The Biblical Mandate for the True Man of God to
Contend for the Faith

    John too warns against those in the church who professed Christ as Lord and remained in error and sin. He begged them to "try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1).

     This means that there were people in the congregation who believed and taught false doctrine. Any preacher who does not firmly deal with error gives these unbelieving church members the opportunity to lead others in the church astray. 2 JOHN: In 2 John 7-10, the Apostle John warns of the coming of many deceivers and stresses we are not to even bid god speed to false teachers who do not hold to sound doctrine. He warns that to even bid them "God speed" is to be a partaker of their evil.

 3 JOHN: In this little Epistle John with vigor denounces people in the church which are evil. (Verse 11). John like Paul names the man who was causing trouble in the church. In very revealing terms he refers to Diotrephes, as "one who loves to have the preeminence among the brethren." John openly accused this man in a position of leadership in the church of: (1) Refusing to receiving the Apostle John, (2) Making malicious statements against the apostles, (3) Refusing to receive missionaries, (4) Leading the church to kick out those that were missions minded.

 J. Vernon McGee, said, "I am of the opinion he tried to keep his pastor under his thumb in order that he could preside. Diotrephes is a man who was self-opinionated. As I am saying all of this, I wonder if you recognize this fellow. In many churches today, there are men like Diotrephes, men who want to run the church" (II John, III John and Jude, Thru the Bible Books, Pasadena, CA, 1979, pages 54-55). Diotrephes, would not submit to the preaching of the Apostle John, and I am sure no other God called pastor either. He wanted to be the chief. (Ref. "A Translator's Handbook on the Letters of John," Haas De Jonge and Swellengrebel, United Bible Societies, 1972, page 154-155).

 REVELATION: John in the book of Revelation records Christ's strong admonishment in each of the seven churches mentioned in Rev. 2 - 3.

 To Ephesus: Rev. 2:2 "I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." The Church at Ephesus is commended by Christ for not being able to bear them which are evil, who are false apostles in the church. He calls them liars. What was their lie? They taught false doctrine in the church.

 To Pergamum: Rev. 2:14, "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which I hate."

     Christ warned this church about letting in those who do not hold to strong doctrine. The reason is they cast a stumbling block before others in the church. The Nicolaitanes were a sect in the church, who are believed to have come from the teachings of Nicolas of Antioch (Acts 6:5) or another unidentified Nicolas. Basically he taught a "liberated" Christianity. The root of this philosophy was in the Nicolaitanes "hiring" themselves to do religious work for material gain. They wanted to control the people and establish a hierarchy in the churches. This "professionalized" the office of the pastor naturally lead to a watering down of doctrine to make Christianity more palatable to people. The root of the word comes from Greek nikao, meaning to conquer or overcome, and laos, which means people and is the word "laity" comes from. The two words together especially refers to the earliest form of what we call a priestly order or clergy which later on in church history divided people allowing for leadership other than those led by the Lord Jesus Christ. This philosophy led to the acceptance of the idea of a "universal" church grew into the Roman Catholic church. Their error was that Jesus Christ was dethroned as the Head of the church and His word as the sole authority for faith and practice. Church leaders became the authority and tradition based on church counsels and degrees by popes replaced

     The point is that Christ named names and exposed error with strong warnings. Christ said that He hated their "deeds" false and misleading teachings (Rev. 2:6,15).

To Thyatira: Christ wrote concerning the "Jezebel" that this church was allowing to teach and seduce the members into spiritual adultery. Christ warns that He would soundly destroy her and her followers. Note that in verse 23, Christ commends some in the church for not holding to her false "doctrine."

To Sardis: Christ instructs to be "watchful," and says that a few had not "spoiled" their garments. Verse 3 says they are to hold fast the doctrine the had heard and repent from any turning from it.

 To the Philadelphia: Christ warmly commends them because they had kept the Word of God and not denied His name. He also states there were others who were of the "synagogue of Satan" who were liars. Again, may I state that their lie was false doctrine.

 To the Laodicea: Christ warned them about complacency towards letting the world influence them. They were compromisers of the Word of God, and their philosophy was "don't rock the boat."

What Does All This Many References to False Teaching and Teachers Mean?

    The example of the writers of the New Testament, which is the Very Word of God, clearly is that we strongly address the issues and false teaching and teachers of our day, even as they did in their day. It is clear this we are commanded to do, and that God desired that these errors be exposed and that the children of God live in Truth, apart from error, which is sin. This is an important part of the matter. To embrace error is sin and causes one to lose the blessings of God.

     The modern philosophy today is moving toward ecumenicalism, or of putting away of doctrinal differences, "so we can all work for the Lord and see folks saved." This is gross error! The work of the Lord from salvation to maturity is SOLELY based on Scripture which is doctrine. If a church believes, holds to, and teaches false teaching it limits Gods ability to bless in that area. It also denotes a serious flaw in their understanding of the Scriptures and being unable to correctly understand that each doctrine effects to some degree other areas of their teaching and ministry. God cannot bless error. A church that allows false doctrine to be preached can honestly be questioned in regard to whether it is a legitimate work of the Lord.

    Of great importance in understanding the pastor's role and message is to understand that the messages in the Book of Revelation were addressed to the "angels" or messengers of the various churches. Christ addressed each church through its pastor! That is God's expressed plan in the Old and New Testaments.

All Error Must Be Rejected!

    Another modern philosophy is to ignore the scriptural command to study the Word and to reject ALL error. The idea is that there are "lesser" teachings or doctrines, which are really not important. One popular Bible commentator often said, "We should not major on the minors." What he was saying was to preach only the major doctrines upon which most would agreed not mention the rest of Scripture. This false idea is certainly not in the Bible. Many stand in pulpits today are more gracious and tolerant of false doctrine than God. In this they elevate themselves above God, judging for themselves what is right and what is wrong. No preacher was ever called of God to represent his personal philosophy or "feelings" or intellectual conclusions about biblical matters. His mandate is to proclaim the whole counsel of the Word of God . . . nothing more or nothing less.

     This puts an awesome, but not unfulfillable responsibility on the man who steps into the pulpit or teacher's podium and proceeds to speak for God. When he addresses God's children he best know of what he speaks and that takes a lifetime commitment to be a student of God's Word.

     We are instructed to, "study to show ourselves approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY dividing the word of God" (2 Tim. 2:15). Note that the strong emphasis of this verse is to study to be able to rightly divide the Word without error. Some have claimed that this passage is only addressing godly living meaning we should should "study" on how to live for the Lord. But I believe they miss the point. How can you "study" to live for the Lord and not know what "thus saith the Lord?" One can only rightly divide the word of God he knows it.

     Paul defended himself against his critics this way: "I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him" (2 Cor. 11:1-2). Verse 11, further says that Paul did what he did, to literally "cut off" occasion or opportunity for those who teach error to cause the Corinthians to stumble and be lead astray.

     In Titus 1:10-16, Paul addressed those in the church at Crete which were ignoring doctrine and allowing error to come into the church, "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake." This is a major problem today many churches. Many preachers today compromise God's word for the sake of money (filthy lucre). They know that if the preached the whole counsel of God's word they would lose their financially profitable churches. Thus they have become the "hirelings" Jesus spoke of who will not protect the flock from the wolves. (John 10:12-13) Woe unto that man who compromises God's word and correspondingly his responsibility as God's preacher for money!

     The ability to discernment between right and wrong is a direct result of knowing the Bible's principles. Because there is a lack of biblical preaching in many churches there also correspondingly is a lack of discernment that allows the false brethren an audience and opportunity to mislead.

    Paul instructed young Titus to, as verse 13 says, "rebuke them "sharply", that they may be sound in the faith." In 2:15, he again says to "rebuke them with all authority. Let no man despise thee." In I Tim. 4:12, Paul commanded Timothy to devote himself to public reading of Scripture, preaching and to doctrine.

    The apostle noted the importance of doctrine and in 2 John 9, stated "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the DOCTRINE of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the DOCTRINE of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son."

    This Scripture clearly reveals that trusting Christ is accepting the doctrine of Christ and all the truth of Scripture. A redeemed sinner becomes a follower of God and is indwelled by the Holy Spirit. He has a new nature that is the nature of God. His new nature gives him the desire and need to follow the Lord. Jesus said that His sheep knew His voice and that they would not follow another.

