Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Dt. 11:19 π Isa. 28:9-10 π Isa. 28:10 π Isa. 28:11 π Isa. 28:11-13 π Isa. 28:13 π Isa. 29:13 π Jer. 6:16-19 π Jer. 23:16 π Hos. 5:11; 2nd; 3rd π Hos. 11:12 π Mt. 7:6 π Mt. 7:21-23 π Mt. 20:25-26 π Mt. 23:8 π Mt. 23:10; 2nd; 3rd π Mk. 7:9-13 π Mk. 10:42-43 π Lk. 3:10-14 π Lk. 22:25-26 π Jn. 1:1-3 π Jn. 3:13-21 π Acts 17:1-10 π Acts 19:10 π Acts 20:27; 2nd π Rom. 1:20 π Rom. 16:17 π 1 Cor. 8:1 π 1 Cor. 9:27 π 2 Cor. 3:6 π Gal. 3:23-25 π Gal. 5:4 π Eph. 4:11; 2nd π Eph. 4:16 π 1 Ths. 1:8 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 1 Tim. 1:2 π 1 Tim. 1:9-10 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 1 Tim. 5:17 π 2 Tim. 3:10-11 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4; 2nd π Tit. 2:1-15 π Tit. 2:11-14 π Heb. 4:11 π Heb. 4:12 π Heb. 5:12; 2nd π Heb. 8:10; 2nd π Heb. 8:10-11 π Jas. 1:22 π Jas. 3:1 π 1 Pet. 4:10-11 π 1 Pet. 4:11 π 1 Jn. 2:27; 2nd π

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” ( 2 Tim. 4:3-4 - emphasis added; top)

In the end times, teachers will have the pre-eminence within the framework of the apostasy, that is, the great falling away from the faith. (see 1 Tim. 4:1 ; 2 Ths. 2:3 ) This will also be true within all the breakaway, splinter groups who falsely suppose themselves to have forsaken the apostasy but who have carelessly brought along some portion or measure of its vile leaven even as they have otherwise “shaken the dust off their feet” of the illegitimate religious system called “church.” Teachers are given the pre-eminence, Paul tells us, because the people have rejected sound doctrine, the practical expression of Christ’s self-sacrificing love for one another (see Tit. 2:1-15; top ) and have pursued fables (stories, false knowledge) which only puffs up the self’s already inflated opinions of its own worth.

But we also know there is a place for teaching and teachers within a genuine expression of following Christ. (see Eph. 4:11 ; 1 Tim. 5:17 for example.) We also see, however, that this place is not the place of pre-eminence before crowds of people given to it by the practicers of apostasy. (see 1 Jn. 2:27 ; Heb. 5:12; top )

A Teacher’s Role

So what is the place of a genuine New Testament teacher, especially one who spiritually qualifies as an elder? The life in Christ is such that very little is transmitted from the teacher to a student by lectures (sermons). Knowledge and information is passed on (in small percentage to the volume of spoken material presented) in this manner, but true discipleship does not occur.

Paul wrote to Timothy (his “son in the faith” - 1 Tim. 1:2 ), “But you have carefully followed my doctrine [teaching], manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra – what persecutions I endured.” ( 2 Tim. 3:10-11; top ) In this list of ten aspects of Paul’s life, we do find “teaching” (“doctrine”). But let us clearly recognize that it is only one out of ten items in a list! Also, although Timothy undoubtedly heard Paul teach many things at meetings, in homes and even in synagogues as they traveled on their apostolic missions, it is ludicrous to believe that these were the best and deepest teaching times for Timothy. Rather, it was when Paul and Timothy were alone, away from any groups or crowds where only relatively general themes could be addressed, that Timothy – just as the twelve disciples did with Jesus – could ask deeply personal questions and interact with Paul so as to plumb the depths of Paul’s insights and wisdom and apply it deeply to his own life. Anyone who has struggled with any academic subject knows quite well that a personal tutor is of far greater value than even the most eloquent and gifted lecturer – but the practicers of apostasy have been blinded to this obvious fact they once knew.

