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Christian Living

Embracing the Five-Fold Ministry

Discover the Essentials for Effective Ministry

When we follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit fills us and gives us spiritual gifts. These are special abilities to help grow God’s Kingdom. The Bible talks about many of them, and here is a list of the key spiritual gifts.

Paul names five of these gifts in his letter to the Ephesians, which some people call the five-fold ministry. The roles of the five-fold ministry—as empowered by spiritual gifts—are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

The purpose of these positions are to equip people to build up the body of Christ (that is, Jesus’s church) to become united in faith, better know Jesus, and reach spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Here are the roles in the five-fold ministry:

Apostles

Apostles are the spiritual visionaries who lead the way to advance the Kingdom of God. But they are more than leaders. They are supernaturally empowered to see opportunities others miss. They move forward under Holy Spirit power to grow Jesus’s church.

Jesus exemplifies apostleship, as well as all parts of the five-fold ministry. The Bible also identifies his disciples as apostles. And Paul proclaims himself as one also.

Prophets

Though prophets are ministers, not all ministers are prophets. A prophet does more than proclaim the word of God to others. A prophet has a deep connection with God, discerns his heart and spiritual truth, and proclaims it to others.

Prophets are empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak supernatural insight (1 Corinthians 14:29-30 and 2 Peter 1:20-21).

We also must be aware of false prophets and watch out for them (1 John 4:1)

The Old Testament is full of prophets, but their role did not cease or change when Jesus came to earth. Prophets still exist today, and Paul makes it clear we need prophets for effective ministry. Jesus exemplifies a prophet.

Evangelists

An evangelist tells others about Jesus. Though we all can—and should—do this, evangelists are equipped to do so more effectively. They have winsome personalities, and they’re able to connect with people and bring about meaningful—and life-saving—spiritual conversations.

The Bible mentions two evangelists by name: Phillip (Acts 21:8) and Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5). Though not called an evangelist, John the Baptist functioned in this role and Jesus modeled it, just as he does with all the other roles in the five-fold ministry.

Pastors

Next, we have pastors, also called shepherds, as in shepherds of a flock. We should not assume this role of pastor is the same as minister. A pastor—a shepherd—cares for those in their congregation, as in their flock, which are those under their care.

Both Timothy and Titus function in the role of pastor, as appointed by Paul. They serve as shepherds for the flocks assigned to them.

Jesus exemplifies being a shepherd, both now and for eternity (Revelation 7:17). He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16). Even better, Jesus is the great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20) and Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).

Teachers

The final function in our list of roles in the five-fold ministry is teacher. The teacher effectively communicates the truth about Jesus and knowledge of God to others.

They do this clearly and avoid confusion to help people better know God, move forward on their faith journey, and challenge them toward a more God-honoring lifestyle.

The New Testament contains many teachers, with Jesus being the best of them all. Some ministers are teachers but not all are. Just as we should look out for false prophets, we must guard against false teachers (2 Peter 2:1).

As we grow in our faith and increase our knowledge of what it means to follow Jesus, we should all move into the role of teacher (Hebrews 5:12), while knowing that it carries a higher accountability (James 3:1). Yet some receive teaching as a spiritual gift, a supernatural anointing.

Application

While all who follow Jesus have spiritual gifts, not all are gifted for the five-fold ministry. The key is to use whatever spiritual gifts God gives us to grow his Kingdom.

When it comes to ministry, it occurs most effectively when each role in the five-fold ministry is present. This is not to imply ministry can’t occur without all five positions, only that it best happens when all five positions are filled.

Though one person can accomplish all functions in the five-fold ministry, just as Jesus modeled, few people possess all five. Usually, people in ministry excel in one or two areas of the five-fold ministry.

For example, my area of giftedness in the five-fold ministry is teaching. God has called me to teach others through my writing. He has gifted me to do so, and I work on developing this skill. Doing so fills me with joy and gives me life. It energizes me.

I also enjoy the role of shepherd, but I need to exercise caution because it will drain me if I don’t take care of myself.

