The Test of Good Teaching

Paul’s last word to the leaders of the church in Ephesus was spoken on a seashore and warned about false teachers.

Acts 20.29-30 – “I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.

“Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them.”

Timothy remained in Ephesus and Paul wrote to him from Philippi. The “savage wolves” had come to Ephesus and Paul needed Timothy to correct the situation.

Paul outlined the problem in the first chapter of the letter and provided a solution in the remaining chapters.

1 Timothy 1.3-5 – I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach different teachings

And not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith.

But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.

Different Teachings

The different teachings of the “wolves” went beyond the simple message of the gospel.

As a teacher, I know the temptation to show off what I have learned. I can’t remember all of the times when I have picked up a nugget of information that my pride required I share with people.

There was a time when pride and education almost made a shipwreck of my ministry.

I am profoundly grateful that God graciously rescued me from the pride of an educated person.

We don’t know why the “wolves” made myths and genealogies so central to their message. We do know that speculations instead of the message of the gospel harms the people of God.

It is dangerous to trust a message that claims to be right while teaching that the entire body of Christ over the ages is wrong.

Some denominations are divided over baptism, the Trinity, gifts of the Spirit, communion, and social issues.

Rudy Ross often quotes C. S. Lewis and uses the image of a large building with a lobby. Denominations seem to live in separate rooms.

Lewis and Rudy rightly believe that the various divisions of the church should come out of their rooms and join together in “lobby” of the building. There they can unite to fulfill the central truths of the gospel.

We should agree on what we can agree on and serve the Lord faithfully.

The Test of Teaching

Like Paul, Jesus referred to false teachers as “wolves.” His test for them was what their message produced.

Matthew 7.15-16 – “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.”

Just like Jesus, Paul focused on the results of the message being taught.

The desired product of teaching was the “good fruit” that Jesus called for.

1 Timothy 1.5 – But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.

The “wolves” that came to Ephesus missed the true center of Christian teaching.

The “good fruit” of correct instruction is not an inflated ego and a head filled with information. Good behavior is the result of good teaching.

Let’s not overlook the words that Paul emphasized: a pure heart of love, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

That is the measure of good teaching and we should measure our religious experience with those words.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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