Curiosities, Novelties and the Bible
My concern is for teachers of the Bible. As a teacher, it is inevitable that as you study the Bible and theology, you will come across a perspective that you have never heard before. For example, while I was studying the subject of angels and demons for my sermon in Matthew 8, I discovered some new research that tweaked my interest. None of it was relevant to what I was preaching in the text. But it did start a train of thought where I might be on the trail of something new. And because it was new, there was the temptation to share it with others before it had solidified in my mind AND before I was convinced it was taught uniformly in scripture. Here, Paul might warn us of ‘lofty speculation/opinions’ and the ‘elemental spirits of the world’ (1 Corinthians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 2:20-23). And yet, there is an attraction to share the new idea. Maybe it was through pride to demonstrate that I was studying cutting edge research, maybe it was just to present something novel, or perhaps it was just a desire to stimulate discussion?
A teacher of God’s word, one must be above such behavior. We may only teach what we are certain God’s word says. James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.’ The scriptures are clear. Our task is to equip the body of Christ and to build up the body of Christ (see the mandate in Ephesians 4:11-2). Therefore, when you are confronted with something new that you have never heard before or you are researching a concept that may turn out to be true, how should you handle it? I always ask myself, ‘does it build up?’ If it doesn’t, I keep such thoughts to myself for the time being (or at most only discuss with individuals who are mature in their faith). I would hate to be the source of division in the body through a misguided teaching. This doesn’t mean suppress the truth. But we must learn to handle the truth wisely enough to make sure that we are actually speaking truth.
The last thing we would want to see happen is to discover we have built a foundation of sand under those we are called to teach. Matthew 7:26-27 (ESV) And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
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