Though there have been brief times when I have functioned as an apostle and prophet, I don’t do those with as much confidence or realize as much impact. The fifth area in the five-fold ministry is evangelist. This is not a role I excel at and struggle with.

The Next Step

Learn the roles of the five-fold ministry and be strategic to maximize impact.

If you are in ministry, which of the five-fold roles do you fill? In what areas do you struggle with or fall short? Who can you invite to work with you to produce better results?

If you are not in formal ministry, how can you come alongside your ministry leaders and staff to support them in one of these five-fold ministry functions?

And if your giftedness is not in one of these five areas, how can you offer the spiritual gift that you do have to further God’s Kingdom?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

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Bible Insights

Avoiding the Risk of Complacency

The Bible Addresses Complacency

Complacency. The word complacent means to be “pleased or satisfied” or especially, to be “extremely self-satisfied.”

This seems to describe many people that I know. They are complacent, perhaps not materially, but certainly spiritually. They are content to sit back, with no concern for their non-material well-being and little remorse for a lifestyle that is less than optimum.

These people have a spiritual complacency. They believe they’ll go to heaven when they die, and that’s good enough for them.

God doesn’t like spiritually complacent people.

Zephaniah Speaks against Complacency

Through the prophet Zephaniah, God says he will search out the complacent people and punish them. They are even complacent about his response to their complacency, for God specifically says that they assume he will do nothing to them, neither good nor bad.

They are truly complacent and God is ticked off.

Complacent People in Laodicea

Another group of people who suffer from a complacent attitude is the church in the city of Laodicea. They are neither hot or cold. To them, God simply says he will spit them out (Revelation 3:14-16).

What an apt image of disgust—and for one who wants to be close to God, what a frightening picture of separation and aloneness.

I hope that God never finds me complacent—the consequences are too great.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Zephaniah 1-3 and today’s post is on Zephaniah 1:12.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Read more in Peter’s devotional Bible study, A New Heaven and a New Earth: 40 Practical Insights from John’s Book of Revelation.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Our Present and Future Hope

God Will Answer When We Pray

After Zechariah’s discouraging implication that God is weary of his people and will no longer be their Shepherd, Zechariah has some good news. He concludes his prophetic writings with an optimistic prophecy of a better tomorrow, a future hope.

This is a hope that the people of his day can anticipate. But it’s also a hope we can claim today.

What is this grand, future expectation?

For the people of Zechariah’s day, when they pray to God, he will again answer. They can count on him to be there for them. He will again call them his people, and they will again call him their Lord. They will turn to each other. Reunited.

This union with God reminds us of how Adam and Eve walked in the garden of Eden with their Creator. In the cool of the evening, they hung out and enjoyed one another’s company. They lived in community with God in his creation, spending time with one another.

We can also anticipate community with our Creator today. Though we don’t physically walk with him in a garden each evening, when we call out to him, he answers. He is our Lord, and we are his people.

Our Future Hope

But Zechariah has more. This message for the people’s future is for our future too (Zechariah 14:9). We await it in eager expectation . . . but for what?

Centuries after Zechariah, the disciple John has a compelling vision of the future, a look into our future. In his forward-looking revelation, John writes of a time when all nations and all kings will come together in the holy temple of the Lord and the Lamb (Revelation 21:22–26).

What a day that will be, a day we hope for and long to see. We can look forward to this time with great anticipation, the day when God will reign as King over the whole earth.

He will become the Lord of everyone. His name will stand as the only name for people to call on for their rescue, for their salvation.

This will restore our community with God, just as he intended from the beginning.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Zechariah 12-14, and today’s post is on Zechariah 13:9.]


Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Jeremiah Issues 3 Warnings to Misleading Ministers

Beware of Slacking Shepherds, Godless Pastors, and Misleading Ministers

The prophet Jeremiah doesn’t just warn the people about judgment for their sins, he also warns their religious leaders too. The twenty-third chapter of the book of Jeremiah details three leadership failures. Most troublesome is the third item about misleading ministers.

