September 24, 2018

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“Wild Gourds”

By Jarrod Jacobs

“And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets. And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not. So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof. But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot” (2 Kings 4:38-41).

Last week, we began a study in 2 Kings 4. In this text, we saw that a prophet had put “wild gourds” into a stew. The prophets could not eat the stew and said there was “death in the pot” as a result of what the man had done.

In our study, we saw that just as the man had put wild gourds in the stew and made it poison, so also people today put “wild gourds” into the teaching of the gospel, and it results in spiritual poison for our souls. We made some specific applications, noting that “wild gourds” included such things as speaking when God has been silent, calling the Lord’s church a denomination, and saying the gospel needs to change today. Such teaching poisons God’s pure and wholesome truth (Titus 2:1). In light of what we learned last week, let us go back to II Kings 4:38-41 and learn a couple more lessons.

A Mistake Made in Ignorance Still Produces Harm.

Please read the text again and see that what the prophet did was done in ignorance. He was not intentionally trying to hurt his fellow prophets. While we know there are times when malicious men try to hurt others, it is not always this way. The man who brought in the “wild gourds” did not have a sinister motive! He was ignorant about that vine. Thus, he brought it in the hope that it might feed his fellow prophets during the famine (vv. 38-39).

However, when the man brought those gourds and “shred them” into the pot, did that make the people any less sick simply because he did it ignorantly? No, it didn’t. Those folks were harmed just as badly as if he had done it on purpose! Thus, the reason we say that a mistake made in ignorance still produces harm.

In like manner, when false doctrine is taught out of ignorance, it is just as wrong as if it was done with ill-intent by the teacher. This is because if a teaching is wrong, it is wrong, and we must be prepared to deal with the doctrine and its consequences. My approach toward an ignorant person will probably be different than my approach to one blatantly denying and defying the Scriptures, but the end result will be the same. Therefore, when the poison has been introduced, we must be like Elisha and be active in removing the “poison,” or “leaven” (1 Cor. 5:6-7) as soon as possible! We don’t want any more harm to come to us or other precious souls. Thus, we need to be active in its removal.

How to Heal the Polluted Stew

In our text (2 Kings 4:38-41), when the men told Elisha about the “death in the pot,” Elisha took the death away by telling them to “bring meal (i.e., flour, JJ). And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.”

What power was in the meal (flour) that caused the stew to no longer be poisoned? In reality, the power was not in the meal or flour. Nor was the power in Elisha. Rather, the power was in God, and He used Elisha and that meal to accomplish His purpose. What if Elisha had said “bring meal,” and someone brought potatoes? Would the “harm” have left the stew? We know that it would not have changed anything. The “death in the pot,” the “harm” would still have been there. It was only when they did exactly as God had commanded that “there was no harm in the pot.”

What is the point? The point is that when they followed God’s prescription, the stew was made harmless to them. In like manner, when the “wild gourds” enter in among God’s people, we must follow His prescription that “no harm” might come to God’s people. What is God’s prescription? God expects man to preach the truth, and do so boldly without fear or favor toward any man (2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Thess. 2:2; Col. 1:28-29). This will take care of about 98% of our “fellowship” problems! Not only this, but when we have factious people who refuse to hear the gospel, “after the first and second admonition reject” that means to shun, avoid, or refuse them (Titus 3:10). We are not to act like everything is fine when someone is teaching error (2 John 9). Finally, we have to withdraw from those who walk disorderly (2 Thess. 3:6). This is done to maintain the purity of the local church (1 Cor. 5:6-7).

In all of this, let us never forget that our first priority is to the Lord and His church. We must make sure we examine ourselves daily (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Thess. 5:21; Jas. 1:25) and be able to see clearly enough to help our brethren with their loads and cares (Phil. 2:3-4). Let us be watchful (Rev. 3:2) and make sure we do not allow the “wild gourds” of error to pollute our souls or pollute this church!

Source:  The Old Paths - 8/5/18

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Do Not Harden Your Heart

by Joe R. Price

The church is God’s house, God’s family (Heb. 3:6; 1 Tim. 3:15).  What a blessing that is! As God’s house, we bear a responsibility of service. Hebrews 3:6 continues by saying we are God’s house “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Christians need to continue in steadfast faithfulness to God in order to be finally blessed. To emphasize this, the writer used Israel in the wilderness to teach us about maintaining a diligent faith (Heb. 3:7-19).  He teaches us how to avoid hardening our hearts against God. Otherwise, we are in danger of falling away from God. Consider four things that will harden our hearts.

Delay (Heb. 3:7-8). “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion....” Israel was slow to trust and obey God.  Over and over, Israel made trial of God by failing to trust in His power to save and sustain them.  They said, “is the Lord among us or not?” (Exo. 17:7)  Shall we also harden ourselves against God by failing to see the power and presence of God within His house, the church (Eph. 3:14-21)? Let us seize the moment to yield our stubborn will to His. Otherwise, our heart will surely grow tired of the call to faithfulness, and we will be lost. God is always present to save.

Doubt (Heb. 3:8-9). Israel doubted God’s power in the wilderness (Heb. 3:8-9). They had seen it in Egypt and in their flight from the Egyptians, yet they hesitated to fully trust Him. Their hearts became unresponsive to God’s call to believe and obey. We must not doubt God, His love, His power, His truth, or anything else that emanates from Him. Build your faith on the unfailing faithfulness of God.

Deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). Sin promises so much but delivers pain, turmoil and spiritual death. Israel thought the golden calf would help them, and that going back to Egypt would be a blessing. We also can be deceived into thinking the world holds much better things than Christ has to offer. It is a lie. Do not believe it. Sin will not lead you to the promised land.

Disobedience (Heb. 3:15-19). Hearing and knowing God’s word does us no good unless we obey it. In fact, when we hear and know the truth, yet persistently refuse to obey it, we are guilty of provoking God. Plus, we are making it harder on ourselves to obey Him in the future. That is the seriousness of hardening our hearts. We can come to a point where we are no longer reached by God and His word (Heb. 6:4-6).

Remember, God has promised you rest. Do not harden your heart.  

(Reprint, The Spirit’s Sword, March 3, 2002)

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