You are very content to go to church and participate in various Christian events. You don't think about, let alone worry about doctrine. You simply listen to what your pastor/priest/minister says on Sunday morning and attempt to apply it to your life. No stress, no conflict, no real deep thinking. If he says it, you believe it! If you're attending a church connected Bible study, it will no doubt reflect the messages you've been listening to, and the 'doctrine' of your church.
And then.....the Holy Spirit in you draws you into His Word and some independent study. Lo and behold, you see truths that aren't taught in your church, and you become confused. What is 'right' you want to know. Doesn't my pastor read the Bible? Do I dare ask him why he differs from God's Word? Should I ask him to explain?
Let me just ask.....when you feel that your doctor hasn't diagnosed your condition correctly, when your financial advisor suggests an ill-conceived plan, when your elected politicians disappoint......what do you do? Probably, make a change, but first, you no doubt confront them to make sure you understand their position, and they understand yours!
Why wouldn't you confront your pastor in the same way?
Galatians 6:6 - "Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor." A preacher is instructing you out of God's Word, and if the Word is being distorted, you need to tell him - gently, respectfully, but absolutely!
I've come to know that no teacher has the whole/complete truth all the time! Only God is God and perfect beyond question. If your pastor would rather talk and talk instead of directing you to the Bible where you can then learn from the Lord, talk to him about that. He doesn't know your needs unless you express them. Unless you're a good note taker and then go back and review those notes, you'll forget a good deal of what was 'taught' by the very next day! If, however you are given Scripture verses, you can start exploring what God has said and He will open your eyes to the truth and share with you what He wants you to know. You may find yourself reading verses you've never seen before.....truth that could change your life and thinking about who you are in Christ.
I've been going into our local jail for over nine years now. I teach the inmates from God's word. But humanity always tries to creep in. I sometimes hear myself saying something that I know has come, not from God, but from my humanity. That's Satan trying to look like the light of the world! What he whispers in our ear always sounds so good, so true! If we aren't protected by the armour of God, we'll fall for Satan's humanistic teaching every time.
Ephesians 6: 10 - 19 alerts us to the spiritual warfare that we're subject to and must stand against.
- Take a stand against the devil's schemes
- We don't struggle against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil
- Stand your ground when evil comes
- Stand firm in truth
- Take up the shield of faith to extinguish flaming arrows of the evil one
- Fight with the 'sword of the Spirit', which is the word of God
- Fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel
It's important that we know the difference between a particular church's doctrine, and the doctrine of the Bible. Where there is a conflict, stand by the Scripture.
For instance, can you explain from a Biblical perspective how you could have a free will and God also be sovereign?
Or, if the Bible says we come to believe by faith, and faith comes to us as a gift of God, how can a person respond to God without this gift?
Martin Luther was a German monk living in the 16th century when he saw a verse while transcribing the book of Galatians.....vs. 3:11 "The righteous will live by faith". Luther said he felt like he'd reached out to grab a rope and didn't know it had a huge bell on it that rang throughout the world. The Catholic Church did not teach grace and were very much under the law rather than knowing their salvation was 'by grace through faith which was a gift of God', Eph. 2:8. This single verse in Scripture, Galatians 3:11, was the genesis of the reformation that swept the world and begin the Protestant Church. The struggle continues to this day....we keep falling back under the law rather than living by faith. It seems less 'risky', more comfortable.
With the invention of the printing press in 1445, the Bible was more available and people were not solely dependent on learning from the leaders of the church, they could read the Scriptures.
So then, if you are confused by what you hear, don't hesitate to hold your pastor accountable. Ask that he show you in the Bible where his teaching comes from. And remember, we are told that we 'must share all good things' with our instructor....Gal. 6:6
Acts 17:2 talks about the apostle Paul 'reasoning with them from Scripture'.....Paul didn't feel like he 'knew it all', he depended on God's word and God blessed him by allowing the Holy Spirit to direct him in writing a good deal of the New Testament!
Acts 17: 10 -12 - is the story of Paul and Silas leaving Thessalonica and going to Berea. The Bereans received the message with "great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true".
Do the same, examine the Scriptures to see if what you are being taught is true!
Thank you Lord that you have provided a way for us to know the truth, and if we know the truth we will be set free from human error.