Everyone in leadership should heed Jeremiah’s cautionary words and seek God’s help to avoid repeating these errors.

1. Slacking Shepherds

Jeremiah proclaims woe to the shepherds (a metaphor for religious leaders) because they fail to take care of the sheep (a metaphor for God’s people). The prophet gives three examples to demonstrate the shepherds’ failure.

First, they have scattered the sheep. Second, they have driven the lambs away. Third, they have neglected to care for their flock.

God pledges to punish these failed shepherds. Then he will replace them with good ones (Jeremiah 23:11-12).

2. Godless Pastors

Next, Jeremiah condemns godless prophets and priests. Imagine that. These men should represent God to his people, but they don’t. Even in the temple (the church building), God finds them full of wickedness.

He promises to banish them to the darkness, where they will fall. He proclaims disaster for them (Jeremiah 23:11-12).

3. Misleading Ministers

Jeremiah continues rebuking prophets who proclaim lies. They fill the people with false hope. These religious leaders don’t have the mind of God. They don’t hear what the Lord says. Instead, they make up things to tell the people (Jeremiah 23:16-17).

In short, they fail to speak God’s truth.

God’s punishment for these misleading ministers is that he will forget them and cast them from his presence (Jeremiah 23:39).

Today’s Preachers

This issue of misleading ministers happens today at too many churches, albeit with a modern twist. Preachers speak what the people want to hear and not what the Bible says. They avoid proclaiming the parts of God’s Word that may upset their congregation.

They water down the good news of Jesus by removing what may offend. Instead of speaking biblical truth, they substitute it with nice sounding messages of their own making that delights listeners, avoids confrontation, and minimizes conflict.

God wasn’t pleased in Jeremiah’s day by the leaders who did this. And he is not pleased today.

Our preachers today must listen to God and teach what he and his Word says. We don’t need any more slacking shepherds, godless pastors, or misleading ministers.

We need leaders who will speak God’s truth regardless of what the world thinks or how their congregation reacts.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Jeremiah 23-25 and today’s post is on Jeremiah 23:16-17.]

We need leaders who will speak God’s truth regardless of what the world thinks or how their congregation responds.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

​Enter your info and receive the free Bible Reading Tip Sheet and be added to Peter’s email list.

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Peter DeHaan News

New Book: Return to Me

40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

If you’ve ever found the minor prophets confusing or irrelevant, then this devotional Bible study is for you.

The minor prophets may not seem like they have much to offer our modern world. But as you reflect on their themes of hope, faithfulness, and forgiveness, you’ll discover they point us to a message of turning from old ways and moving forward in faith and obedience.

Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

In Return to Me, you’ll study all of the minor prophets, including Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. You’ll uncover how God’s purpose reveals his plan over history and points us toward the One who gives us eternal hope: Jesus Christ.

In Return to Me, you’ll receive:

  • 40 days of devotionals covering all twelve prophets
  • Inspiring biblical lessons to wake up your faith
  • Hope and inspiration to discover how the prophets’ words apply to you today

Enjoy a flexible format that won’t overwhelm. Perfect for individuals or groups.

Return to Me is an ideal forty-day devotional Bible resource for women, men, and couples. Written by seasoned Bible teacher and author, Peter DeHaan, each day’s message is a short, yet thought-provoking reading perfect for your quiet time. It includes a challenging application question and additional Bible passages to enhance your study.

Immerse yourself in the discovery of key themes from the minor prophets, no matter where you are on your spiritual journey. God’s invitation to return to him is for you.

Get Return to Me today and be refreshed by its relevant themes of forgiveness, faith, and hope.

[Return to Me was originally published as Dear Theophilus Minor Prophets.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God’s Wall of Fire Will Protect

Zechariah’s Vision

One night the prophet Zechariah has a vision. It’s about a wall of fire. In this supernatural dream, he talks to an angel who is about to measure the city of Jerusalem to see just how big it has become. But before he leaves to do this, another angel arrives. He tells the first angel that it doesn’t matter. There are now so many people in Jerusalem that erecting walls around them to keep them safe isn’t an option. The city is too big, and building a wall isn’t feasible.

