Lately, I have been troubled by the false teachings of so-called Bible preachers or Christians. What is funny about this is that everybody can take the Bible and go out to preach. It seems that, unlike other books of the world, the Bible has no law protecting it from being used by untrained teachers. Isn’t this true that for you to teach anything you need training and guidance? So why is it that any emotional person, whether it be an atheist, feeling like using the Bible can do so without any restriction? Don’t get me wrong. I do not mean that the Bible should be hidden from the people. Nor do I mean only those in a higher position in the church should use it. It just bugs me that any person any day can say anything about the Scriptures, whether it is to dishearten the believers from their steadfast faith or to brainwash them. When people who have not grounded their faith upon the scriptures are confronted by false teachers at marketplaces, they are easily fooled. In other words, amid these troubling false teachings, if you do not know what the Bible really teaches, you will be easily misled. Strangely, when you come across somebody with a different message from the one you have previously received out of sheer innocence, you will be prone to denying it and thus label it a false teaching when it could be one of the true teachings of the Bible. Do you perceive the confusion here?
Another thing I have seen is that Christians from different denominations are throwing stones at one another, calling themselves names. This has reminded me of what happened to Christ both in the wilderness and in the midst of the Jews:
In the wilderness, there were Christ and the Devil. Though you and I know who was telling the truth and who was trying to deceive the other, let us imagine that we had no idea who was right or that one of us were in the place of Jesus in the desert. How would you have reacted to the teaching of the Devil? Would you have accepted his false teachings? Do you remember that the Devil himself used the scriptures to defend his teachings, so that Jesus would think he was right? Oh, the devil used the Bible too! How do you take this? Doesn’t this tell you something? Well, it does teach me a lesson. And it is this: not everyone who comes to you in the name of God or using the Bible tells the truth or even knows the truth of the Bible. When you see this danger, how do you feel? Well, I myself am terrified. If the Devil could use the Bible then—and everybody can use the Bible now—to preach anything he felt like in order to defeat Christ, how should I take the Bible preachers today? Remember, it was the Devil, through the snake, that deceived our first mother Eve with his false teachings by contradicting the only word of God that Eve knew. So, yes, some teachers go out only to preach false teachings in place of the Bible truth; it does not really matter if they are using the Bible—that cannot be a proof of telling the truth. Even the Devil used it too—and Christ knew better to expose his lies using the same Bible. Would you have been wise enough to say ‘no’ to the Devil were you in the place of Jesus in the wilderness? Or would you have acted like our mother Eve who just nodded her head in agreement to the Devil’s false teachings. Even more interesting is the manner the Devil presented the Scriptures: he quoted a good verse from the Bible to suit his preconceived ideas. As he knew the wonderful promise of the caring God in Psalm 91:11-12, the Devil cited the verse and then mixed it with his tempting words. That is exactly how preachers of false teachings behave nowadays. They go to simpleminded people and use the Bible to tell their lies. They know that if they go in the name of God, sincere people will receive them and respect their words. Little do these people realize that their words are not completely from the Bible. Instead, they have been mixed with lies, so that they would taste like a sweet poison that gradually kills the person.
When Jesus defeated the Enemy in the wilderness by correctly interpreting the Scriptures to defend himself, it was time for him to go back to the world where he would get in contact with the people. As he began to preach, the Jews—like the Devil—opposed him. Religious leaders and teachers of that time did not receive Jesus’ teachings; they regarded them as lies preached to the innocent people. They wished Jesus’ teachings could be terminated. Yet, Jesus knew that he was telling the truth. How have you been treated in your evangelistic life? Has the world received you well? The danger is that the Jews thought that they were preaching the truth and that Jesus was teaching evil doctrines. Do you see the confusion here? The one with the true message is rejected and misjudged, while those with false teachings are well received by multitudes of people. Just like today’s many denominations throw stones at one other, the Jews threw stones at Jesus as they thought themselves right. While Jesus said, “I tell you the truth”, they said, “No, we are the ones telling the truth”. That way, they could never receive the message of Jesus; if any one of them ever wanted to conform to Jesus’ teaching, he would have to show such faith in private. Can you think of one religious leader who believed in Jesus then? Nicodemus went to Jesus when it was getting dark (see John 3:1-2). He could not do otherwise. Two thousand years later, we are facing the same problem: religious leaders cannot accept biblical teachings from a simple Christian other than what they have long believed. Why? They do not want to lose their positions. They also find themselves to possess the truth just like the Jews thought and rejected Jesus Christ, the only one who would save them from sin. This is why you have to be careful as you approach the Bible, for false teachings are rampant everywhere. You might wonder and say, “What should I do, Lionel?” Well, though you can’t change that, there is something you can do about it: while you should go ahead and accept to have a Bible study from people knocking on your door, you need to develop a habit of confirming everything they say in the Bible; make sure that whatever they say does not conflict with any verse in the Bible. Remember Jesus in the wilderness. He could not accept the words of the devil—even though he picked a Bible verse—because they were conflicting with another verse in the Bible: “…The Scriptures also say ‘You must not test the Lord your God’” Luke 4:12. So, learn to be like the people of Berea who not only accepted to have a Bible study with the Apostle Paul but also confirmed everything he said in the Bible.
“And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men” Acts 17: 11-12.