|Volume 18 Number 10 October 2016||
While flying home from Denver, Colorado last week, I sat next to a man who was reading his Bible. We struck up a conversation, and I soon realized that he believed he had the spiritual gift of healing.
After giving me a couple examples of how he used his powers, he asked me if I believed what he was saying. I told him that my beliefs aren’t based on experiences, which can sometimes be deceptive, but upon what the Bible teaches. I then proceeded to explain 1 Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 4 as he followed along in his Bible.
When I finished he said, “I see what you’re saying, and have never really studied this before, so I don’t have an answer, but what I do have are my experiences, and I know that God has given me the power to heal.” So, for the remainder of the flight, (nearly three hours) this man recounted story after story of his alleged healings. I had already made my point that my beliefs aren’t based on experiences but upon what the Bible teaches, so as he shared these stories, I simply let him talk. There was no need to argue point by point with all the stories he told, but as I sat and listened, I wondered what I could say that would expose his error.
When we eventually touched down and regained phone signal, this man’s phone “dinged.” He had a text message from his son. It was a picture of his son’s finger that had been cut while he was using a weed-eater. When this man saw the picture of his son’s finger, he said, “Oh no, my son has cut his finger and from the looks of the picture, he will probably need a few stitches. I need to get off this plane and take him to the hospital.”
It was then that I broke my silence and simply asked, “Why?” The man swung his head around and stared at me with a look that resembles that of a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. For a moment, he just froze. It looked like he was searching for words, but they escaped him. The force of that one word was convicting. This man just spent nearly three hours trying to prove that he had the power to heal people, but his first thought when he saw that his son was injured was to take him to the hospital.
The take-away from this story is that one word that has the backing of Scripture is more convicting than thousands of words lacking scriptural backing.
The “I Thought” Religion
Ernest S. Underwood
In 2 Kings 5, there is an interesting account of a man who was a leper. His name was Naaman. This man was sent to a prophet of God that he might be cured of his leprosy. The prophet told him to go dip in the River Jordan seven times and he would be cleansed. The Scriptures then record, “But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper” (verse 11).
We see in this man’s actions an attitude that is all too frequent in today’s world. God plainly tells man what to do that he might be saved from past sins, yet man says, “Behold I thought…” The end of the story in Second Kings is that the man finally did as God commanded and was healed of his leprosy. Let us look at some characteristics of the “I Thought” religion.
It is the religion of excuse. God had told Abraham that He would be with him and bless him. When Abraham and his wife Sarah traveled to Gerar, Abimelech took Sarah to himself because Abraham had said, “She is my sister.” Upon learning the truth, and fearing what God would do to him, Abimelech confronted Abraham and wanted to know why he had lied to him. Abraham’s answer was, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife” (Genesis 20:11).
It is the religion of ignorance. Saul of Tarsus persecuted the church of the Lord, even to the point of giving his vote for Christians to be put to death. Later, after his conversion, and when he was preaching to Agrippa, he recounted those times. In Acts 26:9 his words are recorded: “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”
It is the religion of presumption and substitution. Look at Naaman again. When told to dip in the River Jordan, he became angry. He didn’t like the command. He had already decided what he wanted the prophet to say and to do. He presumed that this would be acceptable to God, for it was certainly what he wanted and expected. Next, he wanted to substitute. If he had to dip in a river, why not do so in one of the rivers of Syria? After all, one river is as good as another, isn’t it? Naaman failed to realize that God doesn’t negotiate His truth.
What about the religion that you practice? Is it the religion with sound biblical authority, or is it one of excuse, ignorance, presumption or substitution? We need to heed the admonition of 2 John 9-11: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
Let us honestly ask ourselves, “Is the religion that I now believe and practice validated by the Holy Scriptures, the religion set forth in the New Testament, or is it an ’I thought,’ or a ’this is what I was taught by a priest or pastor’ religion?”