Christ Assembly │Verbal Inspiration Archive

The Scriptural Importance of a Single Word

     In Scripture, God breathed every word, and often a particular word makes all the difference in meaning.  Let us look at a few examples of a single word in the Bible.

  1. Matthew 2:15.  The term “Egypt” specifies the geographical location, as predicted in Hosea 11:1, where Joseph and Mary travelled to avoid the murderous search by King Herod.   Matthew focused his history in this passage upon the single term “Egypt.”
  2. Matthew 13:35.  The term “parables,” used in Psalm 78:2, describes the method of communication Jesus used to speak to the crowds.  He said he did not speak to them without a parable.  Jesus focused His message upon the word “parables” here.
  3. Matthew 22:44 and Luke 20:42.  Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1, “The LORD said to my LORD, sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet.”  Jesus based His explanation here upon the single word “my,” and that yod in Hebrew represents a small stroke of the pen, to change “LORD” into “My Lord.”
  4. Matthew 4:10 and Luke 12:8.  In both of these passages, the single word “worship” forms the basis of Jesus rebuke of Satan, quoting from Deuteronomy 6:13.
  5. John 10:34.  Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6, to make the point to the Jews that it was written in their Law that “. . . you are gods?”  Jesus rebuked the Jews attacking Him for calling Himself the Son of God with that single term “gods.”  Notice especially that Jesus said the words of Scripture cannot be broken.  John 10:35.
  6. John 19:37.  A soldier “pierced” the side of Jesus, and the piercing was predicted by Zechariah 12:10.  In the same passage, John 19:36, contains the prediction that no a single bone of Jesus would be “broken,” quoting Exodus 12:46.
  7. Romans 4:3.  Abraham illustrates the doctrine of faith bringing righteousness, and the single term “believed” formed the critical element for bringing God’s righteousness to sinful man.

The Very Words Are True

   Verbal inspiration means the exact words of Scripture are true.  Consider Jeremiah 42:4: “Then Jeremiah the prophet said to them, ‘I have heard you.  Behold, I am going to pray to the LORD your God in accordance with your words; and I will tell you the whole message which the LORD will answer you.  I will not keep back a word from you.'”  Notice that Jeremiah understood the LORD to speak with word for word accuracy.

    Verbal inspiration does not mean a dictation theory of inspiration, where the author merely writes down what God spoke.  Rather, verbal inspiration means that each writer communicated using his own style of writing, vocabulary, and syntax.  Peter writes in a style different from John or Paul.  Yet, God guaranteed that what each of the wrote perfectly communicated His message, with word for word accuracy.  The writers of Scripture did not always say they were communicating the exact words of Jesus, or of other people.  In some cases, they used paraphrases or summaries of the words.  But when they did claim to report the very words of Jesus, they reported the exact words that Jesus spoke.  In fact, each time the Bible writer claims to report the very words of someone, then the words are exactly as reported.

   Scripture itself makes strong claims about the exact words of Scripture. 


  1. Proverbs 30:5.  “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”  God claims every word from Him is tested.  He links those words to being a shield for refuge.


  1. Psalm 12:6.  “The words of the LORD are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.”  The LORD Jesus claims that His words are pure and refined. 
  2. Matthew 4:4.  “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'”  Words count to Jesus, and they proceed from the mouth of God.


Jesus also a confidence in the Old Testament: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”  Matthew 5:18.  Not only single words, but even strokes and letters of words were important to Jesus.


Galatians 3:16.  “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham, and to his seed.  He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.”  Paul’s entire point depends upon whether the word “seed” was singular or plural.  Words really mattered in both the New and Old Testaments.

2 Samuel 23:2 “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.”

Jeremiah 1:9  “Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, “Behold, I ahve put My owrds in your mouth.”

Matthew 22:32, depends upon the tense of the verb, I am the God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac.  He is the God of the living, not of the dead.

Matthew 10:19-20 “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.  For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”


Mark 13:11 “When they arest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it s not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.


Luke 21:13-15 “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.  So make up your minds not to prepare behorehand to defend yourselves; for I will gie you utterance and wisdom which non of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.”

1 Corinthians 14:37 “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize the the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.”









