Lighthouse Leader Study Guide
Date: November 13, 2016
Series: Church 101
This Week’s Printable Resources:
- Study Notes for Titus 1:10-16 (pdf)
- The Compass Weekly Devotional (pdf)
- Lighthouse Discussion Guide (pdf)
- Lighthouse Leader Study Guide (pdf)
We are in the midst of our Fall Fireside Chats this month. Your elder should have contacted you to setup the time for your Fireside Chat. If you are unsure who your elder is for your group, or you haven’t been contacted yet by your elder, let me know and I will get the info to you.
Overview of this Lesson
Warren Wiersbe begins his discussion of this week’s text, Titus 1:10-16, by observing, “Wherever God sows the truth, Satan quickly shows up to sow lies.” We are first introduced to Satan in the Bible in Genesis 3:1, and the first recorded words of Satan are, “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1). The pattern of questioning and “correcting” God’s Word continues until today.
False Teachers are a reality anyplace where the truth of God’s Word is proclaimed. This week we will look at the role of Elders in protecting the flock (Todd & Carlos will cover this in this week’s sermon), and how to identify False Teachers in our day. That is the focus of this week’s lesson.
Speaking from experience, there is a cost to identifying False Teachers. We live at a time when information is available from a myriad of sources. Our so-called “Christian” bookstores stock books by qualified, gifted teachers like John MacArthur and John Piper right next to books by False Teachers like Joel Osteen and Sarah Young (Jesus Calling). Many in our church, especially women, can become big fans of certain authors who are, in fact, false teachers. In some cases, these teachers begin as doctrinally sound Christians, but over time their teaching becomes unbiblical and heretical. A good example is Rob Bell, who became “famous” through his Nouma video series, but in recent years has become Oprah Winfrey’s primary teacher of New Age myths and universalism. He is clearly a false teacher.
Another example, which we intend to identify this week, is Jen Hatmaker. In the last couple of months she has made news for her belief that God does indeed bless same-sex unions, and that these “marriages” can be holy in His sight. That is completely contrary to the broad teaching of Scripture, and many have called for her to repent of this false teaching.
The purpose of this lesson is not to spend time calling out Rob Bell, Sarah Young, or Jen Hatmaker, but it is to help our people identify some characteristics of false teachers…how to spot them. Bottom line, in many cases the church needs to trust their leadership (the elders) to help identify (name) and silence false teachers. I see this role as one similar to that of a parent who carefully guards the door to their home and would not allow false or evil influences to mislead their children. We do so because we love our children and recognize that there are many evil influences in this world that intentionally try to lead them astray.
Memory Verse for This Week
To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. — Titus 1:15 (ESV)
This Week’s Take Home Truth
“Using God’s Word, biblical shepherds courageously and kindly care for God’s flock by quieting the wolves (false teachers) and correcting the sheep (true believers). This is why credibility and proficiency matter.”
1. Can you think of a time when you sensed danger or a feeling that something wasn’t right, and you reacted accordingly?
2. Do you think a parent has a right to judge a child’s friends? How should a parent best approach this topic with their child?
3. Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.
Read the Text (Titus 1:10-16)
Every place where Paul ministered was followed up by false teachers, impostors who feigned to be believers but who in fact were not, and who tried to steer people away from the Gospel. Here Paul exposes those evil impostors in Crete. Read Titus 1:1-9.
Titus 1:10-16 (ESV)
10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.
4. How does Paul describe the false teachers on Crete?
Paul doesn’t mince words, and the words he uses are not flattering. In short, he describes them as carnal and worldly. He uses words like “liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons.”
Clearly, Paul sees a false teacher as a danger to the church that requires swift, and immediate action.
5. Looking at this week’s text (Titus 1:10-16), what observable clues does Paul give us to help us identify false teachers in our midst?
Paul provides three clues to look for to help us identify a false teacher:
- Empty talkers– Their teaching helped no one—not permanently and not eternally. Their teaching was not able to overcome sin and death—not able to bring true forgiveness of sin and eternal life to a person.
- Insubordinate–They misled themselves and misled others away from the truth. They turned away from the truth and followed error; they followed a false belief.
- Deceivers–They misled themselves and misled others away from the truth. They turned away from the truth and followed error; they followed a false belief.
6. Where are we most likely to find false teachers?
False teachers are found among the flock, the church of God. In Acts 20:28-31, Paul describes false teachers as “savage wolves among you.”
Acts–20:28-31Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
The false teachers are drawn by the innocent sheep of the church. Christians are trusting and believe the best of people, which is a good thing. But, if we are not careful (wise as serpents), we will become easy prey for the savage wolves seeking to devour us.
7. Paul identifies the specific false teachers he is concerned about in Titus as “those of the circumcision party.” What do these false teachers have in common with false teachers today?
Very simply, these false teachers—those of the circumcision party—circumvented the truth of the gospel by teaching that man could make himself acceptable to God. With the Judaizers, this meant following the precepts of the Law and Jewish traditions. In today’s world, false teachers tell us we can become acceptable to God …
- by doing our best.
