Paul urged Timothy, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim:2:15). We learn several things from this simple statement: (1) each one of us has a personal responsibility to know what one believes and why on the basis of an individual knowledge and understanding of God's Word; (2) this responsibility has been placed upon each of us by God himself and cannot be pushed off on anyone else; (3) the knowledge God requires does not come miraculously or by osmosis but only through diligent study; (4) one cannot merely accept what others have learned from their study, but each must think the issues through and come to a careful and clear understanding for oneself. It is also implied that one must have carefully thought through the common questions of life that confront all generations. The Bible is not to be studied in a vacuum as though it were abstract theory but must be practically applied to all aspects of daily life.
One of the besetting sins of mankind is to elevate unduly those whom one admires—to fear them, to seek their approval, to grant them a special status, to let them do our thinking for us and eventually to follow, honor and worship them instead of God. That is one of the problems at some of the more visible TV ministries where the Christians who have given millions of dollars have no real representation, but those in leadership control for their own interests vast properties bought with the sacrificial giving of the body of Christ. Jim Bakker needed correction years ago, but there was no one to give it to him. Where was the Board, the church, or the Assemblies of God under whose cover Bakker supposedly operated? He was so idolized by his followers that many refused to believe the facts even when they were revealed. No less serious is the long record of obviously false prophecies by Christian leaders who are highly honored instead of being corrected.
We all need correction. We need to lovingly correct one another, to think for ourselves, to follow the Lord and not men and not to allow any leader to get in a position where, like a Hindu guru, he cannot be accountable. And those who show an unwillingness to be corrected should be disqualified from leadership. Some, such as Earl Paulk, insist that ordinary Berean Christians have no right even to question the prophets. That is heresy. We not only have the right, but we have the obligation before God to hold Christian leaders accountable.
In exposing the guruism in the church that has placed certain leaders on pedestals of infallibility, I run the risk of being set up as a guru by those who begin to follow me and take my word without question. I see this tendency in many of the letters we receive, where questions are asked for which the questioner ought to have taken the time to search out the answer for himself. There are deep issues involved that must be thought through carefully by each of us. We want to help you, but we don't want to become a hindrance to your individual spiritual growth by functioning as an answering machine that automatically spouts out information that each could and should dig out for himself.
We want to encourage you to do your own research and to provide information for us to organize and have ready for those who need it. I am grateful to the many who do provide information that I could never take the time to dig out myself, information from many places I have never visited, from newspapers and books I have never read. I want to make that information available in books, videos and other means. But we are still receiving hundreds of letters asking questions which the writers could have researched for themselves were it not so easy to ask us.
We want to help when that help is needed; and we want to assist you in your understanding and growth as we hope you will assist us. But there is a depth of understanding, a solid purpose of heart and assurance that can only come through individual hard work as you "study to shew thyself approved unto God" (2 Tim:2:15)....I want to encourage you to do that, because I am convinced that we live in very dangerous days. The apostasy and seduction are going to get much worse, and only those who walk closely with the Lord and are daily in His Word and are aware of the growing delusion around them and are thinking issues through for themselves under the leading of the Holy Spirit will stand the severe tests ahead. May our Lord protect and give you grace to stand firm in your commitment. And may He enable you to rescue many before it is forever too late. TBC