Is the ministry always correct, and what should we make of fallible Church leaders?
I heard a sermon yesterday that has resurrected my interest in reposting some past Bible studies, and in particular the study on the Book of Judges. The sermon was more or less a study in the life of Samson, and the lessons we can glean from it. As I background, I want to repost the tongue-in-cheek article “Was GTA the End-Time Samson?”. It should remind us of a few things worthwhile and necessary to learn along the road of salvation.
One of the main lessons is that we don’t have perfect information, and a brief look at the story of Samson would not necessarily lead us to believe he would make it into the Kingdom of God. Yet, there he is, listed among the faithful in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
This Is What the Ministry Says, So Believe It?
The sermonette tied well into this as well, as it covered the topic of whether or not we take notes in services so that we can see what the ministry preaches and believe it. Is that really the reason to take notes?
The speaker covered Jack Elliot’s guidelines for why we take notes:
- Write down the Scripture location.
- Write down what speaker says it means.
- Go home, check the context, including the rest of Bible, and see if he is telling the truth.
Does this sound rebellious to some? What of the Bereans? Were they rebellious for what they did?
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
~ Ac 17:10-11
They weren’t viewed as rebellious for checking up on them! They did not just take notes and believe!
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
~ Gal 1:6-9
“Though we” — who are “we”? The Apostles! He even repeats it for emphasis! We are not to even believe apostles if they are wrong!
Human Beings Are Fallible
The point should be clear: You are not to believe any minister, elder, apostle or blogger simply because they say it is so. It must line up with the clear word of God! It must line up with the whole word of God, and not just cherry-picked verses about calendars, Sabbath observances or any other doctrine you can think of.
Most of all, we must follow men only as they follow Christ (1Co 11:1), rather than either justifying our own sins by the behavior of others or throwing out the baby with the bath water.
It should also be pointed out that Samson judged Israel for twenty years. However, his story is covered in four summarized chapters. The Bible only gives us the information that is relevant to the story at hand, so there must have been many good things that Samson did during his lifetime that aren’t even recorded. The story, in fact the stories of most of the biblical heroes, is not intended to be an in-depth biography.
The Bible is many things, but it is mainly the story of how God deals with human kind. We must not lose sight of that and treat it as a compendium of science, math and biographies. We are given the relevant information, often within a cultural context, necessary to come to know God and be saved. That is the main purpose.
We are not given perfect information. We are not even capable of perfect information, for our emotions and carnal nature gets in the way of that.
We must be careful at whom we throw stones.
As with many characters in the Bible, the story of Samson should show the extent of God’s mercy. Samson had an issue with women, so the end of his life was spent where he could not be tempted and was given room to repent. God can forgive all sins large and small, except for the one in which a person refuses to repent of.
When you properly consider the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, this lesson should be driven home very vividly every Passover. The lessons of Samson, David and others should show us that we owe it to God to take the Passover with reverence, not to mention that those who refuse to take it because they are “unworthy” are only faithlessly kidding themselves about God’s mercy and grace.
Faith, in fact, is one thing Samson did not lack, and that exceeded his physical strength. That is evident by him being named in the “Hall of Faith chapter” of Hebrews. As weak as he was, he called out to God and relied upon Him up to the very end.
We need to do the same, for how many of us can claim we are “strong” morally before such a compassionate God?