Popularity Doesn’t Equate with Truth

“Moreover, Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire first for the word of Yahweh.” Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not yet a prophet of Yahweh here that we may inquire of him?”” (1 Kings 22:5–7 LSB)

As I was reading the passage above, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before in my previous readings in 1 Kings.

King Jehoshaphat requested that King Ahab first inquire about the will of God before agreeing to go to war with him. Ahab obliged by calling 400 so-called prophets who told him that the Lord approved of the war.

But Jehoshaphat was not fooled. Something didn’t sit right with the message these prophets gave. The text doesn’t tell us why, but Jehoshaphat didn’t accept these 400 prophets as speaking from the Lord. As a matter of fact, this is what caught my eye.

Again, it says in verse 7, “But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not yet a prophet of Yahweh here that we may inquire of him?”” It is almost as if the king told Ahab, “Yes, yes, I have heard the popular opinion of all these men, but…don’t you have any actual prophets of Yahweh, or only these fakers? I’d actually like to hear what Yahweh has to say.”

Ahab doesn’t seem to be confused because he knows that his sleight of hand trick hasn’t worked. He knows that he has been keeping the good stuff in the back and hasn’t brought out the real prophet of Yahweh. Ahab wasn’t looking for truth, only for a confirmation of his preconceived plans.

You know, some people claim to want the truth, but they want their truth, as the current foolishness of our day would say. But the truth is a stubborn thing. Something is either true or it is not. And the number of people you get to back a lie doesn’t increase its truthfulness. A lie is always a lie no matter how many false prophets can lip-sync in unison the siren song of the culture or popular opinion.

We need to ask ourselves this as well. Do I really want to know the truth, or am I wanting to fit in, to follow with the cool crowd (whoever the “cool kids” might currently be)?

Appeals to “science” or straw man arguments, or the number of books written or Instagram followers may sway those who want to affirm their own preconceived notions, but popularity and doctrine don’t equal truth. Whether it is the cultural doctrines of gender politics, abortion, or feminism, or the theological doctrines of eschatology, pneumatology, or ecclesiology. Memes don’t prove the truth. Mic drop blog posts and Facebook rants bring more heat than light.

What we need is to hear a true prophet of Yahweh speak. God has spoken, and He has done so perfectly in His Word. So, instead of gathering polemics and talking points from Fox News, CNN, Twitter, or YouTube, for those of us called out by Christ, let’s open our Bibles and listen to God speak.

Report on the IFCA Annual Convention

My friend Paul Scharf has been writing for a series of articles for Sharper Iron (www.sharperiron.org) which are a summary of his experiences at the IFCA Annual Convention this year in Lincoln, NE. If you didn’t make it, I’d recommend you read his report (both parts one and two, so far). He does a great job of capturing the flavor of the convention. You can read part 2 here: https://sharperiron.org/article/report-ifca-annual-convention-part-2

7 Reasons Why You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology (weekend repost)

Various views of end times events have caused division, confusion, and frustration for many Christians. It isn’t hard for a person that wants to downplay the importance of eschatology to point out extreme examples of each view in order to demonstrate that the effort is fruitless. Some have jokingly called themselves “pan-millennialists” saying that it will all pan-out in the end.

However, complexity, alternate views, and even wacky ideas among some teachers should not be enough for us to put off the study of end times. Read the rest of this post: 7 Reasons Why You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology

Are You Able to See the Signs?

One afternoon while we were camping in the sequoias fo California, we started to notice that the clouds were beginning to look a little heavy and ominous. As evening began to fall, we started feeling a drop of rain here and there. As experienced campers, my wife and I knew that we needed to take a few precautions before we went to bed for the night. We folded up our camp chairs and put them into our car, and then we took down all of our towels and clothes off of our clothesline and put them into the tent. We made sure that anything that could be damaged by the rain was in a safe and dry place. There’s something romantic about being in a tent while its raining, but there is nothing fun about having to run out in the middle of the night in a rain storm to cover and move things out of the rain.

In Matthew 16:1-12, Jesus spoke about observing the signs of the weather, and the activities that are affected when we are good judges of what will occur. Even today, we still read signs. We read the stock market to see whether or not stock prices will go up or down. We forecast the trends of politics and the real estate market. Some people are involved in watching the trends of fashion and technology.

But, what about the big picture? What about the signs of the times that point to the end of the world? The only person the world sees warning about the end of the world is the homeless guy in the movies who holds up a sign warning of the end of the world. The unbelieving world demonstrates its willful unbelief when it can read the signs of the culture while rejecting the signs of the end of the ages.

Of course, Jesus’ comments were to unbelieving Jews who were absolutely rejecting the Messiah and the clear signs that he had been sent from the Father. But as I meditated on how I could apply this text to myself, I realized that we, even as Christians, sometimes can demonstrate willful unbelief much like the Jews did. How do Christians demonstrate our willful unbelief by rejecting those same signs? I think there are at least three ways:

1. By Failing to Live Holy Lives-2Pet 3:10-13

Like practical atheists we can say we believe that Christ is returning, but act like his coming is a long way off–probably beyond our lifetimes. Peter recognized that since the day of the Lord is assured, his coming should affect our striving after holiness and godliness.

2. By Failing to Live For Heaven instead of Earth-1Cor 3:10-15

Paul instructed the Corinthian church to stop living for worldly pleasures and to think ahead to that day when they would stand before the Lord and give an account for the sort of life they lived. Would their efforts burn down and blow over like the straw house of the three little pigs or would it stand the refining fire and come forth as refined jewels? Everything that we do in this time frame we have been given will count for eternity–and for some Christians, they won’t have much to count.

3. By Failing to Evangelize the Lost (Acts 20:24-27)

Paul was pretty sure that he was heading for rough times when he headed for Jerusalem. He stopped in to say goodbye to the Ephesian church elders on his way back, and he felt that this might be the last time he would see them. He wasn’t thinking about Jesus’ return as much as the fact that he might go to see Jesus first. So, when he assessed the effectiveness of his time with these brothers in Christ, he was confident that he had done everything that a faithful servant of Christ can do, including preaching the truth of the gospel without any reservations. Paul’s conscience was clear, and his hands were clean.

Jesus’ return may come before we die, or after we die, but what’s the difference? We’ll still be called to give an account as stewards of the gospel treasure. How will you fair?

The signs that Jesus spoke of regarding the end times are true. As Jonah illustrated, Jesus died and rose again. But that isn’t where the gospel ends. He is coming back. Do you believe that? Can you read the signs around us that show us that it will be soon?

Do you have enough sense to get out of a storm?

We need to respond to Christ, not out of fear, but out of faith. Jesus IS coming soon. We need to be prepared.