Thoughts to Ponder

Whom can you trust?

There is a very interesting story in 1 Kings 13. I won't quote it here, but if you are not familiar with it you should go read it. I just want to set the stage of the story. Jeroboam was king in Israel (the northern kingdom). He was afraid that if the people went to Jerusalem to worship they would join together with the other tribes in Judah and he would lose his kingdom. With that in mind he set up two golden calves, one in Dan and the other in Bethel. He also set up an alter in Bethel and this was where the people were to go to worship.

Bethel is where a man of God appeared to prophecy against this alter. The prophet spoke out and Jeroboam who was present tried to have the prophet seized but when he pointed at him Jeroboam's hand shriveled up. The prophet interceded for the king and God healed him. Jeroboam at that point asked the prophet to come eat and drink with him, but the prophet told him no, stating that the Word of the Lord had told him not to eat or drink anything while in Bethel.

The prophet then does what God had told him to do, he leaves by a different way then he came. Well as you can imagine this was big news around town and two young men went home and told their father who also happened to be a prophet. He asked them which way the man of God was going and then he followed him.

When he caught up to him, he lied to the prophet and told him that an angel had come and told him to bring the prophet back to his house to eat and drink. The Bible tells us that this prophet was lying to the man of God. The man of God went back with him to his house and ate and drank. While he is eating and drinking the Word of the Lord came to the prophet who had lied to get the man to come home with him. The Lord tells the prophet that he is going to die because he did not listen to what God told him. The first prophet left on his way home and was killed by a lion.

Many people don't seem to understand why God would treat His prophet like that. After all the other prophet lied to him, so why should it cost him his life? The problem is not with God it is with our view of God and ourselves.

God gave His prophet clear instructions. We know that the prophet understood the instructions because he repeated them to two different people. Most of us try to give the prophet an excuse because after all another prophet told him that he had heard from an angel that God had different instructions for him.

I think we do that because we want that kind of escape for ourselves. I guess you could say that we get it legitimately, look at our first parents. When God asked Adam and Eve what they had done this was their answer: (Genesis 3:12-13 NIV) The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." {13} Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." So we see we all have a long history of trying to shift the blame.

God did not play along with that game with Adam and Eve and He did not play along with this prophet either. Adam and Eve did the same thing that this prophet did. They heard first hand from God. They knew what He said but they listened to someone else.

I have never audibly heard the voice of God, but I have 'heard' His word, by reading the Bible. God gave us instructions to live by. He gave us a yardstick to judge the other things that we hear and read. It is sad to me that so many Christians are so woefully (and deliberately) ignorant of God's word. I say deliberately because they are ignorant, not because of a lack of resources, but because they don't bother. I once heard that the average home in the United States has 3 Bibles. That is not Christian homes it is an average of all homes in our country. So it is not ignorance because they can't find a Bible to read it is ignorance because they don't bother to read God's word.

Whom can you trust? Can you trust your pastor? I am not trying to call any individual into question, nor am I even trying to question the position of pastor. We need pastors and shepherds to guide us, but does that take the responsibility off of us for discernment?

(1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV) Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Paul tells the Corinthians to be on their guard and to stand firm in the faith and we should too. Peter also tells us to be on guard: (2 Peter 3:17 NIV) Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. If it was not our responsibility why would both Peter and Paul warn their readers, which includes us? Paul also told the elders at Ephesus to be on their guard: (Acts 20:29-31 NIV) I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. {30} Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. {31} So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

We are told that the Bereans were more noble then the Thessalonians. Why were they considered more noble? Because they did not just believe what Paul said they checked it against Scripture! (Acts 17:11 NIV) Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

The pastors, teachers and shepherds will be held to a high standard of accountability for what they teach their flocks, but each of us will also be held accountable for what we believed. Do we believe man over God? If we blindly follow what anyone (including pastors) say without checking it against God's word then we are in effect believing man over God.

I tend to stress a lot of the same points in my devotionals, but it is because I believe this is something that is lacking in the Christian community. People are sadly ignorant of God's word and you don't have to go very far to find the evidence for yourself. Look at some of the most popular books right now in the Christian community. It is not hard to find some which are teaching unbiblical doctrines.

I want to give one last word of caution before closing. If you think you can go to a Christian book store and just pick up any book off the shelf and it will be in line with God's word, you are sadly mistaken. I go regularly to the local Christian book stores and I would venture to say that somewhere near 50% of the books have serious biblical errors in them. Some are written by people who deny the basic tenants of Christian Orthodoxy. You can find books written by people who deny the existence of the Trinity, who claim that all paths lead to God (thereby denying that Christ is the ONLY way), who claim that Christ's atonement was not finished on the cross, but that He had to be tortured in hell for three days by Satan and his demons to pay for our sins, and many more. That is not even considering those whose doctrine is correct but who have views which are unbiblical. One such example that I have used before is the popular radio host who tells people in his book to forgive God for the things they have held against Him in their hearts. Or the popular author who claims to be casting out demons from Christians. Demons with names such as; the demon of alcohol, the demon of anger, the demon of lust, the demon of gambling, etc...

Guard yourself, when you stand before the Lord Most High you will stand alone. You will not be able to point the finger at anyone else and say that person told me the wrong information anymore then the Prophet we first talked about was able to. God is merciful, He is loving, He is patient, He is understanding, but He is also just and He has given us what we need to know the truth and He demands that we follow it.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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