Editors note: this series of articles also appear in both the Sentinel Echo newspaper, Friday edition, weekly, London, KY and the Saturday edition of the Corbin Times-Tribune. They are a part of the teaching/evangelism efforts of the Mill Street church of Christ, 415 N. Mill St., London, KY.
Is your preacher a false teacher? Part 15
“ …that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine…which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” - 1 Timothy 1:3, 6-7
The Bible “character profiles” a false teacher
A false teacher teaches “another doctrine” (1 Tim.1:3-4). The apostle Paul told Timothy to “...charge some that they teach no other doctrine”. He also told Timothy to charge them not to: “...give heed to fables and endless genealogies...”. He said that the result of giving heed to fables will “minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith…”.
What does this phrase mean? It means to preach something other than what Jesus taught the apostles. Doing so will cause disputes rather than godly edification; it will promote controversies. The apostle Paul warned Titus: "there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers...they must be silenced…teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” (Titus 1:10-11).
One thing is clear from these passages; there are certain things being preached that OUGHT NOT be preached. These are perversions to what the apostles taught in our New Testament! What was Titus to do with such false teachers? "…rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith..." (v. 13). Remember Paul told Timothy to “...charge some that they teach no other doctrine”. Please consider what Paul meant here: “Teach NO OTHER DOCTRINE”… other than WHAT? Can you not see that it meant to teach nothing other than what Jesus had commanded the apostles to preach! This is the ONLY way that all churches will be united in the doctrine of Christ! (2 John 1:9-11)
This is what must be done in order to unite people (currently divided) in THE faith (Jude 3). I must preach the same thing that the apostles preached. This is how I can be held accountable and proven to be in error. Compare what I preach to what the Lord and His apostles preached. It is also how I can defend my preaching and show that my preaching/teaching today is identical to Jesus. In Acts 2:42 we read of early disciples, “they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine…”. What was the doctrine of the apostles? It was what Jesus commanded them to teach. Jesus had said in His prayer to His Father, “I have given unto them (the apostles) the words which thou gavest me” (John 17:8).
But, as Paul told the elders in the church of Christ at Ephesus in Acts 20:29-30 “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
False teachers would come. The apostle Paul warned of those who preach to “draw away disciples after them”. That is why there are denominational churches! Multiple denominations differing in their doctrines is not the same as multiple congregations of the SAME church teaching the SAME doctrine! Christ promised to build ONE church. Christ taught the apostles ONE way to respond to His offer of salvation. They preached this to sinners consistently throughout the book of Acts and NEVER were told to pray the sinner’s prayer or to come and kneel down at an altar! Were they told to “call upon the name of the LORD?” Yes, indeed, but not by praying a prayer! Prayer is a privilege for one who has been born again (John 3:3, 5). Prayer does not make you a child of God. Solomon acknowledged of the Ten Commandment law that “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer [shall be] abomination.”
The blind man that Jesus healed acknowledged also that “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” (John 9:31).
Because of false teachers, we find Paul stating in Gal. 1:6-9, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto 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.” The end result of preaching a gospel that is after ‘man’ is that it produces man-made churches. This is exactly the situation we have today. Human denominations exist because of preachers preaching a perversion of the ONE TRUE GOSPEL.
Notice what the apostle Paul wrote in Gal. 1:11-12 of his preaching. He stated, “…the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In 1 Cor. 14:37, he stated, “the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” In 1 Cor. 4:17 he stated – “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” If the same things were taught in every church today, there would be only ONE church; a true church “OF CHRIST”.
The picture of the religion of Jesus Christ that many people are confronted with is one of confusion and division. There are so many religious denominations wearing different names, teaching different and contradicting doctrines, having different forms of worship, and presenting different plans by which one might be saved. Yet they all claim to recognize the same God and Father, and profess to follow the same Bible. Such a system is confusing. If the same message was being preached in all of the churches in this county, then why do they not call themselves by identical names? All of the congregations in the New Testament were simply churches of Christ (Romans 16:16). They were of the SAME FAITH. There were no denominations as we see today. How do I know that? Because the same thing was preached in the first century! It wasn’t until men began to pervert the apostles’ message that human churches began to arise.
God planned and purposed ONE Kingdom, ONE Flock, ONE Way, ONE House, ONE Temple, or ONE Church. Jesus built ONE church. All Christians in the 1st century were members of that ONE church, and that ONE church still exists today. Are you a member of that ONE Kingdom? Study to make your calling and election sure. (2 Pet. 1:10)