Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Be Careful What You Read

 Yesterday in the mail, we received a catalog of current Christian books for sale.  I looked through the magazine today to see what was new.  It is amazing to see the large variety of topics, age categories and genres represented.  In addition, many of these tomes can be downloaded onto a Kindle, Nook or some other device to be enjoyed.  The Christian book market seems to be growing day by day, but how do we know what books are good for us to chew on and which are not?
     According to I John 4:1, the Apostle tells us:  "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world."  John's call here is for us to test the words that others speak or write.  The term prophet here refers to an instructor or preacher.  I would add writer to this as well.  We all must be discerning about what we soak up into our minds.
     In an explanation of this verse, "Barnes' Notes on the Bible" says:  "If they taught (meaning the current teacher) what God had taught in His Word, and if their lives corresponded to His requirements, and if their doctrines agreed with what had been inculcated by those who admitted to be true apostles, they were to receive them as what they professed to be.  If not, they were to reject them as impostors.  It may be remarked, that it is just as proper and as important now to examine the claims of all who profess to be teachers of religion, as it was then."  This insight is important for us to remember.  Information, today, travels at the speed of light and there are so many voices crying out for our attention and some of them sound so enticing.  Oprah would be one of those voices that appeals to many people.  With her many interviews, book offerings, and spiritual Sunday programs, she has amassed a large following, but do her ideas line up with the Bible?
     Remember what "Barnes' Notes on the Bible" said about staying close to the teaching of the true apostles?  I John 4:6 reads:  "We are from God.  Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error."  John was writing as a true apostle of Christ who witnessed His life, death and resurrection.  What he and others saw are written down for us in the Bible.  This is our foundation for truth and sound doctrine.  If a teacher, preacher or writer departs from sound biblical doctrine, they are to be rejected.  Our ultimate source for truth and teaching must be God's Word in its entirety.
     Along with many others, I enjoy reading a wide range of books, and I listen to a fair number of teachers who expound God's Word, but I also try to listen as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11).  They tested all that they heard by examining the Scriptures to see if what was being said lined up God's Word.  This may seem to some to be overly cautious; yet it is far better to be prepared so we will not be deceived.
     Unfortunately, today, I hear of people who are enthralled by a new book and instantly, a Bible study grows up around it.  However, we have to remember that only the scripture is God breathed and profitable for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.  All other books are the thoughts of man, and as long as we keep the right perspective and continue to compare the teaching presented to
God's Word, we will be less likely to go astray.
     My prayer for us all is that we would become good investigators always examining what is being taught, written or preached.  After all, we are imperfect but God has left us with one true book that details all we need for life and godliness.  In its pages we will find life, joy, hope and wisdom.  Other books are good for entertainment and furthering our understanding when they are built upon biblical truth, but they will never replace the Bible as our rule of faith.  Let us proceed into this information world of ours with due caution as the Apostle John has warned us.  Then, we will not be led astray by those who "preach another gospel".  Selah!

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