Teaching sound biblical doctrine

Selie Visa  

Introduction: Doctrinal differences exist not only between cults and denomination or between denominations and denominations. Differences also exist within the same group or the same denominations. A person may think that his or her belief is right even though it is biblically wrong. Complications arise when such people try to impose their views on others without bothering to make any effort to find out the truth as revealed in the word of God. With so many new doctrines making their way into our theological colleges and churches, and bombarded by false teachings of televangelists on many television channels, it is much more imperative for us than ever to go back to the Bible to find the truth for our own good and also to counter all such false doctrines.  

Turning away from truth to myths: 2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”  

Preachers are not to air their own opinions but to proclaim God's eternal, authoritative Word of truth as contained in the Scriptures. The minister has to be on duty constantly, ready for any emergency at any time. In addition to preaching the Word, Timothy is to "correct" or reprove, "rebuke" or admonish, and "encourage" or comfort and exhort. That is, both the positive and the negative must be included. But preachers must do these things with great patience and careful instruction.  

Paul also warns Timothy that the time will come when people will not be able to tolerate "sound doctrine". Timothy's major task in Ephesus is to defend and proclaim doctrines in accord with the truth of God's Word. He must do this constantly, since the time will come when people will not listen to the truth. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them many teachers who will say what they want them to say, in order to gratify their self-willed hearts. People like this will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to senseless "myths".  

Teaching for dishonest gains: Titus 1:10-12 For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach-- and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”  

"There are many rebellious people" is a general statement of the external danger facing the Cretan churches. These false teachers, most likely Cretans by birth, are apparently gnosticizing Judaists who as professed Christians seek to infiltrate the churches with their misguided teaching. They try to fasten onto Christianity various aspects of Judaism and to present the hybrid as a teaching containing higher philosophical insights.  

Three terms describe these "many" false teachers: They are (1) rebellious, refusing to subordinate themselves to any authority and rejecting the demands of the Gospel on them; (2) mere talkers, fluent and impressive in speech that accomplishes nothing constructive; and (3) deceivers, those whose glib tongues exercise a fascination over the minds of their dupes and lead them astray. "Those of the circumcision group" were the most active offenders.  

Paul demands that these people be silenced. The offenders must be refused opportunity to spread their teachings in the churches. Silencing the offenders also includes silencing them by a logical refutation of their views.  

Their suppression is necessary because of their seductive work. They belong to that class of people who are ruining whole households, disturbing and turning upside down the faith of entire families. They achieve these disastrous results by teaching things that simply must not be presented as Christian truth.  

"For the sake of dishonest gain" unveils their materialistic motives, the desire to enrich themselves at the expense of the spiritual welfare of their victims.  

These Cretan false teachers were all the more dangerous because of the known nature of the people on whom they preyed upon. As evidence, Paul quotes a line from Epimenides who was a 6th-5th century B.C. Cretan poet and religious reformer. This man had intimate knowledge of his own people and was esteemed by them as a "prophet."  

Paul was willing to accept this evaluation in order to underline the authority of his own judgment. The quotation establishes the picture without exposing Paul to the charge of being anti-Cretan. It put the Cretans on the horns of a dilemma. They must either admit the truthfulness of his verdict concerning them or deny the charge and brand their own prophet a liar.  

The triple charge that Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons is supported by other writers. So notorious was their reputation for falsehood that the Greek word kretizo (to Crete-ize) meant "to lie." "Evil brutes" stigmatizes them as having sunk to the level of beasts, unrestrained in their brutality. "Lazy gluttons" underlines their greed as idle sensualists who desired to be filled without exerting any personal effort to earn an honest living.  

The person behind the teaching: 1 Timothy 4:16 “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”  

The first thing that every Christian worker must watch is his or her own life-- not only one's outward life but also one's inner thoughts and feelings. No matter how straight people may be in their doctrine or how effective they may be in their teaching, if there is a flaw in their inner or outer lives, it will ruin them. This is where many ministers have failed tragically. While watching over others, pastors must keep an eye on themselves.  

To "persevere" means to persist in doing something. Paul is instructing Timothy to keep on doing the things he has been writing about. By so doing, he will save both himself and his hearers. For a soul-winner to save others and lose his or her own soul is an unmitigated tragedy. To save one's own soul and have one's hearers lost is no less tragic.  

Doctrinal fitness to correct false teachings:  

Titus 1:9 “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”  

Doctrinal fitness is necessary to the overseers of a church. They must be known to hold firmly to the trustworthy message, clinging to it despite the winds of false teaching and open opposition. "Trustworthy" underlines that the Christian Gospel is perfectly reliable and completely worthy of one's confidence. Overseers must adhere to the Word as it has been taught and be in accord with the teaching of the apostles.  

Unfaithfulness to the biblical revelation disqualifies people from leadership in God's church. On the other hand, doctrinal fidelity enables them to perform a twofold task:  

(1) They can appeal to others to adhere to and advance in their Christian faith. This can be done by proclaiming sound doctrine-- teaching that is biblically correct and promotes spiritual health-- in contrast to the unhealthy false teaching.  

(2) Their work also demands that they refute those who oppose the true Gospel and speak against it as the advocates of error. They must expose the errors of others and try to convince them that they are wrong.