|Volume 22 Number 4 April 2020||
In First Kings 13, we read about a young prophet who had honestly and resolutely refused the king’s invitation, though the king promised a great reward. The prophet said, “If you were to give me half of your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came’” (1 Kings 13:8-9). What a wonderful attitude we find in this man as he respected what the Lord had told him to do. Yet, in the following verses we read he was over persuaded by an old prophet to come back with him and eat with him in his house—contrary to the command of God.
The old prophet, as we read, had deceived him by saying, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’” The text says, “He was lying to him.” “So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water” (1 Kings 13:18-19). Next, we read, “Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tombs of your father’“ (1 Kings 13:20-22). We read as he was going back to his home a lion met him on the road and killed him. God punished him for his disobedience, just as He did Adam and Eve in the beginning and all others who disobeyed Him.
The young prophet, who had so boldly and resolutely refused the invitation of the king who promised him a reward, could not resist the insinuations of one who pretended to be a prophet or a man of God. This has always been true, and it is today, too. Honest and sincere people are more in danger of being drawn into deception by plausible pretenders of divinity and sanctity than by external inducement. The apostle Paul cautioned, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those that cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by their smooth words and flattering speech deceive the heart of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).
Therefore, we need to beware of false prophets and teachers today who are trying to mislead people everywhere teaching things that the Bible does not teach. The apostle John said, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Further in verse 6, he noted the means by which such spirits or teachers are to be tested. “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” The word “we” the apostle used for himself and other apostles who were the original messengers whom Christ had promised to baptize with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-8; Luke 24:46-49). The Holy Spirit was promised to them to “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you… He will guide you into all truth” (John 14:25-26; 16:12-13). The apostles were the ones who were given the authority to bind and to loose on earth, that is, to teach and to unteach by the authority of Christ (Matthew 18:18). The apostles did so while they were living and wrote for us in the New Testament all things that God wants us to know, believe and practice (2 Peter 1:20).
Yet, there is no dearth of preachers and teachers today who are telling people things that the apostles never taught, and many simple and sincere people believe their teachings as though they were the Word of God, without investigating what the Bible actually says. Had the young prophet checked with God what the old prophet had told him to do, he would not have perished. He simply believed the old prophet, thinking he was telling him truth. This is the same mistake many are making today. It was said of the people who lived at a place called Berea, “These were more fair-minded than those at Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They just didn’t believe what they were taught, but they checked in the Scriptures whether they were taught God’s Word or man’s teaching.
The Bible clearly says, for instance, that no one knows when Christ will come back as He has promised (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11). Speaking about the day of His Second Coming, He plainly said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). Yet, there have been many false prophets in the past several years who have deceived countless people by telling them they know exactly in which year and on what date Christ was going to come. Many gullible people believed them and were disappointed.
To be saved from sin, Christ taught, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). The apostle Peter told people to “repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Yet, most preachers are telling people today to simply “accept Jesus Christ your personal Savior” or to pray “the sinners’ prayer” to be saved. Again, Acts 2:47 says Christ Himself adds the saved ones to the church He Himself built (Matthew 16:18), of which He is the Head (Colossians 1:18) and which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Yet, preachers today are telling people to join the church of their own choice and one church is as good as another. Many false prophets have built hundreds of churches of different names and brands in the last few hundred years after Christ had built His church in the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 33.
As we look around us and witness the many religious doctrines that are being taught in the name of the Bible today by many men and even women—who are forbidden to teach and to preach to men publicly (1 Timothy 2:11-12)—we must realize that there are many lying prophets who are teaching things that are contrary to what God has said in the Bible. Their conflicting false doctrines and teachings have led a great number of people to believe and accept their errors. They have caused the religious world to be badly divided, which is contrary to the prayer of Christ (John 17:21-25). “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1 NKJV).
Cecil May, Jr.
Preachers in Acts preached the Lord Jesus (Acts 11:20). Paul decided to know nothing “except Jesus and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). We are to preach Jesus, His teachings, His life as our example, His death, His resurrection and His ascension to heaven, where “He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
Preaching Jesus to the Ethiopian treasurer included preaching baptism (Acts 8:35-38). When the Ephesians “learned Christ,” they learned a more moral and holy lifestyle, different from the pagans (Ephesians 4:17-20).
Biblical preaching how husbands and wives are to treat each other (Ephesians 5:22-23), conduct in the workplace (Colossians 3:22-24), responding to unjust suffering (1 Peter 2:21) or being kind, gentle and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32) is all related to Christ.
Preachers can neglect other essential things, but no one can preach Jesus too much.