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Misuse of Scripture is common among ruined churches
2Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Many ruined churches will have their leaders simply misuse Scripture. This is detected by taking any common sermon or teaching and looking at the verses that they use, and then reading completely the context (20 verses before and after the passage) and see if their explanation and use of that passage is logically fitting into what the Bible is teaching in that passage.
The term of “proof-texting” is often used here, and by this, the preacher simply spouts off verses or worse verse references, and those don’t defend what he is saying that they do. The practice of this is very highly bound in with a strong authoritarian style of leadership, and usually these verses come and go in a sermon very quickly, i.e. if you actually open your Bible to the passage they use, read the context, the sermon is now 20 or so passages further along and you are left in the dust. There is no inherent benefit in having 200 verses in a sermon. About all that a normal preacher can explain in 40 minutes is about 2-3 minutes per passage, so that works out to a maximum of 13 passages, and most preachers would be doing well to both read and explain 13 passages in that time and to do all the rest of a regular sermon structure (3 points, an introduction, a conclusion, at least one illustration and an application).
Another mark that the preacher likes to proof-text is that he doesn’t like people asking him about any of his verses afterward, and moreover, his sermons tend to run in about 5 to 10 common themes, and he never seems to be able to break out of those topics. Some preachers are so bad that a list of common themes is only 3-4.
Another aspect of a bad church is that they tend to lean towards the emotional and experimental (what you “feel”) rather than logic based on scriptural exposition. There should be some feelings in Christianity, and God talks about “tasting” the promises of God to see that they are good, but although true Christianity has these emotional and experimental elements, they are never total dominating. In other words, God speaks to our mind and reason, “try, analyze, and evaluate. Then come back to me, and see that my promises are good and true.” True Christianity never crushes the mental facilities; it uses them to build security. A “feelings” and emotional-experimental dominated Christianity is always insecure. There is no security that your emotions and feelings are biblical, is right. If you get very sick, you may get depressed and “not feel saved.” But true Christianity will always subject that “feeling” to the reality that you have believed in Jesus Christ as your Savior, and therefore you are not doubting your salvation. The promises of God always have to go to the foundation of reason first before the emotions and feelings can enter in without corrupting our soul.