June 28: “A Gracious Way to Correct a Bible Preacher or Teacher”

9 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

2 Kings 13:1–14:29
Acts 18:23–19:12
Psalm 146:1-10
Proverbs 18:2-3

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Acts 18:24-26 (CSB): “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Jesus, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Preachers and teachers of the Word have a profound duty to make sure that they are accurately conveying the truths of Scripture to others. We stand in positions of influence and others might take our words as fact … when we might be wrong.

So, there has to be checks and balances. Preachers and teachers must be corrected if we have an incorrect understanding of some portion of Scripture.

After all, James 3:1 makes it clear that we are going to receive a stricter judgment by God. If we are wrong, we will lead others astray, and their blood will be on our hands.

James 3:1 (CSB): “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment.”

It is in the best interest of the preacher/teacher and those who are listening to them that they are corrected if they are wrong on a biblical matter. There must be people in the congregation who take it upon themselves to be like the noble believers in Berea.

Acts 17:11 (CSB): “The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

So, if a preacher or teacher is presenting something as truth, but they are incorrect, how should they be confronted?

Let me share with you one way NOT to do it…

I remember once when I was preaching and I referenced a book and Christian author. I noted that the book was a great resource for those who wanted to dig deeper into the biblical topic I was dealing with in the sermon.

Someone, who was visiting the church that morning, had a problem with the Christian author I had cited. So, since they believed that I was incorrect in what I said, they had the right to speak with me about it.

They did so the very next day. I was at the check-out register making polite banter with the lady who was ringing up the items I was purchasing. I heard someone behind me say something like: “Jesus has given me a holy boldness to confront you.” I turned around and looked at her as if to say: “Um, I don’t know you. Are you talking to me?” And as the cashier was ringing up my items, the person continued to verbally assault me in public for supposedly teaching error by advocating someone who they did not agree with.

Two of her grievances against the author exposed her own flawed theology. Her third claim made it clear that her convictions were not based upon truth.

I quietly stood there and took it. I didn’t want to make an even bigger scene in front of people in the store who had stopped what they were doing to watch us. So, I quietly corrected her on one point, listened to her speak for a couple of minutes, and then excused myself as I gathered my bags and left the store.

Friend, so much damage was done in those two minutes. People who are lost and on their way to Hell, who desperately need to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, were watching. The Gospel was tarnished by the way the lady chose to confront me over some supposed error.

When we read in Acts 18, we see how Christians are to graciously confront (and possibly correct) a Bible teacher or preacher.

As you read the following verses, notice that Apollos was competent and passionate about teaching God’s Word. He was right on just about everything … except for the matter of water baptism.

So he needed to be corrected.

Acts 18:24-26 (CSB): “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Jesus, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.”

Apollos was doing a wonderful job teaching God’s Word. But, he was teaching John’s baptism and not Jesus’ baptism. Essentially, he was conveying an Old Testament understanding of baptism.

Simply put, being baptized in Jesus’ Name (New Testament theology) was a public picture of what had already taken place in the heart of the one being baptized. Baptism in Jesus’ Name pictures the new believer’s association with Jesus who died, was buried, and rose again. That is what New Testament water baptism pictures.

John the Baptist’s baptism didn’t picture that. John’s baptism was Old Testament theology. It was a moment-in-time repentance from sin. It pointed to Jesus … but to Jesus who hadn’t yet died, hadn’t yet been buried, and hadn’t yet been raised from the dead. So, John’s baptism didn’t picture Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection nor did it picture the believer’s association with Jesus. It simply gave a moment-in-time experience for someone who was repenting of their old way of life as they looked toward what Jesus would eventually do for them.

It was Old Testament theology. Those who had received John’s baptism needed to be rebaptized.

Acts 19:3-5 (CSB): “‘Into what then were you baptized?’ he asked them. ‘Into John’s baptism,’ they replied. Paul said, ‘John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.”

So, how did Aquilla and Priscilla deal with Apollos’ flawed theology? Did they confront him publicly in a store? Did they blast him from their pews in the congregation? Did they post their grievances on social media?

No. Of course not. They were much too noble to do such things.

Acts 18:26 (CSB): “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.”

We are led to believe that Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside, away from everyone else, and had a private conversation. They didn’t want to create a scene. They didn’t want Apollos to be shamed. They didn’t want to appear publicly like they had it all together and Apollos was wrong.

They quietly took him aside and talked about it. They opened their Bibles and studied the Scriptures together which also implies that they had been studying their Bible and knew its truths.

What was the result? Apollos was convinced that Priscilla and Aquila were right. So, he changed his theology about water baptism. He began calling people to be baptized in Jesus’ name, as a response to their salvation.

Conclusion

Realize that if your pastor or Bible teacher is teaching something that is incorrect, you have a right (and possibly a responsibility) to talk to them about it. Pricilla and Aquilla didn’t remain silent. They felt compelled to correct Apollos.

But, also realize that there is a right way and a wrong way to correct someone. Generally speaking, dealing with it privately is best for a lot of reasons. Follow the example that Pricilla and Aquilla set by going in private to deal with the flawed theology. After all, we know that it achieved a positive result and Apollos went on to greatly influence other major cities, including Corinth (see 1 Corinthians 1:12).

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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