Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Going against the grain Pt.2

False prophets, false teaching, false living, these were some of the challenges facing Jeremiah.

Popular, self-appointed prophets lacking courage and love for God’s truth were calling for sunny days and seventy five degrees! They refused to see the gathering storm about to be unleashed against the people of Israel.

In yesterday’s post I suggested that our generation is similarly afflicted with preachers, teachers, prophets, and leaders who are afraid to announce God’s actual meteorological forecast.

Behold, the storm of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
A whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
Jeremiah 23:19

These are not cute words to utter. And I don’t think Jeremiah was happy to declare such words to his people. But his integrity, his call and duty to the Lord demanded this level of honesty. Jeremiah 1: 5-8.

What should we do when confronted with popular teaching that conflicts with God’s word?

Don’t listen
Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. Jeremiah 23: 16

Do your own study
False prophets thrive because of lack of knowledge. If someone is supposedly teaching, or preaching truth, you are expected to verify what they say according to the fixed point of God’s word. Does the teaching reflect the mind of God?

“Who among them,” says Jeremiah, “has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?” Jeremiah 23: 18

But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil ways and from the evil of their deeds. Jeremiah 23: 22

Listen to those who faithfully speak God’s word
Such teachers and preachers will not be the most popular; they will not always be the most eloquent preachers leading influential churches. The standards to use are:

  • Do they walk what they talk? Philippians 3:17
  • Do they tremble at God’s word? Isaiah 66:2
  • Do they love God’s people? Galatians 4:19
  • Do they hate sin in their own lives? Psalm 119: 104
  • Are they faithful to God’s word? Jeremiah 23: 27-29
  • Do they help you think about God or think much of them? Jeremiah 23:27

The pay off
Faithfulness is costly but the eternal rewards are great. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. I Timothy 4: 15-16