Experts

“Experts” have a natural appeal because most of us feel inadequate when it comes to understanding Scripture and knowing how to apply it to our daily lives. Our natural inclination is to look for some “expert” to do the job for us. However, there is a problem with that.

Jesus warned us that there would be tares among the wheat. (See Matthew 13:24-30) Tares are weeds that look like wheat. It is difficult to tell the difference until the plants become mature. In other words, on the surface they look like Christians—but they aren’t.

Jesus also warned us about wolves in sheep’s clothing. (See Matthew 7:15-20) These are people who appear to be Christians, but they aren’t. And they cause real damage to real Christians. (Think about what a wolf does to a sheep.)

The Apostles Peter and Paul also warned us. They said,

“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. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:1-2)

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:14)

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1)

So false teachers will have a widespread influence among Christians. They will be popular, because they will tell people what they want to hear. And they will teach things that result in having people go to hell. Some of these false teachers will be men who have been deceived, and who deceive others. In some cases, they may spread deception by sincerely passing on deceptive things that they were taught by people they trusted. In other cases, they may deliberately deceive people, knowing full well what they are doing.

One example of a false teacher is Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong. He wrote a book titled Why Christianity Must Change or Die. I skimmed through some portions of that book at Barnes & Noble. Basically, his idea seems to be that, in order to be relevant to the modern world, Christianity has to stop being Christian. Spong also wrote the book Resurrection: Myth or Reality? He spent 352 pages trying to convince people that the Resurrection never really happened. But the Resurrection is an absolutely foundational doctrine of Christianity.

Bishop Spong even questions whether it is necessary to believe in God in order to be a Christian. He wrote an article titled  “Can One Be a Christian Without Being a Theist?” In it, he says that we live in a world that has made the “traditional theistic view of God inoperative.”

You may say, “Well, Bishop Spong is a liberal Episcopalian.” That’s true. But Evangelicals are also plagued with false teachers. For example, today there are some Evangelical authors who deny the existence of hell—which implies that there is no need for salvation. There are also some Evangelical pastors who deny the Atonement (that Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins). Such teachings are not compatible with a Biblical Christian worldview.

So we cannot depend on “experts.” We need to do our own Scripture reading, and pray and ask God to help us understand the Bible, and get to know the Bible well. We can read books by Christian authors, but when we do, we need to be vigilant, and compare their teachings with Scripture. We cannot afford to passively accept something just because an “expert” wrote it. Not even if it is recommended by people with good reputations. (They may have only read a letter from the author or publisher, enclosing some carefully selected excerpts from the book.)

The same thing applies to sermons and Bible studies. We have to be vigilant there, also. Pastors can change. If they are not vigilant Bereans who test everything against Scripture, then one conference, or one friend, or one book, can cause a “paradigm shift” in their worldview. Or a series of books or teachings can cause a gradual, incremental shift. Either way, they can wind up losing a Biblical worldview. And if that happens, then they will start teaching things that will undermine the Biblical worldviews of their church members. If that happens, then it’s time to start looking for another church. (I’ve had to do that. It hurts. But our relationship with God is more important than our relationship with the people in our church.)

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