Something To Consider:
Please take the time and read carefully the following story from the Bible even though you may have read it many times before. The reason I ask this is because the world we live in is so much different than the world I grew up in. There are so many voices out in the world today pulling us in so many directions. The choices we are faced with everyday as Christians can make our heads spin. This spans from what flavor ice cream do we order all the way to what Church do we worship in and what Bible teaching do we adhere to. What ice cream flavor we order will not adversely affect our life, but what Bible teaching we adhere to can.
At the Lord ’s command, a man of God from Judah went to Bethel, arriving there just as Jeroboam was approaching the altar to burn incense. Then at the Lord ’s command, he shouted, “O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you.” That same day the man of God gave a sign to prove his message. He said, “The Lord has promised to give this sign: This altar will split apart, and its ashes will be poured out on the ground.” When King Jeroboam heard the man of God speaking against the altar at Bethel, he pointed at him and shouted, “Seize that man!” But instantly the king’s hand became paralyzed in that position, and he couldn’t pull it back. At the same time a wide crack appeared in the altar, and the ashes poured out, just as the man of God had predicted in his message from the Lord. The king cried out to the man of God, “Please ask the Lord your God to restore my hand again!” So the man of God prayed to the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and he could move it again. Then the king said to the man of God, “Come to the palace with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift.” But the man of God said to the king, “Even if you gave me half of everything you own, I would not go with you. I would not eat or drink anything in this place. For the Lord gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’” So he left Bethel and went home another way. As it happened, there was an old prophet living in Bethel, and his sons came home and told him what the man of God had done in Bethel that day. They also told their father what the man had said to the king. The old prophet asked them, “Which way did he go?” So they showed their father which road the man of God had taken. “Quick, saddle the donkey,” the old man said. So they saddled the donkey for him, and he mounted it. Then he rode after the man of God and found him sitting under a great tree. The old prophet asked him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” “Yes, I am,” he replied. Then he said to the man of God, “Come home with me and eat some food.” “No, I cannot,” he replied. “I am not allowed to eat or drink anything here in this place. For the Lord gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’” But the old prophet answered, “I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord : ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink.’” But the old man was lying to him. So they went back together, and the man of God ate and drank at the prophet’s home. Then while they were sitting at the table, a command from the Lord came to the old prophet. He cried out to the man of God from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have disobeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back to this place and ate and drank where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors.” After the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the old prophet saddled his own donkey for him, and the man of God started off again. But as he was traveling along, a lion came out and killed him. His body lay there on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. People who passed by saw the body lying in the road and the lion standing beside it, and they went and reported it in Bethel, where the old prophet lived. (1 Kings 13:1-25 NLT)
What Does This Mean To Us Today:
Be very careful who you listen to as far as spiritual direction. Some ways lead down a dangerous road. In extreme cases it cost people their lives like those who followed Jim Jones down to their death in Guyana in 1978. The prophet in the above story is another prime example of someone who lost their life. Even though most errant teachings won’t cost you your life, they can be spiritually damaging.
Where many Christians go wrong today is that they do not verify every tidbit they are taught. Yes, every little morsel. They think just because they are in a large Church with a renowned Pastor, it’s OK to just absorb everything that is taught. They recite James 3:1 where teachers will have a stricter judgment. But this does not relieve them of the duty to prove all things and hold onto only that which is good. All Christians are instructed to work hard and study the Scriptures.
Just to show how far apart some teachings can be, I have taken three seemingly innocent examples that you can extract from amongst our mainline Churches today:
1. There are Bible teachers out there who say the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased once the Bible was complete. Then there are others who claim a child of God should never even have an ache or pain in their life.
2. There are those who say once you are saved, you can never ever lose your salvation. Then there are others who say you are in danger of losing your salvation, even for minor infractions, if you die without having them confessed.
3. There are those who say you are fully baptized in the Holy Spirit at the time you allow Jesus into your heart. Then there are others who say the baptism in the Holy Spiriy is a separate experience with a separate purpose.
Biblical hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpretation concerning the books of the Bible. The problem is that there are sometimes wide differences between these principals. Many Theologians with doctor’s degrees and who are also Greek scholars, widely disagree and are at opposite poles when it comes to certain doctrines.
Let’s Look At The Bible And Jesus To See How They Direct Us:
2 Timothy 2:15 King James Version says:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 New Living Translation says it this way:
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NLT)
Because the Word of God, the Bible, is a spiritual book, it must be interpreted with more than man’s knowledge. It must be rightly divided and interpreted properly through the discerning power of the Holy Spirit. Then, and only then, can we hope to properly explain Scripture. We must be sure to never think we have all the answers:
Humility demands that we bow in the presence of a God who is beyond our intellectual comprehension and confess the wisdom of Deuteronomy 29:29 which tells us, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever…”
Jesus Christ is the ‘Word’ (John 1:1 & 14). Jesus Christ is also ‘the same yesterday, today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8). This tells me the simple fact that it does not boil down to any man’s interpretation of Scripture. The only thing that matters is what the Lord meant it to say. The Word of God does not change through time to fit society.
An example is rampant divorce that has crept into today’s Church. Jesus made it clear that only infidelity was a reason for divorce, but even then it did not necessitate divorce. But people in the Church get divorced for all kinds of reasons today and the Church just turns a deaf ear towards it. It has become a plague in the Church of Jesus Christ. Hear what Jesus’ own words are: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9 NKJV)
God has called us to be holy. He has not called us to be hard. We must keep things in the balances. Be careful of those that try to inject the legalism of the Old Testament into New Testament (Acts 15:24). But at the same time there are those who preach a slackness that leads back into the ruin of sin (Romans 6:1).
What am I Really Saying:
I am saying all this because there are too many false teachers and false teachings out there, especially with the Internet. At the same time, there are many devout teachers out there that differ widely in their teachings. No matter what, we must always keep this in perspective:
God did not give us the Bible to be shaped to our mindset. He gave it to us in order to renew our minds.
Some may say, “What difference does it make as long as they teach that you must accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” Yes, that may be true to a point, but we are also instructed to make disciples of all men and train them up properly.
In the last quarter of the last century, we saw the growth of non-denominational churches. The purpose of these churches was not to come up with new doctrines or to combat the established doctrines. It was to navigate between the extremes of many of the established denominations and to seek for God’s original intent. All Christians are called to live at peace with their fellow Christians and to avoid disputes.
Like a river that flows between two banks, so the truth of God’s Word sometimes flows between the extremes of two polarized doctrines.
If you do a study of how many of the denominations came about it is quite interesting. Many came about because of not so major differences from whom they broke away from. But what happened was the pendulum effect. Since they wanted to be different from whom they broke away, they often swung too far in the opposite direction.
All I ask is that you do what the Bereans did: And the people of Berea were more open-minded (noble – KJV) than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. (Acts 17:11 NLT)
No wonder why Paul warned those in the Church at Thessalonica: Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21 KJV)
As for me and my house, we want to make sure we do our best to get it right!