“How do I know which Bible teachers to follow?”
This is a question I received not along ago by a relatively new Christian who was overwhelmed by the number of Bible teachers on the Internet.
This is a very good question, because not only are there many wolves in sheep’s clothing (to quote the Bible), but many formerly trusted Bible teachers are beginning to waffle on Biblical principle and stray from solid biblical teaching.
So, how do we know which Bible teachers we can trust?
The longer I walk with Christ the shorter my list has become of Bible teachers that I follow.
Lately, I have been grieved by what I see from Beth Moore, as a bible teacher I once trusted and enjoyed.
Not only has she turned to social justice in her tweets and message, but recently she addressed the recent edit of her book Praying God’s Word.
She felt that her words “exceeded scripture” and could potentially “devastate” someone who battles same-sex attraction (SSA).
But the commentary she removed was this:
Before we proceed to our Scripture-prayers for overcoming sexual strongholds, we are wise to address another deadly sexual assault of the evil one in our society: homosexuality. I have wonderful news for anyone who has struggled with homosexual sin. God indeed can deliver you and anxiously awaits your full cooperation. Do not let Satan shame you into not seeking forgiveness, fullness, and complete restoration in Jesus Christ. I know complete transformation is possible not only because God’s Word says so, but because I have witnessed it with my own eyes. I know plenty of believers who have been set free from homosexuality…
There is nothing here that exceeds Scripture in any way.
How Do I Know Which Bible Teachers to Follow?
But this combined with other things that have made me take pause (her affirming of Rachel Held Evans and James Merritt and comments made in this recent clip on YouTube), have led to my decision to not look to her as a trusted Bible teacher any longer.
So, how do I choose which Bible teachers to follow and trust?
1. Use the Bible as your measuring stick
Friends, you need to know the Bible for yourself.
In an age when we have free access to the Bible in every available medium, we are surprisingly a biblically illiterate generation.
You simply cannot expect your pastor – or any other man or woman – to spoon-feed you the Bible.
If either of my sons expected me to spoon feed them their meals, I’d begin to fear for their development as humans, because they are old enough and capable enough to feed themselves.
And unless you are a baby Christian (less than a year old in Christ), you are old enough and capable enough in Christ to study God’s Word for yourself.
You have the best Teacher of all – the Holy Spirit – who is able to grant you supernatural understanding of God’s Word.
This is crucial, because as you begin to listen to Bible teachers and read their books and materials, you must measure what they teach and preach against the Bible – as our final authority on everything in life.
If what they say does not align with God’s Word, it is not to be trusted!
2. Look at the outcome of their conduct
Hebrews 13:7 gives us a clue as to whom we should follow and trust.
The writer says this, “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”
This is precisely why we should be wary of untested men and women preaching the Word, who do not have a track record to look at, who are young in the faith, and who are not yet fully mature because we cannot consider the outcome of their conduct.
They speak words that motivate us and inspire us, but what is the outcome of those words?
But those who have been in ministry for a long time, or those who have been raised under the ministry of trusted men of faith (I am thinking right now of Priscilla Shirer, daughter of Tony Evans – a pastor I deeply respect and have followed since I was a child), are men and women whose conduct can be examined and tested.
One of the concerns I had in the YouTube clip that I linked to above by Beth Moore, was her statement that in order to understand the world we live in today, she is reading a lot of material by same-sex attracted Christians.
When examining the outcome of a pastor or teacher’s conduct, I look at their relationship of God’s Word to our society.
Do they seek to understand society through the context of God’s Word, or do they try to fit God’s Word into the context our society and culture?
The answer to this question will determine the outcome of their conduct because it will determine their message.
It will determine whether or not they waffle on issues when it is politically expedient, or whether they begin to adopt language that muddles and muddies God’s Word to appease the “Judiazers”.
3. Look at the fruit of their ministry
Jesus also gave us an answer to this question in Matthew 7:16 when He said, “You will know them by their fruits.”
While many Christians misuse this verse in the context of determining whether or not someone is a genuine believer, Jesus made this statement in referring to false prophets.
We will be able to discern if a pastor or teacher is a false prophet or teacher by examining the fruit of their ministry.
- Is it for financial gain?
- Is it for fame?
In previous generations we have made idols of celebrity pastors and teachers, when God never meant for ministry to be a platform for self-exaltation, wealth, prosperity, and celebrity status.
These are not a measurement of a pastor or teacher’s legitimacy.
What is the fruit of their ministry?
- Does it include souls won for the Kingdom of God?
- Does it include solid men and women whom they have mentored and are carrying on their work?
- Does it include a passion to build the Kingdom of God on earth, and not the kingdoms of men?
- Does it include a solid Word in season that brings conviction, repentance, and turning from sin?
These are all fruits that are signs of a solid man or woman of God who is trustworthy to bring us a message from Scripture that will feed us, lead us, and guide us!
4. Look at the consistency of their message
One measure by which I determine whether or not a preacher or teacher of the Bible is trustworthy is by looking at the totality of their teaching to see if there is consistency in upholding biblical principle and truth.
If there is a waffling or refusal to stand on the hard issues concerning God’s Word, I don’t find them trustworthy.
In today’s society, one of the issues that is a deal-breaker for me is where a teacher or pastor stands on the issue of homosexuality.
Not just in the context of practicing homosexuals, but homosexuality as a whole.
Many teachers who 10-20 years ago clearly stood against homosexuality, today are recanting their statements or are dancing around the issue – refusing to make a clear stand.
If a pastor or teacher refuses to clearly state that homosexuality is an abomination and distortion and defilement of God’s original design and the mystery that is the marriage union, their silence or avoidance of the issue is a affirmation for me.
Similarly, a statement that “all sexual intimacy outside the bonds of marriage is sin” is not a clear stand – because a homosexual sex is a defilement and mockery of what God created to be a picture of Christ’s love for the church.
It is why homosexual sex is blasphemous; which is on a different level than heterosexual fornication (which clearly is a sin – and a serious sin).
Another banner issue for me is their belief that all of Scripture is God-breathed and relevant for us today.
That all of life is viewed and filtered through the context of Scripture – which is our guide for every decision we make and every opinion we hold.
It is the final word in every society, for every generation, and for every culture.
If a pastor or teacher cannot affirm this, they cannot be trusted.
5. Look at their personal life and dialogue
I wanted to include this final point, because I believe it is crucial for us to be able to know if pastor or teacher is genuine.
However, I also struggled with including this one because on one hand I believe it is important that we be able to see if pastor or teacher is truly living what they teach.
Growing up in the ministry, I got an inside view into how easy it is for a pastor to preach something he isn’t living (or living yet) in his personal life.
It is a trap, and one that is often fallen into.
On the other hand, if we’re talking about well-known Christian pastors or teachers, this may be more difficult because those who are not self-absorbed are not tempted to put their personal lives out there for everyone to see.
And yet – I believe that those who are genuine leave a trail of clues in their sermons, books, podcasts and interviews of how they live their everyday life, and whether or not they truly live what they preach.
And time will always tell.
This is precisely why we must give time for the outcome of the conduct to be seen.
Because God will bring everything to light.
And He is.
Recently we’ve see the outcome of many celebrity pastors and teachers who have waffled and fallen…who have chosen to pander to political correctness and cultural demands.
The pool from which we can draw is growing smaller and smaller.
But God has reserved a remnant of those who remain faithful to His Word, and I challenge you to take these 5 points of measurement and let God lead you to those faithful teachers of the Word.
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