A Foolproof Test for Every Bible Teacher

How can I know for sure?  How can I be certain what someone is telling me about God, faith, Jesus, and the Bible is really true?  Or can I?

The answer is “Yes, you can be sure”.

The Bible really is about certainty.  It speaks in terms of “knowing”.  The little letter of 1 John (only 5 chapters long) talks about our knowing some 29 times, and even knowing that we know (1 John 2:3).  That is certainty.

No, this isn’t some kind of cocky, high-minded arrogance here.  That type of thing can be more than off-putting.  It’s just that God has made sure that His word and His will are very accessible.  Here is how the Bible says it:

For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Deut. 30:11-14; ESV)

You may be wondering, if that’s the case, then why isn’t there a more uniform understanding of the Bible in the world?  That’s a fair question, and one we’ll tackle on another occasion.  But for now, how is it that I can know?

The Test

How about an example from the Bible of a foolproof acid test for knowing?  It was used on the apostle Paul, of all people, and the ones who did so were highly commended for it.

These people (from Berea) heard Paul saying some things that were different than what they had previously thought and believed (namely that Jesus of Nazareth was in reality God’s Messiah – it was the same message he had delivered where ever he went – see Acts 17:2-3).

What did they do?  Well, they didn’t immediately reject what he said because it was something different.  Neither did they just blindly accept it because it was Paul who said it.  Instead, “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Did you catch that? They examined the Scriptures themselves and tested Paul’s message against what Scripture said to see whether or not it was true.  Simply put, the foolproof, acid test is Scripture itself.

The Challenge

This may seem to be a bit of a catch-22: we want to get good help in understanding the Bible and yet the test for whether or not we can rely on that help is the Bible that we’re trying to get help to understand.

So, how does that work?

We have to realize this is going to be an ongoing process for us.  One of the demands for “accurately handling the word of truth” is that we “be diligent” (2 Tim. 2:15).  As an old professor of mine would say, the Bible is its own best interpreter.  If we do come to a wrong conclusion about the meaning of a given passage, yet we remain consistent and sincere in our study of the word (“be diligent”), then it will eventually correct us itself.  That is, later we’ll come to an understanding of another passage and realize that if this is true, then what I had concluded about that previous text can’t be true, and so I adjust my understanding.

Continuous growth in our understanding and comprehension of the Bible is a must.  Encouragements to grow in knowledge are frequent (2 Peter 1:2-3, 5-5; 3:18; etc.) and the problems of failing to do so are serious (Heb. 5:12).

The Result

When that growth does happen we are no longer at the mercy of wrong teaching (Eph. 4:14) and are able to carry out the frequent exhortations to:

“test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1)

“approve what is excellent” (Php. 1:10)

“test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21)

and “discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph. 5:10).

So, absolutely there is a foolproof way to tell if someone is a reliable guide to assist in helping us better understand the Bible.  Just know that time and effort are part of this equation, but the outcomes are unquestionably worth it.

And remember, the point is not that this teacher is right or that one is right.  It’s that the Bible is right…always; end of story.

And, end of post.

God bless,

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  1. […] test that can, and must, be applied to anyone proposing to help us to understand God’s will (see HERE).  And if,  as seen there, the Bible itself becomes the measure or test of every message, then […]

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