Not long ago I happened across an unfortunate situation. A small church had scheduled a series of teaching meetings featuring a guest speaker. They invited others from the community, including a very large church just down the road, to participate. After the meetings were scheduled and the promotional information disseminated, the large church scheduled a similar series of services at the same time. The senior pastor had declared that God had told him to have the meetings.
However, before actually scheduling the meetings, the staff of the large church discussed the idea of having such meetings. Another staff member pointed out that the smaller church was already planning to hold services that seemed very similar in scope at the same time. He suggested that perhaps another time might be better. The senior pastor’s response was immediate: “No, this is what God told me to do.”
What God told him to do?! To, in essence, trample on the work of their brothers and sisters in Christ?! Is that a biblical attitude?
You might be thinking, “Hold on, Tom. You may be reacting too strongly here. After all if God told him to do it, who are you to judge?”
Please understand that I am not judging the pastor. There is no reason for me to do that. God’s Word does it.
Paul wrote to the Church of Philippi, “...in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Jesus told us, “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). Peter said, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8).
Could anyone honestly construe the actions of the senior pastor of the large church to be “humble” or “compassionate”? Is there anyone who would even suggest that he was considering others as better than himself? Is it even slightly conceivable that his motivation was that of a servant? Of course not.
Again, you might be thinking, “But God told him to do it. Are you saying that God no longer prompts and leads His people today?”
Absolutely not. In fact, I believe one of the great downfalls of the Church today is that we are not relying enough on God’s guidance. However, when God speaks to us it will always line up with His written/revealed Word, the Bible. Anything that contradicts the Scripture cannot be a word from the Lord.
Unfortunately it has become commonplace today in Christianity to set the subjective hearing of God’s voice (the promptings of the Holy Spirit) over and above the objective guidance (the Bible) He has given us. When we do that we have made ourselves masters over Scripture. We then pick and choose which parts of Scripture we decide to agree with and which ones we will ignore. Clearly that type of attitude is heresy.
We must all subject ourselves to the clearly revealed Word of God. The Lord may indeed give us specific direction apart from the Bible, but that direction will never contradict the Scripture. His objective Word is the final authority for all our actions in all of life.