This blog is about three things….
(1) A Major Problem in the Church of Jesus Christ…False teachings, ignorantly embraced as sound doctrine, divide Christians and sabotage unity which we are commanded to guard:
Many personal friends and family members of mine are born-again believers and brothers and sisters in Christ. We seek to serve the Lord in a wide variety of fellowships and denominations. And yet we are divided one from the other over false teachings! Born again believers are never divided over sound scriptural doctrines such as the facts of the virgin birth of Immanuel, that the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are God, that the Lord Jesus died and rose again from the dead, that salvation is by grace through faith etc.
Rather we are divided by doctrines which are not sound scriptural doctrines but which are embraced as if they really were! Each of us embraces doctrines which other believers reject as false doctrines. Such conflicting evaluations of “sound” and “false” doctrines exist on subjects such as church leadership, church membership, spiritual gifts, baptism in water, baptism in the Spirit, salvation, the timing of the coming of the Lord, how one is justified, who goes to heaven and when, the identity of the “God of this world”, tithing, sabbath observance, who can or cannot take part in communion and many more.
Our conflicting views on these subjects have been inherited from the traditions to which we have been exposed and the teachers we have come to trust. For example: those whose main influence of Biblical instruction has been from a Presbyterian perspective will distinguish between “sound” doctrine and “false” doctrine by a different standard than others whose main influence has been from a Baptist, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Brethren or Episcopal background. (And each one of these will have a different standard from any of the rest!) This is the reason why each of these “camps” has major doctrinal differences with each of the other “camps”.
All of us claim that what the Bible says is our only authority, but we have been guilty of denying our claim in that we all have adopted some other standard (our own hermeneutics or rules of interpretation) which we apply to the Bible to determine what is “sound” or “false” doctrine! All of us have been trained to recognize the false teachings of other groups of Christians but none of us have been trained to recognize those which we ourselves have embraced!
But when we all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, what standard is He going to use to evaluate how faithfully we taught or how grossly we distorted His truth? Will He use different standards in that day when judging Reformers, Pentecostals, Baptists or Brethren? I hardly think so! Do you?
If we are going to be judged by His standard then, would we not be wise to evaluate our own doctrines, teachings and beliefs by His standard right now, during this life? I, for one, think this would be the wisest course of action.
Has the Lord left us in the dark or failed to reveal in His Word how to clearly, accurately and unmistakeably distinguish between a sound doctrine and a false one? Personally, I don’t believe He has left us in a state of confusion on such an important matter! Do you?
If God has actually revealed to us an objective standard by which to clearly distinguish sound doctrine from false doctrine and if I will be accountable to Him for the doctrines which I have embraced and taught to others… whose doctrines should I immediately and earnestly evaluate by such an objective standard? (My own or those of other believers?)
It seems pretty obvious to me that my first priority ought to be to rigorously test my
own doctrines and reject the fables I have embraced BEFORE I attempt to address false doctrines embraced by others.
(2) The Confessions of a recovering false teacher (me!)
Since I became aware, some years ago, of God’s objective standard for distinguishing between sound doctrine and false doctrine– I have had to reject many doctrines which I had formerly embraced, practiced and taught to others. In fact, I have had to repent of so many doctrines and practices which I formerly held that some have accused me of being “unstable”!
I would rather acknowledge I was wrong a dozen times and get corrected a dozen times than to give the impression that I was “stable” by continuing to embrace 12 doctrines which I knew in my heart were fables!
This blog will deal with the scriptural marks of sound doctrine and the numerous teachings of mine which I have had to reject when I recognized they were contrary to the Bible.
(3) The Possibility that there may be at least one other culprit…
Dear brother or sister in Christ, I have three questions for you
1. If you had believed and embraced any teaching about the Bible which, unknown to you, was a false teaching…. would you want to be made aware of it?
2. If you could not list the marks which distinguish between all false teachings and all sound scriptural doctrines, would you want to learn what they were?
3. If you realized that a teaching you had embraced about the Bible actually was false, would you be willing to reject that teaching even though it might cost you the loss of friends, position or even your livelihood?
These questions are ones which I have had to answer before God on a number of occasions. Answering the above has required me to count the cost and at times has cost me dearly in loss of friends, position and livelihood. But I’ve been encouraged by the godly counsel of Prov. 23:23, “Buy the truth and sell it not,” and also by observing that obedience to God in the lives of His people is always costly on the front end but the blessings of obedience multiply in the long term. (Consider this in the lives of the Lord Jesus, Abraham, Daniel, Paul etc.)
When I was younger and my convictions were challenged, I would be inwardly angry with those who challenged me. But eventually I realized that such feelings of anger were a warning to me that I could not scripturally defend “my position”! Slowly such resentment has been replaced with deep appreciation for friends who are willing to risk offending me, care enough for me to challenge my thinking and give me better scriptural reasons to change my thinking than those I can cite for retaining my current beliefs!
Although the resulting changes always bring radical adjustments in my beliefs, behaviour and relationships I thank the Lord for the rich blessings which always follow obedience and submission to His Word. I am certain that there are more such changes that I will need to make as I allow what God’s word says to continually transform my own thinking and behaviour.
Please return to the top of this page to see the variety of fables which I address on this blog. As you read, I would encourage you to pray with Saul in Acts 9:6, “Lord, what will you have me to do?”
Your brother and servant for Jesus’ sake,