March 21 I Thursday
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” —Ephesians 4:14
In the fourth stage of what makes for a healthy church, Paul goes into new territory and talks about spiritual stability.
Throughout its history, the church has had to contend with false teaching, and the New Testament warns us about this. More prevalent in our day is a kind of teaching that is cloaked in biblical language and reveals half-truths. We recognize the half that is true, but the other half sneaks by us. We can tune into Christian programming where biblical distortions of truth are taught with confidence. Many verses are taken out of context, and rather than understanding the whole passage or looking at the bigger picture, the verse is often taken as a defining statement. Countless people are deceived, especially about popular materialist doctrines that include prosperity and physical well-being. There are elements of truth to these doctrines, but they are not the message of the Gospel.
This prompts the question: Why are we blown around so easily? There are two reasons. We either do not know the truth, or we do not know Christ in the way we need to know Him. This comes about largely because we live in a world that operates outside of the truths of Christian doctrine. Some issues have become so normalized in our culture that we try to find a way around them by taking passages out of context or importing our own meaning into the text to back up the issue. This is basically taking the Word of God, treating it like a piece of playdough, and reshaping it to fit the norm in society today. Good preaching is not backed up by Scripture but is taken directly from Scripture and remains entirely in keeping with its context.
We live at the end of twenty centuries of Bible study, thought, debate and discussion, and we must connect our roots with those that go deep so that we are secure when the wind blows. Billy Graham was once told that his style of evangelism had put the church back 50 years. His response was that then they had failed, because their goal was to put the church back 2,000 years, right to its roots.
The antidote to error that Paul gives us is reaching unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Is what we are hearing consistent with Scripture and with Jesus Christ? Everything that derives from the truth, Christ preaches, and the truth His Word reveals is embodied in Him. The exposition of Scripture must lie at the foundation of the ministry of any church of Jesus Christ and in all their activities.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your Word is precious to me. Help me to stay rooted in it and to recognize false teaching that is so often conveyed today in half-truths. Thank You, Lord.