Beautiful rain, although I am a bit concerned about the vanishing daylight lately. Summer is drawing to a close, once again. Lately, too, I have been finding myself confronted with views and opinions on scripture that I find troubling. This has been on several fronts from several people that surprised me. I had assumed we had the same view of scripture, but we don’t.
John MacArthur had a blog post today that addressed that very topic. (https://www.gty.org/library/blog) Imagine that! God sends messages for people through other people! In it, he described some of his experiences with this very same problem. See what he had to say:
I had always assumed that the defense of Scripture would be a lifelong battle (and it has been). What I did not anticipate, or even notice at first, was that the most damaging attacks on gospel principles tend to come in relentless waves and not mainly from secular skeptics and contentious unbelievers, but almost routinely from within the church – and from all sides.
I have found this to be true in my own experience. I’m not talking about what I consider apostate churches. This applies to bible-believing churches, the ones who base their beliefs on the inerrancy of the bible – sola scriptura (by scripture alone). It is not uncommon to hear people say things contrary to the bible in small groups, sometimes even in large. There are times when even a pastor will say something that will leave me scratching my head. Just to clarify, I have been to lots of bible-believing churches and listen to lots of radio preachers. This is something that happens across the country.
What are we to do about this? Certainly, our churches have great numbers of people new to the bible. Many are new believers while others come from liturgical churches. In all honesty, they have simply not been exposed to the depths and riches of the bible. They simply have not had the opportunity to trust the bible. So, their error is innocent. What shall we do about that, if anything? Let’s be honest, the easiest path is to do nothing. Why would we want to do that? My guess is a couple reasons, three, maybe more. One would be that we don’t know the correct answer. We may know that something is incorrect; but if we don’t know the correct answer, it is easy to keep quiet. Another reason is that we don’t want to come across as a know-it-all. On the other hand, we may be too shy. Or, we may simply desire to avoid potential conflict with others.
John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth; and the truth will set you free.”
We really have no excuse if we fail to teach truth to those new to the faith. Besides, the rewards are beyond measure when you see the lightbulbs turn on when someone begins to understand the depth and richness of the bible. That is something you don’t want to miss! These are the things money can’t buy!
On the other hand, we have others who are in a position of explicit or implicit authority. I would fall into that category. I am not a pastor. I did not go to seminary or bible college. Still, I have knowledge and put myself out as such to people. That’s implicit authority. People rely on what I say. This puts me in a whole new category.
James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
This should make me very careful – not to avoid a true calling but to make sure I am performing as called. What are we to do with this? As we discovered Friday, Paul confronted Peter directly, before the others, to correct him. This was no small matter and one Paul simply would not avoid. Thank God almighty that he gave us Paul, a man of great courage in Jesus Christ!
What about this? Shall we confront error on part of our teachers? Most certainly. Thankfully, scripture gives us a perfect structure for dealing with such problems.
Matthew 18:15-20 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Notice the increasing degree of pressure required. Make no mistake, this isn’t optional. This is a command. This applies to incorrect teaching as it does for a brother who stiffs you for $50 as it does for a cheating spouse. Unfortunately, we seldom (if ever) heed Jesus’ specific instruction.
False teaching is serious business and must be nipped in the bud.
Galatians 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
2 John 10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
There are gobs and gobs of other verses warning and instructing us regarding false teachers. How do we know if a teacher is false or simply in error? Everyone is human and susceptible to error. Error can be corrected. That’s why Jesus gave us the progressive method of dealing with sin. You can tell by the reaction of the one in error. Are you met with denial and confrontation? Is the person willing to listen and explore the possibility of being wrong? Are his/her arguments legitimate? After all, you (me) could be the one in error. The best bet for these things is to do as the Bereans:
Acts 17:10-11 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scripture daily to see if these things were so.
There you have it. That’s my read on how we deal with error. I’m open for comment.
Father, please give us courage to address problems. Don’t let us be complacent and allow breaches in the wall to begin. Satan is prowling like a lion ready to devour our small groups and churches. Let us be awake and alert and ready to stand firm. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers