Beware of Beside the Still Waters Daily Devotional
Updated: Mar 8
The daily devotional publication Beside the Still Waters, released in two month increments and including a short devotion, corresponding daily Bible readings, a one year Bible reading plan, and a maxim for each day, is produced by Still Waters Ministries. The publication is under the direction of Cedar Springs Amish-Mennonite of Kentucky.
1. They embrace a false gospel of losing salvation.
Their doctrinal statement of faith, found in each newsletter, states that’s it’s possible for a person “to experience the new birth and later fall and be lost. (2 Peter 2:20-22).”
This is certainly not true and is in fact a false and perverted gospel that doesn’t save, falling under the condemnation of Gal. 1:6-9. Salvation and eternal security thereof can never be separated. It’s impossible, not only because of the massive amounts of of Scripture passages, in the hundreds, that speak to this and not only because of salvation being in the perfect tense, but also because of what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is. Salvation and eternal security thereof, are inseparably attached in the gospel. John the Apostle, who wrote extensively of the eternal security of salvation, declares in 1 Jn. 5:9-10 that those who deny and reject eternal security of salvation (1 Jn. 5:11-13) make God a liar, reject the record that He gave of His Son and have not the indwelling Holy Spirit. As for 2 Pet. 2:20-22, this passage is speaking of lost false teachers, who were never saved to begin with (the context makes that very plainly clear, which is the entire chapter). Verse 22 on its own even says this, that the false teacher never ceased being a dog and pig.
In one devotion there was a Letter from the Editor, about things that don’t change, such as:
“God never changes in character or counsel” and “God’s plan of salvation never changes.”
This was written ironically the very page after the statement of faith, where they write the above about losing salvation indicating that God’s plan of salvation can supposedly change: first He saves and regenerates a sinner (and hundreds of other things He does, such as justify, reconcile, sanctify, adopt, redeem, cleanse of all sin, inherit, give eternal and everlasting life, etc) but then later He allegedly casts out the saint (God obviously must repent for having saved that individual, because the only time we se God ever changing His mind in scripture is when He repents). No, such “salvation” is never to be found in the pages of Holy Writ and is nigh blasphemous for very many reasons (including making God out to be a liar). Their version of salvation does indeed both change God’s plan of salvation and His character and counsel.
The “gospel” of losing salvation is “another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:6-9)
2. They embrace and teach false baptism.
Their doctrinal statement of faith declares they believe “in believers baptism (Mark 16:16).”
This would be all good except for two things. (a) Knowing that they believe that pouring is “baptism” when that is absolutely not “baptism” according to Scripture, see here for further explanation: A Treatise on Believer’s Water Baptism. So what they mean by “believers baptism” is not exactly “believers baptism” according to Scripture. (b) The other concern I have is their use of Mk. 16:16 when there is much better passages of Scripture defending true believers baptism, such as Ac. 8, but since they don’t believe that immersion is the only method actually Biblical, they would likely not use that as a reference since the Ethiopian eunuch is being immersed. False teachers are always selective in their use of scripture, and they certainly don’t rightly divide the word of truth. The biggest concern with the use of Mk. 16:16 is that its typically used by those who believe in baptismal regeneration. I’m not saying that they do this for certain, but I know it is very commonly held to among the Mennonites, so I am alarmed to this red flag which required further clarification.
3. They add to scripture, in mandating head coverings for woman.
Their doctrinal statement of faith states:
“woman are to wear a head covering (I Corinthians 11:5).”
I have no issue with woman wearing head coverings, and as a Mennonite that has been my heritage, but it’s not a requirement in Scripture as 1 Cor. 11:15 makes clear, so to make it a rule for all woman is outside of Biblical authority and practise. They are taking v. 5 out of context. The entire context reads from vv. 3-16 and all the passages must be interpreted as a whole, not v. 5 privately, which falls under the condemnation of 2 Pet. 1:20. The woman’s hair, as long as it’s long enough, which is down the middle of the back according to the meaning of the Greek “komao,” is given her for a covering. That is what v. 15 says: “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” That “covering” is the same “covering” mentioned in vv. 4-7 and is translated from “peribolaion” which is a neuter noun (applicable to either male or female) and means “something thrown around one, i.e. a mantle, veil:--covering, vesture.” Verse 15 says that “her hair is given her for a covering.” As long as her hair is long, nothing less than hair down the middle of the back, then she has a covering. The clothing covering is not necessarily.
4. They embrace unscriptural pacifism.
Their doctrinal statement of faith states they believe:
“in nonresistance in all phases of life (Matthew 5:43-46).”
This is partially true, but not in all phases of life, only when it comes to certain things (e.g. government — but even there it’s only true as long as government, employers, etc, do not ask of you anything that goes against God’s Word), but it’s not true “in all phases of life” for we are to test all teachings and resist that which is false (Rom. 16:17; Gal. 2:4-5; Eph. 5:11; etc).
The Bible does not actually teach pacifism as a blanket, which is what is really being meant here. They believe that military and going to war is wrong, but that is without Biblical support. The bigger and more consequential issue, and always detrimental effect, is not obeying the huge amounts of scripture that demand contending for the faith and fighting for the faith as a good Christian soldier, and debating and striving for and over the truth, defending the truth, all of which is not only encouraged but commanded and exemplified by the apostles and Christ Himself (e.g. Rom. 16:17; Ju. 1:3; I Tim. 2:1-5; Ac. 15:1-2; Gal. 2:4-5, 11-14; Ti. 3:10-11; etc). There is a purpose for the military analogies in scripture. This egregious teaching is stemmed by the fear of man and produces further fear of man, all of which is unscriptural (Pr. 29:25). It also result in putting pastors on a pedestal above the Word of God and maligning of this who do obey these critical matters. Scripture produces valiant men of God who are told to “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13).
5. They promote false Bibles.
I have noted they also use modern English “Bibles” when there is only one true and faithful Bible in the English language, that of the King James Version. That’s for both text and translation methodology reasons. The rest fall under the condemnation of Rev. 22:18-19. See here for example concerning the ESV: Exposing the English Standard Version (ESV) and here concerning the NKJV: How we Know the New King James Version (NKJV) is Not an Updated KJV and a Good Translation
For those reasons listed above, I stopped reading the devotionals many years ago and shortly after my conversion, but there were also other reasons directly from the daily devotions, such as frequent misinterpretation and misuse of Scripture (e.g. salvation passages used as practical sanctification, etc) and teachings did not line up with Scripture. God’s Word commands us to “prove all things and hold fast that which is good.” (1 Th. 5:21). I do not doubt the sincerity of the Beachy Amish men but they are sincerely wrong on these critical matters, especially that of salvation/gospel and baptism. We are commanded to hold to sound doctrine (Ti. 1:9; 2:1) but unfortunately these men are not enduring sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3-4; Ti 2:1) but some “other doctrine” in contradiction to 1 Tim 1:3. I would encourage readers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Ju. 1:3) and to "hold fast that which is good," which means Biblical.
John the Apostle warned: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:” (2 Jn. 1:9-10).