Jesus warned His disciples—and He now warns you: “Be careful what you listen to” (Mark 4:24). On another occasion, Jesus warned His disciples: “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6). Jesus’ warning puzzled His disciples. They discussed among themselves whether Jesus’ use of “leaven” meant He was referring to bread. Finally, “They understood that [Jesus] did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12).
The Pharisees and Sadducees were not teaching a form of paganism. They were using the Scriptures written by Moses and the prophets. But they were reinterpreting, twisting, and changing God’s intended revelation of His Scriptures. They were grafting their own human reason to God’s revelation, as also shown in the illustration on the left. In a similar way, Jesus is not merely asking you to be aware of those who teach different forms of paganism. Rather, Jesus is commanding you to be aware of those who are subtly teaching a distorted version of God’s revelation in His Scriptures.
Examine the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. You may be surprised at their candor. They do not officially claim “Scripture alone” as their source, root, or foundation of their teaching. A mere three weeks following Luther’s death in 1546, the Council of Trent decided to accept Scripture AND CHURCH TRADITION with “equal reverence,” and, in their own official words, “Holy Mother church” (the Roman Catholic Church) had the sole right to interpret the Bible.
Look again at the illustration to the left. With the exception of Lutheranism, ALL of Protestantism has also ATTACHED HUMAN REASON to God’s Scriptural teaching. This Protestant approach is expressed in the book Doubt And Assurance by Calvinist/Reformed theologian R. C. Sproul. Sproul openly exposes the misstep on which Protestant theology is built: “I know of only two forms of absolute certainty: God AND reason.” Sproul is reflecting the teachings of John Calvin. In the Catechism of Geneva, written by Calvin, you can read these words: “Can you prove by means of your reason that nothing strange is contained in this article? Yes, if it is granted that the Lord did not institute anything which is out of harmony with our reason.” All those who are misled to believe that God uses reason directly, or as a supplement to His revelation, need to read, daily, the Spirit’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 2:6–16. Avoid Satan’s trap of mixing human reason and your opinion with God’s revelation.
We at Good News share the concern Jesus raises: All Christians must be
alert hourly as to what is being taught in their church. You must be
constantly aware that all teachings have come from a seed/root and stem—as
shown on this page. BE
ESPECIALLY AWARE OF ALL FALSE GRAFTS OF HUMAN OPINIONS.
The Spirit seeks harmony among all Christians; but, in a sinful world, the
Spirit can also take divisions designed by the devil and use them to the
glory of God. The Spirit says of heated, Scripture-based church
discussions and divisions regarding doctrine: “There must also be factions
among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident
among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19). This means: Whenever various groups,
such as Lutherans, carefully and prayerfully compare their teachings with
groups whose teachings include human opinion, Jesus gives you this
promise: On the basis of God’s Word, the Spirit will lead you into His
truth (John 14:26; 16:7–13).
O Holy Spirit, grant me a spirit of discernment. Open my ears to Jesus’ admonition: “Be careful what you listen to” (Mark 4:24). Lead me “into all the truth” (John 16:13). Amen.
For further study, turn to the Bible Study on page 37, questions 48–53.