People Of The Book
So to prove all things, this means you have a right to ask questions. What questions should you ask?
Alright, thank you very much. Nice to be put on the air with a friendly voice. I cherish the friendship of you folk at the transmitters. I often think, “Well, they have to listen to all of us and I suppose the messages go by in a kind of an audible blur, oftentimes.” But if there could be some blessing for you folk, as well as for other hundreds and thousands who listen, then my prayer will have been answered. Every time, before I approach these microphones, I pray, “Oh, God, let the indwelling Holy Spirit be in my voice, God’s love in my voice, and God’s truth in what I say, and God’s power in the effect that it has on people.” May He answer that prayer again today. We’re in First Thessalonians Five and Paul is saying, “Despise not prophesyings.” Just as we went off the air the last time, I was reminding you that you ought not to put down your preacher.
Now, all of us preachers are human beings. You’ve discovered that, haven’t you? Well, we are. And we’re just as susceptible to human faults, and foibles as the rest, and perhaps more so. Many a minister is so introverted, that he only feels secure when he has the pulpit in front of him and is preaching. Get him down among people, and he is strangely shy, and withdrawn, oftentimes. God uses folk who lack in some of the qualities that you and I might consider ideal, but he uses them. How about Simon Peter? Rough-hewn, a fisherman, a blurter? The key phrase for Peter, is Peter answered and said… Nobody asked him anything, but he answered and said, “James and John had short fuses, bad tempers, they were called the ‘sons of thunder.’ They wanted to call down fire from heaven on people who weren’t nice to them.”
So many others that God has chosen, not only among the apostles, originally, which our Lord picked, but look around you and see the folks that God uses. I was seated behind a man in one of our Brother Graham’s early crusades, the one, I believe, in Pittsburgh, actually, that’s where it was. I was seated behind someone who, a minister, a local minister who said sotto voce to the man sitting next to him, he said, “I can preach a much better sermon than this man.” [chuckle] Well, sure. [chuckle] Maybe you can. Oh, dear, but the Holy Spirit of God had anointed our Brother Graham in a special way for a special task in this generation, and thank God, he’s been true, so true to the Word of God, and to his Lord throughout all of these years, bless him.
But, in any case, God uses unlikely people and many of us preachers are very human, human beings. What Paul is saying here, he says, “Don’t put down your preacher, because you’re aware of some faults, or foibles, or weaknesses, or shortcomings.” Maybe he doesn’t use excellent grammar. It grates upon your nerves when he says ‘I’ instead of ‘me.’ “God’s blessings for you and I,” [chuckle] that sort of thing. Maybe it grates on your sensibilities, because he doesn’t use good grammar, maybe his voice is a little shrill, or maybe his enunciation is a little sloppy, or maybe he has some habit that calls your attention. I remember listening over a period of time to a dear man who never looked at the people, he looked at the walls on either side. First, he would preach to the wall on the left, and then he would preach to the wall on the right. And I’m ashamed to say, that I found myself thinking about that, and counting the number of times he looked at the wall, rather than listening to what the dear man had to say.
Now, all of this comes out of the word, “Despise not prophesyings,” because ‘prophesyings,’ as used in the King James, may very well be brought over, in our day, to the idea of preachings. People who open the word of God and who give it out in the enablement of the Holy Spirit. And so he says, “Don’t put it down. Don’t put it down.” Why? Because God speaks through imperfect people. “We have this treasure,” says Paul, “In earthen vessels, that the glory might come to God, not to us.” “The excellency might be of God,” said he. God puts his message into clay pots, doesn’t he? But it’s the message that counts. It’s the message that counts. You wanna keep that in mind, the next time you have some thoughts about your pastor? He’s a human being, but he’s God’s human being. And as Paul said, “Esteem them very highly and love for their work’s sake.”
Another reason why you ought not to put down the message of God’s man or woman in preaching, is the danger that comes to yourself, to you, in not taking seriously what God is trying to say to you. Had you thought of it that way? So far, I’ve been talking about our treatment of God’s people in the ministry, in terms of how they may feel about it, but you turn the picture around and say, “If I don’t listen to what’s being said, it may be very costly to me.” You notice a suspicious noise in your motor one day and you think, “Oh, I better get that fixed.” And so you take it to the garageman, and he listens to it, and he says, “Well, I’m sorry to tell you that that noise indicates that your automatic transmission has worn out and you need to replace it. Now, he said, “If you do it now, we can salvage some of the parts. If you wait until something breaks up and chews it up, it could be much more costly.” You think about it and you think, “Oh, I’ll take a chance. It still runs.”
