No believer desiring to grow in faith has ever had as many opportunities for input as today’s Christians. Ubiquitous technology delivers countless preachers, authors, teachers, musicians and bloggers around the clock: a podcast on a laptop, a smartphone app, iPod music in the car… 50 years ago the selection was much more limited with considerably fewer people gaining a national or international stage. But today anybody with a computer can gain a worldwide audience. My blog has readers in Russia, India, China, and Germany. No longer must fledgling authors gain the approval of a publishing house, but with a modest investment can self-publish their own book whether it’s rich and worthwhile, or best used for starting fires.
How do you decide who to listen to? Oratorical skills, popularity, recommendation by a friend? The early church had few golden-tongued orators with the exception of Apollos. Apparently Paul wasn’t all that riveting as a preacher. He put Eutychus so soundly to sleep that the man fell out of a window and was killed. People Paul had led to Christ and discipled complained to each other “He’s a good writer but not much of a preacher” (2 Cor.10:10; 11:6).
After Paul left town, his former fans in Corinth had become disillusioned with him after hearing new teachers who’d arrived in town. They were so impressed that they either called them “super-apostles”, or described them in such glowing terms to Paul that he named them that sarcastically. Lurking behind their popularity and impressive speaking was a sinister darkness. They were not super-apostles, but false apostles (2 Cor.11:13) who skillfully preached a false gospel (2 Cor.11:4).
There are many good teachers and authors today. And when it comes to side issues that believers used to go to war over with each other, I’m glad many have abandoned the shrill name-calling and finger-pointing at brothers and sisters that should be reserved for heretics. But Satan is as active and scheming as ever. We need to remain on a war footing against him. Never assume what you’re getting from your favorite preacher or blogger or author is right. There’s only one way to make sure that you’re getting the truth from someone: check him/her against God’s Word.