In the book of Daniel 12:4, Daniel is prophesying about the future: one thing that is said about the end of days is that knowledge will increase and folks will run too and fro, "But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge."
Today, knowledge is easy: we google it, but are we actually learning things? And if we are learning, then is what we are learning actually true? Kids no longer seem to learn their tables by rote or learn passages of books. Increasingly they are being given tablets and iPads to find the knowledge for themselves. But what if the knowledge we find isn't true?
We all have heard about fake news and increasingly Christians fall for it; because someone says it on the internet it must be true, someone posts it on Facebook so it's obviously right!
On Sunday, Ann mentioned about Jesus saying in Luke 11-13 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” She commented about the fact that for years she had heard preachers say that in Jesus' day there was an scorpion that looked like an egg, a sea snake that looked like a fish. The only trouble is when we went to find proof, none of it existed. Pliny, a 1st Century historian and naturalist, mentions that in times past there was talk about a white scorpion that looked like an egg. That is tenuous to say the least!
Perhaps you think that is no big deal. Well, I would like to suggest that you are wrong, as some of our theology may well be based on untruth.
I came across this recently, in an article about Jesus death and how we are to relate to it:
"My friend, He was thinking of you when the soldiers tied Him to the scourging post. As they raised their whips, He said, “Let it all come on Me!” But what came on Him was not just the whip stripping the flesh off His bare back, but your sicknesses and diseases. Each time He was whipped, every form of sickness and disease, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, bird flu and dengue fever, came upon Him. “The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”Today, healing is your right because Jesus has paid the price for your healing. So if the devil says, “You cannot be healed,” just declare, “Jesus has paid for it"
On the face of it a great truth, one that many people cling to; we often hear when people are being prayed for "By His stripes you are healed". The trouble is it's not true, it is taking the verse out of context. In 1 Peter 2:24, Peter does say this phrase, but he is quoting from Isaiah 53:5. Peter is talking about how we as Christians have to deal with living lives in a pagan world. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; “by His wounds you have been healed.” Read it for yourself but read the context it is written in.
The healing Peter is talking about is that of our souls, forgiven and restored by Jesus' death on the cross.
If His body being whipped brought healing for our bodies then there would be no need for doctors, and A and E departments would close with signs on the doors saying "If you are unwell, call your minister". We know its not true but still cling to the false teaching.
It's dangerous teaching too, as those who preach it say 'Well, the Bible says its true, I say its true, so if it doesn't work for you then it's not God's fault, it's not my fault, therefore it must be your fault. You don't have enough faith', or something similar. I read a book whilst on sabbatical that said that God always says yes to our prayers and instantly releases the answer from Heaven and its our job to appropriate it to ourselves so if we don't get healed then its our fault for not appropriating it properly.
Really its my fault I am still ill? No wonder so many walk away from the faith. International Evangelists claim this kind of false teaching all the time, none of them are emptying hospitals or even demonstrating a 100% success rate when they pray for the sick but we seem to ignore this and believe their lies.
We need to be better informed. I do not mean what we get from Google searches, as they throw up all manner of wrong teaching, but from what the Bible actually says. We need to take time to read it properly, alongside some safe theological teaching: get a good study Bible and read around verses, whole chapters even whole books, put it in context both in what else the book is saying but in context of the time and place it was written, and how it fits with the rest of the Bible. Don't take things for granted, search for yourselves. And if in doubt ask! If we don't know, and we probably wont, we will find out.
Like me, many of you will have been in churches for years, and I wonder just how well we know the facts about our faith.
So for a bit of fun, I have asked Ann to put together 10 simple questions on the life and times of Jesus. The quiz is on the link below, its anonymous so we won't know who has done the best. Why not try it? Don't use Google or your internet search engine. Just use your brain.