Identifying and dealing with false teachers

Besides his  epistles to churches, Paul wrote four of them to to three individuals: Philemon, Timothy, and Titus. 1 Timothy begins with a warning about false teachers. These are not just men who somehow disagreed with Paul. They taught things that could only drive a wedge between the people who believed them and the grace of God.

Sound doctrine enables righteous people to remain righteous. Righteousness does not come through anyone’s own effort. It is a gift that we can receive only by faith. The law is like a medicine to apply when the moral nature is diseased.

Some people, with no understanding of righteousness by faith, and no interest in understanding, taught that Christians can only be righteous by following every detail of the Mosaic law.… Read the rest

Next words of Jesus: What’s bothering you?

“What are you discussing together as you walk along?” Luke 24:17 (NIV)

After Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women, he turned up on the road to Emmaus, where he met two men not otherwise mentioned in Scripture. They had been following Jesus and had hoped he was the promised Messiah. Even though they had indirectly heard about the women’s report, they walked in discouragement.

So Jesus asked them what they were talking about–not as an idle question, but as a means of getting them to open up so he could minister to them. I find two noteworthy statements close by.… Read the rest

True spiritual leadership

Christians today find it easy to  hold the scribes and pharisees of Jesus’ day in contempt. If Jesus was so critical, then they must have been evil religious hypocrites, right?

We forget that they were among the most highly respected people in their society. Most of them, at least, must have been sincere and  honorable. Alas, too many modern Christian leaders take after the ones Jesus scolded. (One, of course, is one too many.) When they come under criticism, many of their followers go to great lengths to defend them.

Indeed, religious leaders who live less than godly lives have always presented a quandary. … Read the rest