The best pastors and teachers I have sat under were typically the ones who asked us where our bible is. They were the ones who challenged us to look up the passages to make sure what they were teaching was true. They said they were not perfect and could make mistakes and were willing for anyone to come and talk to them if we believed they were in error about something. They pointed to the Bereans of Acts 17 who daily searched the scriptures to see if the things Paul and Silas were teaching them were true.
In the synagogues of Yeshua’s (Jesus) time, the men would gather after the teachings on Shabbat and discuss whether the teachings abolished (went against) the Torah or fulfilled (affirmed or make more full/complete) the Torah. That is what those two words meant in that culture. Yeshua even clarified that He did not come to abolish the Torah, but to fulfill it. They are an example for us today! Does the teaching we are going through agree/affirm G-d’s word? Or does it go against/abolish it? We need to pay careful attention.
It does not matter how well you know a teacher. It does not matter how respected or well known that teacher is. Always, always check out what they are teaching for yourself. Get in there and do the studying for yourself. They are not perfect and the good ones recognize that we all need to be studying for ourselves, too. Paul told Timothy to be diligent…to study so that he can handle the word of God accurately…rightly dividing the word. That is important for all of us! We are responsible before G-d for what we accept as truth. Even the best teachers can get it wrong.
I am writing this reminder because of a teaching I recently watched. I don’t have time to listen to a lot of teachings and am very selective. It has to be a topic of interest for starters. Or it might be something that is pointed out to me by someone I know. If I happen to be familiar with the teacher, that can be a draw, but the topic also has to be one of interest. Sometimes, I just have this “nudge” to take the time to listen (which happened to me recently). I listen long enough to figure out if the teacher has new insights and if they are handling the word correctly. I may or may not finish the teaching based on those findings.
When I do hear error, I will often listen more because there are times when people just misspeak. Or I may have misheard. I have seen that happen many times. So, I listen longer to see if they will correct themselves or say something that indicates to me they just misspoke. But when I hear error repeated and added to, I typically stop listening and make note of who it is.
There are times, though, when I will listen all the way through, even if I do see glaring errors. An example of that was what happened recently. A teaching was posted by someone I know to a group of people I know. The teaching is done by someone whose study a group of us are going through, although this teaching is not part of that study. What I have heard from her so far in the study is really good, but this was very disappointing.
It was a teaching she gave to a conference of leaders…over 10,000 of them easily. Now mind you, she was a leader talking to leaders! Yet, she made a serious error and it is glaringly obvious in the scriptures she used. None of the comments on YouTube talked of the errors! I did comment there, but I do not know if she will see it. This really concerns me. I sincerely hope that the thousands of leaders she spoke to looked in their bible as she asked them to do. I sincerely hope they read the context and saw immediately that she was wrong. I sincerely hope that MANY of them took the time to reach out to her and correct her very clear error. What a sad state of affairs if that did not happen!
Will I finish her study? Yes! Will I check out others by her? Probably yes, but it depends on how she does with the rest of the one I am doing now. Do I think she is a “false” teacher? Obviously not, or I would not continue her study. I think she had a very human, very bad teaching day. If she realizes what she has done, I am sure it will be very humbling for her and will definitely help her to grow. I am not judging her. I feel for her! Making errors is tough enough, but when you do it in front of over 10,000 leaders? Oh, my!
We need to always be praying for our leaders…for our teachers…and for their families. They are imperfect, just like us. We need to be accountable to them and they need to be accountable to us and we ALL need to be accountable to G-d!
So, let’s walk this journey together. And, in so doing, let us be wise. Let us always check our own beliefs and the things we read and hear against the word of G-d. And let us ask G-d to show us if we are misunderstanding the scriptures. Let us not hold tightly to our beliefs if the word of G-d seems to be saying something different. Let us not “try to massage God’s Word so it fits in with your desires”, as this woman wrote in the book we are going through. Let us look to see what G-d’s word actually says, not look to see if we can find things in it that agree with what we believe. There is a difference!
So, please remember. We need to use discernment in all we read and hear. We need to compare it to the Word of G-d. We need to align ourselves with the scriptures and not try to get them to align with us. We need to know them well enough that we can pick up when something is not correct. We are responsible for what we accept as truth and for how we live.