Sunday, November 4

How do we know?

There are so many “flavors” of Christianity today, and so many Christians build our own Sundays (sorry!) from what flavors suit us at the moment. If there's a health crisis, then healing may be at the top of the stack, if financial, then aspects of God's providence, if we heard some new thing on the radio, then that might make to the dish as well. Again, some fill up on all “plain vanilla” while others insist on the “rocky road.” In one day, on the same “Christian” radio station a person might hear messages on an eternal salvation for just praying a particular prayer, some special prayer for shortening Grandma's time in Purgatory, instructions on how to speak wealth into existence, or that God loves us all so much He really doesn't care what we believe, or how we live. It almost seems that if a program needs some such spin to stay on the air. With all these interpretations for the same Book, how do we know what the Book actually says any more? Let's try out these ideas.

When we listen or read, what is the source of the ideas? Sometimes a hint can be found just in what they say. A teacher that takes the credit either didn't get it from God, or isn't giving God the credit, and so stealing the spotlight from the One he's supposed to be spotlighting. There's an old adage that the world has yet to see what God can do through the life of one who does not seek a share of God's glory The opposite is every bit as true: That we can only imagine how little use God has for a person who wants the glory for himself. William Ury says, “True theology begins in worship.” If the theologian/teacher starts off to take the credit for what they have to say then it's safe to say that tree doesn't have a good root system.

Speaking of worship-
In 1st John it says that we “know all things, because of the anointing...,” speaking of the Holy Spirit. Recently I heard one prominent teacher say on the radio that praying in the Spirit means intensely intellectual Bible study. If he considers his own intellect to be the Spirit of God, then what does that tell us about how far we can trust the rest of what he says? After all- he has just placed his own intellect in the place of God! God, however, has told us that, “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation,” so one person's opinion is just that. Rather, the anointing that is available to the Church is promised to “lead ..and guide (us) into all truth.” There is the office of teacher in the Church, and I have noticed in that office that whatever truths I bring to the pulpit (be it an oak pulpit or a bench on a picnic table), the same Spirit that is teaching me what to say is teaching the hearers as well, and most often has been teaching them along to be able to relate to the lesson I have brought. In other words, either God is doing the teaching, or noone is! In this way, we have the Spirit confirming in each of our hearts what it is He wants us to understand!

In the same line of confirmation, we remember that today's Church is not all there is, or all the people that God has taught and worked through. It is always exciting to me when I find in the writings of others, especially minds far wiser or in times and places far removed from the world I know, an echo of some truth that the Lord has placed in my own heart as I read His Word. This is no boast, except on God Who is our Teacher, and brings “all things to our remembrance,” not just in remembering the words of Scripture, but what He meant when He gave them. So then we can judge teaching by the witness of the Spirit in our own lives, and in those whom He is leading.

Speaking of lives, another way of deciding if God is in a teaching is the effect it has on those that receive it. Sometimes we can see where it's going without looking too far. If we know that the Bible condemns greed and coveting as sin, then we already have a clue when we hear someone say that Jesus died so we could have fat bank accounts and long shiny cars! On the other hand, the message may sound right, but are its followers proud and contentious, or living immoral lives? If so, then either it has some pieces that just don't fit, or else has some pieces missing. This could well be why Jesus warned us about tampering with the details of His Gospel, and it's all Gospel, from “In the beginning,” to, “Amen:” It's all about Jesus! Stay tuned for some ideas on making sure we have the Whole Story!


  1. Thanks for your comments over on Mike Cope's blog. Just because there are only a few responses to your own, doesn't mean their aren't others like myself reading and learning.

  2. there = their (oops)

  3. Praise the Lord!

    Glenn, you made my day- Thanks for the visit!


So what's your take?