Paul called the Ephesian elders down to Miletus and gave them some sobering instructions. What were these instructions? “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29,30) Where would the danger originate? From within the flock.
In Peter’s second epistle, he gave a similar warning. “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)
If we understand these two passages, it should cause us to see the danger of false teaching. Sadly, many congregations of the Lord’s church wait too long before taking action. Error takes hold. How could it be prevented? “These were more fair-minder than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) Also read John 4:1.
Church members need to be concerned and to listen to what they are being taught! If more brethren were more serious about this, the church would be much sounder. Why aren’t we learning from the lessons of the past? Remember Pergamos. What did the Lord have against her? “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus, you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” (Revelation 2:14,15)
This church tolerated false teachers and the error they taught! Instead of opposing the false teaching, they allowed it to take root and spread throughout the church. Simply put, they compromised truth. Why did they remain silent? We do not know. What reason could any church have for allowing error to take root? Following are a few I’ve heard.
• “We don’t want to hurt feelings.” Should we have more concern for the souls of the listeners, and of the false teacher, or for their feelings.
• “We need to be longsuffering.” Certainly, no one denies the need to be longsuffering. But how longsuffering should we be when souls are at stake? Read Galatians 2:3.
• “We cannot all agree on any point of truth.” During the past few years, this has been the cry of some of our brethren. Can we no longe understand truth? ***