And so you’re going on, sure enough, something gives up inside of that automatic transmission, and you hear a terrible thrashing, and clashing, and groaning, and your car stops. And you think, “Now, what?” Well, now, you have to get a tow truck and it costs you to have your car towed over to the garage. And the garageman takes a look at it, and he says, “Well, what I told you, has happened. It’s given up, and some piece of metal has broken off, and chewed up inside of there, and you’re gonna have to replace the whole transmission, it’ll cost you $700.” Oh, you groan and say, “Oh, why does everything happen to me?” Well, it wouldn’t have happened, if you had taken seriously what the man told you some days or weeks before.
Same thing true in medicine. Years ago, we had a friend who went to the doctor, because there was some pain in a lymph gland under her arm. He examined her and he said, “You must go to the hospital immediately, ’cause we have to operate.” “Oh,” she said, “I can’t do that. I’ve got a wedding coming up and I can’t go in the hospital now.” And a member of her family was being married, and she was, of course, as every mother is, eager to have everything go off right. “Can’t do it now.” Well, some weeks later, we buried her, because this was a very fast growing, malignant growth, and in a very short time, spread to vital areas of her body, and killed her. What I’m saying is, take seriously what God says to you through his people. Don’t put it down either, because you don’t like it, or because you are aware of some shortcoming in the instrument God is using. Good idea?
Now, he says, “Prove all things.” Now, the authorized version here, which I always use, King James version, just says, “Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things;” But you look in your Greek New Testament and you’ve got a little conjunction in there. See? “Despise not prophesyings, but all things prove and hold fast, that which is intrinsically good.” So because there was no particular punctuation in the Greek text, you could run that right on and it makes a lot of sense. “Don’t put down what God says through his preachers and through his Word, but prove all things and hold fast, that which is really good.” Don’t do one thing, but do the other. Now, is there a healthy curiosity, not to say skepticism, in evaluating what’s said? Why, of course. Only the little children and those who are incredibly naive believe everything that’s said.
Many years ago, I said, as I mused over something that had been remarked by another Christian leader, I said to my brother-in-law, Torrey Johnson, “I wonder why he said that?” And with the innate wisdom that God gave him, he was then, just a young pastor, but very wise, he said, “Well, Bob.” He said, “There are a number of reasons why people say anything. One reason is they want you to know. And another reason may well be that they want you to tell somebody else, so somebody else will know.” And I thought about that. [chuckle] There are different reasons why people say things, aren’t there? So to prove all things, means you have a right to ask questions. What questions should you ask? You don’t ask, “Do I like the way this man parts his hair?” You don’t ask questions about appearance, and grammar, and mannerisms, and that sort of a thing. This isn’t what we’re getting at.
You ask questions about the heart of what’s being said. Number one, does it agree with the written Word of God? That’s your standard always, to the law and to the testimony. “For, if they speak not, according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them. Search the Scriptures, for in them, ye think ye have eternal life.” Jesus said. “And they are they, which testify of me.” The Berean Christians were remarkable, because they searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. They were proving all things. It has to agree with the Word of God. Anytime you hear anybody saying anything, that is to be followed as a scriptural truth, go to the Scriptures and prove it out. That’s the first thing. Second, does it honor the Lord Jesus? Third, does it result in a quickening of your own heart, because the Holy Spirit dwells within you? “And He witnesses with our spirit,” the Bible says.
Does it produce a quickening witness in your own heart? Check out the Bible, check out whether or not it honors and glorifies the Lord Jesus in the way it’s presented. And third, does it create an answering witness, an answering ‘Amen’ in your own heart? “Prove all things.” And then, he said, “Hold fast, that which is really good.” Used the Greek word ‘kalos,’ which means intrinsically good. ‘Agathos’ means good and it’s beneficial in its effects. But ‘kalos,’ this is the one here. He says that’s, “Hold on to what is intrinsically good.” Good idea. We’ll get into that the next time we get together.
Dear Father, today, may we be people of the book, and people of the Holy Spirit, and people whose lives are characterized by the love of Christ. I ask in His name, Amen. Until I meet you, once again, by way of radio, Walk With the King today and be a blessing.
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