    As stated earlier John went on to say how the believer should treat the one who refused to receive the Word of God. In verse 10, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. For he that biddeth him God speed is a partaker of his evil deed" (2 John 10).

     These and many other Scriptures gives God's pastor the Scriptural basis to name names of those who teach error, and direct him to be separated from them that they would not even by association, even innocently appear to support doctrinal error. Other references are 2 Thess. 3:6 "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teachings you received from us"(see verses 14 and 15) 2 Cor. 6:14, instructs, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers" (See I Tim. 6:3-5, Gal. 1:6-10).

    Paul said expressively in Gal. 1:10, that he sought to please God and be the servant of Christ and not be a "man pleaser" or one who would allow error to go uncorrected so as to please men or not offend anyone.

    You today cannot turn on the TV or even read a Newspaper without seeing something about modern Christianity. Most of what is said and presented as Christian is blatantly not biblical and subjects the lost world to many convincing false doctrines. 2 Cor. 11:14-15, says these false teachers appear even as "angels of light!" These false teachers look very good to a world ignorant of God's Word. These men are worse than medical "quacks" whose false practice causes physical harm. These men are the handy work of Satan himself in spreading religious lies and entrapping men's soul in damnable heresies.

How Are Believers to Feel About False Doctrine and Teachers?

    The true pastor has a strong commitment to do as the Scriptures admonish him to do. He must teach God's truth which is the Holy Bible. You cannot preach the whole counsel of God's Word and not soundly, and sharply rebuke false teachings and teachers. What then should his attitude be toward error and those that promote it?

     It should be understood that the Bible gives overwhelming evidence from Scripture that the man of God loves the truth and "hates" false teaching and rejects and rebukes those who perpetrate it. This is not different from the feelings of the Lord Jesus. It must be a pure hatred that stems from a deep love of truth and commitment to the Lord. Psalm 139:21-22 says, "I hate them, O Lord that hate thee. I hate them with a perfect hatred." It is not a hatred of the individual person, but of the lie that all false doctrine is.

     Christ in Rev. 2:6, stated He "hated" the deeds of the Nicolaitanes which were false teachers. In the Old Testament, there are many references admonishing us to hate evil and false teachings. A few are: Prov. 6:16, 8:13, Isa. 61:8, Psa. 97:10, 101:3, 119:104, 113, 128, 163, Jer. 44:4, Amos 5:15, Zec. 8:17. In Ephesians 4:26, Paul says "be angry and sin not." This verses teach there is anger that is not sinful, however we are told that to let it continue is sin, inferring it could cause bitterness and lead to sin.

What is in the True Pastor's Heart?

    Paul instructed Timothy to be an "example to the believers in word, in love." Assuredly every pastor must continually work on being the example God has called him to be. He must be careful that he does not become a causality of the battle he finds himself in and become bitter toward the world and those he is called to serve. God's man must prayerfully serve in love, lest he become over bearing and have an unloving spirit.

     The faithful pastor will always pray that God would make him a better preacher, and more a useful tool. Every pastor prays that God would remove their rough edges and that they would become polished mature preachers of the Bible. In closing, it is the pastor's heart to stand and not compromise the Truth, or speak in deceit, immorally, in guile nor seek the approval of men rather than God ( I Thess. 2:1-12, Gal. 1:9-10). He must not use flattery, or any means but the truth to bring men to repentance, and thus to salvation and then church membership.

     The man of God has no other calling. He has no other course to take but to follow his Lord's command to, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and DOCTRINE" (I Tim. 4:2). And to, "...commit to FAITHFUL men, who shall be able to teach others also" (II Tim. 2:2).

    In conclusion may I urge each who take the time to read this article to do as the Bereans, to be noble and "received the Word of God with readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).

*All Rights Reserved - 1988, 1996, 2000. This article may be freely used and copied as long as it is not sold. The author requests that if you use the material, make multiple copies, or distribute it that you inform him that it might be a source of encouragement. Your comments are also welcome.

Return to Sermons Page
Return to Apologetic Page
Return to Bible Truth Home Page

The Fundamental Top 500

free counters