Don't Throw the Baby out with the Bathwater!

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     I see all the time where people toss books and teachers because they do not agree with everything they say.  That’s fine to do, but in the end you could really miss out on learning something that God wants you to know.  From Moses and Aaron to Samson and David, God’s pattern is using imperfect men to accomplish impossible tasks.  
     If you wind up tossing every book (or preacher!) that happens to have something wrong in it, you’ll wind up with nothing but the Bible.  That may be okay for a while, but that Bible tells you that we’re supposed to learn from teachers (Eph. 4:11, I Cor. 12:28, Acts 13:1).  
     Other than God and the Bible, every book and teacher will have problems.  So what do you keep and what do you let go?  What is serious and inexcusable and what can you overlook?  What helps me is viewing these “problems” in three categories. 

1. Doctrinal Errors.
     Doctrinal errors are usually little hangups and ideas that someone may have that don’t affect things outside of the actual teaching itself.  I knew a guy once who thought he was going to get rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ because he abstained from ice cream.
     Really?  Not worth it! Give me my Rocky Road! 
     Of course the Bible doesn’t say anything about this.  It was just a weird little idea he got in his head somehow and no one was going to tell him otherwise.  Now it’s true that God expects us to show temperance in our lives and there’s a reward for putting your body under subjection… but there’s nothing wrong with a little Georgia Mud Fudge now and then.

     Back to the ice cream man: does this idea he had make him ineligible to serve the Lord?  Does it mean that anything he says, teaches, or writes is akin to trash burped up from the Bottomless Pit?  Of course not!
     YOU – the reader of this article – is of course right on everything.  So if you find someone that disagrees with you on something ask yourself three questions:
1. Does this teaching directly affect other doctrines in the Bible?
2. Does this teaching affect any practical areas of Christian conduct?
3. Is this teaching emphasized too much by the teacher?
     If you answered “no” to all three then what you are dealing with is a doctrinal error.  Everyone makes them.  Get over it and cut the guy some slack, he might have some good things to say.

2. False Doctrine.
     There are many teachings that directly affect other doctrines and Christian conduct.  Depending upon the severity and the emphasis placed upon them by the teacher, they are going to be either false doctrine or heresy.
     Here’s a couple of examples:
     1. Calvinism.  Teaching that God specifically chooses some people to go to Hell and others to go to Heaven without giving either a specific say in the matter is wrong.  That being said, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon were Calvinists. 
     They were not hyper-Calvinists (Hyper-Calvinism is heresy).  In other words, they believed Calvinist doctrine, but thankfully they didn’t make it a part of their practical lives.  Calvinism is serious stuff, but God still uses Calvinists. 
     2. Arminianism. 
     These folks believe you can lose your salvation.  That’s false doctrine, and for many it holds them in a position of always questioning their salvation.  What sin can damn you, which ones are okay and which one aren’t?  This teaching affects other doctrines and it can daily affect the Christian’s life and walk with the Lord.  It’s serious.
     Ever heard of John Wesley?  The John Wesley who God used to save England from a bloody revolution?  He believed you can lose it. 
     There are many good Christians that believe some false doctrine. Does that mean that false doctrine doesn’t matter?  Of course, not, but it needs to be put in the proper perspective.  If God is willing to use the man for good, then maybe he’s worth listening to in some areas.  Just be careful.

3. Heresy.
     Okay, this is the inexcusable stuff.  Teaching that salvation comes from anything other than faith in Christ is inexcusable.  Teaching that Jesus was anything other than God is heresy.  The Holy Spirit told us in II John 1:7-11 that we are not to consort with people at all that abide not in the doctrine of Christ or we risk losing rewards in Heaven and partaking in “his evil deeds.”  Stay away.
     These are wolves in sheep's clothing and are to be identified as such according to the Bible.  God doesn't expect you to be "nice" about it (see how nice Jesus was in Matthew 23).  I'm not talking about people caught up in a wicked system such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Jehovah's Witness organization, the Seventh Day Adventist "denomination," the Church of Christ, or Mormonism.  I'm talking about people who push these heretical teachings and organizations.  God doesn't expect you to treat them with kid gloves, they are active tools of Satan to damn people to Hell.  

     Read what the Bible says about them:

     II Peter 2:1-3, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  2And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  3And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
     Matthew 7:15, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

     I Tim. 6:3-5, "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 
 4He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,  5Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
     Jude 1:3, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
 Romans 16:17, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

     Titus 3:10-11, "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
 11Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself."

     I don't see any allowance for studying underneath a heretic and seeking to learn or be inspired by one.  We are not to look up to them as great examples of whatever.  Just the words "damnable heresy" should clue us in to the fact that God doesn't have a high opinion of the people who push them.

     According to these verses, when dealing with heresy God exepects to do three things:

1) Identify it.
2) Fight against it.
3) Withdraw from the heretic.

     In conclusion, this is how I disipher who I should listen to and who to not.  I find most carnal modern-day Christians are very hard on the preacher or teacher who may have made a mistep in what he said or taught, but they will give a lot of room to the people who fall in category number three.  At best they might withdraw, but you'll never find them actually taking a stand against wickedness.  The SOP of a Laodicaen Christian is that a grumpy preacher is dreadfully rude and unacceptable, and we should be very quick to condem him - but a nice man who'll lead your children to Hell is okay. 

     Try to look at things the way God does.  For those who lead people to Hell, God has nothing good to say. But God is gracious and merciful to those with a good heart that may be wrong in a couple areas, and we should be too. 


Suzette said...

I agree, because I was saved out of a less-than-perfect circumstance. While most of us know the doctrinal errors in other Bible versions, it was out of one of these that God convicted me of sin through reading the Ten Commandments. I was also attending a Nazarene church at the time, which taught that you could lose your salvation. To add to my confusion, I had been taught the biggest hodgepodge of doctrine you could imagine from attending Southern Baptist, Methodist, Nazarene, and later Pentecostal churches; I had also watched a lot of TBN and channels like that. BUT GOD was so rich in mercy and saved me in the midst of all that! And now I'm a capital everything BAPTIST, being taught the TRUTH! Praise the Lord!

Rick Schworer said...

Amen, sister. :-)