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Self-Serving Audience | Why Can't We Agree

What's wrong with being self-serving?

As we continue in our series, Why Can’t We Agree? We are answering the question: “If the gospel is simple to understand, Why is there so much disagreement?”

In previous posts, we’ve already seen that the primary suspects for division and disagreement are:

In today’s post, we’re going to explore another reason there is so much disagreement and division in the church. 

3. Self-Serving Audience

 Paul once told his friend Timothy:

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 

2 Tim 4:3

Paul taught that a time would come when the audience would gather a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. The audience would be more interested in serving their own interests than hearing the difficult truth. The result would be that they turn their ears away from the truth. That sounds like the state the church is in today. 

It’s estimated that there are over five million preachers in the world. There are around forty-five thousand denominations, each with its own brand of theology and practice. As I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel the world, I’ve noticed the same thing everywhere we’ve gone. 

A self-serving message spreads. Preachers promising wealth and health in exchange for a little money in the plate have taken the world by storm. Those itching ears turn more people away from the truth. 

What’s the solution?

Paul reveals a solution in the next verse:

…They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

2 Tim 4:5

No matter what they are doing, we keep at it. We keep a clear head. We study Scripture. We speak the truth. We stay faithful in the ministry God has given us. 

We lament division in the church, but in these late days, it might be all we can do to bring unity in small pockets where it can be found. We may not be able to undo the damage at a worldwide level, but I’m confident that a level-headed Bible student can change any local church one reasonable conversation at a time. There is another thing every believer can do. 

Stop supporting bad teaching. 

Every successful teacher, whether bad or good, is supported by a group of listeners. Don’t support Bible teachers that twist Scripture and fill itching ears with pleasant half-truths. The audience is expected to keep the teacher in check, as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11). We’ll talk about the Bereans in a future post. So, stay tuned. 


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