In the opening passages of Galatians; Paul presents something that today I believe we have chosen to forget with the numerous preachers and teachers one can listen to on the radio and TV. If you find yourself listening to someone and you donít agree with what they say about scripture you can turn the station and find someone else that you agree with more. I have to wonder how that is. Paul is very specific that there is only one Gospel and that the Gospel he preached was the truth.
ď11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not manís gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.Ē Galatians 1:11-12 (ESV)
As I was reading those words today I really began to examine my own understanding of what scripture says. I have to think about the influences that have impacted my understanding of scripture from doctrinal ideas and theological writings that I have read. To preachers and teachers that have influenced my thinking over the years. Not that any of these men or woman have been malicious in their ministry. However, I wonder how many preachers today truly are seeking Godís face as they prepare their messages for tomorrow morning or are they reading the latest New York Times Best seller about how to be a Christian. I can say that because I am guilty of the same thing. Often my understanding of a theme of Christian life is based off of what someone else has discerned from their time spent with God. I donít read Greek, Hebrew or Latin so I cannot look at the original manuscripts and determine if what my King James, ESV or NIV bible says was really part of the early writings of the church. So like many of you I have been dependent on others to interpret scripture for me. However Paul makes it clear that He did not learn about Jesus from others who had walked with Him. He did not have the luxury of the Bible we have today to compare the four Gospels to determine anything about Christ. We read Paulís testimony,
15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Galatians 1:15-17 (ESV)
Paul originally sought to destroy the whole idea and movement of The Way. Though once he was converted he sought to meet with those who had been with Jesus they refused him. He only meets with Peter and James for a few days three years after the Damascus Road conversion. His revelation about Christ was the result of time spent alone in the desert seeking to grow and learn about Jesus.
It might seem hypocritical to some that I am writing this blog trying to tell you what scripture says about one thing or another and it would be true. Today though I want to only say that everything you read here or hear on the radio, TV and even from the pulpit on Sunday mornings needs to be tested by the Holy Spirit and against Godís word. Individualís throughout the history have taken and twisted scripture for their own personal gain. God has promised us that if we are willing to listen He will reveal to us His understanding about how we are to live our lives. Now He has established that there are people who will guide us in our understanding; however, he also warns us that there will be those who only seek to bring death and destruction.
ď23 Then if anyone says to you, ĎLook, here is the Christ!í or ĎThere he is!í do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.Ē Matthew 24:23-24 (ESV)
As believers we must have discernment in these matters. We must look to God for guidance and be prepared to stand against those things that go against His word and the Holy Spirit. Today seek to know God in a more intimate way spend some time alone with Him listening to what He has to say instead of telling Him what you want. I pray you grow closer to Him as Paul did in your time alone as you walk in the light of Godís Word.
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You said, "I wonder how many preachers today are seeking God's face as they prepare their messages for tomorrow morning or are they reading the latest New York Times best seller about how to be a Christian"
"Today though I want to only say that everything you read here or hear on the radio, TV and even from the pulpit on Sunday mornings needs to be tested by the Holy Spirit and against Godís word."
It really boils down to what the apostle Paul exhorted us to do as found in 1 Thessalonians
"Pray without ceasing" and to "prove all things; hold fast that which is good."
It has been my experience that very few men who call themselves pastors are men of prayer. Many do not spend enough time reading their Bibles and meditating on the truths of God's precious word so as to feed the sheep.
There is so much false doctrine being bandied around the local churches that Satan must be jubilant to see such discord and strife and error being promulgated amongst the professing people of God.
Let us examine everything by God's word the Bible to see if it be so and then pray for grace to uphold the sound teachings of what the Spirit has given the church.