When we take it up to do a bible study; if we are going to safeguard ourselves from dangerous doctrines, and motives by the one who is teaching. We need to have keen discernment.
Guidelines we should always take into consideration:
1. Who is getting the pre-eminence in this teaching? Is Jesus Christ being elevated, His deity, His virgin birth, His authority, and the authority of His word; or is it leaning toward man’s philosophies and opinions?
Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
2. Is there a soundness in it that can be backed up with scripture; without violating it? Sincere believer’s can disagree on bible doctrine; and still be sound in their faith. But there should be agreement on the basics of the faith we stand in.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Tit 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
3. When correction, and exhortation is given in the teaching, does it always point to the redemptive and restoration of the Cross? Does it cause us to examine ourselves to see if there is sin in our lives to point us back to Christ, and his forgiveness; or does it simply leave us battered and condemned, because of being attacked and beaten?
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Eph 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Eph 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Eph 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Eph 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Eph 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
Eph 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Eph 4:22 that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Eph 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
2Ti 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
2Ti 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
2Ti 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
4. Is the Word of God truly the final authority for the teacher who has presented this teaching? When I’m teaching in any capacity, I always make it clear to all that they should check my statements out with scripture, if it isn’t in the bible; trust the bible, not me.
As a bible teacher, my task is to point people to Jesus Christ, who He is, His finished work on the Cross, and His authority.
(A careful study of psalm 119, would be very helpful)
Psa 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving-kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
Joh 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
5. Metaphor’s, and types and shadows are all thru the bible, this gives us much space to go in many directions in our teachings to get to a point. Jesus used stories, and metaphor’s in much of his teaching; he is the Teacher of all teacher’s.
However, the bible has sound truth’s that cannot be manipulated or “tweeked”, to suit us. Many times it is not the interpretation that is the problem; it is whether we will decide to believe the clear and direct teaching we are reading. Faith is a choice, and a decision which comes from the core of the heart; no one can force it on another. Is sound doctrine being adhered to; regardless of how difficult it may be to teach?
2Ti 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
2Ti 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
6. Is there any kind of spiritual abuse within this teaching? Doing a study on spiritual abuse, and what it is and how to detect it is very helpful.
Jesus Christ did not blindly submit to the religious authorities of his day - the Pharisees and Sadducees. He publicly rebuked them for deception, abusiveness, manipulation, love of money etc.
Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Mat 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Mat 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Mat 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Mat 7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
Mat 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
Mat 7:27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Mat 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
Mat 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
Mat 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Mat 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
Mat 23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
Mat 23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
Mat 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Mat 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Mat 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
Mat 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Mat 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
7. Is the teacher living what he/she is teaching? Is there integrity in the life of the one handling God’s word? This involves unrepentant sin, not someone who has failed, and taken the sin to God, asked for forgiveness and been restored.
Preachers and teachers are people; we fall, we make mistakes. But, if God has called us, he doesn’t revoke the call on our lives because we aren’t perfect. He chastens us, corrects us; and sends us back out to keep working in the harvest fields.
1Co 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Co 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1Co 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Finally, when considering leadership, here are some further observations, you may find helpful.
IS IT BIBLICAL TO SUBMIT BLINDLY TO CHURCH AUTHORITY?
Is it biblical to submit blindly to every instruction of every church authority? No. Not at all! The Bible teaches explicitly that we should test leaders, and not just follow those who assert themselves. The apostle Paul warns the Corinthians against false apostles and rebukes them for tolerating them. They get absolutely no credit for their suffering at the hands of the abusive and deceitful leaders.
2nd Cor 11:13 "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve..... 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!" On the contrary, Jesus commends the Ephesians for testing those who claimed to be apostles, but were found false.
Rev 2:2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.
The Apostle Paul relied not on himself, but on the word of God in every circumstance, throughout his ministry:
1. Never claimed such absolute authority. When accused of wrong, he defended himself based on rational argument based on scripture - not just by pulling rank and demanding unquestioning obedience.
2. Never used church money to enrich himself to live a lifestyle far above his congregation. Rather he supported himself by tent making and encouraged money to be given to the poor. 2Co 2:17 "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God."
3. Publicly rebuked the Apostle Peter. When Peter behaved hypocritically, he confronted Peter to his face, using the gospel to deal with the issue, rather than blindly submitting to him.
Gal 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Gal 2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
Gal 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
We are living in perilous times, we need to keep watch over our hearts and minds, till He comes. To do this, we will have to make the word of God paramount in our lives, and make up our minds to stand on it as the final authority, and learn to use it appropriately in every situation in order to stand against the wiles of the devil. Paul gives us this solemn admonition, that we need to heed in the day we are living in now:
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
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No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me,
saith the LORD.
is born of God overcometh the world: and this is
the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth
that Jesus is the
Son of God?
But they that wait
upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The Whole Armor
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all,
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
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