The truth goes even further than this because Jesus has also said, “And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.” ( Mt. 23:10 ) The Greek word here is “kathagetes” [2519]. This is the only place this word is used in the New Testament though it was commonly used in koine Greek for “teacher.” In Latin, it is translated “doctor” – one who speaks forth doctrines. It is the modern Greek word for “professor.” This command is in the context of Jesus’ command to not be called “Rabbi” (“my great one,” “my Master”). The sense here is “do not seek to be called these things.” (See A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. 1, pp. 180-181, on Mt. 23:8 , 10 ) One of the clearest ways to avoid being called “professor,” “master” or “doctor” is to refuse to step into the role of professorial lecturer. This role, kathagetes, elevates one man over the crowd of passive listeners (making him clergy in every sense of that evil word), it is different from the gifting of teacher (see Eph. 4:11 (top) , didaskalos [1320]) and it is woefully inadequate as a discipleship method.

We find in the Old Testament a clear instruction as to how fathers should teach the ways of the Lord to their children. “You shall teach [these words of the Lord given through Moses] to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” ( Dt. 11:19; top ) It there be any philosophy that New Testament teachers ought to embrace, this would be it. But this philosophy does not fit into our modern religious notions of meetings so it couldn’t possibly be the best way to teach people – it’s just too impractical and non-pragmatic – so it has been discarded. Indeed we have sold our priceless inheritance for a bowl of soup!

It should be clearly stated that no methodology or philosophy, especially when embraced as a permanent institution, is the way in which God will lead His people. Any methodology which men can use at their own discretion is the very mechanism which will quench the work of the Holy Spirit and will quickly turn every new move of God into an old wineskin. These methodologies and philosophies, when used in the time and season and for the purpose that God intends, indeed do bring forth the life of God. But when the method or philosophy becomes an entrenched institution – in effect, the thing which is obeyed instead of God – all manner of evil will ensue. A discerning look into those institutions which have embraced these teachings is all the proof one needs to know that no methodology or philosophy by itself, no matter how “good” it sounds to the human ear, can ever produce the righteousness. In fact, if it sounds good to the human ear, there is a very great chance it is the apostasy. ( 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top )

Line Upon Line

One of the most devastating methodologies in existence today is the notion that people need to be taught all the way through the Bible, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, line by line, precept by precept. This methodology produces several evils:

1) It turns a teacher into a lecturer, a kathagetes. If he becomes popular, he will gather followers to himself (starting his own “church” or sect) and he will begin to exercise authority over them. (either subtly or overtly – see Mt. 20:25-26 ; Mk. 10:42-43 ; Lk. 22:25-26; top )

2) It turns disciples (learners, practitioners) into perpetual students (mere hearers – see Jas. 1:22 ) and provides a way for a mixed multitude to be given the precious things of God (see Mt. 7:6; top ), allowing them to call and think themselves “Christians” when there is no motivation or need for them to actually bear the fruit of the Spirit.

3) It produces intellectually puffed up, “spiritually” obese “theologians,” well-schooled in the letter of the text but wholly devoid of the life of the Spirit. (see 1 Cor. 8:1 ; 2 Cor. 3:6; top )

4) It takes too long. Paul taught the Thessalonians for only three weeks but by the time he wrote to them, they were a world-wide example of following Christ. (Compare Acts 17:1-10 with 1 Ths. 1:8 ) The writer of Hebrews reproved his readers for being students too long. ( Heb. 5:12 ) By the time a person gets taught the Bible verse by verse in any depth (a process that takes 5 to 10 years), what they are most proficient in is passive listening. God’s laws are written in the heart. ( Heb. 8:10-11; top ) The “trick” is not to get information and knowledge in but rather to get loving, self-sacrificing, Christ-like action out!

The passage that most teachers rely on for this methodology is found in Isaiah 28. This the only place in the whole Bible where we find the phrases “line upon line” and “precept upon precept.” The prophecy given to Isaiah reads, “Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the beasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” ( Isa. 28:9-10; top )

And this is where the practicers of this methodology seem to stop – something which is quite inconsistent with even their own idea of teaching every line. The prophecy goes on to say, “For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, to whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest.’ And, ‘This is the refreshing’; yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was to them, ‘Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little’ that they might go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and caught.” ( Isa. 28:11-13; top )

Wow! The simple word of the Lord (embodied in the New Testament command to “Be diligent to enter His rest.” – Heb. 4:11 ) had become unintelligible to the people (God was speaking to them, as it were, with stammering lips and another language – Isa. 28:11; top ) because they would not hear the simple words of the Lord. Instead, they erected multiple layers of intellectual knowledge that excused their disobedience to God’s simple instructions – and instead they went, they fell backward, they were broken, snared and caught in their own foolishness.

