When Paul was in Jerusalem (as recounted in Galatians 2), he met with leaders of the church there and presented the gospel – i.e., the good news – that he had been teaching: the fact that God welcomed people outside of the Jewish nation into the Kingdom of God. In the second chapter of Galatians, Paul wrote the following:
As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message.
Galatians 2:6 NIV
A commentator [Boles; see reference at the end of this article] indicates that Paul isn’t being disrespectful of the leaders in Jerusalem; he is just pointing out that they don’t have to agree with him in order for his message from Jesus Christ to be the truth.
This is a key point for all of us to consider: Having a Bible college degree doesn’t guarantee truth in teaching. Neither does the use of big words, the ability to quote a lot of Scripture (in or out of context), or being famous. It doesn’t matter who tells us something; if that message does not align with the Word of God, we must treat it as something other than the truth (whether a lie, an incorrect statement, an invalid opinion, or a mistake). The moment we give mere people – other than Jesus Christ – a “pass”, by trusting whatever they say without applying discernment, we begin to risk being fed dangerous falsehoods (whether intentionally or unintentionally on their part).
On the flip side, we should not need other people (whether those who are friends, family, famous, or flamboyant) to agree with us when we are telling the truth. It’s perfectly OK to sit down with someone and study the Bible together when the two of you have come to different conclusions (see Acts 18:24-26 for an example of where two people did something similar for a guy named Apollos), but the truth remains the truth, even when it is not popular. We can seek unity and discipleship within the church, but this is part of doing good with the truth, not something that is required to validate the truth.
So, whether we are learning or teaching, we should always base what we accept as true on a foundation of known truth. God’s Word – in the Bible and as taught through Jesus – has proven itself repeatedly as the truth, and this is the best place to start.
Even today, there are those who say things that are simply not compatible with the Word of God, despite considering themselves to be teachers and authors of the truth. This even includes some who claim to be part of the church. No matter how many books they sell, though, or how many people quote them online, a message that doesn’t fit with the truth of God should be excluded from our lives.
We must not stand for things that aren’t true. When someone is teaching things – especially in the church – that aren’t accurate, you can take things up with them privately, then bring in some church leaders to assist. However, if they don’t respond, stop listening to, following, and supporting them (see Matthew 18:15-17).
Study the truth, through Bible reading and listening in prayer. Be sure that you have the truth (even if that means discussing alternatives with others who are legitimately correcting you). Then, be confident in that truth, even if not everyone agrees with you.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for August 1, 2021
- The Lookout, August 1, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Galatians & Ephesians, by Kenneth L. Boles. College Press Publishing Company, © 1993, p.32-60.