Protection

Living in an unwalled city would normally leave the residents vulnerable to attack and abuse from their enemies. But now there’s no need for concern. In this case, the Lord God will himself become the city’s wall. He will protect his people. He’ll do this by becoming a wall of fire around the city. And then his glory will shine from within.

What a powerful image.

There is now no need for a physical wall. In its place will be a spiritual barrier, an incredible wall of blazing fire. But God will not merely provide this fiery fume. Instead, he himself will be this supernatural wall of flames.

No enemy—physical or spiritual—can pass through God’s holy wall of fire. He will protect us. He will keep us secure. We’ll have nothing to fear—provided we stay inside. If we’re within the Lord’s city, his hedge of fire will surround us. God, through his blazing defensive shield, will envelop us with his protection.

Illumination

But there’s more to God’s fiery fortification.

Remember, God will become this wall of fire. Fire gives off light. God’s glory from his ring of fire will illuminate the city and fill it. His glory will surround all who live there.

Though Zechariah’s vision looks toward our future, we can be sure God will protect us today. Let us bask in the glory of his presence.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Zechariah 1-4 and today’s post is on Zechariah 2:5.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

When God Says Enough

Despite God’s Longstanding Patience Giving Us Time to Shape Up, Judgement Will Eventually Come

The book of Ezekiel is an interesting one, packed with evocative prophetic imagery that portrays God’s power, patience, and eventual judgement. As follows through much of the Old Testament the people disobey God.

He warns them to turn things around and is patient, hoping they will avoid the consequences of their wayward actions. He wishes for the best, and the people let him down.

But Ezekiel is confronted with a peculiar response to his messages of impending punishment. Like the boy who cried “wolf,” the people dismiss Ezekiel’s warnings (actually God’s warnings). They say, “Time passes on but these threats never happen.”

They stop taking Ezekiel (and God) seriously, which they never fully did to begin with. They feel quite justified in ignoring the word of God because they think there is no downside for disobedience.

There are Consequences

To this God says “enough.” He will withhold their punishment no longer and will fulfill all that he said. There will be no more delays.

I wonder how much we today are like these people of old, viewing God’s warnings as meaningless threats that will never happen.

Since our wrong behavior receives no immediate punishment, perhaps we’re not so bad after all. Maybe God doesn’t really mean it when he says our wrong actions are sin.

To this I hear God again saying “Enough.”

There are consequences for disobeying God, and I fear our time is up.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 9-12, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 12:21-28.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

See How Jesus Fulfills the Law and the Prophets

Jesus does three things to complete what the Old Testament started

Jesus draws people to him. The words he speaks and the hope he communicates attract them. Some people assume he had come to replace the Old Testament Law and the work of the prophets. Instead, Jesus fulfills it.

Jesus doesn’t come to do away with what the Old Testament teaches. Instead his mission is to bring the Old Testament into fruition, according to God’s plan from the beginning.

Jesus makes this clear. He says, “I have not come to abolish the Law and the prophets but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). How does Jesus do this?

Jesus Becomes the Ultimate Sacrifice

The Old Testament is packed with instructions for making sacrificial offerings, commands that showed the people’s relationship with God. These sacrifices had various meanings, but one key sacrifice occurred to redress sin.

An animal had to die because the people had sinned. Because the people continued to sin, animal sacrifices continued to be required. These sin sacrifices happened over and over, year after year, century after century.

Jesus, in his sacrificial death on the cross, becomes the ultimate sacrifice for sin to end all sin sacrifices. In his once-and-for-all sacrifice, he dies to make us right with God, to reconcile us into right relationship with the Almighty.

Jesus Turns Law into Love

Despite Jesus’s fresh way of looking at the understandings of his people, most of his followers struggle to fully comprehend what he means. They wrestle to reconcile his teachings with their traditions.

One such person asks Jesus to identify the greatest commandment in the Old Testament. Jesus’s answer is love. He says to “love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.”