The word “precept” from Isaiah 28:10 and 13 is the Hebrew word “tsav” [6673]. The only other passage in the Old Testament which uses this word “tsav” is found in Hosea:

“Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked by human precept.” ( Hos. 5:11 - NKJV; italics in original)

“Ephraim is oppressed, he is crushed in judgment; because he was content to walk after man’s command. ( Hos. 5:11 - NASB; italics in original; top)

Both the New King James version and the New American Standard Bible put “human” and “man’s” (respectively) in italics because that word is not in the original Hebrew text! This is the translators’ best effort to convey what they believe to be the sense of the author – an effort which may or may not be mistaken. No translator yet has ever attempted to claim divine inspiration in the same sense as did the authors of the Scriptures. When we turn to the Septuagint version of this passage, we find that they translated “tsav” as “nothingness.” And in the Dead Sea Scrolls, we find it rendered “filth.” (See Hos. 5:11 Amp. footnote) Whatever else we might conclude from this information, it is very difficult to image that “precept” (“tsav”) is a good thing. Thus when you pile precept upon precept upon precept, you have a pile of things that are not good and pleasing to God. (Also see similar prophecies in Hos. 11:12 - also about Ephraim and Israel – and Jer. 6:16-19 . Also see Isa. 29:13 [top] where God rebukes the people for having learned the fear of the Lord as a precept (or commandment) of men.)

Jewish Traditionalism

Jewish traditionalism (that which had evolved into the religion of the Pharisees and Sadducees at the time of Jesus) is the express fulfillment of this prophecy. The Scriptures were not enough for the Jews. They felt it necessary to build a “hedge” around the Scriptures in order to protect and preserve their traditions. Thus they had three classifications of material from which they could draw to support their practices and traditions.

1) Ordinances, laws and usages that had prevailed for as long as they could remember. These came from both the Scriptures and from oral traditions attributed to but not written down by Moses. No proof from Scripture was deemed necessary – at most, all that was needed to support these ideas was some confirmatory allegory or allusion. These are the rock-solid “conventions” (like the existence of God, basic morality, etc.) and are not even considered open for discussion.

2) Oral law and/or traditional teachings. This is all that is supposed to be implied or that can be deduced from the Law of Moses. Here, at least, reference to and proof from the Scriptures was considered necessary.

3) The “hedge” around the Law. This was to prevent any breach of the Law or customs, to ensure exact, precise, minute (even petty) observance of the Law and customs, and to meet whatever peculiar circumstances and dangers to the Law and customs might arise. These were the sayings of scribes and teachers, most often completely unsupported by the teachings of the Scriptures.

From the time the Scriptures began to be written and used, there were “Targums” (private interpretations or paraphrases) of the Scriptures though these were initially very rare because of the intensely high regard given to the Scriptural texts. From the time of the Babylonian captivity (where the traditions of the scribes and rabbis and the synagogue also originated) we see a proliferation of writings.

From the beginning of this proliferation, the writings demonstrated two branches of theology:

1) “That which was said” (“Haggadah”), taken on the authority of the individual and not upon legal ordinance. This was the personal sayings of the Rabbis. It had value commensurate with the learning, reputation and popularity of the teachers or authority quoted – thus there was no absolute authority and teachings were subject to popular influence. This kind of teaching experienced an incredible amount of liberty and latitude in terms of truthfulness, historicity and even believability. This, quite unfortunately, was the source of almost all the doctrinal teachings in the synagogues of Jesus’ day.

2) “The rule of the spiritual road,” (“Halakah”), was the traditional ordinances: “The way the fathers walked and in which the children are bound to follow.” This was given greater authority than the Old Testament Scriptures and was, especially in comparison to the oral Haggadah, relatively fixed and stable, the authoritative collection being called the “Mishnah.”

