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Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Safe Is Your Faith from…

I struggled with how to finish that title.  While I do not want to paint all pastors with a broad brush, there are real problems that need to be addressed.
How Safe Is Your Faith from…
I have met each week online with a man who wants to find out how he can best use the gifts God has given him.  One major problem.  He is not walking with God.  Each week we start with my questioning him about what the Lord is teaching him in the Word.  Each week he tells me that he has not touched his Bible.

This last time I told him that when I had asked some of my friends to pray for him, one of them commented that he really did not want to know God.  As we processed that together he began to share why he no longer trusted the Bible.

He has listened to a number of messages on line.  Much of what he has listened to falls in the category of prosperity theology.  He has also listened to pastors – I could name names but I won’t – whose message consists of feel good, you can be the best you type messages.  Further, he has been told by people he respects that the Bible we have cannot be trusted because it has been created by men.

Here is a young man who is in dire need of the grace of God.  Teachers, some false, some well-meaning but Biblically ignorant, and some people simply ignorant, have essentially taken the Bible out of his hands.

Ezekiel 34:1 – 10 promises that those people will – well let’s just say I really do not want to be them when they meet the Lord.  However…

My friend is not off the hook.  We are warned in multiple places in the Scripture that false teachers will abound.  Perhaps one of the best examples is 2 Peter 1:16 – 2:3 (by the way this is one of the many places where the chapter and verse divisions that were added for the convenience of finding our place actually breaks up the point of the author.  Remember they were added more than 1500 years after they were written you do not need to, nor should you be bound by them in your Bible study – that was free).  There on the heels of Peter telling us we can trust the Scripture, he tells us that just as false prophets arose in Israel there will be false teachers among the Church.  He repeats the warning tacitly in 2 Peter 3:14 – 16.

Paul goes the other direction.  In 2 Timothy 4:3 – 5, he warns us that there will be a time when people will clamor for false teaching.  I sometimes wonder when I hear what people are excited about in the “Christian” press if that time has not arrived.

In Acts 17:11 we read that the Bereans did not accept what they heard from Paul.  They went to the synagogue and pulled the scrolls out of the cabinet (YouVersion was not yet available for their iPhones), unrolled those scrolls and checked to see if the passages that Paul was using to tell them about Christ really said and meant what he said they did.

So there are two realities working here.  There are two levels of accountability.  Those who are proclaiming lies as the truth to my online friend will have to answer to God – I do not want to be in their shoes then.  But, my friend is going to have to answer for why he refused to question what he was taught.

By the way, we are in the same boat.  We are accountable both for what we proclaim and for whether we validate what we hear by the Word of God.