September 28, 2017
Defend Your Church From False Teachers
How do you defend your church from false teachers? For the past three years, I have been a part of church planting movements in Kenya and South Asia. One question that began to nag at me was how do we protect these new believers from false teachers. I know that we can pray for their protection, but I was wondering how we could arm them spiritually? In Ephesians 6, we are told to “put on the full armor of God” so that we may be able to stand our ground. But this passage also ends with “pray in the Spirit.”
More Than One Approach
I think there is more than one approach and that they all must be used together. So, how does a church defend itself from false teachers and heresy? When I asked a brother in South Asia about this, in plain words, he told me this is why we have the two letters to the Corinthians. I wanted to be more specific, so I took a deeper look at his meaning. In 1 Corinthians 1, the Apostle Paul is addressing a divided church. He has heard that the church has become divided and they are “following” different teachers,
…there is rivalry among you. 12 What I am saying is this: Each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name? (HCSB)
So the first thing a believer and church leaders need to remember, “Is Christ divided?” No, he is not and anyone using “clever words” only empties the effect of what Christ did on the cross. If a teacher is not pointing believers to Christ, be wary of that teacher.
Another vital part of equipping a believer is Bible study, individual bible study, and group bible study. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus tells us,
It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. (AMPC)
A believer must be in the Word, daily. Reading the Bible every day is one of the surest ways of defending one’s self against false teachings and defending your church. Falsehoods are quickly spotted and corrected when believers are in the Word. Everybody in the church needs to be reading the Word.
Another bulwark against heresy and false teachers is the church leaders. They are the overseers that are appointed by the church to overwatch what is being taught in the church. In Acts chapter 20, Paul gives a warning to the Ephesian church that we all should follow,
28 “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood[h]—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.[i] 29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31 Watch out! (NLT)
A final thought, never let one teacher get so great that people look to him as the “answer” and not the Bible. In 2 Timothy 2:15 we are told,
15 Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth. (AMP)
All these things put together is strong discipleship and strong discipleship prevents a teacher from becoming too influential and possibly leading others astray.
Read more Musings, Pastoral Care in Kenya