The church needs solid teachers. The statement in and of itself is one that most Christians would heartily agree with, yet if we were to take a closer look at the church, more specifically the American church, we would see it replete with massive errors in theology. We see long running heresies, and I mean long running heresies in every extent of that phrase, that dominate the church.
In one corner a man preaches that if you would have enough faith – you can be free of weakness and disease and death; that YOU have power and victory over such silly things as these. What do you tell the family of a faithful elder who just died of cancer? He didn’t have enough faith? He didn’t believe in the power that he has been given over death in Christ? Did all of the apostles not have enough faith because they were martyred for the sake of Christ? Then again, did Christ not have enough faith as the Son of God because He wasn’t free from suffering and died upon the cross rather than claiming dominion over it?
In another sector, you have a man like Joel Osteen preaching that you can have your best life now. I wonder what he does when he glosses over such verses like Matthew 16:24, 1 Peter 2:21, Acts 14:22, and Philippians 1:29? What does he teach when a person comes to him and says, “I want to be a godly man – how can I do this?” Does he once mention a verse such as 2 Timothy 3:12 that overtly states that all who desire to become godly will suffer? Does the preacher who is not a blatant heretic like Osteen even tell his flock this bit of information? I wonder in this, what reason would anyone have to look forward to heaven if they are able to have their best life now?
And yet again, you see a man like Benny Hinn who flagrantly and unabashedly condones literal hysterics for spirituality. How about we look at an example of a preacher who may not even take in the flailing, wild convulsions and simply endorses that we have a secret prayer language in the tongues of angels. At first glance, it seems a little odd, but it isn’t crazy right? They aren’t having people flop around on the ground wildly or crying out hysterically. Sure, they even are following things in an orderly manner and doing it in private to their own edification. But can they say that even one noise they have muttered is intelligible (1 Cor. 14:6-25)? Are they even utilizing this gift of the Spirit as they should be, scripturally speaking? I see no strong evidence for cessation, but I also do not see a prescription for babbling in an unknown language. Perhaps Paul is simply using hyperbolic speech when he says, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Perhaps it also isn’t prescriptive because Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for their lack of understanding the gift of tongues. Perhaps he is also showing them that what they lack is not speaking in tongues, but abiding in love.
And then there are women who become pastors over men. They explain away any verses like 1 Timothy 2:12 and their surrounding context by saying things like, “He was talking specifically to those people in that time period” or “It isn’t an imperative command” or “The Greek actually doesn’t say that.” Well, first, do you even know what you’re talking about?
Even atheists who haven’t a care in the world about God will look at examples like these and see how inept they are at explaining what scripture really says. If there is one thing you can commend an atheist for, it’s their brutal honesty about how they just don’t like what the text says. The sad thing is, these are just a few examples about horribly wrong theology. There are others that are far across the board that people just aren’t willing to deal with and accept; yet they will claim the name of Christ and declare that they are His followers.
But here’s where the really important stuff comes in; here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (Matthew 10:1-5)
His sheep not only recognize His voice, but also actively flee from the voice of a stranger. In fact, they cannot be His sheep unless they are the ones whom the Father has given Him, and they know His voice. But lets camp on the notion of those who actually hear His voice actively fleeing from the voice of a stranger. In other words, they won’t even come remotely close to the stranger because they know that he is not the One who holds the Words of life.
So what does this mean for those who do not accept the truth of scripture? It means that they love the voice of the stranger; they love false teaching. In fact, they can’t get enough of it, so they heap up teachers who will tickle their ears and they will not tolerate sound doctrine. Paul warned Timothy of this very thing, saying that a time would come when all this would take place (2 Timothy 4:1-4). All throughout church history, this is something that is not foreign or even unsuspected. This is why the church needs solid teachers. The church needs faithful men who are not afraid of proclaiming truth, week in and week out, regardless of how anyone feels about what they have to say – because they are convinced that this is the very Word of God and it is Truth. They are convinced that no matter how it is received, the people gathering inside the church to listen to them preach need to hear it. They can’t help but preach it because they know it and recognize it, and they can’t help but to flee from the one who is a stranger.