I’m not always right. And that isn’t some kind of joke confession, like, “I’m never right because my wife always is.” This is an honest statement. I’m not always right.
I know that I don’t have 100% correct theology. I know that sometimes I write or say things that are completely wrong. I am fully aware of it. What I want, what I believe I need is to be told when I’m wrong.
For that, I need your help, and I’ll explain what I mean.
The Apostle Paul wrote that some people are gifted and called to be apostles, other prophets, some evangelists, and still others pastors. Then there are those called to be teachers.
I humbly consider myself a teacher.
Maybe not professor material (though I wouldn’t oppose if God called me that way), but bible study, occasional pulpit filling type of teacher. While the title and idea of getting to stand up and deliver gleaned information to the body of Christ do sound great and glamorous, it is a terrifying job. This a job that Jesus himself spoke about in very hushed and serious tones.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6
Should you cause someone to stumble in their faith, should you instructions or leading drive someone away from trusting in Jesus Christ, should you TEACH anyone anything that pushes them away from the loving arms of God, it would be better if you were dead.
Words like that from a loving, serving, patient, kind person like Jesus? It doesn’t seem right. It seems wrong somehow.
Unless Jesus takes the roles of spiritual leaders, like preachers, pastors, apostles, evangelists, and TEACHERS that serious.
So, please, tell me if I’m saying something wrong. I want to fix it. I don’t want these words of Jesus to be directed at me. I am more than happy to be corrected, to be steered in the right direction, just don’t leave me to be one who is deserving of some a fate as that.
WHAT WOULD CONSTITUTE AS WRONG TEACHING?
This is where some clarity is needed because what one Christian may think is wrong, another would think is perfectly fine. One may want to label me a truth teller, while someone else may want to label me a heretic and tweet “Farewell Reg Rivett.”
So what would be constituted as wrong or false teaching that I should be informed of? How about I point out some things all Christians can get behind as right or orthodox teaching, and you compare for yourself.
For example, in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he shared right and orthodox teaching.
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is something we can all affirm as right and orthodox. If I ever step away from that, tell me.
Likewise, Paul also affirmed right beliefs with a phrase he uses repeatedly in his letter to Timothy, “Here is a trustworthy saying”,
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” – 1 Timothy 1:15
What the Apostle Paul states as good and orthodox teaching, things that he didn’t come up with, these are the types of things that teachers, preachers, evangelists, and other apostles should be sharing. If I ever move away from such faithful sayings found in Scripture, tell me.
But not everything we believe is found in Scripture. Things like the Trinity, while not explicitly spoken of in the Bible, we see all the evidence for within the Written Word. To hold onto good and orthodox teaching, Christians of the past wrote creeds. These were statements of belief, things that everyone agreed on, from explicitly written to clearly evident ideas within the Bible, like the Trinity.
Take the Apostle’s Creed for instants.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
There is everything that we believe as Christians. Everything that is good and orthodox, and essential to faith in Jesus Christ.
You may argue for more to be included, and many have, but never has the Church thought that is should be less. And you might argue that we shouldn’t be believing in Creeds or statements written by people.
Okay, but all this creed is, is a list of what we affirm as good and orthodox teaching. The right things to be preaching and teaching as found in Scripture. We do not hold it up as God-breathed or inspired by God as we do the Bible, we can and should see such creeds as affirming the truth we find in the Written Word.
If I start teaching things that are contrary to such creeds as this, tell me.
WHAT ABOUT DIFFERENCES OF INTERPRETATION AND UNDERSTANDING?
There are many things that the Bible is not 100% clear on. Like what happened to Jesus when he died for 3 days? Did he go to Hell? Or Paradise? Or does that mean Heaven? This isn’t something that we know for sure, even though each Christian has their own idea.
To this issue, over things that are not explicitly mentioned, discussed, or fleshed out in the Bible: let’s talk about them.
Talk. Not berate me, scold me, or condemn me for not sharing your opinion on something that we don’t know for sure.
Want to discuss what happened to Judas after he hung himself? Great. Because we don’t know, we can talk about what we think happened.
In those conversations, we may disagree, firm up our stance in what we believe, but we will have had a conversation. A time to work on our faith, on what we believe and why we believe it together, as part of a community of believers.
If you think a particular topic is explicit, is perfectly clear, I am a willing learner and more and willing to hear. So talk, teach, like Jesus did. Not with raised voice and condemnation, but with patience and understand that not every ear is ready to hear.
HOW DO I TELL YOU THAT YOU’RE WRONG?
As I just mentioned, if you believe I am wrong in what I have said, tell me like Jesus would; patience and understanding.
There were times he was frustrated and expressed that, but he was with them for at least a year, up to 3. If we have been talking, having the same conversation for 1 to 3 years and I’m not getting it, then you can be as frustrated as Jesus was.
Even then, Jesus calmly and peacefully taught his disciples again and again. So, tread carefully.
It may seem weird that I want to be told when I’m wrong, but this is coming from a desire to honour God. I want to teach well. I want to teach right. I want to share the good news of Jesus in a way that properly reflects him and his glory, the things that he has done for us out of his merciful love.
While the idea of a millstone around my neck is frightening, the idea of disappointing God, of misusing the talents that he has given me drives me even more to do a good job of whatever teaching I am doing.
Whether it is a bible study, some pulpit filling or writing here, I want to honour my Heavenly Father, glorifying His Son, and be an instrument by which the Spirit speaks and bears witness.
Sometimes I’ll get it right. Sometimes I’ll get it wrong.
Help me to get it right more often.
All Scripture references provided by Biblegateway.com Be sure to check them out if you are looking for a verse, some commentaries to help you understand a passage or a devotional to keep you in the Written Word every day. Or for those on the go, check out their app, available at the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Fire.
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This article first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.