Should new converts and unprepared believers be allowed to “open air” teach God’s Word?
1 Timothy 3:6
“He (leadership) must not be a novice or recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact.”
A constant problem in today’s western church idea is the use of almost anyone in leadership roles. Frankly, all anyone has to do is be available and profess to follow Jesus, in order to obtain an open position in the church. I’ve been astounded in conversations with leaders in many churches that have little to no understanding of the Bible, as well as no interest. So-called “Worship Leaders” are the worst! The pastoral letters, in my experience, are the most ignored passages in the New Testament. Yet they are guiding examples of issues Paul faced in Ephesus, and how Paul responded in correction to those issues.
But what are the passages referring to as “new converts” or “novices in the Word?” In view of the entire context of Paul’s admonition in 1 Timothy, it is clear that anyone desiring a leadership role over God’s people must be learned in the biblical text before being allowed to lead others in the things of God. Common sense, huh? Well…you’d think so, but as I’ve stated, it’s rarely the case.
Not only is a person to be capable of expounding biblical truth, and being able to answer questions on its truth, they must as well be examined in conduct of life and character, not only in the view of fellow believers, but those outside the church as well. Paul writes to Timothy to address many distinct issues in the Ephesus church, that were surely not problems in all the other churches he had established, but certainly always applicable to any church body, should these things arise. I mean, truth is truth, no matter where it is spoken in light of the context put forth in the text.
1 Timothy 3:7
“And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devilʼs trap.”
What is Paul referring to as the “Devil’s Trap?” Pride. Arrogance. Conceit. So it is not hard to see why maturity must be witnessed in a person desiring a position in God’s assemblies, as well as having proven themselves as faithful by longevity and consistency in godly conduct, and studious learning. They must be submitted to the established authority of the ministry they are under, and serve and learn diligently. Sadly, due to the point of this very topic, even most in the churches today holding pastoral offices are ignorant and biblically unqualified for the positions they hold. In short, they know little to nothing about the actual text themselves. Sure they can quote verses and form 20 minute long motivational speaking skits, but are inept to the contextual background thereof, rendering all their discourses, foolishness. But they have learned well the American way of advancing in the so-called churches, through charisma, politics, and family power. I see retiring “Pastor dads” promoting their sons to take their stead as Pastor, regardless of the commands we are looking at from the Apostle Paul. They want their sons taken care of, not the flock of God rightly fed. This is not always the case in this exchange, but more common than not, sadly.
Family is a powerful, political ally in churches, sadly. Consider how Jesus viewed “family”: When approached and told his mom and brothers wanted to speak to Him outside the synagogue, He replied, “Behold My mother, brothers, and sisters”, waving His hand across His students. “Whoever obeys My Father, they are my family!” Probably a more sobering view of how Jesus views “family” is seen in the fact of who Jesus commended the care of His mother to. At the point of His crucifixion, none of His siblings followed Him. So He commended His mom to John, His Apostle, not His biological siblings. Man, that had to be a slap in the face! Yet in America, biological family is god in churches. It is often this political force of family power in the churches that are placated to by false pastors, and families have control of how these false pastors/ leaders respond to the family’s desires. In other words, so-called pastors serve men and not Christ, and bow in fear to men, because those mens’ political power in the church has sway over the false preacher’s livelihood and position. But what did Paul say about those kinds of people claiming to serve Jesus?
“Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ!”
So apparently Jesus cuts those people out of being a true Christian and teacher! They are false prophets according to scriptural authority. Cowering from obeying the commands of Christ and the Apostles in compromising Christ for self-preservation! What did Jesus tell Ephesus for compromising and disobedience?
“But I have this against you: You have departed from your first love! Therefore, remember from what high state you have fallen and repent! Do the deeds you did at the first; if not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place – that is, if you do not repent.”
Do you think Jesus means what He said? Apparently most American preachers don’t. They preach dying to sin, obedience to God, and judgment, yet they themselves placate to men, like Judas did, for monetary security, status with men, and peer pressure due to fearing the very persecution promised for living righteously for Christ, and in turn deny Christ in the process. Yet somehow they’ll pardon themselves and suggest God will overlook it!?! Amazing, huh? They will not be saved, folks! You better believe the written Word! The scripture says so. They are false teachers in the sight of God. (If I had a mic I’d drop it right here.)
