The Bible’s emphasis upon following truth is paralleled greatly by its warning against false teachings. Here at Guided By Truth we feel very passionate about what is true and therefore feel compelled to write articles against that which is false. From our observations and research there appear to be more false teachings than good solid Biblical ones in this world. Sadly, even among the more trusted and mainstream denominations we find a den of misleading doctrines. These teachers serve as a reminder of Jesus' words about the blind leading the blind. God cares tremendously about what we believe and has shown us through numerous passages that these false teachings and worldly philosophies can cause the believer problems and the unbeliever his or her soul for all eternity.
But what does this mean for us? Should we simply give up and not even try to learn anymore? I often hear the despair in people when they declare that to them there are so many different “religions” or “denominations” to choose from, “who is to say which one is right?” Here at Guided by Truth our greatest encouragement comes when we study the Scripture and examine the Bible on our own. Just simply reading through the Bible will help a person see the truth and be set free from the false teachings that have beset their minds. This one fact must be emphasized above all else in this article; the Bible is the sole source of authority for truth. The only way to know what it says is to look within its pages. Most of the false teachings in this world result from ignorance of what the Bible teaches. This ignorance causes them to rely on extra biblical resources and methods as their source for truth, but the truth cannot be found there. We encourage readers to never give up their search and desire for truth. Never become a victim of the discouragement that the enemy would love for you to have. Study the Bible for yourself; it is nothing to be afraid of.
We want to also encourage the reader that while there are some false teachers in this world, there are also many great teachers as well. There are some tremendous resources out there to help us understand the Scripture. I often look for insight from other Christians to help me understand difficult passages. While the Holy Spirit is our teacher, we must not forget that He also illuminates other believers who can shed light upon a particular passage and guide us into its meaning. The Bible does tell us that there are teachers within the body of Christ. In fact there are about sixty references to “teaching” in the epistles alone. Some people have a great ability to teach and the Bible admonishes us to learn and grow in Christ so that we too can become teachers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with learning from someone else. Consider this passage of Scripture:
Acts 8:26-35 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road — the desert road — that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. 31 "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth." 34 The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. NIV
Philip is the teacher in this passage and had great insight to be able to show that this passage was referring to Jesus. But notice what Philip asked the eunuch, “do you understand what you are reading”? This eunuch may have been new to the Bible and needed some help. Phillip did not scold the eunuch for his lack of understanding, but was willing to help him. I really like the humble answer the eunuch gave. He stated that he needed someone to guide him; to explain the passage to him. God had Phillip there to do just that, explain what the passage in Isaiah was talking about.
There are many good preachers and teachers out there. Some have large ministries and others do not. Sometimes we can quickly ascertain, by their fruit or teaching, whether they should be trusted or avoided. Not everyone is teaching bad doctrine, but we should test everyone against the Word of God, as the Bereans did with the teachings of the Apostle Paul:
Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. NIV
Notice the word they; they examined the Scripture every day. It was a group effort. Together they determined whether the message that Paul taught was true, and Paul did teach the truth. On an individual basis, God tells us to examine and search through the Scripture to know the truth and we have the wonderful luxury and liberty to search and study for ourselves. There are a tremendous amount of resources to help us. There are some great commentaries, dictionaries, study guides, and especially books that we can learn from. Now we even have the Internet, which can be a tremendous source for good information. One of my favorite websites is Oneplace.com. They provide access to a lot of good ministries and Bible teachers. Some of them are not as good as others, but there are plenty of good ones to learn from. We will never find that we will agree with any ministry a hundred percent. While we may agree with most of it, we must learn to eat the meat and spit out the bones. In other words; we can learn from all the teachings that we know to be correct and dismiss some of the little things that are not. All doctrine is important, but we should be willing to learn from the positive things that good teachers have to offer. We should still listen wisely. When we come across someone who has more bones than meat, then it is best not to waste our time.
Our goal is to encourage you to dig right in to your personal studies and not to always live in fear of the false teachers. We should definitely be careful as the Bible warns to, but do not allow them to keep you from learning from the good teachers. We should enjoy learning from others, they may have some great insights that can be good for the soul. God will always guide you through His word so that you will recognize what is truth and what is not. The more familiar you are with God's Word the better you will be able to discern between the two. Relish the wonderful world of God’s Kingdom and the brotherhood of those who love the truth of God’s word.