Doesn’t that phrase conjure up images of cult leaders, dressed in purple robes, dressed to kill, literally?
Leaders who make their congregations drink poison because “the world is going to end”, whenever they thought it fit. You remember names like David Koresh and Jim Jones, and shudder. People who claimed to be “men of God”, followers of Jesus, but whose actions clearly showed they were maniacs who gave two hoots about Jesus and were all about what they could gain by abusing His name and abusing people made in His image.
You are certain you will never find such nutcases in your church.
What makes you think your church is safe from false teaching? You might want to say–
“False teachers are mostly found elsewhere- but not here in Pune and definitely not in Marg!”
“We are well-prepared to counter anyone trying to mess with the WORD of God. No one can mislead us!”
“Look, our church is so small, we are not even big enough for them to find us. What are the chances?”
Let’s answer that last question after reading two real-life incidents.
A Bible teacher we will call Amrit, had been teaching and training a church leader. We will call him Sujit. Amrit’s aim was to establish Sujit and other Christians in God’s Word and enable Sujit to teach God’s word and take spiritual care of a group of new Christians, who longed to love and obey Jesus.
On a recent visit, Amrit realised something was not right. Some church members were asking questions about whether Jesus was really God. They wondered aloud “if God raised Jesus from the dead, how could Jesus be God?”
A stunned Amrit responded to their questions in whatever manner possible. Then he tried to understand who was behind planting these false notions. Imagine his heartbreak when he found out that the person who had been leading them away from God’s truths had been Sujit, the very man Amrit had mentored all along.
Imagine three years spent building a lovely house, and one day someone in your construction team deliberately takes a swipe at it with a wrecking ball.
Who could have expected such corruption in a church with watchful Bible teachers like Amrit?
Another church family welcomed a man, whom we will call Suresh. He soon became a joyful part of hang-outs and discussions. His eagerness to host games, serve and his sacrificial concern for others’ lives soon became an example among God’s people.
Problems began when in a small gathering, Suresh questioned the relevance of some commandments from the book of Ephesians in the Bible. He had meanwhile built relationships with some church members and had began gossiping against church leaders and that church’s teachings about the gospel. Though this was done in the leaders’ absence, God was gracious- a church elder got wind of this matter and brought it up with Suresh.
The elder also sensed that Suresh believed in not bringing up sin too much when sharing the gospel, and was promoting this among the group of believers he had influenced.
When Suresh didn’t agree to repent of these matters, for the sake of obeying God’s Word, (2 Tim. 4:3, Romans 16:17, 1 John 4:1, 1 Tim.6:20-21) the elder asked church members to dissociate with him.
But those who love truly will speak up against anything contrary to the Bible (Acts 20:27,28,29). Jesus banged Peter when he opposed God’s plan and purpose with his version of the health gospel.
In case you thought these incidents are not recent -both these incidents happened within the last 2 years.
“What are the chances?”
There’s every chance false teaching will rise from within your church. The Bible guarantees it :
“ I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. ” Acts 20:29-30
“ But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. ” 2 Peter 2:1-2 (Emphases, mine)
This need not mean that we turn on each other like alarmed brute beasts and pummel anyone who shows the first flutter of an error. Since you too have made errors in ignorance, kindly admit it and give others room. But this does mean that all teachings, including the ones we personally hold on too, must be held up against a correct understanding of the Bible.
Like Amrit says, false teachers are least bothered about non-Christians. They somehow exclusively show up within churches to do their nasty damage.
Every Christian in Marg needs to identify false teachings and learn to defend the truth. Because what you believe will always affect how you live.
But how can you defend half-truths from Scripture unless you desire to learn God’s Word?
As a church, are you equipping yourself to do that? Are you willing to do that?
How have you experienced false teaching creep up in your church?
Did it do any damage? Was it countered or allowed to grow?
What false teachings do you think churches in India need to guard against the most?
Resources – How does one recognize false teachers? Here are some ways to do that.