This stands as the greatest commandment, but then he adds one more. He says to “love others as much as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:36-40). These two simple principles summarize all the Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets.

Jesus removes a set of impossible-to-please laws and replaces them with one principle: love.

Jesus Changes Our Perspectives

Jesus likes to review what the Hebrew Bible says, and then he expands on it. He often makes this transition by saying “but I tell you…” Then he gives his enlightened explanation about what God meant.

We’ll do well to carefully study what Jesus says immediately after his words “but I tell you…” Read about what he says in this post.

What’s important to understand when we consider that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament law and the writings of the prophets is that we must put the Old Testament in proper perspective.

This doesn’t mean to ignore the Old Testament because Jesus fulfills it, but it does mean we need to consider the Old Testament in the context to which it was given. In addition to teaching people how to live back then, the Law and the prophets also points them to the coming Savior, Jesus.

As we read the Old Testament we see allusions to Jesus and the freedom he represents. And if we read the Old Testament with care, we will also see that this future revelation about Jesus applies to all people, not just God’s chosen nation of Israel.

Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament Law and Prophets

Yes, Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets. And we are the benefactor of that.

Thank you Jesus.

Read more about this in Peter’s thought-provoking book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Discover more about celebrating Jesus and his passion to save us in Peter’s new book, The Passion of Jesus. It is part of the Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

How to Confront Someone: Lead with a Story

Nathan Takes a Wise Approach When Confronting David about His Sins

King David, a man after God’s own heart, is far from perfect. After the Bathsheba affair and the subsequent murder of her husband at the hand of scheming David, God wants to deal with David and restore him to right relationship. This story provides an example of how to confront someone.

The Prophet Nathan Confronts David

God sends his prophet Nathan to confront David. This is not an assignment I would want: to go tell the king, who as the power to summarily kill me, that he’s a filthy sinner.

Nathan could have marched up to David’s throne, pointed an accusatory finger, and yelled, “You’re a sinner, and you’re going to hell.” I don’t think this would have gone over well.

Instead Nathan takes an indirect approach. He tells David a story. If this tactic sounds familiar, Jesus does the same thing, teaching the people through parables, which give folks an identifiable tale with an underlying spiritual truth.

Nathan’s story begins with “There were two men…” One is rich and one is poor. One is greedy and one is righteous. The greedy one steels from the poor one and…

King David Responds

King David can’t contain himself. He pronounces judgement, void of mercy, on the wealthy, greedy man.

Then Nathan drives his point to the heart of David. “You are that man.”

David feels conviction. He simply says, “I have sinned.”

His road to restoration begins. But David’s repentance doesn’t absolve him of the consequences. He will still face punishment. Though God is merciful, he is also just. The two go together. 

Though the child of his adultery dies, David and Bathsheba later have another son. His name is Solomon and he succeeds David as king.

I wonder how events might have unfolded had Nathan not began his meeting with David by sharing a story.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 10-12, and today’s post is on 2 Samuel 12:1-8, 11-12.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Be Careful What You Say

Advice for Prophets and Us

The book of Deuteronomy has a curious passage about prophecy. It teaches if a prophet says something God didn’t instruct him or her to say, the prophet must be executed.

That should certainly cause prophets to be careful with their words, saying only what God commands and nothing else.

A few verses later, it says if a prophet declares something that doesn’t come true, to just disregard that person. There seems little distinction between these two situations, but with drastically different outcomes: killing versus ignoring.

I wonder if the distinction might be intent, where the first instance is willful and the second, accidental.

A third situation, which this passage doesn’t address, is the opposite of the first. Instead of saying what God doesn’t tell them, they don’t say what God tells them.

They are disobedient, but in this case their error isn’t public. Only they and God know about it, so there cannot be a response from the people. Yet I suspect that not saying what we should say is almost as bad as saying what we shouldn’t.

While not everyone is a prophet, most of us do talk about God—and we must take care in what we say as well as in what we don’t say. Much is at stake.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 16-18, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 18:20-22.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.