 An Example of the Gist Theory of Inspiration

    The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) often present parallel accounts of the life of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes the parallel accounts do not contain word for word similarities.  Some scholars and teachers jump to the conclusion that when the words do not match, the Bible writers did not accurately report the very words of Jesus, but rather only communicated the meaning of His message.  Consider the following example.

                        Passage One                                                                    Parallel Passage

Matthew 12:49 “And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers!” Mark 3:34 “Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!”
Matthew 12:50 “For whoever does the will of My Father who is heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:35 “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”


     As you can see from this comparison, most of the wording is very similar.  Even so, one Sunday School teacher used this passage to proclaim the Gist Theory of Inspiration.  He said that the two passages differ, so that one report did not contain the very words of Jesus, but rather the “gist” of His remarks.

    If you believe that God always tells the truth, and that the Bible writers reported facts truthfully, then you can rely upon the truthfulness of God to report the exact words Jesus spoke.  So also here in both of these passages Jesus spoke the exact words recorded in both passages. 


The Audiences

     Notice in the Matthew passage that Jesus was stretching His hand out towards His disciples.  With them, Jesus referred to “My Father who is heaven.”  In the Mark passage, Jesus was looking about at those sitting around Him, and referred simply to “God.”  Numerous explanations can account for the different terms: “My Father in heaven” and “God.”  We know that the Bible does not record every word spoken by Jesus: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).  Jesus often spoke for hours at a time, and even kept His audience for more than a day (Matthew 15:32).  During His message, Jesus could have spoken both phrases, one to His disciples and another to the group at large sitting before Him.   Think about this verse (Luke 12:41): Peter said, “Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?”   The disciples knew that Jesus was speaking at times to multitudes, and at other times only to them.  Consider also two other verses (Matthew 13:10-11): “And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’  Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to them it has not been granted.'”   Jesus directed His remarks to different audiences, and told and taught His disciples things He did not speak to the multitudes.  In the Mark passage about His family, Jesus said for disciples, “My Father in heaven.”  For those sitting around Him, He refers to “God.”


“My Father in Heaven” and “God”

    The Gist Theory of Inspiration glosses over the differences with words because it seeks only the “gist.”  Yet, the “gisters” deny that inspiration means that the Bible accurately reports the exact words of Jesus.  For them, the doctrine of inspiration only means that God approved the written product, and it did not always report the exact words Jesus used.  In other words, for the “gisters,” God approved the final product because it contained the “gist” of the message and meaning of Jesus.  Such thinking, however, undermines every word in the Bible because the Gist Theory of Inspiration relegates words to a category of truth mixed with lies.  For the “gisters,” the words of Jesus have been lost forever.   They maintain that the Bible writers accurately reported some of the words Jesus said, but those same writers also placed words into the mouth of Jesus which He never said.  Although attorneys today often try to place words into the mouth of a witness, we should recognize the “gisters” use the same artifice.  They opine that Jesus never said some words attributed to Him as direct, verbatim discourse.  When two similar passages contain different words, how can the “gister” know which words were actually spoken by Jesus, and which words were merely attributed to Jesus by the writer?  In fact, the “gister” cannot really know which were original and which were merely attributions without a factual basis.  They have truly lost the very words of Jesus forever.  In contrast to the “gist” view, the Bible actually causes us to praise God that His Word has been recorded miraculously and the Bible writers accurately reported every fact, including the words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Consider how radically the “gisters” miss the message of Jesus in the passages above.    When Jesus used the term “My Father in heaven,” He described a particular relationship He enjoyed with God as His Father.  The word “Father” means something very different from “God” and using the term “My Father” means a very special relationship with God.  At another time, Jesus elaborated upon His relationship to God as His Father and also claimed the title of God for Himself.  The Jews listening to Jesus discuss His relationship with the Father took up stones to kill Him when they understood He claimed to be Yahweh of the Old Testament (John 8:48-59).  No one can seriously maintain that Jesus, in this passage above, meant the term “God” to communicate the same meaning as the term “My Father.”  In this comparison of family relationships, Jesus emphasized: (1) His divinity and (2) His family relationship with both His heavenly Father and His earthly spiritual relatives.  Jesus spoke both phrases, and revealed something different with each phrase.


