By Van A. Reaves
(In an enclosed letter, this young man stated that he is striving to become a full-time evangelist-Editor.)
The unfortunate practice of accepting whatever the preacher says without question, has troubled the religious world for a number of years. This practice is deadly, leading millions to eternal doom. There are principles one can, arid must, learn in order to save himself from this error. Such is the purpose of this article.
Thinking more of the preacher than his message (or “preacher worship,” as it well might be called), is as old as the Bible itself. We find an example of it in Acts 14:8-18; the Lycaonians tried to offer sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul when they healed a cripple. Notice, first of all, what the apostles said in verses 14 through 17; then notice the near disastrous results in verse 18.
“Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, In that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
And now verse 18:
“And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.”
How many preachers do you know who should rip their clothes apart to keep someone from offering “sacrifice” unto them. Some, I am sure, but many would not.
The first thing one must realize is that preachers are men, and as all men, are mistaken about things from time to time. You have probably heard the old and very true statement, “Nobody’s perfect.” This should be applied to all preachers as well, Jesus Christ being the only exception.
Even the apostles made mistakes. Remember that Judas Iscariot was just as much an apostle as Peter or Paul, and of course he made a great mistake. Simon Peter denied the Lord, not once, but three times, in the space of only a few hours. In Gal. 2:11-14 Paul withstood Peter ” . . ..to the face, because he was to be blamed.” So how can men, who had the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, make mistakes such as these, and preachers today, who are not inspired, make no mistakes of any kind?
Unfortunately, there are people in every walk of life who will deliberately lie. This includes preachers, as well. We have numerous warnings in the Bible concerning this, let us look at some.
In Acts 13:6-11, a man by the name of Elymas, the sorcerer, tried to turn one away from the faith. Read this passage on your own and notice verse 8.
In Matt. 23:27-28, Christ Himself compared the false teachers to a tomb, which was lovely to look at from the outside, but the inside was full of rotting flesh.
“Satan himself is transformed into an- angel of light,” reads 2 Cor. 11:14. Verse 15 goes on to tell us that we should not be surprised when his servants also appear to be “angels of light.”
Paul warned the Galatians (Gal. 1:6-12) not to accept anything said by any man or even an angel from heaven that did not conform to the gospel that they had already received at that time. That means that even if an angel from heaven relates something for us to do or believe that is not in the Bible, then we are not to do or believe it.
1 John 4:1 tells us that we must “try” or “test” the spirits to see if they are from God. Matt. 7:15-20 concludes:”‘. . . by their fruits ye shall know them.” The Scriptures get a little more specific in 2 Tim. 3:12-17 in that we find the .standard we must use in the Holy Scriptures. Even more specifically, in verse 16, all the scriptures. Once more we find that the Scriptures are the standard used to determine truth (Acts 17:10-11).
“So what if I am wrong,” one might say, “Would I be sent to hell if I was led astray without knowing any better?” Alas, my friend, it is just that simple, you always suffer the consequences of sin, unless you are forgiven through the plan of redemption, in Christ Jesus. Jesus said that if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:14).
We are told in 2 Thess. 2:10-11, that if we love not the truth, we will be sent a strong delusion, that we might believe a lie and be damned. Do you love the truth, my friend?
Do not be caught up in the emotional pull of any man. Rather develop a wholesome attitude toward the truth of God as revealed by Him in the Bible. The truth is what makes men free. Jesus said, however, that in order to be freed by truth we must continue in his word.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue to my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31. 32).
Check all these passages to see if I’m teaching the truth.
After all, I am just a man.
Truth Magazine XIX: 44, pp. 694-695
September 18, 1975