Whose teaching should I listen to? It seems Christians differ on many things, although all claim to believe the same Bible.
(On the main teaching that Jesus is mankind’s savior and we need to follow Him, all Christian groups agree. But on many subjects, there is not agreement.)
How can I know who to believe? Who is right?
Fortunately, God gave us His Word, the Bible, so we could know the truth, and it gives some guidelines to help with this question.
JOHN 8:31-32 NKJ 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
So an important question is whether freedom is being produced in the lives of the people who are following a teaching. If not, it cannot be the accurate message of Jesus, which will make people free. This does not mean everyone will instantly be free, but over time, the fruit of the teaching should be freedom.
In Matthew 7, Jesus taught that we can judge by whether “good fruit” is being produced.
MATTHEW 7:16-17,20 NKJ 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Galatians tells us what kind of fruit is produced by followers of Jesus who live a spiritual life.
GALATIANS 5:22-23 NKJ 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Hebrews 13:7-8 also gives us some important guidelines of who we should follow.
HEBREWS 13:7 NKJ 7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
What has their teaching produced? Is it love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc.? Does it result in setting people free from bondage? Are broken people being healed and made whole? These are questions we should ask when we “consider the outcome of their conduct.”
But don’t expect followers of Truth to be loved and accepted by everyone, although they should show love to others, even those opposing them. Anyone truly following Jesus is usually criticized, especially by religious people.
LUKE 6:26-27 NKJ 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets. 27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
MATTHEW 10:25 NKJ 25 “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!
Is love, mercy, and compassion (like Jesus had) a mark of their ministry? Or do they more closely resemble the Pharisees who loved to focus on keeping a list of rules, instead of helping people.
HEBREWS 13:8 NKJ 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Another key consideration is whether people think Jesus has lost His power or compassion to help people today. Do they believe Jesus still does the same miracles today as He did in Bible days?
Avoid the teaching of any group that tells you the day of miracles has passed and that God no longer does the same things He did in Bible days. They are simply wrong. Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday!
People can be wrong, even good, well-meaning people who may seem to know the Bible. Plenty of people have studied the Bible their entire life and still don’t really understand it. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were the Bible experts, yet God walked among them and they called Him the devil!
1 CORINTHIANS 12:12,27 NLT 12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ. 27 Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.
God does not make everyone the same, or direct us all to do the same thing in the same way. So don’t reject or criticize others just because they are different. God loves all His children, no matter how ignorant, mis-informed, or immature they may be. Because God loves them, we should also treat them all with love and respect.
JOHN 13:35 NKJ 35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Most importantly, Jesus told how we could know who were His true disciples: they would be known by love. So, if the ones you follow are known more for fighting than for sacrificial love and giving, you need to pray about making a change.