Take Heed What You Read

“Ah, it is a great thing when once the Holy Spirit teaches a soul—that it is power which is lacking from the lifeless preaching and lifeless articles of dead professors. It is power which the renewed soul seeks—a message which has power to search his conscience, to pierce him to the quick, to write it upon his heart; a message which has power to bring him to his knees in broken-hearted confession to God; a message which has power to make him feel that he is “vile”; a message which has power to drive him to Christ, for the binding up of his wounds, for Him to pour in “oil and wine,” and send him on his way rejoicing.” A.W. Pink

Recently I have been reading a lot about Church history, heresy and really taking stock of what I believe and why. Taking a few classes in Bible College has really helped me to realize that all error and false teaching flow from a faulty view of God’s word, and just how important it is to stay grounded in the Bible.  We have to be careful and not get too taken up with the latest book or preacher. I have always been aware of the importance of a solid, Biblical foundation. Reading about how heresy and human error have always been a serious issue within Christianity,  I realize it’s importance even more.  Sadly, the path home seems to be getting more narrow with each turn of the page lately. False teaching and error, confusion and strife are on the rise in the pews and pulpits of America and if Christians are not grounded in the truth of the Gospel and laborious study of the scripture they will be on ever more shaky ground in the days to come.

I have also realized how dangerous it is to become too fond of any movement or group of people or Preacher of old.  I think there is a “Cult of personality” with  many popular Pastors and also with groups of people who are giants of the faith in history as well, even if their theology is right on, often we become so focused on being part of a group or adhering to a certain label that we end up in dangerous territory. Our vision is clouded easily, we are still human and so are the people we often follow.  We are often prideful, react emotionally and fall prey to caring way too much what others think and lose sight of what is really important.  I think the Apostle Paul is worth quoting here from 1 Corinthians 1:12-17 “What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephasa”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized intob the name of Paul?    For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

We serve Jesus Christ and not man, and we are to be grounded in the Bible, not confessions and the like.  These things are necessary and help us to learn and discern how to interpret scripture and explain what we believe but we should never hold them in more high esteem in our lives than Christ or His word.  The power that Paul speaks of is power from the Holy Spirit,  enabling Paul with the wisdom to preach and explain Scripture, not to sign up members to his fan club.  He goes on to say in verse 31 ” so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Wise words indeed.

We must also  be very careful what we read and who we are influenced by. I found this today on Dawn Marie’s blog “Take a Look”.  A.W. Pink says it best in the post below. I hope it’s a blessing to you as it was this morning to me.

Take Heed What You Read

Arthur Pink

“Take heed what you hear” (Mark 4:24): the word “hear” obviously includes what is read, for that which is written or printed is addressed to the ears of our intellect. Few people today realize the urgent need for “taking heed” unto what they read. Just as the natural food which is eaten either helps or hinders the body—so the mental food we receive either benefits or injures the mind, and that, in turn, affects the heart. Just as it is harmful to listen to the rubbish and poison which is being served from the great majority of present-day pulpits—so it is exceedingly injurious to the soul to read most of what is now being published. “Take heed what you hear” and read! But let us seek to be more specific.

The only thing which is really worth calling “religion” is the life of God in the soul-commenced, carried on, and consummated solely by the Holy Spirit. Hence, whatever does not bear the impress of the Spirit’s unction, should be rejected by the Christian: for not only can unctionless messages do us no good—but what proceeds not from the Spirit—is of the flesh. Here, then, is the test which God’s children ought to apply unto all they hear, and here is the balance in which they should weigh all that they read. True, there are varying degrees of the Spirit’s unction. As it is in the natural so it is in the spiritual—there will be a varying amount of wetness from the faintest moisture of dew—as compared to the copious shower. As there had to be “salt” in every sacrifice (Lev. 2:13), so every discourse or article proceeding from the Spirit’s aid, is “seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). But O how very much today is devoid of spiritual savor and flavor!

Some of God’s dear people may suppose that it would be presumptuous to set themselves up as judges of what they hear or read—but that is a serious mistake, being both a false humility, and a shirking of duty. The Apostle rebuked the Hebrews because their senses (spiritual faculties) were not developed so as to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:13). With as much reason, might it be termed pride for anyone to pass judgment upon the groceries or meats purchased from the stores. Others may ask, “But how are simple and unlearned souls to distinguish between the different religious publications of the day?” Very simply: in sampling your natural food how do you determine whether or not it be seasoned? By your natural taste, of course. So it is spiritually: the “new man” has a palate too! If the God of creation has given us natural palates for the purpose of distinguishing between wholesome and unwholesome food, the God of grace has furnished His people with a capacity, a spiritual sense, to distinguish between nutritious and unwholesome soul food.

“Just as the mouth tastes food—the ear tests the words it hears” (Job 34:3). Does yours, my reader? Are you as careful about what you take into your mind—as what you take into your stomach? You certainly ought to be, for the former is even more important than the latter. If you eat some material food which is injurious, you can take a purgative and get rid of the same; but if you have devoured mental food which is injurious, it stays with you! “The ear tests the words it hears.” Again, we ask, Does yours, dear reader? Are you learning to distinguish between “letter” and “spirit;” between the “form” and the “power;” between that which is of the earth and that which is from Heaven; between that which is lifeless and unctionless and that which is instinct with the breath of God? If the answer is ‘No’, then you are greatly the loser.

