Unmasking False Teachers – Part 1

Mask

One of the common conversations taking place in back seat of my car is a discussion between my children asking, “What does that road sign mean?” One of the very interesting signs you see on the road is warning signs. Warning signs on the road are important because they help regulate our driving activity, but they also inform us of a potential danger so that we can be protected.

 

As you take time to read the Scriptures you will come across many warnings signs. One of a regular warning signs that appear and you cannot miss is a warning concerning false teaching. Have you ever noticed how much of the Scripture is devoted to warning again false prophets, false teachers and false shepherds? These warnings assume the fact that there will be individuals in the church who are going to claim to be Christians and authorized teachers.

 

Just as we ought to be thankful for clear warning signs on the road, we ought to be especially grateful and familiar with the warning signs in Scripture. They are there to help regulate our thinking and warn us against impending danger. In my next two posts I will discuss the methods of a false teacher and the marks of a false teacher. Continue reading Unmasking False Teachers – Part 1

Guarding Against Departure of Doctrine

Myths and genealogies

We need to remember that a church’s doctrine is not to be limited to their current situation. We are to recognize that we stand in line with centuries of historical truth. Every church potentially is less than a generation away from compromise, so it is essential that we know how to guard against departure of doctrine.

After his opening greeting in his first letter to Timothy (), Paul provides Timothy with a serious charge, which reveals the occasion for the writing of this letter (). He begins by saying; Continue reading Guarding Against Departure of Doctrine

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy, my true child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Why is Doctrine Important?

Doctrine is important2

The word doctrine will create various responses from people. Some think controversy, legalism, or truth and for some they are just indifferent to the word!

What is doctrine? When it comes to defining doctrine I am talking about Christian doctrine, which is a body of belief or teaching that is drawn from Scripture. We can put this body of belief into categories like, the doctrine of Scripture, the doctrine of God, the doctrine of man, the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of the church and the doctrine of last things.

Knowing then that doctrine is a body of belief drawn from Scripture, why is it important? In this post I want to give three reasons, the source of doctrine, the supervision of doctrine, and the security of doctrine.

The Source of Doctrine
God – the Creator and Sovereign of the universe – is not silent. He has spoken and therefore what He has said is of utmost importance. His words are to be treasured because they alone are food for our soul and light for our path. God continues to speak to us today by means of the Holy Scriptures. It is by means of reading and studying them (with the Holy Spirit’s help) that we can know and learn about God. Every genuine believer of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to desire to learn about Him and in turn obey Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (). These commandments He spoke of are contained within the Scriptures, therefore we must read and know the Scriptures in-order to obey what he has commanded. Now the Scriptures unlike any other document proceed from God and are inspired (). Because the Scriptures are inspired they are “profitable for teaching” (). The word for “teaching” can also be translated “doctrine” (KJV). It is from the Scriptures where biblical doctrine is drawn. Doctrine is important because it is a summary of what God has spoken. Since God has spoken, whatever He has said is of great importance and must be affirmed by the people of God.

The Supervision of Doctrine
Doctrine matters because it provides us God’s supervision and direction for the church. If you are invited to a particular venue, and the instructions you were given were incorrect, it is almost certain that you will arrive at the wrong destination. Even though you were convinced you were going the right way, the truth is, you weren’t. The wrong instructions led you to the wrong destination. It is the same when it comes to Christian belief and living. We know that we are to live lives of godliness, but how do we know what is godly? How do we live in such a way that according to the will of God? How do we adhere to biblical truth? How does a church practice godliness? The answer is, by holding to and living in accordance to what God requires. If we disbelieve or misinterpret what He has said in His Word, our actions will be contrary to what He desires. Our life will be one of sinfulness, even though we may be convinced that we are obeying God, the truth is we are not. Our wrong belief will lead to wrong behaviour.

It is essential that if we are going to adhere to God’s truth and live in accordance to it (as individual believers and as churches as whole), we need to first of all understand His instructions. Because the Scriptures contain what God has spoken, they are authoritative. All that we do as Christians must come as a result of obedience to what God requires of us. If we are convinced that the Scriptures are from God, and that they contain His truth, then they must be our foundation. The apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (). These are called “sound words” because they are without corruption. What are these “words“? This is a reference to the very words of God. Paul knew the importance of God’s words when it came to Christian living, and he commands Timothy to allow them to be a pillar that will hold him up when it comes to ministry.

If biblical doctrine is at our foundation, it will direct us down the path of righteousness. The Psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (). God’s Word lights up the path and guides the believer in a direction that is glorifying to God providing Divine supervision.

The Security of Doctrine
Finally, doctrine is important because it provides the believer with security. That is to say it protects us from error. There are many false doctrines in the world today, but this is nothing new. The Scriptures provide various names for false doctrines, “worthless doctrine” (), “every wind of doctrine” (), “doctrines of men” (), “different doctrine” (), “doctrines of demons” (), “strange doctrines” (), “doctrine of Balaam” () and “doctrine of the Nicolaitans” (). These names give us the understanding of the source and nature of false doctrine. False doctrine does not come from God and therefore is not helpful but only harmful.

How does sound biblical doctrine protect us from error? It will prevent us from affirming a belief that it unbiblical which in turn will lead to a practice that is unbiblical. Put simply, it will protect us from bad belief and behaviour. Departure from sound doctrine occurs when someone basis their belief and behaviour on something that is not biblical. Perhaps people and churches will form their belief on tradition, experience or simply on ignorance. Such practice is devastating because the actions they perform are driven by something that is unbiblical. This is one of the reasons why many churches will have bizarre and unbiblical ministries and practices – they have departed from sound doctrine. Liberalism is the fruit of departing from sound doctrine. Biblical doctrine is critical because it provides the believer with security and informs their behaviour and practice.

In contrast to those who embraced false teaching, Paul reminded Timothy “You, however, have followed my teaching (or “doctrine“)” (). Because of the emphasis of this “teaching” coming from Paul, it is best to view this as apostolic teaching. In other words, this refers to the divine truth of Scripture that Paul taught and wrote. If Timothy imitates Paul’s doctrine, this will lead to godliness, and in turn combat error. In addition following doctrine, Paul instructed Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (). While the false teachers advance in their error (cf. ), Timothy is to continue in the things he had learned. In other words, don’t move from the truth! Doctrine, drawn from the Scriptures is your weapon against error and it will protect you.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

They are both stupid and foolish;
the instruction of idols is but wood!

14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,

1 Timothy 6:3

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,

4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.