The Mishnah is a “second law,” of Babylonian origin, that supplements the Law of Moses. It is broken into six “orders.” (“sedarim”) 1) Prayers and benedictions; 2) Sabbaths and festivals; 3) betrothal, marriage and divorce, 4) civil and criminal law; 5) sacrifices and offerings; and 6) “clean” and “unclean” ordinances. These orders are then divided into chapters and verses of various lengths like the Bible. In short, the Mishnah is a work comparable in size to the whole of our Bible.

There were still more writings. There were the Midrash (“investigation,” popularly applied to commentaries and preaching) and the Talmud (discussions, illustrations, explanations and additions to which the Mishnah gave rise – of which there is the Jerusalem Talmud and the longer Babylonian Talmud.) There were traditions that did not fall with the six orders of the Mishnah (“Boraithas”) and supplements to the Mishnah (“Tosephtoth”) as well as literature we would call apocryphal. (“Sepharim Genuzim”)

This reliance on material other than the Torah, the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, what we call the Old Testament, is why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees:

“All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban’” (that is, dedicated to the temple); and you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” ( Mk. 7:9-13; top )

The first precept or line says, “Honor your parents.” The second precept or line said, “What is dedicated to the temple is God’s.” Both of these statements are true and good but the Jews built precept upon precept and concluded that they could dismiss the first line by dedicating everything to God who probably would come around to collect it anyway. And many such things they did with God’s Law – as the preceding synopsis (gleaned from The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim, pp. 10-12, 100-108) clearly demonstrates. This vast proliferation of rules and opinions by the teachers (scribes and rabbis) is why the people, the tax collectors and even the soldiers all came to John the Baptist in complete confusion and ignorance of what God required of them. (see Lk. 3:10-14; top ) The intricate structures of knowledge constructed, in part, to “preserve” the Law, were actually preventing people from knowing how God wanted them to live!

Modern intellectual Bible teachers do exactly the same. Many “churches,” denominations and even individual teachers have constructed complex layers of their own peculiar dogmas. Unless you understand their take on “this” issue, you won’t be likely to grasp what they mean when they talk about “that” issue. The teacher who refuses to have fellowship with you unless you agree with all of his pet teachings and theories is the divisive man we are to reject and ignore. (see Rom. 16:17 ) We, the body of Christ, need to stop treating such men as if they were heroes of the faith and recognize them as the false prophets they really are. (see Jer. 23:16; top )

The Whole Counsel of God

Some teachers believe that teaching the whole Bible in the above manner is the same thing as teaching “the whole counsel of God” just as Paul had declared it to the Ephesian elders when he had lived in Ephesus. (see Acts 20:27; top ) Let’s look first at the fallacies involved in this comparison.

1) When Paul said that, there was no New Testament as we know it today. To say then that “the whole counsel of God” is the same as the Old and New Testaments is to wrench this statement completely out of its context.

2) To teach straight through even the Old Testament on anything but a cursory, survey level would require several years to accomplish. Paul only spent two years at Ephesus (see Acts 19:10; top ) To suppose that Paul used a straight-through-the-Bible approach to declare to the Ephesian elders “the whole counsel of God” is to again wrench this statement completely out of its context.

Saying that teaching the whole Bible is declaring the whole counsel of God is closely akin to the fallacy of believing the Bible to be the same thing as “the Word.” We call the Bible “the Word of God” but this is not completely true. The Bible is a collection of written pages – nothing but paper and ink. On the other hand:

“The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” ( Heb. 4:12 ) and

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” ( Jn. 1:1-3; top )

No Bible, the Book made of paper and ink, has ever been alive and powerful. Nor has it ever separated between soul and spirit – no matter how thin the pages were! It wa not a Bible that was with God, that was God and that participated in creation in the beginning. That was the living Person and Spirit of Christ that is the living Word of God.

The living Word continues to speak today - primarily through the written words of the Bible but also personally and directly to our spirits and through the laws God has written on our hearts. (see Heb. 8:10; top ) He will never contradict the written words of the Scriptures (the Bible) but He often, especially in these last days when men of this age will encounter their last opportunities to purify themselves as the bride of Christ, is giving fresh revelations and understandings about the Scriptures that tear away centuries of deceptions that have become encrusted in our minds as a result of the overlapping schemes of the enemy and the multi-layered traditions of men that are practiced in the name of Christ.

