Growing up in the area that I have grown up and lived in all of my life, hearing of a false teacher/man teaching false against the Bible, was very rare. I don't know that this means there weren't any around (most likely not according to the Bible - Matt 7:15; Rom 16:17-18; 1 John 4:1, etc.), but it sure wasn't heard of.
There is probably a correlation between elderships and this as well. Most churches during my younger years had sound men fulfilling the role of elder, that would shepherd the flock and keep this false teaching away. That is certainly one of their responsibilities.
Paul warned Timothy about men that would come as false teachers and false prophets, only saying things that would please "itching ears." So, we know it is not anything new. Of course, there does seem to be lots more that are "itching" these days than ever before.
Our world is in what can be deemed as a mass state of "religious confusion!" You have to sometimes read the "fine print" on the sign outside the building to even find the characteristics that are claimed to. Some congregations have renamed themselves just by an area in which they are (The Glade church, Thompson Station church for example). These two that I have mentioned were once of the Baptist denomination, but it is hard to even tell that anymore.
There are congregations of the Lord's church that advertise that they are XYZ church and then below the really big capital letters, there is usually something small like "a church of Christ," or just "church of Christ" in very small print in comparison.
God did not author this mass hysteria. Christ did not come to this earth and pour out His blood for a building with a name on it that sounds more like a franchised event center than the church. Why in this world have sound Christians allowed this to happen? And...where have all of the sound Christians gone?
I have had a few lengthy discussions with some friends who are members of different congregations lately where false teaching has, and continues to be being done. I am totally mesmerized sometimes by some of the defense that is coming out of the very mouths of Christian brethren that have in times past been very loyal to the truth. I am hearing things like "well, maybe we are taking that too literal," or "you know, we tend to over-emphasize certain things."
What?!?! Jesus Christ DIED for this gospel that we should be preaching! He DIED for His church! He DIED so that WE might LIVE! How dare any of us take up some sort of hobby that the Bible is just too much to live by, teach, and understand. Could you imagine your child giving up their life for maybe this country in battle, then someone telling lies about their life? Unreal thought, isn't it!?
Friends, these things are running rampant in the church today...and it ought not be so! Please carefully note some of these things that are being taught along with some example scripture in which we can find the truth!
- "Elderships are not necessary in the church. Business meetings by the men are just fine." - The church was not designed to be a "business." The church was designed to seek and save the lost. Elders are not "businessmen" that can be replaced by just any man (or woman) for the purpose of "knowing how to keep the doors open," "deciding to keep money in a bank account that really should be being used for the church instead," "deciding to build buildings designed to attract more confused religious folks." Elders were instituted by example in Acts 14:23 for the purpose of shepherding the flock. Elders are still needed as much, if not more, today than in those days.
- "The Lord's Supper can be taken at any time, day or night, and it is a common meal" - Acts 20:7 shows that the disciples met on the first day of the week. Paul had even waited until this day before leaving the area. 1 Cor 11 condemns coming together for such a "common meal" when the Lord's Supper is to be eaten.
- "The Bible does not speak against mechanical instruments in worship to God." - Yes, that is sort of correct. BUT, Eph 5:19, Col 3:16, and 1 Cor 14 all talk about "singing." Never do you see a time in the Bible after the day of Pentecost that an instrument was used in worship. There has to be some structure involved in CENI (Command, Example, Necessary Inference) in matters such as this.
- "There is no such thing as 'silence of the scriptures' or 'expediency'" - Not sure exactly how anyone can state these things and even remotely believe the Bible. 1. No silence of the scriptures? How about the story of Nadab and Abihu? God was silent there, wasn't He? 2. Expediency - I guess that utilizing a song book, individual communion cups, pews or chairs, buildings, heating and air, water fountains, pencils, baptistries inside the building, and the like would be covered under some book of the Bible that I have not read? Hmm...expediency has to be a reasonable tool to use by appropriate church leadership, otherwise, again, there would be mass confusion.
- "Christ returned in AD 70 to fulfill all of the Bible, judging the world, etc." - This is one of the craziest theories that I have ever read/heard/considered. The Bible is clear on Jesus coming again to judge all, bringing the saved with Him to heaven. (1 Thes 4:16-17; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 3:10; Revelation; Matt 25, etc.)
- "Hell is just a metaphor, the absence of God." - Hell is real! The suffering that will be endured in Hell is going to be indescribable. It is not simply the separation of God. Some of the same verse above cover this false teaching, as well as Luke 16.
- "Baptism is universal, regardless of the intended purpose, (i.e., placing membership in a denomination, baptism not for remission of sins, etc.)." Sigh...In the book of Acts, there is example more than once of a baptism that is not correct. One of these times was when Apollos was taken aside and taught a more excellent way regarding baptism. Acts 2:38, 22:16, 1 Pet 3:21, Rom 6:1-6 all explain that baptism is essential, what it is for, and a proper manner of immersion, not sprinkling, dipping, or otherwise.
These are just a few examples of what is being taught around the world, but even more concerning for my brethren, friends, and neighbors, right in our own back yards! False teaching is not isolated to one area. False teaching is part of post-modernism, progressivism, liberalism, universalism, and other spiritually deadly groupings.
Please consider something. If you are worshipping within a false teaching environment, how can you determine what is truth...and what is not? While it is a good deed to try to hold on to what little truth might be remaining at a congregation, it is a tough battle to enter into when the truth is being brushed under the carpet for "new and better" ideas. If you are worshipping with someone that you cannot determine if what they say is truth...or error...the Bible says "and you shall know the truth...and the truth shall make you free." We have to divide, study, and apply every word that the Bible contains. We can't just take the rosy, feel-good, let's get as big as we can approach. We MUST worship in spirit...and in truth!
Please pray for those that are teaching falsely, those that believe one thing and teach another, and those that are wayward because of these men that are teaching such. I will join you!