Food for Thought|
Keeping the message pure
by David Churchill
One day while
browsing through the radio stations, I came across a famous denominational
preacher talking about the one and only gospel of Christ and
discussing Galatians 1:6-10. Personally, I prefer to listen to preachers
who handle the Bible more accurately than he does. But, curious as
to what he might possibly say on such a topic and always ready to consider
with an open mind any message genuinely taught from Scripture, I listened
a little longer to him than I normally would have done.
He and his companions mentioned how that we
as people seeking to do Gods will must test the spirit of the message
of preachers claiming to proclaim Gods will. They
pointed out how many of TVs and radios so-called evangelists
preach a gospel of money rather than of Jesus Christ. Quoting
from 1 Cor. 15, they discussed briefly how the gospel of Christ refers to
the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and how any sincere understanding
of the real gospel must be based on all three aspects, and not just one.
They talked about how real faith in God comes from heartfelt study
of Gods Word, the Bible. And they emphasized that if a preacher
doesnt teach the gospel as revealed in the Bible then hes preaching
a different gospel, a false gospel, a gospel that sends people to hell instead
of heaven. About that time, deciding that this radio preacher was
a blatant hypocrite and a boldfaced liar about what he really practiced,
I turned the radio off and went about my business.
Why in the world did I reach such a harsh
assessment? In those few particular minutes I didnt hear
the man or his companions say anything that was anti-Scriptural. They
quoted relevant passages of Scripture and they presented correct interpretations
of those passages. In fact, I would have been proud and pleased to
hear any member of our congregation give the same clear and concise arguments
in the same manner in an informal discussion with a non-Christian. However,
my assessment came not from what I was hearing him say at the moment, but
from my previous knowledge of this mans mistakes my prior understanding
of his ongoing incorrect teachings and practices.
As it turned out, I was right after all. Later,
when I turned the radio back on, he was presenting his anti-scriptural method
for being saved which contradicts the same gospel he had just claimed to
teach and his usual indiscriminate appeal for money which puts him in the
same group he had just labeled as so-called evangelists.
Those few valuable minutes of purer teaching were being made void
because he refused to apply that same teaching to his own ministry.
We all occasionally hear a denominational
preacher demonstrate some inconsistency in his teaching or practice, but
this time it got me thinking about what happens when the shoe looks to be
on the other foot.
What happens if someone classifies us as
hypocrites, not because of what they hear us saying at the moment, but
because of their prior assessments of our past mistakes or of their current
perceptions about our present difficulties?
The fact is that each and every one of us
in Christs church has led a spotted life. While learning to
live as Christians helps us to splash fewer spots on ourselves, it also
makes any new spots seem to stand out more boldly to those who watch us.
All too often, others may refuse to consider the truth we speak from
the Scriptures because they knew us before we started to learn and practice
that truth. Many seem to find relief in using our shortcomings as
an excuse to avoid confronting their own sinful lifestyles. And those
times when people occasionally confuse our clean patches as dirty spots
hardly help us look worthy of imitation.
How then can we hope to present a clean,
pure message of the gospel when weve been so dirty from sin? Or
as Isaiah writes of himself in Isaiah 6:5 Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips,
and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
when God asks him to deliver His message.
First, we must make sure the message
is pure by ensuring its source from the Scriptures. Matthew 17:1-8;
John 6:60-69; 1 Corinthians 15:12; Philippians 3:1; 1 Timothy 3:14-15; 2
Timothy 3:16-4:5; Hebrews 1:1-4
Second, we must keep the message pure
by handling it correctly as the Scriptures instruct us. Mark 12:24;
Ephesians 5:6-21; Colossians 3:16-17,23-24; 2 Timothy 2:15-16; Hebrews 2:1-4
Third, we must occasionally point out
that the purity of the message is separate and apart from the dirty spots
we gain whenever we fail to apply the Scriptures correctly in our own lives.
Galatians 6:1-5; Philippians 2:1-6; Colossians 3:1-17
Fourth, we must demonstrate the purity
of the message to cleanse our lifes spots as we repent and resume
correctly applying the Scriptures where we had left off. Ephesians
4:25-32; Philippians 2:12-16; 1 Timothy 4:12-16; 2 Peter 1:2-11
As Christians sincerely seeking to genuinely
follow Gods saving instructions, we need to daily remind ourselves:
iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged
(Isaiah 6:7). Just as God cleansed Isaiah from sin so he could
be free to deliver Gods message, He does so for us:
the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for
all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live
no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according
to the flesh.
Even though we have known Christ according to the
flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have
become new. Now all things are of God, who has
reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry
of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world
to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to
us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for
Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's
behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin
for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21, NKJV)