There once were four preachers who had a series of theological arguments, and three were always in agreement against the fourth. One day, the odd preacher out, after the usual "3 to 1, majority rules" statement that signified that he had lost again, decided to appeal to a higher authority.
"God?" he cried. "I know because of Your Word that what I'm saying is right. Please give me a sign to prove it to them!"
It was a beautiful, sunny day. As soon as the preacher finished his prayer, a storm cloud moved across the sky above the four. It rumbled once and dissolved. "A sign from God! That's confirmation of what I'm saying." But the other three disagreed, pointing out that storm clouds form on hot days.
So the preacher prayed again: "God, I need a bigger sign to show them that they're wrong. So please, God, a bigger sign!" This time four storm clouds appeared, rushed toward each other to form one big cloud, and a bolt of lightning slammed into a tree on a nearby hill.
"Now that bears witness of the truth!" cried the preacher, but his friends insisted that nothing had happened that could not be explained by natural causes.
The preacher was getting ready to ask for a *very big* sign, but just as he said, "Oh God...," the sky turned pitch black, the earth shook, and a deep, booming voice said, "HE SPEAKS THE TRUTH!"
The preacher turned to the other three and watched for their reaction, hoping that they had now finally realised the error of their ways.
"So," shrugged one of the other preachers, "now it's 3 to 2."
This is a serious problem. The problem of putting God's words on an equal level with man's words. It's becoming more and more common as we move into the last days, where well-known and highly respected 'preachers' are speaking 'some truth', however, it's mostly what they're not saying that is the problem. They are only preaching what the people want to hear, itching ears - instead of teaching the whole gospel.
Spiritual truth is not determined by taking a vote. In fact, even if 1,000 people agree with us, it makes no difference unless we agree with God's Word. Our own words are fruitless and meaningless .... and a great way to know whether the preacher you're listening to and allowing your heart to be influenced by is speaking the truth or not, is by testing it against the Word of God. Is this preacher speaking God's Word, full of Scriptures that go hand in hand with what the preacher is teaching?
Or is this preacher using 'a bit of Jesus', where he'll read a little Scripture, then go on to teach using his own worldly words, which end up twisted to endorse things that are the opposite of the Bible.
A simple fact we must understand is this; the Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10), therefore we know that the love of money is a huge issue for humanity. So when a preacher's main emphasis week in and week out is on prosperity, where he/she encourages their congregation to place their focus on wealth and the physical things of this world, we need to realise that this should cause alarm bells to go off in our spirit. Now the deception here, is that instead of turning to God's Word to test the words the preacher has taught us, we instead, allow it to enter our heart so it forms into a selfish, flesh desire where we deceive ourselves into believing that it's what God wants for us, and then we feel good about accepting that it is right. And we know that our heart can deceive us above ALL things (Jeremiah 17:9), and this is why we need to guard it so dearly, being careful as to what we allow to enter it (Proverbs 4:23).
This subtle type of preaching has been going on for years, however, it is becoming more evident and much more severe in these end days. Why is that? Because Satan is quite happy for you to be sitting under a false teacher, being deluded into thinking of things for yourself instead of the things of God, and therefore rendering you as being insufficient - too wrapped up in your own natural desires of this world.
This is such a subtle deception that happens over time that you don't even realise it's happening. The Bible warns us not to be deceived. The word 'deceived' doesn't mean it's an unmistakable issue that's blatantly sitting right in front of our eyes ... no, it sneaks in undetected, misleading those who are hearing it.
Friend, I urge you to test the preaching you're listening to today ... not by outward standards of how well-known or well-respected they are, nor by how popular or how large their church is. Not even by how many 'salvations' they're having in their church/ministry. But as God's Word says, test the spirit (1 John 4:1), that's looking inwardly to match the preacher's teachings up against the Bible to see whether it really is in line with God's Word or not. Don't allow pride to build up in your heart where you become so sure of yourself that you won't even consider to test the spirit. This is the ultimate deception from the enemy, to cause pride to be your stumbling block.
As Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." (John 17:17)
That's why Paul was so determined that the Thessalonians know the source of his teaching.
"For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe." (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
I pray that as you read this message today, you will open your heart to receive the truth of God's Word, not my words, to release you from any strongholds the enemy has tried to place on your life, freeing you to discern and test the spirits so you can guard your heart against false teachers and place yourself under pure Godly teaching, in Jesus' mighty name. Amen.
- By Jenny Ayling