And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 14, Number
In this issue:
In the last few years, I have noticed that it is popular to accuse folks of “preaching opinions” when those listening do not agree with the teacher or preacher. Regardless of whether or not the person is preaching the truth, the accusation is made when things are taught that “I do not like.” In connection with this, I have noticed that questions on the radio program are often prefaced with: “What is your opinion about ….?” Perhaps it is that people preface their questions this way because if it is only an “opinion” that is offered, rather than what Scripture says (Jn. 17:17), then if we do not like the answer, we can ignore it, because, after all, “It is just his opinion.”
Is this right? Are we now reduced to “preaching opinions” to people instead of preaching the truth? Is this an unfair accusation, or is it the truth?
There Is A Place For Opinions In God’s Plan.
First, let us be reminded that passages like Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8 recognize the fact that folks might have opinions concerning certain matters. In these passages, God allows for this reality. Having opinions on matters that are not matters of faith is authorized of God! He allows us to have opinions, but our opinions are not to be taught as “fact” or conditions of salvation!
Yet, when it comes to preaching the gospel to folks, whether publically from the pulpit, or across the dinner table, or in the break room, etc., we need to forego our “opinions” and present only Bible facts (i.e., truth) to people. Let us see how it was done in the Bible and follow the examples.
Holy Men Of God Taught What God Said, Not Their Opinions.
In the Old Testament, we read “thus saith the Lord” no less than 400 times! Yes, all of our Old Testament heroes, from Moses to Malachi, cried “thus saith the Lord” when speaking to the people! In so doing, they were making it crystal clear that they were not preaching opinions, nor the popular thinking of the world at the time! In fact, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation”. These “holy men of God” spoke “as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet. 1:20-21). No, no opinions were allowed in the canon of the Old Testament!
Looking to the New Testament, we see a similar truth being expressed. Before Jesus went to the cross, He promised “another comforter” would come to the apostles (Jn. 14:16). In so doing, “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you …. He will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (Jn. 14:26, 16:13). Later on, we read from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. He said, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord” (I Cor. 14:37). The apostle John also made it clear: “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” (I Jn. 4:6).
At no time in the Old or New Testaments do we read a claim of “originality” by any of the authors! They were not providing “opinions” nor the “popular thinking” of the day. They were providing folks with truth that originated with God (II Tim. 3:16-17)! God’s will was revealed to man through forty-some writers over 1600 years, and we are the beneficiaries (II Pet. 1:3)!
Therefore, if I am interested in speaking as the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent (I Pet. 4:11), then what will I be speaking? Will it be my personal opinion and experience? No way! If Jesus did not do this (Jn. 12:48-50), then how can I justify doing it?
How Can We Determine When Someone Voices An Opinion?
Let us return to the beginning of our article, and the complaints voiced by some concerning the preacher’s “opinion.” How can we determine whether or not someone is offering an opinion instead of the truth? Put simply, we compare what a person says with Scripture (Acts 17:11). If the teaching agrees with Scripture, then this one is not promoting an opinion at all. In such a case, if I am mad, upset, or otherwise feel rebellious toward what is said, then this is not a reaction to the teacher, but a reaction to God, and I will answer for it (II Cor. 5:10)! Trying to make myself feel better by saying, “That is his opinion” did not resolve anything, because if he taught the truth of the Bible, then it WASN’T his opinion! If, however, what one teaches cannot be proven by Scriptural authority, then it was his opinion that was taught.
Defining Words Does Not Constitute Teaching One’s Opinion.
While we are studying, let us also remember that when a teacher or preacher defines words for us so as to better explain a Bible word or passage; this does not constitute an “opinion”. The writers of the Bible defined words from time to time. For example, the Lord’s body is defined as the church in Colossians 1:18 and 24. In Revelation 1:20, we see the “seven stars” defined as “the seven angels”, and “seven candlesticks” defined as “the seven churches.” John 17:17 gives us the definition of “truth”. Read it and see. There are many other examples, but the point is that defining words is not expressing a personal opinion. Rather, it is getting to the heart of the matter in teaching truth!