So, how much do the false teachers make a mess of these possibly sincere novice converts, by making them a two-fold child of hell more than themselves? It is a sad reality not new to our day. The Pharisees did the same in Jesus’ day, to the spiritual destruction of many.
“Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves!”
When Jesus says “Woe”, you’re in deep trouble with God. Notice He called them “experts in the law of Moses.” Were they? No, but they touted themselves as such, which He mocks, just like most in pulpits today who present themselves as all-wise. But just like Jesus declared of the organized religious leaders of His day, He called them “hypokritēs”, meaning “stage actors.” They entertained men by placating the message to peoples desires, for personal gain, all the while being enemies of Yahweh, often unaware. It’s terrifying. In their own deception, they believed in their traditional views and slights of the text, done over the ages, and handed down generationally, and in the process they made converts in the same deceptive scheme that had them bound. Can you see “Western Christianity”?
Social media frustrates me. My wife and kids jokingly call me “Facebook bi-polar”, because I log in and out, desiring to wash my hands of it. I will teach and teach to anyone with an ear to hear God, and a person seems to get it. Then the next day they’re back to posting out-of-context memes of Bible verses, or doctrines that are the exact opposite of what I’ve shown by true biblical exegesis to be Truth, irrefutable. I just want to close up shop. But some person will come along in the real world telling me how much I’ve helped them to understand God’s word, and how their eyes opened, or how they too struggled with the nonsense they heard in churches, when what they read for themselves didn’t align with the majority view. So…I reopen my page, and continue to try to speak. The Truth is, what I am tempted to do in those times is what Jesus rebuked Ephesus for in the above verses in Revelation 2. They had left the first love that comes from the born-again experience: Reaching lost humanity. So…I repent, and truck on.
All of this sin in the church falls under the canopy of the point of this message of novice preachers. All of it is the result of men in leadership who do not know the Gospel delivered by Christ and the Apostles. They know some kind of “gospel.” But there is only ONE that is not damning to those who teach it. His Gospel.
But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the ONE we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell! As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received from us (the Apostles), let him be condemned to hell!
Is a new convert, or any novice in the Word of God capable of that? No they aren’t. The fact is, the majority preaching today are arrogant novices, deceived by another gospel that does not align with Christ’s contextual teaching. Their gospels are void of the red letter context in the four gospel books of the Bible. There is no original context backing the words they poison others with, and in turn you have droves of church buildings full of deceived people seeking “another Jesus.”
2 Corinthians 11:3-4
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims ANOTHER JESUS than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a DIFFERENT SPIRIT from the one you received, or if you accept a DIFFERENT GOSPEL from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
Many will read this thinking, “I didn’t even know these verses were in the Bible.” They may have attended church for years, never having read the Bible, but some false messenger preaching another Jesus told them that if they repeated a prayer after him, they’d have a ticket to heaven, regardless of any personal responsibility to know and FOLLOW the Words of Christ in order to obtain salvation. Maybe they attended some charismaniac church and were told they needed some special experience with God, that they twist the scriptures to teach, and that person willfully opens themselves up to ANOTHER SPIRIT, to enter them and provoke ungodly behavior that they’re convinced is of God, just as Paul has just warned Corinth about above in that passage. God help us!
New converts are always hyper-zealous to work for God. That is good. The problem is when they think that ordains them for church ministry. And sadly and selfishly, the scripturally defiant leaders they find themselves under allow them to assume roles to help lighten their own workloads. But at the cost of who? Everyone suffers. We live in a rebellious church culture that hires leaders they do not know based on resumes, then when a “youth pastor” or “worship leader” sleeps with some kid, or adult even, everyone wonders how it happened!!!???!!! Duh!!!!! Do we think the Apostles appointed overseers in the churches that they had not proven, and who were not eligible teachers and leaders? Absolutely not!!!! “But God’s grace covers, Brother Chris!!” (Excuse me while I puke.) I have a better saying for you…….(below).
1 John 3:9-10
“Everyone who has been fathered by God does not PRACTICE sin, because Godʼs seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to continue in practicing sin, because he has been fathered by God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone who does not practice righteousness……….is NOT of God.”
New converts and biblical novices need time to grow in character. Speaking of Jesus, the scripture says that “Jesus learned obedience through the things that he suffered.“ That is the path for all His followers as well. This process takes time. Many years in fact, which is exactly what Paul teaches Timothy. Age is not important to spiritual maturity. Obedience and discipleship are. New converts and biblical novices also need time for discipleship. They must sit under responsible leadership and learn the true biblical context. What if they don’t? Then you will raise up more false teachers leading people astray with a false gospel, different from the one Paul declares, and damn not only the deceived teacher, but all who are led astray by him. New converts and novices in the Word are STUDENTS, not teachers. They are never to try to open-air teach anyone. Why do we think the command to teachers is this?:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he teaches and speaks, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”
Am I saying a teacher must be perfect? No. Only Jesus was. But what I am saying is one must be well-studied, having proven to himself what he has learned, by testing the doctrines before teaching others. Look at Acts 18:24-28. God gifted Apollos to teach in the Jewish synagogues about Christ. Looking at verse 24, we see he is a skilled teacher and he is well-versed in the Scriptures. Luke tells us (vs 25) that Apollos sat in discipleship. Someone taught him the way and Word of the Lord. The verb for “instruct” means “to teach in an exegetical, detailed process.” Apollos went through systematic discipleship on the context and meaning of the Scriptures. But we see that along the way he still needed some correction. Priscilla and Aquila heard him preach (vs 26) , but he still needed more corrective instruction. They took him aside and taught him the way of the Lord more accurately. Then, God used him greatly in Achaia to refute the Jews. We all will continue to grow and be corrected. But there is a difference from a person who has no learning and is unproven to be able to teach others in “the Way.”
If Apollos received detailed instruction and still needed occasional correction on matters, how much more does a new convert? Most baby Christians have not even read the Bible through once. Heck, most claiming to be Christians haven’t. (The Spirit and the Word are one and the same.) They are not competent in the Scriptures, especially if learning under incompetent, or false teachers. People saved from nominal Christian backgrounds or other religions usually know very little about their Bible. They need time to learn the scriptures through their personal study, and apprenticeships, in order to be prepared to preach the gospel accurately. That is if they find themselves learning in a place teaching the real gospel to begin with. God forbid they learn from those sharing idiotic Facebook memes about how Jeremiah 29:11 is all about them, and not a promise of God of Babylonian exile for the rebellious Jews, reminding them He still had plans for them after they payed for their idolatry, LOL. (Facepalming over here!) Or how about Philippians 4:13 being all about God making some kind of promise to make us bountiful in the Beast system, rather than Paul talking about his contentment in his suffering for preaching Jesus? God, help us!
Novice Christians are prone to pride and conceit. Know any arrogant preachers? Most, right? LOL. How much worse would a novice be likely to end up just like that? Arrogant preachers are a good sign of novices who were promoted outside of scriptural order. Are you seeing the sickness of the professing church yet? Can you say “life-support?”
Novices also need instruction and character development, and are not anywhere near qualified to expound scriptural truth to anyone. They’re still being bottle-fed themselves. Babies cannot feed babies, y’all. And above all, who says that they even have a gift to teach God’s Word? It is the Spirit who gifts as He wills, and it is the authority figures in the church who should recognize those gifts and bring the gifted ones under their tutelage, for development and discipleship. A Christian has NO RIGHT to exalt themselves, or to seek a role in God’s church, bypassing this criteria. There is order and authority. It will decide who serves and where. Sadly though in America, we have blind leaders of the blind. If you are a novice Christian, don’t seek your own way. If you feel you have a gift, wait to be seated by those in authority over you, that you have submitted yourself to. God is able to put you where He intends, if you will submit yourself to where He commands. Smart leaders recognize that those who vie for position are the last people you want in leadership. It is clear evidence of an unsubmitted spirit. Goats seek to climb to the high places. Fact!
Does all this mean you can’t talk about the word as a novice believer? Not at all. It means that one who cannot responsibly defend the gospel with contextual scriptural evidence should never pose himself as one who knows what he is talking about, and mislead others. And he certainly has no business teaching in any public format. Can you post scriptures on social media? Certainly, but leave the commentary to those skilled in the word. And finally, the term translated “new convert/ novice” is about knowledge and skill in scripture, and is not limited to a span of time. Trust me, I know people claiming to follow Jesus in church for 50 years that are clueless to the text, nor even bother to study at all. They’ve just deceived themselves into believing going to church will save them. It will not.