“Gist” Inspiration–Motives

    “Gist” inspiration describes the view that the Gospel writers of the New Testament only communicated the “gist” of the message of Jesus Christ, and not His very words.  Some of those people teach at seminaries, while others teach in the local church.  So often, people look at the person doing the teaching, and because they like the person, they overlook the teaching.  In the New Testament, both the teacher and the teaching must be scrutinized (1 Timothy 4:16; Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Acts 20:28-30; 1 John 2:19; 1Timothy 4:1).  When a well-respected teacher spreads error, then that teacher must be corrected in love.

        The Gist Theory of Inspiration probably arose because someone became convinced that the Gospel writers did not report the words of Jesus accurately.  Since God actually communicated all the sayings of Jesus with verbatim accuracy, why would anyone stray away from that truth?  Anyone teaching error does so from impure motives, because they have substituted their own judgment for the revelation from God.  Satan and his minions may appear as an angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), and wrap his lies around God’s truth to pervert the truth (1 Timothy 4:1-5), but believers must be careful to test the spirits (1 John 4:1-3), and to stand firmly upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.   Motives always matter, but each person should examine their motives from God’s Word.  We should all start with self-examination.


    Understand Motives.  Consider the Word of God: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives” (Proverbs 16:2).  This verse shows that men deceive themselves regarding their motives.  While the Lord Jesus Christ weighs the motives of men, He also taught that the heart of men has been corrupted by sin.  Jeremiah 17: 9-10 provides clear insight into the heart of men:  “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?  I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”  The Lord Jesus Christ emphasizes that He searches hearts and tests minds when He gives to each man according to his deeds.  Deeds count, and they reflect the heart.


    The Heart of the Matter.  The Lord Jesus Christ elaborated upon this relationship between the heart and actions.  He taught His disciples that “the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man” (Matthew 15:18).   Everyone who teaches “gist” inspiration does so from his heart.  What they say with their mouth flows from their hearts.  I understand that you have great respect for some people who teach that the Bible is not truthful, but all claims that try to impeach the truthfulness of God’s Word, or impugn the veracity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit must be exposed for what they are: errors.  The truth does not depend upon who said it, or what motives underlie their error.  The motives for their words only reflect the evil in their hearts that motivates them to speak evil.  Ponder carefully what the passages above say about how our words, our heart, and our motives all relate to one another.

    Truth and Motives.  As we will see below, the doctrine of verbal, plenary inspiration does not depend upon motives, but stands apart from motives.  The truth will always be the truth, no matter who acknowledges it or recognizes it.  Likewise, error will always be error, no matter who propagates it or why they propagate it.  Take for example the person who teaches that God loves the entire world (John 3:16).  Imagine that same person teaches that we do not need evangelism because a loving God will not send anyone to hell for eternal punishment.  Some people would argue he teaches from a pure motive, but actually he teaches from an evil motive.  The Scripture clearly teaches that all men have sinned (Romans 3:23) and deserve death (Romans 6:23). Indeed, the wrath of God abides upon everyone who sins and does not obey Jesus Christ by being born again (John 3:36).  The lost need faith, which comes by hearing.  Without a messenger to preach to them, they will cannot hear (Romans 10:14-17).  So we must spread the Gospel so everyone may hear, and those appointed to salvation shall receive eternal life (Acts 13:48).  Without the Gospel being preached, salvation dos not come.  So, while a teacher may claim they spread God’s love by claiming all the world will go to heaven, in fact, that teacher proclaims the doctrines of demons and attacks the church and deludes the world.  Indeed, the church faces all kinds of spiritual attacks.  In the same way, every believer promoting a “gist” theory of inspiration should be confronted in love, and if unrepentant, removed through the disciplinary process of the church from teaching and fellowship with the brethren.

Inspiration under Attack

      Satan seeks to undermine the confidence of believers in the Bible.  He wants to reduce the Word of God to the Word of man.  The Gist Theory of Inspiration represents one kind of attack upon the integrity of God’s Word and the Church.  Teachers who spread the Gist Theory of Inspiration persecute Christ and attack the church through their teaching.

        Spiritual Attacks upon Believers.  The spiritual assault upon the church comes from within and without.  In Acts chapter 20, Paul meets with the elders from the church at Ephesus.  He spread the Gospel to Ephesus, and knows the Ephesian church well.  Paul also knows that bonds await him in Jerusalem, where he is heading, and tells the men that they “will no longer see his face.” (Acts 20:25).  Paul describes the perils they will face as spiritual overseers of the church.

      Attack from outside the Church.  In Acts 20:29, Paul warns “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”  The first attack comes from wolves outside the church, not sparing the believers.  Please recall the words of the Lord Jesus, “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the world coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches and scatters them.  He flees, because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.  I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me . . . .”  Therefore, we can see that Jesus uses elders in the church to protect the flock from wolves who want to snatch and scatter the sheep.  Jesus never left the sheep, but laid down His life for the sheep because He owned them, and was not merely a hired hand.  Thank the Lord Jesus that He never leaves the church, but rather builds up His church always.  A single congregation of believers may disappear from a particular location  (Revelation 2:5), but Jesus promised to build His church and nothing would prevail against Him (Matthew 16:17-18).  The wolves attack the church from the outside.  In contrast to the attack from the outside, the church also faces attacks from inside.

        Attack from inside the Church.  In Acts 20:30, Paul gives the second warning: “and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” In contrast to the wolves attacking from outside the church, a second attack comes from people within the church.  Men spread perversion among the believers to draw disciples away after them.  Therefore, the Ephesian elders had a duty as overseers of the flock to shepherd the flock and prevent men from spreading perverse teaching that would draw men out of the church and follow those perverse teachers. 

         Evaluate the Teacher and Teaching.  The failure to evaluate both the teacher and teaching by Biblical standards results in damage to the flock of believers, and families in particular (Titus 1:11; compare Matthew 10:32-38).  Sometimes, one brother in Christ defends the teaching of “gist” inspiration, using various arguments.  For example, one brother says that “gist” inspiration results from the pure motive to preserve the “verbal inspiration” of the Bible.  Nothing could be farther from the actual truth and the Bible contains many passages contradicting such a view (2 Timothy 3:16; John 12:47-49; John 14:24-26; 2 Peter 1:20).

        Verbal Inspiration under Attack.  The Gist Theory of Inspiration categorically denies “verbal inspiration” because it denies that the actual words of Jesus have been faithfully reported in the Bible.  Moreover, “Gist” inspiration denies the role of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the writing of the Bible because it holds that errors appear in the text of Scripture.  “Gist” inspiration amounts to a poor attempt to explain why those alleged errors appear in the text.  In actual truth, the Bible itself has no errors of any kind and  “verbal inspiration” describes how God miraculously produced the text of Scripture.  Instead of recognizing the integrity of the text itself, the Gist Theory of Inspiration holds  that errors exist in the reporting of the very words of Jesus, and so its advocates dreamed up a theory to redefine inspiration to accommodate those errors. 

        Resisting the Attack.  Believers have a duty to expose the “unfruitful deeds of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11-12).  They must examine everything carefully (1 Thessalonians 5:21), just as the Bereans examined the Scripture to evaluate new teaching and teachers (Acts 17:11).  Every believer has a duty to hold fast the word of life (Philippians 2:16; Philippians 4:9), and to obey the instruction of the Lord Jesus recorded in the New Testament (2 Thessalonians 3:14).  As Christians, we must stand firm and hold the doctrine delivered by the Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).  Indeed, teachers themselves will be judged more strictly (James 3:1), and they may be wolves in sheep clothing (Matthew 7:15; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).  All teaching contrary to sound doctrine must be opposed, and the false teachers reproved (Titus 1:13-14; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; 1 Timothy 1:3-5), because they spread perversion in the form of destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1-3), so that whole families are disturbed (Titus 1:11) and believers are tossed by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14; Hebrews 13:9).


Restoration of Sinners

    Sin lies at the bottom of the Gist Theory of Inspiration and in the hearts of those people who teach, support or condone it.  Sin requires a spiritual response, and that response must focus upon the person spreading the sinful teaching and those people actively supporting or passively condoning the sinful teachers and their false doctrine.  Every believer has a duty to oppose false teaching, and to restore the sinners to fellowship with other believers.

Step One

Apply Scripture

     Jesus said that if you love Him, keep His commandments (John 14:15).  Believers should always study the Word of God to learn what Jesus has said, so we may do whatever He tells us to do (John 2:5).  Jesus commanded us to love one another: “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 12:35).

    (A)  Loving a Person Means that You Obey God’s Word.  Jesus also tested the love of His disciples for Him by tying their love to the obedience: “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  Likewise, Jesus also described His love in terms of obedience: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).  While many Christians call Jesus Lord, they do not follow His teaching, especially when it comes to to the process of restoring sinful believers to fellowship with the assembly.  Instead, many believers either ignore or condone sin.

    (B)  Arrogant Believers Do Not Mourn over Sin.  In Corinth, an immoral man took his father’s wife as his own wife.  Paul confronted the Corinthians over this behavior, and took aim at the entire congregation for ignoring the problem.  Paul wrote that this kind of immorality does not even exist among the Gentiles.  Furthermore, Paul described the sinful attitude of the Corinthians in failing to remove this man from their midst.  He described them as “arrogant” and people who “have not mourned . . . .”  (1 Corinthians 5:1-2).  Today, some believers do not mourn over people believing and teaching the Gist Theory of Inspiration, but rather congregations have become arrogant, forsaking the teaching of Scripture to remove such a person from the midst of the congregation.  Instead, people make excuses for the teachers of the Gist Theory of Inspiration.  They should repent of their arrogant sin in failing to remove such a man from among themselves.  Everyone who condones or teaches the Gist Theory of Inspiration needs to repent of their sin.  All of us need to follow the commandments of Christ and so abide in His love.  The only loving response to the Gist Theory of Inspiration, and its adherents, is to apply the Biblical principles of restoration.

    (C)  Arrogant Words without Power.  Just as the Corinthians became arrogant towards sin, some believers arrogantly imagine that the Bible only contains the “gist” of the words of Jesus.  In their arrogance, they further imagine that they alone can discern what words Jesus actually spoke, and what words some human author added later.  Paul warned that such arrogance denies the power of God, and the kingdom of God actually consists not of words of human wisdom, but in the power of God and His Word.  (1 Corinthians 4:14-21; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  The arrogant false teachers must be admonished, along with everyone else misled by the false teachers to believe doctrine contrary to the Word of God (1 Corinthians 4:14).  The arrogant need to be admonished to return to the truth of God’s Word.

   (D)    Tickled Ears and Deceitful Demons.  False teachers prey upon the weak in every congregation of believers.  In the last days, believers will not endure sound doctrine.  Instead they want to have their ears tickled, and will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  Congregations will have a tendency to be swept away by the influence of evil, deceitful spirits and the doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1).  The remedy for such bad spiritual behavior comes from faithful men who will preach the word, and reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience (2 Timothy 4:2-6).  Ignoring false teaching and false teachers, especially those who teach the Gist Theory of Inspiration, results in believers suffering and allows the false teachers (assuming they are believers) to continue to disrupt families and toss believers in the wind of false doctrine (Titus 1:11; Ephesians 4:14).

      False teachers must be identified before they cause further harm.  Often, believers do not want to believe that some true believers have seriously strayed from the truth and need loving correction.  The second step towards restoration will be the identification of the false teachers.


Step Two

Identify the False Teachers   

     (A) Identify both the Teachers and Supporters of False Doctrine.  Be sure to identify every person who teaches or supports the Gist Theory of Inspiration.  The teachers must be removed from every teaching position immediately and placed under church discipline until they forsake their sin of teaching the Gist Theory of Inspiration.  The supporters of the Gist Theory of Inspiration must be instructed about their error and given the opportunity to repent of their sin and embrace the truth of verbal, plenary inspiration.  If they resist embracing that truth, then they should never be accepted into the fellowship of the local assembly, or, if they are already in fellowship, removed from the fellowship of the local assembly for failure to follow in the Lord’s doctrine.  Remember the arrogant Corinthians who did not mourn over open, notorious sin, and did not remove the sinner from their midst.  Every believer has a duty to expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness: immorality, impurity, greed, filthiness, silly talk, coarse jesting, covetousness, idolatry, and deceiving people with empty words (Ephesians 5:1-14).  No words are more empty than teaching that the Bible does not always and accurately report the very words spoken by Jesus. 

      (B) Compare the Teaching of the False Teachers with the Teaching of Scripture.  Every teacher should be examined regarding his teaching.  All teaching should follow the doctrine of the Word of God.  If anyone advocates a doctrine different from the standard of sound words delivered through the Scriptures, inspired by the Lord Jesus Christ, then he is conceited and understands nothing (1 Timothy 6:3-4).  In a nutshell, everything taught in the church must be compared to Scripture.  If anyone alleges that a teacher is promoting false doctrine, then the test to identify false doctrine is simple: “Does the Bible teach that doctrine, or condemn that doctrine?”  Personal opinion plays no role in the analysis, but the text of Scripture decides the matter.

     (C) Discern between the Doctrine of the Word of God and the False Doctrine of False Teachers.  We can discern between the spirit of truth and error by seeing who listens to the Word of God recorded in the New Testament (1 John 4:6).  Believers must have love that abounds in real knowledge and discernment, so that they may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10).  As the Word of God commands, we must hold “fast the word of life . . .” (Philippians 2:16).   Compare John 6:68, where Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, to who shall we go? You have the words of eternal life?”  Every believer must stand firm and hold to the traditions taught by the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Step Three

Confront the False Teachers

     The Elders of the congregation have a particular duty to protect the flock from false teachers and to promote sound doctrine.  The Elders should “speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).  Having identified the false teachers, and their supporters, the Elders must take prompt action.

     (A)  Instruct the False Teachers To Stop Teaching Error.  The Elders of the assembly should instruct the false teachers not to teach strange doctrines (1 Timothy 1:3; 6:3), but rather to return the standard of sound words taught by Christ and His apostles (Philippians 4:9).  The Elders should both exhort in sound doctrine to correct the false teaching, and refute those who contradict the Word of God (Titus 1:10).  Furthermore, the false teachers should be reproved severely so that they may be sound in the faith (Titus 1:13).   The term “reproved severely” here conveys the idea that the Elder provides sharp correction to restore the the false teacher to correct doctrine and sound teaching.

     (B)  The Elders Must Admonish the False Teachers.  The Elders must also provide a first and second warning to each factious man, and then reject him, “knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:10-11).  The term “factious” means heretical, causing divisions, and promoting loyalty to himself, instead of Christ and His teachings.  Every false teacher, who is also a believer, should be admonished as a brother (2 Thessalonians 3:14).  Even so, the false teachers must be reproved severely, so that they may be sound in the faith (Titus 1:13).  If a teacher of “gist” inspiration also holds the position of an Elder, then he should be rebuked in the presence of all for his teaching (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

Step Four

Confront the False Teachers

   (A)  Apply the Process of Matthew 18:15-18.   The Lord Jesus Christ provided a process for restoring sinners.  This process applies when one believer has an issue with another believer, and so will also apply when anyone has a problem with the teaching from another believer.  Imagine you are sitting in a Bible study and a brother starts teaching the “gist” theory of inspiration.  Matthew 18:15-18 should spring to mind and you should start the process.

             Step One.  Personal, private: show him his fault (Matthew 18:15).  After the Bible study, go to your brother and show him his fault privately and lovingly.  Two passages help set the right mood here.  In 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, Paul describes how you stop associating with a person who does not follow the doctrine of the Bible.  Paul also instructs you to admonish him as a brother, and do not regard him as an enemy.  Likewise, in Galatians 6:1, the spiritual brothers in the church restore such a brother in the spirit of gentleness.  Therefore, the personal confrontation would  involve several key elements.

                        (a)  Scripture First.  Be sure you can prove from a Bible passage that the sinful brother has departed from the teaching of Scripture.  Have you verses ready before you confront the other brother.    Personal disputes or personality conflicts are not the subject of Biblical discipline, but rather opportunities for spiritual growth.