Therefore, when someone today uses a Bible dictionary to define Bible words, this is not done to express a personal opinion! Rather, it is an effort to get to the heart of the matter and define a word from the original language (Hebrew in the Old Testament or Greek in the New Testament) rather than merely relying on the “common” or “popular” definition from 21st century English. Seeing that the Bible was not written in the 21st century, it is wise to go back and find the original meaning to Bible words! Are we doing this?
Last, when we allow the Bible to be its own commentary in showing the fulfillment of prophecies and the like, we are simply teaching truth. It is not the expression of a personal opinion. Let us not forget this.
Are there people guilty of teaching personal opinion? Absolutely! This was happening in Bible days (Gal. 1:6-7; II Pet. 2:1-3, 17-19; Jer. 28; II Tim. 2:16-18; Rom. 16:17-18; etc.), as it is happening today. Let us therefore be wise hearers, as well as be honest with the truth. When we “handle accurately” God’s word (II Tim. 2:15), and when we mature spiritually (Heb. 5:14), we are better able to recognize when someone is pushing an opinion rather than teaching the truth.
Hopefully, it is clear that those of us who love the Lord and want to spread His word in public and private ways (Acts 20:20), are not preaching opinions. Rather, we are teaching the word of God to others in the assurance that those who are taught will do the same (II Tim. 2:2). Let us faithfully “preach the word” to folks and save their souls! -The Old Paths, XVIII:38 (20Nov11)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Will You Be Persuaded to Repent?
Scripture Reading:Luke 16:23-31
1.The rich man's torment is a tragic lesson of opportunities lost and that
sin brings eternal agony, Lk. 16:19-31.
I. SINNERS WILL NOT BE PERSUADED TO REPENT BY HELPING THEM REMAIN IN SIN.
Living (danger of prosperity), Lk. 16:19; Prov. 30:7-9.
II. WILL YOU BE PERSUADED TO REPENT...
A. By the Word
of God? Acts 17:2-3; 18:4; 19:8; 28:23; Lk. 24:44-48; 2 Tim. 3:15 (Acts
2:22, 36-40; 26:22-23, 26-28).
1. The faithful people of God in the Old Testament were persuaded (assured)
of God's word (promises). So, they lived and died in faith, Heb. 11:13.
The Friday after Thanksgiving Day is called “Black Friday” in reference to the profits traditionally made that day (not to the darkness of the hour when the madness begins!).
Jesus taught the parable of the unjust steward to teach us to be good stewards of the spiritual goods put under our charge (Lk. 18:1-13; cf. Eph. 1:3). Luke 18:1-9 Perhaps Black Friday helps teach us prudent lessons as we observe its shoppers and the “sons of this world”.
Plan ahead. The unjust steward planned for the day he would no longer be a steward (Lk. 16:2-4). Likewise, Black Friday shopping requires planning, too. Advertisements help as shoppers prepare the holiday lists and where to find the best deals. Should we not be planning for the day of eternity with equal resolve? Why are we so careless about getting ready for that great day? Shoppers save money on Black Friday, but Christians plan for their souls to be saved (Heb. 10:39).
Be dedicated. The unjust steward was so dedicated to solving his problem that he called “every one of his master’s debtors” and made a deal with them (Lk. 16:5). Some shoppers lined up 2-3 days before the doors opened on Black Friday; that’s dedication! They really want to be first to get the best possible sale prices. When asked how they do it, some said it is just their tradition; they are dedicated to doing it every year. It is their way of life each year at this time. Being a Christian successfully requires the dedication to stick with it, remaining diligent and faithful (Lk. 9:62; Heb. 3:14).
Sacrifice to succeed. The unjust steward willingly sacrificed what he had in order to be cared for when his life changed (Lk. 16:3-4, 8). Black Friday shoppers sacrificed temporary comfort for the prize of low, low prices. Being a Christian requires sacrifice and demands self-denial (Lk. 9:23). Christians sacrifice the passing pleasures of sin for an eternal prize (1 Cor. 10:25). We cannot serve God and riches (Lk. 16:13). Serve God!
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 11/27/2011
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA