Finding Grace in the Sermon on the Mount – Wrong Teaching Does Not Automatically Make One An Eternally Condemned False Teacher

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In the previous post, I pointed out a few places where Jesus actually used the word typically translated “grace”. In this post, I want to point out a passage that I have read dozens of times but only recently has it stood out to me in an unexpected way. The verses I am talking about are in the sermon on the mount, specifically Matthew 5:17-20,

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus first says that everything the Scripture say really do matter. Because these things are so serious, there is a penalty for setting aside the teachings of Scripture. What is the penalty? Set aside the least of the commandments and you yourself will be least in heaven. That is pretty straight forward. You know what is even worse than personally setting aside a commandment? Teaching it to someone else to follow you in it. Do you know what the punishment for that is, according to Jesus? Not hell and eternal torment. No. Being least in the kingdom.

I hear people say any wrong teaching is false teaching and any false teachings makes someone a false teacher and we know false teachers won’t be in heaven. So the logic results in wrong teaching = being lost. I don’t hear that in what Jesus is saying.

And yet, notice that with Jesus following the commandments is still important. Paying attention to and following Scripture still matters. We don’t teach a “do whatever you want because your reward will just be a little less” because of these verses. No. We teach that one should follow the Scriptures. And by the way, if you miss the boat on something, get it messed up…study it and come to the wrong conclusion…God’s grace is sufficient. He still has room for you at the table. Praise God for that!

10 Responses

  1. “So the logic results in wrong teaching = being lost. I don’t hear that in what Jesus is saying.”

    So, would you say it is more correct to argue: false (wrong) teaching = a lower position within the kingdom of heaven? But, not ever lost? I won’t post the 100+ verses that warn about false teachers and prophets, cause I know you are aware of them, but what are we to do with those? Do none of them warn against being condemned and lost? Do you really believe that all (honest/sincere) people who believe and teach false (wrong) doctrine (teaching) are all still saved and within the kingdom of God?

    You closed with these words:

    “And by the way, if you miss the boat on something, get it messed up…study it and come to the wrong conclusion…God’s grace is sufficient. He still has room for you at the table.”

    Does that include all false teaching(s) and teachers?

    I personally know sincere and (seemingly) good people who claim to believe every word of my Bible and yet are full fledged, traditional Catholics. Are they all are brothers in Christ (including the Pope)?

    I also know the same who are Jehovah’s witnesses, how about them?

    I also know the same who are Mormon. Does God consider all of them to be in the church as well?

    Matt, I’m not here trying to merely argue or anything, but are those unfair questions? Cause surely, honest people may read your above article and have the same question(s).

    There just MUST be limits and lines in terms of being able to hold to false (untrue) teachings and being saved within the kingdom as “believers”. But, based on what you actually wrote – you give the impression that there aren’t any.

    I don’t believe that’s what you believe (that there are no limits to the false teaching one can believe and/or teach and/or practice and still be saved), but again, that’s basically how what you wrote, reads.

    How do you answer?

    1. I am saying it is ebtirely posdible to be wrong on some thongs and still be saved. That shoukd be obvious as we are always learning and growing im our faith abd knowkedge.

    2. I have to remind people that the tenets of Christianity (and her parent Judaism) are very simple. Scholars have written volumes on obscure points, but the faith is actually simple. People want to think that they have to get themselves and everything right. One brief study of the Torah will remind you that getting it right was almost impossible and could not make people love G-d and neighbor.

    3. I agree. Pretty much everyone should agree that we can be wrong on “some things” and still be saved. It’d be ridiculous to argue otherwise. Its just the “some things” that are debated. Pretty much nobody can break that part down…

    4. Matt, I think thongs are pretty nice actually. People can be wrong on some things, and still be saved, of course. But do you apply this across the board or to just members of the Churches of Christ. Can a Jehovah Witness NOT believe in the Trinity and be saved? Can can Mormon believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers and still be saved?

  2. “I hear people say any wrong teaching is false teaching and any false teachings makes someone a false teacher…”

    I haven’t ever heard anybody argue that. To do so would imply that one must have EVERY correct answer to EVERY bible question or be lost. I’ve never heard a person claim to understand the entire Bible, flawlessly….

    1. Unfortunately, I have heard a few who claimed to have every correct answer and interpretation. They allowed no discussion of new ideas on any topic and told everyone they were wrong.

    2. I have heard that line if thinkingbon a bumber of occasions. Agree with my obscure interpretation or else.

      The ither thing you have to look at is what sort if false teaching was being condemned in the new testament. Much had to do with Judaizing or gnosticism. It wasnt about every single possible point of doctrine being a matter of being fellowship worthy ir being a dalse teacher just for being mistaken.

  3. Safe travels, brother. Will be curious to read your thoughts when you get back to this later. Especially, regarding out good Catholic, JW and Mormon friends 😉

    My point here, is that there are definitely false teaching that condemn (beyond Judaizing and gnosticism), that condemn when held to and taught. And, that we don’t know exactly which ones, nor to what extent. And, that oftentimes, we’d rather just not go there…

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