By Calvin R. Schlabach
You’ve probably seen the same bumper sticker on cars that I have. “Don’t follow me, ” it says, “I’m lost, too!” Certainly, the way some people drive, their cars ought to have some kind of warning posted, but that particular bumper sticker caught my attention the other day. It occurred to me that those words of warning could be very appropriately applied to some others we need to be warned about.
I thought of those words a few days ago when I was watching one of our local television “evangelists.” When he wasn’t blowing his own horn about all the “good” he was doing or begging his listeners to send more money to God (but be sure to make your check out to this fellow), he was preaching a “gospel” that would condemn men’s souls rather than save them (Matt. 23:15; Gal. 1:6-9).
When he was telling people that they could be saved by faith alone (Jas. 2:24), or that they could just pray to God for salvation (Acts 2:37-38), or that he had led hundreds of thousands of people to Christ (2 Pet. 2:18), or that people could follow him and he would lead them to heaven (Jn. 6:68), I felt angry that there wasn’t a warning flashing across the bottom of the television screen! “Don’t follow me! I’m lost, too!”
But people didn’t see any such caution, and most people never see the warning that Jesus gave us in the Scriptures. “Let them alone,” he says of such false teachers. “They are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matt. 15:14). Yes, that “evangelist” was lost, and most people will not open God’s word to learn this for themselves. Instead, they will blindly follow men like him into the pit of eternal condemnation.
Those words of warning would also be appropriately applied to some of our worldly neighbors. I am often amazed at my brothers and sisters in Christ who will engage in some activity that is at best questionable, and then try to justify it by saying, “But everyone’s doing it! “
Friends, don’t we realize that these people are lost? Should our standard of conduct come from people who know nothing of God and his will for men (Rom. 12:2)? When we are tempted to adopt their life style, ethics, priorities, or goals in life, let’s remember the warning: “Don’t follow me. I’m lost, too!” Following their lead may take us somewhere we really don’t want to go (Matt. 7:13-14).
Wouldn’t it be a good idea, too, for us to apply a similar caution even to other Christians? I am concerned when I see members of the Lord’s church who blindly follow wherever they are led. They never bother to study the Bible for themselves; they never question the things they are taught; they just accept whatever comes from the preacher or the Bible class teachers without stopping to examine things for themselves (1 Thess. 5:21).
Fortunately for many Christians, most of those in teaching positions in the Lord’s churches are capable, honest men, good students and teachers of God’s word. But should I be content to blindly accept whatever a preacher says and hope that he’s not wrong? Should I have that much confidence in him or that little concern for my own soul? No! I made that mistake when I was in a denomination and was trusting my “pastor” for guidance. I’ll not be foolish enough to risk condemnation again!
The lessons of history, from the days of the apostles (Gal. 1:6ff) until the present time, demonstrate clearly that when Christians cease to study God’s word for themselves, to question and examine what they are being taught, they become easy victims of error. Have we so quickly forgotten how liberalism and institutionalism swept through and devastated the church within the last generation? Many Christians at that time were so enamored with “great leaders” that they never bothered to ask where they were being led – they never bothered to ask whether these things were of God. And we know the results. Let’s be careful about blindly following even good men.
Let’s remember that the only one whom we can completely trust to safely lead us in all things is Jesus Christ our Lord. He calls men to follow him (Jn. 12:26), and we need not worry if we do so. He set the perfect example that will lead us through all of the problems and pitfalls of this life and on to eternal glory with the Father in heaven.
In the book of Revelation, those who are eternally saved are described as, “the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (14:4). He “shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life” (7:17).
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 18, p. 559
September 20, 1990