False Teaching In Our Community
By Jeff Kennedy:
In today’s society, it seems that many people tend to try and use the Bible to support their beliefs, instead of using the Bible to establish their belief. This is a very dangerous practice, especially if your beliefs steer you away from the truth that salvation is attained only through putting your faith and trust in Jesus. Salvation is not earned through works, nor religious practices, nor specific words or actions spoken or done during events like baptism. There are, no doubt, many different beliefs and practices within the Christian church, as a whole, that lead us to worship in different ways. There are also many commonalities between those practices and beliefs. Paul analogizes these differences by describing them as different parts of the same body. The body has numerous parts, ears, eyes, nose, arms, legs, and so forth. Even though the parts are different, they are all part of the same body. Churches are all a part of the same body of Christ, as long as they preach and teach the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Churches and denominations can disagree with some teachings and interpretations found in the Bible, but, there are some absolute truths that are non-negotiable. Regardless of the differences, each church should ensure that the basics of Christianity are taught.
What are those basics of Christianity? First and foremost, Jesus Christ is the one and only way to the Father in Heaven. There is no other name that can be named by which we must be saved. Second, faith in Jesus is the only way we receive the redemption made possible by His sacrifice of the cross. Jesus was and is the Son of God. Jesus was and is God himself. Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life, he died on the cross to make atonement for our sins, he was buried, and on the 3rd day he arose in his new, resurrected body, from the grave. No works will save us, no words will save us, no other belief will save us. Only Jesus, and only faith in Him. Now, when a person has that true faith in Jesus and they surrender their lives to Him, they experience a change in their lives, brought about by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit in us that will result in good works, un-conditional love, desire to serve God, and the ability to live a life that brings Him honor and glory.
I understand that this is a very simplified explanation of the basics of Christianity, but, believe it or not, many churches in our community don’t get these very basics right. Some add conditions, some add practices or rituals that must be done, some insist that certain words must be spoken during baptism, some do other things that either add to or take away from the basic elements of receiving salvation through faith in Jesus.
So how do we discern good teaching from bad teaching, or, outright false teachings? The answer is prayer, and study. Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you and give you understanding and then dig into the Word. When digging in, we have to consider several factors. We must first understand and accept that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. There are no contradictions. If we believe we have found some contradiction, then we must understand that the problem is not that the Bible is contradicting itself, but rather, the problem is our lack of understanding. When studying, we must also consider the author of the book, when the book was written, the original audience for which the book was intended, the culture of the time and the audience and sometimes we have to study the meaning of certain words in their original language. When we do this be can better discern the original intent of the message that God was teaching us. The point is this, if we hear or read some teaching that doesn’t seem quite right, or, if the teaching seems to contradict something else in the Bible, or sometimes, we hear things that out right fly in the face of the clear basics of Christianity, we need to be careful to study the Bible, considering all the factors, so that we can discern truth from falsehood.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not a pastor, preacher, or theologian. There is a popular contemporary Christian song by a group called Casting Crowns called “Nobody.” Part of the chorus lyrics say “I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody, all about somebody that saved my soul.” Well that’s me. I’m just a nobody that loves Jesus and wants to serve Him in the best way that I possibly can. I’m not unique in any way. Many, many people are just like me. For me, when it comes to studying the Bible or trying to understand complicated teachings, I approach the study in this way. I pray for wisdom and understanding and then I apply all the factors mentioned above, and then, when the Lord leads me to the answers that I am seeking, I know the answers are true.
Many Christians are often confronted with false or incorrect beliefs of the Christian faith or Biblical teachings. Usually, these teachings come with numerous Bible verse as reference. So I’ve include some verses of my own to defend the basic principles of Christianity. We must always be prepared to defend the faith, defend Jesus, and contend for what we know to be true. These verses are tried and true and represent what Christianity is all about and how salvation is received. Now, I realize there are many, many more scriptures that I could site. These are only a fraction of the teaching in the Bible of how a person can receive salvation through faith in Jesus.
John 3:16-18; Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10, 10:13; 1 Corinthian’s 15:3-4; Matthew 28: 19-20; John 14:6, 14: 9-11; Ephesians 2:8; Luke 7:50.