                        (b)  Admonish as a Brother.  Admonish means that you confront the other brother with truth from the Bible.  It also includes the idea that you share the Scripture on point, and urge the other brother to follow the Bible, and not reject its clear teaching.

                        (c)  Avoid treating the Sinful Brother as an Enemy.  Do not approach your brother with a hostile attitude, with the view that you are going to destroy the enemy.  In love, you hope to win your brother by this personal meeting and direction to follow Scripture.

                        (d)   Gentleness in Words, Acts and Spirit.  This idea of “gentleness” means you act with humility, understanding you could be tempted in the same way and fall just as your brother fell.  It also means you do not use a rod, but rather love and gentleness (compare 1 Corinthians 4:21).

          Step Two.  Go the Sinful Brother, and Take One or Two Witnesses To Confirm Every Fact (Matthew 18:16).  Notice the emphasis upon the “refusal to listen” by the sinful brother.  After your brother rejects your personal, private efforts to restore him to following the teachings of Christ, you must then return to him with two or three witnesses.  Following the general principle from Deuteronomy 19:15, the testimony of a single man shall be insufficient to convict anyone of sin.  Compare the procedure for receiving an accusation against an elder: the charge must be supported by the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Please note that elders, like everyone else, are subject to the same disciplinary procedures in the New Testament as everyone else.  No one should be convicted of sin on the basis of only one witness.  No one should be treated as an unbeliever without an opportunity to confront his accuser, and to be convicted on the testimony of more than one witness.  Likewise, pastors and staff workers should not be above the disciplinary process, but subject to it just as everyone else.  The same message, in love with gentleness, should be presented to the sinful brother: you have departed from following the teaching of the Bible. 

           Step Three.  Tell the Church about the Sinful Brother (Matthew 18:17).  The sinful brother does not have to appear before the church, but he has every right to be present to hear the matter and listen to the church speaking to him.  The church group should point out from Scripture the sinful behavior of the brother, and encourage him to change his mind in repentance, and be restored to the fellowship of the assembly.  The brother will then have to make a decision: cling to sin or depart from the fellowship of the assembly.

           Step Four.  Treat the Sinful Brother as a Gentile and Tax Gatherer (Matthew 18:17).    





 “hold to the traditions

       Practice the Things You Have Learned and Received.  Philippians 4:9  The things you have learned and received and hear and seen in me, practice these things

Expose the Unfruitful Deeds of Darkness.  As believers, we have a duty to expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness: immorality, impurity, greed, filthiness, silly talk, coarse jesting, covetousness, idolatry, and deceiving people with empty words (Ephesians 5:1-14).  No words are more empty than teaching that the Bible does not always and accurately report the very words spoken by Jesus. 

     Tickling the Ears.  False teachers prey upon the weak in every congregation of believers.  In the last days, believers will not endure sound doctrine.  Instead they want to have their ears tickled, and will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  The remedy for such bad spiritual behavior comes from faithful men who will preach the word, and reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience (2 Timothy 4:2).

      Listening to the Apostles.  Everyone who knows God listens to the Word of God written by the Apostles in the New Testament.  True believers rely upon the integrity of God’s Word. 

      Faith Rests upon the Power of God.  Paul taught the Corinthians that their faith rested upon the power of God, and not persuasive words of human wisdom.  He focused his preaching preaching on Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  We should never allow any teacher to corrupt the people of God using human wisdom to persuade believers that they cannot rely upon the Word of God, or cannot know the words of Jesus Christ.    

     Real Knowledge and Discernment.  Believers must have love that abounds in real knowledge and discernment, so that they may approve the things that are excellent, on order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10).  Those believers must


      Hold Fast the Word of Life

        Restoring the False Teachers.  Ignoring false teaching and false teachers, especially those who teach the Gist Theory of Inspiration, results in believers suffering and allows the false teachers (assuming they are believers) to continue to disrupt families and toss believers in the wind of false doctrine (Titus 1:11; Ephesians 4:14).  Those false teachers need spiritual help from the church in the form of firm, loving reproof.