“How To Test False Teachers”

Categories: Baptism, Doctrine, False Teachers, Salvation, The Bible

The Scriptures warn us of false teachers. Jesus taught, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7.15). Paul wrote, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4.3-4).

I know of no one personally who believes himself to be a false teacher; let alone acknowledge being one. Thus, it is necessary to test all teachers. John taught, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4.1). Paul said, “…test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5.21). How can we test all things from a teacher claiming to speak to us God’s word? The same way we would test anything else in life.

For instance, if a school board agrees upon a particular math textbook to be the standard in all their schools, then all math teachers are bound to teach only that which is found within the pages of said textbook. Likewise, all students will be graded in accordance to what they learned from the textbook. Now, let’s say the teacher believes 2 + 2 = 5, which is wrong according to the math book. She then proceeds to teach what she believes to be true and many of the students accept her answer and believe it to be true without even questioning her. Yet, while one student searches through the math book he stumbles upon a page that teaches 2 + 2 = 4. Knowing this to be in direct opposition to what his teacher is teaching, he begins to question her concerning her original statement. This student is testing his teacher by the book.

Since he will be graded by what is taught in the math book and not by the teacher, it is necessary to his final grade that he heed the words of the math book instead of the words of his teacher. Similarly, we will be judged by the word of God (John 12.48; Rom. 2.16). Therefore, it is vital to our salvation that we test all preachers, pastors and teachers (Acts 17.11) with the only source and standard for truth, namely, the Scriptures (John 17.17).

Many teach that baptism is not essential to salvation. They say, “baptism does not save.” However, notice that the apostle Peter taught, “…Baptism…now saves you” (1 Peter 3.21). Who is the false teacher? Peter? Elsewhere, Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16.16). Notice please that Jesus says belief + baptism = salvation. Unfortunately, many preachers teach, “whoever believes and is not baptized will be saved…” Those who espouse this teaching place baptism after salvation because they believe baptism does not save, whereas Jesus places baptism before salvation. Like the teacher above, one may whole heartily believe something, but just believing doesn’t make it true. It must be backed by facts or in this case, Scripture. Thus, we’ve shown twice that baptism does save. What are we doing? We are testing teachers by the Scriptures to see if whether or not they are false. – Bryan Garlock