GET ACQUAINTED: What is/was your favorite fairy tale growing up?
Open your time together with prayer. NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.
We are all familiar with the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. When she went to visit her grandmother, the Big Bad Wolf knew she was coming so, he got rid of Grandma and disguised himself to look like her.
When Little Red Riding Hood reached the cottage, she entered and went to Grandma’s bedside. She may have suspected that something just wasn’t right, but she kept inching closer, commenting, “My, what big eyes you have, Grandma!” “The better to see you, my dear,” answered the wolf.
“My, what big ears you have, Grandma!” “The better to hear you with, my dear!”
Finally, Little Red Riding Hood said, “My, what big teeth you have, Grandma!” , “All the better to eat you with, my dear!” growled the wolf pouncing on her. Little Red Riding Hood screamed and the woodcutters in the forest came running to the cottage. They beat the Big Bad Wolf and rescued Grandma from the cupboard. Grandma hugged Little Red Riding Hood with joy. The Big Bad Wolf ran away never to be seen again.
Many Christians need to take to heart the lesson of Little Red Riding Hood. Many wolves in sheep’s clothing prey upon God’s flock. Some are masters of deception and disguise. They talk like Christians. They use the Bible. They seem like nice people. They are so loving! But they will draw you in to eat you for dinner!
Gospel-centered Christians recognize false teaching and false teachers. Jesus warned us that “false Christs and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even Christians (Matthew 24:23-27 ; 2 Peter 3:3 ; and Jude 17-18 ). The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth. To spot a counterfeit; study the real thing. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 ) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine. For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16-17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the trinity. Therefore, the most important thing is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says.
- Why do you think the Apostle Paul immediately starts Titus 2:1 with “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine?” In your own words define “sound doctrine” and give an example of what sound doctrine is.
- Can a person be a member of a cult (In a Christian context, the definition of a cult is, specifically, “a religious group that denies one or more of the fundamentals of biblical truth.”) and yet be truly saved? Why or why not?
- Why is de-emphasis on doctrine dangerous? Where will it lead?
- Some react against an emphasis on doctrine because they have been “beat up” by an insensitive dogmatist. (To be “dogmatic,” that is, to have a strong set of beliefs about faith and doctrine, is often frowned upon in today’s pluralistic culture. Yet believers in Christ are commanded to be dogmatic: “Brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings [the dogma] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15 .) Being dogmatic about Christianity is seen by many as divisive, unloving, and closed-minded.) How can we hold strong doctrinal convictions, be dogmatic, and yet not assault others?
Personal Application: We find the word “rebuke” in Titus 1:9 & Titus 1:13 . “To rebuke” means to convince of the errors. “Sharply” implies as one cuts off something with a single blow of an ax. You don’t correct error by hints or nice suggestions. “Being sound in faith” (v. 13) means being spiritually healthy. It implies that if you don’t correct these spiritual errors, like a serious disease, they will lead to spiritual demise. “In the faith” (v. 13) points to a well-defined narrow body of truth. We can know when others or we are in it; and we can know when others or we turn away from it. Who in your life is teaching error or involved in church (cult) that does? How can you kindly and respectfully address it? Will you commit to do it?
Prayer of commitment: Father, I pray for boldness! I ask that You give me a hunger for Your Word. Help me to spend time in Your Word daily so that, when I am presented with an error, I can recognize it immediately. I pray that You would give me an opportunity to speak to the person who’s name You brought to my mind. As I speak to them about their error, I pray that You would help me be loving, respectful, and kind as I do it. Help me to not come across as arrogant or proud. Father, I trust You to begin to work in the heart of my friend as You give me this opportunity. In Jesus’ name – Amen!