WARNING: Know Your Bible Study Teacher!

by Dr. Ken Matto

(James 3:1 KJV) My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

With the increase of home churches and Bible studies also comes the increase of unqualified Bible teachers. I am not speaking of those who are in cults or false churches but those who are saved yet are totally unqualified to teach Bible study to a group of Christians. Two of the greatest injustices which are done in the Body of Christ are:

• Accepting one who is unqualified to teach and placing that person into the position of teacher, or

• When a person THINKS they know much and place themselves into that position.

It must be understood that merely dispensing information or parroting a person's pastor does not mean that person is a teacher, in fact, it is just the opposite.

Those who quote heavily from theologians or pastors are not giving a Bible study rather they are disseminating the views of men and then a few unexplained Bible verses are thrown in to strengthen their view. This may cause very young or biblically illiterate Christians to go "wow" but they do not realize they are being cheated in their studies.

God does not take the teaching of His Word lightly. While it is true that we will never know every doctrine completely, yet, the Bible is clear on many doctrines and we can know them for certainty. To know whether you are under the teaching of a "downloading parrot" or a true teacher, I am going to give 12 principles from my study "Keys to Finding Your Spiritual Gifts." These principles come from the section on the spiritual gift of Teaching and if these principles are not evident in your Bible teacher's method of studying, then you may have an unqualified teacher at the helm.



Definition: Instruction or Instructor
Characteristics: Luke
Scripture: Luke 1:1-4


1) A teacher holds back information until all pertinent material is in. (MANY HAVE TAKEN IN HAND)

2) A teacher is careful of their information sources. (Entire verse)

3) A teacher has an attitude of joy in doing research. (IT SEEMED GOOD TO ME)

3) A teacher realizes he is part of the body of Christ and does not hold sole interpretation. (TO ME ALSO)

3) A teacher will have optimum understanding of the material. (PERFECT UNDERSTANDING) ("perfect" denotes follow closely, trace, examine) the teacher does not accept another's teaching unless it completely harmonizes in the entire Bible.

3) A teacher is concerned with all facts and details. (OF ALL THINGS)

3) A teacher is happy to be chained to a desk for many hours. (TO WRITE)

3) A teacher personalizes the Scriptures for daily living. (UNTO THEE)

3) The teacher has the desire to deliver truth in a systematic way. (IN ORDER) "Order" means in succession or consecutive order.

4) The teacher is concerned that their hearers understand. (THAT THOU MIGHTEST KNOW)

4) The teacher teaches with absolutes. (THE CERTAINTY OF THOSE THINGS) "Certainty" means firmness, steadfastness, stability

4) The teacher takes previously written material, tests it by Scripture and either clarifies it or rejects it. (WHEREIN THOU HAST BEEN INSTRUCTED)

If these principles lack in your teacher, then you have every right to suspect and question their ability or inability to teach. Some other ways which you can tell if you are under the teaching of incompetence are:

• If they teach a strange doctrine and they get angry because you don't accept "their teaching."

• If a person must overjustify a doctrine or is obsessed with it and must be right at any expense.

• If you ask them a Bible question and all you get in return is another quote from a theologian or pastor. Let me point out that there is nothing wrong with quoting others periodically, it is when a person lives in those books is when they become dangerous. Parrots belong in a cage not leading a Bible study.

• If they adopt a teaching and tell you that YOU must prove them wrong. If I came in contact with this attitude I would just leave the study. You are not required to attend even if it is a friend teaching. Your spiritual life supersedes friendship. See verse below which gives warning.

(2 Th 3:6 KJV) Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

Now let's pose a serious question. Is it right for you to judge someone else?

The answer is a resounding YES? Your spiritual life and understanding is based upon what others are teaching you. If you have a Bible teacher who is not immersed in Scripture, you will risk adopting false teaching. You make judgments every day in your life. You MUST make spiritual judgments for the good of your spiritual walk and Biblical understanding and for the sake whom you will contact and tell. Everyone of us teach, but not everyone is a teacher!

However, there is a qualification placed on that judgment. Jesus stated in John 7:24, the following, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." The word "appearance" simply means "sight." Our senses can betray us and this we all know. Ever watch a magician? You can't pull a rabbit out of a hat ex nihilo. The second word is "righteous" which is a cognate for the word "just." Justification is a legal term being declared not guilty. However, when we make a "Just" judgment it can go either way and that is what Jesus is warning us about, especially if we use man and his writings as the authority. So what then is the tool whereby we may reach a justified judgment? The only objective tool on earth is the Bible. The spiritual judgments we should make concerning Bible teachers are only according to Scripture. If you read the context of John 7, you will see that verse is right in the middle of a discourse on doctrine and circumcision and of course who was right in the middle, the Pharisees.

So as a Christian, you need not fear to make a righteous judgment concerning an incompetent Bible teacher. You are not the one sinning, that teacher is. Many use spiritual leadership as a way of elevating themselves to some throne of honor in their mind but actually it becomes a "thorne" of honor. Remember, Paul's thorn in the flesh? It was not a sickness but it was the unbelievers who went around teaching one must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved.

An example of the same level of thinking in the church today is that the believers are going to be judged. So we must keep the law of God to get into heaven which means I must go to Jerusalem 3 times a year and I must do all the Levitical sacrifices. Why? Because Christ's sacrifice wasn't enough, I have to do something. What blasphemy against the cross of Christ! It is this type of teaching which you must make a "Just" judgment against. Sounds just like the Judaizers who opposed Paul and true biblical doctrine doesn't it?

Here are the verses which deal with the thorn in the flesh and how it is used.

(Num 33:55 KJV) But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.

(Josh 23:13 KJV) Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

(Judg 2:3 KJV) Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

(2 Sam 23:6 KJV) But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:

(Mat 13:7 KJV) And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

(Mat 13:22 KJV) He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

So we see that Paul's Thorn in the flesh was not a sickness rather it was the unbelievers who constantly harassed him and tried to undo all the teachings he brought. This is what an unqualified Bible teacher does. They undo the true teachings and supplant them with their own palatable doctrines. Woe unto them?

(2 Pet 3:15-16 KJV) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; {16} As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

(James 3:1 KJV) My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

"Masters" means teachers. It is the self-aggrandizing person who is the thorn.

It is with this verse that we began and end with. My final admonition is: QUESTION QUESTION QUESTION!!!


Keys to Finding Your Spiritual Gifts