Relativism and political correctness have stifled our desire to discuss the details of biblical teaching with those with whom we disagree. Though every believer in Christ longs for an end to the division in Christendom, most treat Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17:20-21 as an idealistic fairytale with no potential in reality. Most religious people believe it matters not what one teaches as long as they are sincere.
This article is not intended to question anyone’s integrity or intelligence. However, it is an attempt to promote communication among those who hold opposing views of God’s word.
Why It Matters What One Teaches.
Consider a few passages which speak to the question at hand. Note the exclusivity of the kingdom as set forth in Matthew 7:13-23:
- The way to life is narrow, and few people will find it (7:13-14).
- False prophets are likened to a diseased tree which will be cut and thrown in the fire (7:15-20).
- Many religious people will be sent from His presence (7:21-23).
Later, in Matthew 15:1-9, Jesus told the Pharisees their worship was vain because they were “…teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9). Jesus’ teachings here are clearly at odds with the majority view. Who do we trust?
The apostle Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to, “…charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…” (1 Tim. 1:3). He was to “[k]eep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). Later Paul told Timothy to “[f]ollow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1:13).
One qualification of an elder is that he “…must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Tit. 1:9). Paul described those who contradicted sound doctrine as “…insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers…” (1:10). He concluded such teachers “…must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (1:11). These are not words of indifference to matters of teaching in the church.
Paul also warned the Roman Christians to “…watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught, and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). These statements firmly establish the truth that there is an objective body of truth bound upon us all. These passages prove God is not indifferent to the content of one’s message. So, how does this relate to the purpose of this article?
Opposing Gospels Spell Destruction
The significance of Galatians 1:6-9 cannot be overstated. According to this passage, there are only two possibilities when two people teach opposing doctrines:
- Both parties teach a gospel that is contrary to the apostles; therefore, both are accursed.
- One party teaches a gospel contrary to the apostolic gospel and is therefore accursed.
Consider a tiny sample of contradictory teachings among believers in Christ:
- Some say it matters not what one teaches; others say it does matter.
- Some say salvation is by faith apart from obedience; others say biblical faith is obedient faith.
- Some say one cannot fall from grace; others say one can so live as to fall from grace and be lost.
- Some say baptism is an outward sign of salvation already possessed; others say baptism is the act of obedient faith putting one in Christ where salvation is.
Do We Care Enough To Talk?
What are we to do if we disagree? Most people are content to say nothing. Largely we are programmed not to question these things. However, I must contend that this is a most unloving choice to make. Consider the implications of what we have discussed.
If I am teaching things contrary to the gospel delivered by the apostles, then I am set apart for destruction. The only hope for such a one according to James 5:19-20 is for someone to bring him back to the truth. To do so is to save a soul from death. Furthermore, I make no claims of infallibility. This means I may well be teaching things contrary to the apostolic gospel, and therefore I may be accursed. Please know that this would be purely by way of ignorance on my part, not out of lack of respect for the Lord and His word.
Conversely, if I am teaching the gospel which the apostles taught, then the individual who teaches opposing doctrine is accursed according to Paul’s clear teaching. There is no third option. Hence, if I claim the love of God for humanity which He created in His image, every effort must be made to explain the way of God more clearly.
Friend, if you love the Lord, then you too must love every person created in His image. The clear implication is that you are obliged by the Great Commission of the Lord to “make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). If you are convinced that I am teaching things contrary to the gospel the apostles preached, then please explain the way of God more perfectly to me.
I believe the best of everyone reading this article, whether you agree or not. Do you believe the same of me? If so, do not leave a lost soul to face the judgment at odds with the Lord. As the Savior made abundantly clear, “Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). This is my plea that we love one another enough to take the time to try and help one another understand the way of the Lord more perfectly. “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Will you talk Bible with me?