-proclaimed apostles, prophets, bishops, pastors and teachers. Before you listen to or follow someone, pray and ask the following questions.

  1. Is this person connected to the larger community of believers, or are they doing things on their own?
  2. Does their teaching agree with historic Christian doctrine (ie. Nicene faith) or are they teaching novel doctrine and/or innovating theologically?
  3. What is their theology? Do they teach the Bible or their own ideas, tips on various aspects of daily life, psychological insights, politics?
  4. Do they confess that Jesus Christ is who the New Testament clearly teaches he is?
    1. The unique Son of the one and only God (1 Timothy 2:5)
    2. Lord, meaning God, one with the Father (John 8:58, 10:30, Romans 10:13).
    3. God come in the flesh (Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 3:2-3, John 1:14). 
  • “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already” (1 John 3:2-3).
  1. Do they confess Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

5) Jesus is God’s chosen one, the Christ, the Messiah

  • “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22).
  1. Do they teach that they represent the “true church” and state or insinuate that other denominations or churches are going to hell?
  2. “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 it might become plain that they are not of us” (1 John 2:19)
  1. Do they have peers who recognize them as a leader?
  2. Is the title they use appropriate? Did it originate from themselves or was it earned from or applied by a recognized group or entity?
    1. “Bishop” for example is a term traditionally used in denominations with episcopal forms of church government. It refers to one who has authority over other ministers, usually over numerous individual churches.
    2. “Apostle” is not a term that any established denomination has used until recently in some Pentecostal churches.
    3. Those who apply exalted terms to themselves to garner respect should listen to the words of Jesus, “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12, ESV).
  3. Do they cooperate with and/or contribute to other ministries?
  4. Do they seek to steal members from other churches? Do they incite rebellion and division in other churches as a ploy to gain some of their members?
  5. Do they discount and disrespect other ministers? 
  6. Are they accountable to a denomination or a recognized Christian organization beyond themselves and what they have established?
  7. Were they active in a Gospel teaching, Bible believing church prior to stepping out as a leader. If so, did that church recognize their calling?
  8. What is the fruit of their ministry? Do people who listen to them really follow Jesus? 
  9. Is their ministry focused on Jesus Christ? Or do they focus on themselves, or on you the consumer?
  10. What kind of character do you observe in their followers/listeners? Is it Christ-like? 
  11. Do they charge for ministry? Books, CD/DVD, admission to events?
  12. Do they expect or require followers to donate certain amounts or percentages in order to be considered worthy or acceptable?
  13. Are they financially accountable?
  14. Do they have a governing board or are they accountable to a group of people?
  15. Are they moral and honorable? What about their staff?
  16. Are they servants to people or do they treat followers like their servants?
  17. Is their teaching filled with references to themselves?
  18. Do they live a lavish lifestyle, flaunting wealth, rather than exemplifying sacrifice?
  19. Are they personable, friendly and approachable, or distant and superior?
  20. Are they honest and transparent, or unwilling to reveal details of their personal life?
  21. Are they willing to admit to weaknesses?
  22. Do they seem angry?
  23. Are they ambitious and competitive?
  24. Do they boast about themselves and/or their ministry?
  25. Do they exemplify faithfulness and commitment to their church or ministry, or are they often absent due conferences, speaking engagements, vacations, or personal concerns?
  26. Do they give as much or more than they expect others to give (this includes time as well as money)?
  27. Are they above reproach sexually? 
  • Do you hear them speak in a cavalier way about sexual matters? 
  • Do they laugh at sexually explicit humor? 
  • Do they watch movies or TV programs with sexually explicit scenes? 
  • Do they look at pornography, or read pornographic literature?
  • (viii) Do they show affection without giving any hint of sexual desire or impropriety?
  • If they are married, do they appear to be affectionate with their spouse?
  • Do they treat children appropriately?
  • Are they often alone with anyone other than their spouse?
  1. Do they fulfill the Bible’s requirements for the office they hold?
    1. 1 Timothy 3:1-15
    2. Titus 1:5-9
    3. Ephesians 4:12-16

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