This morning the Wednesday study was in 1 John 4. During the discussion one of the men remarked that there was a lot of emphasis on false teaching and false believers, Antichrists. It is stated in 1 John 2:19 that these false teachers, these Antichrists were part of the community. His point was that this was only a short time after Christ’s earthly ministry and there were already challenges.
Persistence of Errors
Christ refers to this in the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:24 – 30. Peter after affirming the reliability of the Word of God and its inspiration by the Holy Spirit, immediately reminds his readers that there will be false and deceptive teachers of the Word in the Church.
This was less than 60 years after Christ.
We are now roughly 2000 years after Christ. It might be the case that if so close to Christ’s earthly ministry that there was already deception and false teaching in the Church, that it is probable the level of deception and false teaching may have increased in those intervening years.
What is causing this? What do we do about it? The Roman church for years kept those in their congregations separated from the Word. The Bible was the exclusive domain of the priests. They told the people what to believe. William Tyndale was executed for his work of putting the Bible in the hands of the people. One of the tenants of the Reformation was the priesthood of the believer, the reality and responsibility of each believer to abide in God’s Word and to minister that Word to others.
Abandoning Our Rights
But we seem to have regressed. Slowly it seems that we have given back the gains of the Reformation. We have relinquished the study and mastery of the Word of God back to the leaders. We seem to be content to allow the pastors and teacher to study the Word and then tell us what it says. Seems a bit like what the Reformation was trying to correct.
Ill Equipped to Correct
It is the case that not everything a pastor says, a teacher shares, or an author publishes in a “Christian” book is truth in terms of its alignment with the Bible. If I am reading Acts 17:11 correctly it is each of our responsibilities to make sure that what we are reading and being told aligns with God’s Word. One contributing problem though is that most churches are not equipping their members to actually do this.
So, we have false teaching pretty much everywhere we turn and most of it is not being challenged.
From where I sit it seems like something needs to change.