Galatians 1:6 & 2 Peter 2:1-3
From the Reformer
The church is a tender plant. It must be watched. People hear a couple of sermons, scan a few pages of Holy Writ, and think they know it all. They are bold because they have never gone through any trials of faith. Void of the Holy Spirit, they teach what they please as long as it sounds good to the common people who are ever ready to join something new.
We have to watch out for the devil lest he sow tares among the wheat while we sleep. No sooner had Paul turned his back on the churches of Galatia, than the false apostles went to work. Therefore, let us watch over ourselves and over the whole church.
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
The airwaves and pulpits and pews are filled with people who cannot read but profess to be able to teach from the Holy Word. Making a new doctrine out of one’s own ideas — what you want the Word to say — instead of from what the Word actually says, is common. Reading in context has gone out of fashion. One phrase relies upon the entire verse, which relies upon surrounding verses, and perhaps entire paragraphs to determine the intention of both writer and Spirit. Instead, prooftexting is common. Thus one may end up with the unfortunate prooftexted doctrine of combining Matthew 27:5b and Luke 10:37b. Judas “departed, and he went and hanged himself”; “you go, and do likewise.”
Heresy in the Church is as common as weeds in a garden. A good garden depends upon hoe and backbreaking, daily labor. A fruitful church depends upon the same investment in God’s Holy Word and the vigilance to correct errors quickly before they choke out the tender bloom.