- by being good and doing good.
- by being as religious as we can.
- by being non-judgmental and non-critical of others.
- by keeping the laws and rules of religion. (Man-made “shoulds” and “oughts”.)
- by undergoing the basic rituals of religion (circumcision, baptism, confirmation, church membership, church attendance, tithing, etc.).
- by observing and practicing the ceremonies and rules of religion.
Ask your group: what other ways do Americans think they can earn their way to being acceptable to God?
8. How can we guard ourselves against false teachers at home and in our church?
Here are some suggestions to help guide this portion of your discussion. Encourage your group to contribute to these safeguards.
- Filtered vs. Unfiltered? In protecting our families against the dangers on the Internet and through our televisions, many of us employ filters. In this regard, filters are good. When it comes to reading our Bibles, however, we need to read the unfiltered word of God.Application: be sure you are reading your Bible daily and not simply reading a devotional or Christian book, which is someone’s filtered thoughts about the Scripture. There is nothing wrong with a daily devotional, but it should be read in addition to your daily Bible reading, not in the place of your Bible.
- Special Revelation. God has revealed His will for our lives through His Word by His prophets and apostles, and through His Son, Jesus (Hebrews 1:1). We need to reject any “word from the Lord” or so-called prophecy that counters clear, specific instruction from the Bible.Application: be on the lookout for words like “the Lord told me…” or “the Lord gave me a special word…” While God does speak to us in a variety of ways, God will never counter His own Word through some form of extra-biblical revelation.
- Jesus is central. Jesus declared that all of Scripture testifies of Him (John 5:39). A godly teacher will have this in mind every time he or she opens the Word of God to teach God’s people. For the false teacher, Jesus is on the margins or not at all. Many false teachers today keep YOU as the center of their message. It’s all about YOU. What can YOU gain from this teaching.Application: False teachers today present Jesus as your personal genie, there to grant you your wishes and help you achieve your best life now. When in doubt, ask does this lead me to Jesus or to myself? If it’s all about you, it is false teaching.
- Final Authority. The Christian acknowledges the Bible is the Final Authority in his or her life (2 Timothy 3:15-17). The Word of God is the plumb line by which we guide our life. A false teacher will question the authority of God’s Word leading followers to only trust the word of the teacher or your own gut instinct.Application: Do you find yourself reading the Bible with a thumbs up, thumbs down approach? That sounds good… No, I don’t buy that… I can live with that… I can’t live with that… A false teacher will question the authority of God’s Word (Genesis 3:1) and teach you to question God’s authority. Watch for teachers who are constantly correcting the Bible. “The Bible says this, but I think what God really means is this…” Also, false teachers who set themselves up as the final authority.
9. Joseph Smith is a good example of a false teacher. What can we learn from the way he deceived the church?
A good example of a well-known false teacher who meets all of the criteria here is Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons).
- According to Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed to him in several visions (special revelation) that the Bible had become corrupted, and provided to Joseph Smith the corrected Scriptures.
- In addition, he gave Joseph Smith new Scripture (the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine & Covenants) that expand on the Bible and provide the “true” story of how the church became apostate and corrupted, and how Jesus “restored” the church to the true faith through Joseph Smith. While the Mormon Scriptures contain a corrected translation of the Bible, everything is filtered through the eyes of Joseph Smith.
- The Lord made Joseph Smith a prophet, which means new truth is given that contains the Word of the Lord. This makes Joseph Smith and the LDS prophets who have succeeded him the Final Authority rather that God’s written word.
- The focus of the LDS belief system is man. According to LDS theology, each of us can become a god. Lorenzo Snow, the fifth LDS prophet summarized this belief with the following couplet: “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.” Even though Jesus Christ is in the name of the LDS Church, and they are quick to point this out to you, Jesus is not the center of Mormon theology, it is man—first the worship of Joseph Smith (who bragged he was greater than Jesus Christ), then oneself, as each of us strive to live a life worthy enough to one day become a god.
The LDS Church today, which has a world-wide influence with approximately 10 million members, is all the result of one false teacher, Joseph Smith, who lived in the first half of the 1800s.
That is the danger of false teaching. This is why Paul is so insistent that elders protect the flock and take aggressive action to first identify false teachers (Romans 16:17-18), warn the church of their danger to the church, and if at all possible silence the false teacher.
NOTE: I’ve included an article from The Gospel Coalition at the conclusion of this week’s lesson called “Seven Traits of a False Teacher.”
Today, if a false teacher came across your path, would you be able to identify him as a false teacher? You have only two choices to make. Using God’s Word as the standard and test, the individual either meets the standard or he doesn’t. Your duty as a believer is to be able to identify and expose false teachers. Remember:
- They oppose the truth.
- They must be rebuked and silenced.
- They are impure—totally.
- They make a profession that they know God, but their works deny God.
These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.
10. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
11. What are some safeguards you can place in your life to help protect you and your family from false teachers?
12. How can you lovingly and gently help a family member who is being influenced by a false teacher?