We saw in the weekly newspaper a notice about a Bible study being held in a home in the middle of town on Thursday mornings. The item said all were welcome, so being at loose ends yet again one Thursday, Keith and I drove the few blocks to the dark brown frame house and knocked on the door. We were welcomed warmly, though looks were exchanged among the room full of women. Keith was the only man there.
In the middle of the tiny living room sat a white-haired woman in her 70s, slim and well-kept in her blue flowered shirtwaist dress. Her manner left no doubt that she considered herself the Bible authority in the class and her word was not to be questioned.
She started the class, which it seemed had reached the third chapter of Exodus—the burning bush. She proceeded to tell us that the Holy Spirit had visited her the night before and told her that Moses had not known who he really was that day in the desert, and that the reason for this visit from God was to tell him, then persuade him to return to help the Israelites, who were after all his own people.
After a few minutes of this, I raised my hand and said that was odd since the Holy Spirit tells us in the book of Hebrews that Moses knew exactly who he was from his early years, his mother having been his nurse after all. Then I read aloud Heb 11:23-27.
An embarrassed silence followed. I was only 21. I still thought that people who were honestly seeking the Lord would change the minute they heard the truth read from God’s word. Instead we were told that she had no idea why the Spirit told her these things, but since he did they were obviously the real truth and I was wrong. Then the class continued for another hour. As we left we were politely told that troublemakers were not welcome and it would be best if we did not return.
It did not take long before I found others who would not listen to the plain truth of God’s word. I even discovered that good-hearted Christians will not always see the truth as easily as I had thought. And then one day not more than ten years ago I was slapped in the face with the realization that I had read a passage for years and completely missed a vital truth in it. When someone rubbed my nose in it I was appalled at how I could ever have missed it.
So what has this taught me? It has not taught me that as long as you are a good-hearted person you can believe a lie and still be perfectly fine with God. Jesus said of the Pharisees, you compass sea and land to make one proselyte and when he has become so, you make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves, Matt 23:15.
But it has taught me not to be so judgmental of others. Things can be difficult to see, not because we have hard hearts but because we have always looked at it one way and never even thought there might be another way. They can be hard to understand because we have put all the emphasis on one phrase and totally overlooked another.
And it has certainly taught me to listen to others, to weigh their words carefully, not simply dismiss them with a sneer or a tone of outrage. I may say I don’t believe I am always right, but when I refuse to even consider what others have to say, I am putting the lie to my words.
Now back to the lady who listened to whoever it was she thought she saw the night before. God cannot lie, the scriptures tell us. He will not contradict himself. If this woman had the knowledge of the scriptures she claimed, she would not have made such an obvious mistake. She needed to have heeded the warning of Paul in Galatians 1:8, Though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that which we have preached, let him be accursed. The Holy Spirit would never change the word of God.
Jude tells us in verse 3 that the word was once for all delivered to the saints.
Can you imagine how discouraging it would be to think that God might be changing things around night after night and no one ever told you about it?
He isn’t, and he won’t. Our job is to make certain we know it well, to check out those who teach it, and to never allow preconceived notions to keep us from seeing the obvious in it.
Every word of God is tried; he is a shield unto those who take refuge in him. Add not to his words, lest he reprove you and you be found a liar, Prov 30:5,6.