The Bible, therefore, is only the testimony of God about His dealings with certain men in certain places at certain times. The heavens and the earth, though in much more general sense, are a similar kind of testimony about God. (see Rom. 1:20; top ) But because the Bible contains words of God, we are often to negligent to recognize the difference between the declarations (words) of God and the Person and Spirit (Logos, Word) of God. Too many people are so entrenched in the letter of the text that they have nothing to do with the living Person and Spirit of truth who gives abundant life.

So what is “the whole counsel of God”? Condensed versions of the whole counsel of God that are undoubtedly similar to what Paul said to the Ephesian elders during his two years that he lived among them are founding such passages as Titus 2:11-14 and John 3:13-21 . But if we are going to do justice to the context of what Paul was saying in Acts 20:27 (top) we can only conclude that “the whole counsel of God” was “everything God wanted said to the Ephesian elders at that time.” Anyone attempting to give us “the whole counsel of God” for our day and age needs to say to us “everything that God wants said to us in this time and season.” To give it any other definition is to do injustice to the real understanding of What and Who the Word (Greek – Logos) of God is.

All the Gifts, Please

Peter wrote, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards [managers, utilizers] of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers [serves], let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.” ( 1 Pet. 4:10-11 - emphasis added; top)

This is an echo of Paul’s words, “…from [Christ the Head] the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” ( Eph. 4:16 - emphasis added; top)

Notice this very carefully: Each one has received a gift and is commanded to administer it to one another as good stewards (managers and users) of God’s grace (His favor and enabling power to overcome sin, self and Satan). The body of Christ is knit and joined together and made strong when every joint shares with others what it has received from Christ the Head. The teacher who continually takes the position of pre-eminence, insisting on continually teaching those he (arrogantly) assumes to have lesser insight than he, is actually sinning against his brother by preventing that brother from being able to administer his gift. The teacher, in taking the spotlighted position, is also sinning against Christ by preventing His body from being knit and joined together by what every joint supplies.

The idea of an ongoing “teaching ministry,” the primary characteristic of the apostasy, derives from the practices and teachings of the Nicolaitans, the “church fathers” (remember Mt. 23:10 ?) who ushered in the exaltation of the bishop over the other elders, giving themselves and succeeding ages a theological basis for lording over others. Eminent church historian Philip Schaff writes, “Preaching was at first free to every member who had the gift of public speaking, but was gradually confined as an exclusive privilege of the clergy, and especially the bishop.” (History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, p. 225) Whereas the Holy Spirit has gifted all believers with something to share with the other believers around them, “church” tradition has taught us that we need some man with superior insights to continually and regularly “feed” us a regular dosage of his Bible knowledge. Nothing is further from the truth ( 1 Jn. 2:27; top ) and recognizing the priesthood of every believer clearly demonstrates the inadequacy of such man-made methods. People subject to such continual Bible bombardments of teachings are, very often, no better off – in fact, they are almost always more arrogant and self-centered and are completely immobilized whenever they encounter a personal situation in which they could actually utilize their spiritual gifting(s) from God – than are those who simply rely on the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit for their own lives in Christ. But the clergy system needs its victims so it lays a guilt trip on its hearers to keep them coming back for more useless information and to milk them for whatever resource the teacher desires to obtain from them (money, fame, attention, reputation, etc.). How sick and perverse this symbiotic system is! And how pervasive it is in those who have not yet come to be aware of who deceptive – and dangerous – it really is.

This notion of going to a regular “Bible study” is one of the prime culprits that has perpetuated a “meeting mentality” among even believers who have been freed from “church.” This “meeting mentality” is not a “let’s get together and see what God is doing our midst” mindset but a “let’s have a meeting wherein I can appear, at least to myself, spiritual and feel like I’ve done my weekly duty to God – just like ‘church’!” Only they will never actually say or even lucidly think all this through – it is a hidden attitude, an attitude gained from “graffiti” the demonic has painted over the laws God wrote in our hearts. ( Heb. 8:10; top ) It is a hidden, underlying motivation kept well hidden by the enemy of our souls – but it is still an abomination to God. Thankfully, the Lord, in His grace and mercy, is exposing this lie and, for those who enter into this light, the darkness must flee.

In the average small-scale meeting (i.e., home Bible study, weekly home fellowship, home church, etc.), two things are accomplished:

1) People who like to speak and be noticed in public get ample opportunity to do so and

2) people gifted with the quieter (but more necessary) serving gifts get little or no opportunity to exercise them in the only time we are together.

These are the product of the meeting mentality. Neither of these two things produce godliness in any measurable degree and is only yet another way in which a believer is prevented from administering his gift to other believers. (see again 1 Pet. 4:11; top ) We must find ways for all the gifts to be exercised and stop catering only to the speaking gifts. This imbalance is crippling and even killing many saints who are ensnared in such systematic, institutional bondage.

There Are No Rules

When a Christian writer makes the statement, “There are no rules to be followed in Christianity,” he will immediately encounter enmity and resistance among those who claim to be his fellow believers. Yet this statement is true, however it is said. The believer is not called to follow some list of do’s and don’t’s – he is called to follow his Lord just as a body follows the dictates of the head that sits atop the body’s neck. If the believer begins to follow the list of behaviors he has made or found, then Christ is no longer his Head. (see Gal. 5:4 ) Instead, he is practicing lawlessness, doing what seems right in his own opinion, and he has become his own standard of “righteous” living. If Christ does not divert him from this path of self-righteousness, he will reap the reward of separation from God. (see Mt. 7:21-23; top )

This is the story of the average “church” goer. They are told to “go to church” every Sunday (some are told to be there every time the doors are unlocked!) whereas Christ is telling them, “Be My holy and righteous people all the time wherever you are.” “Church” goers are told that it is sufficient to sit and passively listen as they attend regular lectures (with perhaps a few visitations to the poor, the homeless or the shut-ins every year – though that is thankfully left most often to the professional staff who seems to enjoy such things) and that it is enough to give vicariously in “the offering” so that the clergy (who often claim to hate that term “clergy” but who nonetheless live the role and enjoy the percs such position and limelight affords) are then responsible for these “ministries.” But Christ is saying, “Get up, gird yourself with a towel and wash the feet of these who are the least of My brothers – do what I tell you they need.

Yet having said that we are not to follow the rules, it is also true – as any reading of the New Testament will show – there are numerous instructions given as to how we should conduct ourselves in various situations. What is the purpose in having these rules, then, if we are not to live by them? In a word, they are given so that we might become familiar with the God who will lead us to live in that manner if we will but follow the Head Christ Jesus. These rules are for the rule breaker and novice how knows no other way but the ways of sin and self-centeredness. (see 1 Tim. 1:9-10 ) These rules serve as mere reference points, a compass needle, that points to the perfect standards of righteousness and holiness that are contained in the Person of Christ Jesus. (see Gal. 3:23-25; top )

Why is it important to have these reference points if we are not supposed to live by them? Because we have an enemy who is clever in his disguises and in his schemes to get us do anything other than live according to the dictates of the Head Christ Jesus – and it is his particular pleasure to get us to practice our disobedience under the guise of religion and even in the name of Christ! Churchianity – with all its attending evils of clergyism (lording over the people, Nicolaitanism) and religiosity (doing something for God as if He were incapable or absent) are two of Satan’s most effective schemes to divert a believer from ever once obeying the personal instructions of the Head Christ Jesus.

So, ultimately, what is the person who insists on having rules to live by really saying? He is saying, “I happen to like my particular list of reference points. They seem good and beneficial to me. But, God, I really don’t want or need You.” This is the same statement made by the actions of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. We would do well to remember that God’s sentence upon them was death. Now that the equation has been moved into the spiritual realms does not mean that the answer is different. It only means that the stakes are higher.

In the same way this is true for all believers, it is especially true for teachers and elders who must model impeccable Christlikenss or face judgment or even disqualification from the faith. (see Jas. 3:1 ; 1 Cor. 9:27; top ) There are no rules about how a teacher should teach the things God has taught him. There is only a Head who dictates through the individual teacher what, when, where, how and to whom he should teach. Any action taken apart from the Head Christ Jesus is mere lawlessness, doing what is right in our own eyes, and is furthest from true Christlikeness.

Let us make no mistake here: While there is no “right” method of teaching for all times and seasons (nearly every methodology has at least some validity when truly orchestrated by God in its appropriate season and setting), there are certainly wrong ways in which to attempt to express the gift of teaching. Using the pattern of the apostasy as a guideline is the surest way to enter into the deception that is the chief characteristic of the end times.

I’d love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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