Have you ever been taken in by "fake news" on social media?
It happens to me all the time.
I'll be wasting time scrolling through when I suddenly see a report that a celebrity has passed away. Person after person is sharing the story—it may even be trending. But then deeper research shows it isn't actually true.
Unfortunately, this isn't just a problem on social media and the news. It's also a problem inside the church. While years ago, most people relied on their local pastors to teach them God's Word, today, we have so many different voices from which to choose. God's Word is being preached online, through podcasts, on television, in books, and in so many other ways. I know one person who listens to three different ministers faithfully in addition to his local pastor.
I'm not saying this is wrong at all—it's awesome that the Gospel is being preached in so many different avenues. I pray that every person who will not come through the doors of a church will hear the message of salvation through all of these means. Personally, the Holy Spirit has spoken to me often through someone's blog, podcast, or online presentation. So, no criticism from me for using every avenue possible to preach the Gospel.
However, lately, I've become increasingly aware of the need to test what we are being taught. Whether it comes from a digital source or even our local pastor, we can't just accept everything we hear as the Gospel truth.
Instead, we need to be like the Bereans and search God's Word for ourselves to ensure that what we are taught is truth.
What does this mean? Let's take a look at Acts 17:10-12:
“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.”
All Christians need to adopt this practice for themselves today.
You see, just like in New Testament times, both faithful servants of God and false teachers claim to preach God's Word. This is nothing new.
What is new today is that the digital age has given false teachers an incredible opportunity and platform to share their lies. With little investment, training, or accountability, someone calls themselves a Christian teacher and spreads their false teaching around the globe like wildfire.
That's why we need to be careful. It's why we need to emulate the Bereans.
When we hear a "new" or "new to us" teaching, we can't accept it at face value.
Instead, we must go to God's Word and see if what they teach agrees with the Bible. Often, we need to go beyond just reading the Bible and crack open a Study Bible or commentary to see what a verse means and whether or not a teacher is taking a Scripture out of context to use it for their benefit.
But won't this make my pastor feel like I'm questioning his teaching?
Absolutely not!! A good pastor preaching Biblically sound messages WANTS his people to study God's Word for themselves to see that he is preaching truth and so that the Holy Spirit can work on their hearts, reinforcing what he taught.
Notice: Paul and Timothy weren't offended by the Bereans. They praised them as noble.
Only an insecure, false teacher would say, "Don't read the Bible for yourself to ensure what I'm saying is true." In fact, this may be a red flag that someone is a false teacher.
And have no doubt, there are plenty of false teachers in the world. Progressive Christianity relies on the fact that its listeners will not study the Bible for themselves and seek truth—they'll just hear things that "sound" right and pleasant but are very wrong. All false teachers do.
Don't just accept everything you hear as truth. Be like a Berean and check out what is being taught against God's Word.
Then, like the Bereans, when you know God's truth, obey it quickly.
This is the only way to ensure you believe and live truth, not lies. So be like the Bereans and check it out for yourself!!!