How many of God’s dear children listen to the automaton “letter” preachers of today, and yet find nothing suited to the needs of their poor souls! And how many are subscribing for one magazine after another, hoping to find that which will the better furnish them to fight the good fight of faith—only to be disappointed? What they hear and what they read does not penetrate and grip—it has no power—it neither breaks down nor lifts up—it produces neither godly sorrow nor godly joy. The messages they hear or read, fall upon their ear like an idle or twice-told tale—it completely fails to reach their case or minister to their needs. They are no better off after hearing a hundred such “sermons” or reading through a hundred such periodicals, than they were at the beginning! They are no farther from the world—and no nearer unto God!

It is often a long time before God’s children are able to account for this. They blame themselves; they are exceedingly loath to say, “This message is not of God.” They are afraid to act in the spiritual, as they do in the natural, and condemn and discard that which is worthless. While they feel a lack of power in the sermons they hear, or the articles they read, and while their souls steadily get dried up like a potsherd—they are slow to realize that this is the inevitable effect of the unctionless preaching they listen to, or the unctionless literature they read; and that such dryness and leanness of soul is inevitable—by their association with unhumbled and empty professors. But in due time God opens their eyes, and they see through the flimsy veil and discover that both the sermons they hear, and the literature they read—are only the product of a dead profession!

Ah, it is a great thing when once the Holy Spirit teaches a soul—that it is power which is lacking from the lifeless preaching and lifeless articles of dead professors. It is power which the renewed soul seeks—a message which has power to search his conscience, to pierce him to the quick, to write it upon his heart; a message which has power to bring him to his knees in broken-hearted confession to God; a message which has power to make him feel that he is “vile”; a message which has power to drive him to Christ, for the binding up of his wounds, for Him to pour in “oil and wine,” and send him on his way rejoicing. Yes, what the renewed soul longs for (though at first he knows it not) is that Divine message which comes to him “not simply with words—but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Sooner or later, every Christian comes to value “power,” and to count as worthless, whatever lacks it. It is by Divine power, that he is taught in his own soul, by which he is made to feel acutely his sinnership, his carnality, his beggarliness. It is Divine power working in his heart—the same power which brought Christ again from the dead (Eph. 1:19, 20)—which draws his affections unto things above and makes his soul pant after God “as the deer pants after the water brooks” (Psalm 42:1). It is this Divine power working in him which reveals to his burdened spirit the Throne of Grace, and causes him to implore mercy and to seek grace “to help in time of need.” It is this Divine power working in him, which makes him cry “Make me walk along the path of Your commands—for there I find delight” (Psalm 119:35).

Those who are partakers of this Divine power (and they are few in number) can never be satisfied with a powerless ministry, either oral or written.

“Those who live according to the flesh—have their minds set on what the flesh desires,” (Romans 8:5). They are charmed with oratorical eloquence, catchy sayings, witty allusions, and amusing illustrations. On just such “husks”, do the religious “swine” feed!

But the penitent prodigal can find no nutriment therein! Men “of the world”—and they may be graduates from some “Bible Institute” or possessors of a diploma from some Bible Seminary, now styling themselves “preachers of the Gospel”—will speak of the things of the world and “the world hears them” (1 John 4:5). But those who are seeking to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” obtain no help therefrom, yes, they perceive clearly that such sermons and periodicals are “broken cisterns, which can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).

“Take heed what you hear” and read! More than forty years ago the saintly Adolph Saphir wrote, “I think the fewer books we read—the better. It is like times of cholera, when we should only drink filtered water.” What would he say if he were on earth today and glanced over the deadly poison sent forth by the heterodox, and the lifeless rubbish put out by the orthodox? Christian reader, if you value the health of your soul, cease hearing and quit reading all that is lifeless, unctionless, powerless, no matter what prominent or popular name be attached thereto. Life is too short to waste valuable time on that which does not profit. Ninety-nine out of every hundred of the religious books, booklets, and magazines now being published, are not worth the paper on which they are printed!

To turn away from the lifeless preachers and publishers of the day—may involve a real cross. Your motives will be misconstrued, your words perverted, and your actions misinterpreted. The sharp arrows of false report will be directed against you. You will be called proud and self-righteous, because you refuse to fellowship empty professors. You will be termed censorious and bitter—if you condemn in plain speech—the subtle delusions of Satan. You will be dubbed narrow-minded and uncharitable, because you refuse to join in singing the praises of the “great” and “popular” men of the day. More and more, you will be made to painfully realize—that the path which leads unto eternal life is “narrow” and that FEW there are who find it. May the Lord be pleased to grant unto each of us—the hearing ear and obedient heart! “Take heed what you hear” and read

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Take Heed What You Read

  1. dawnmarie4

    ” I have also realized how dangerous it is to become too fond of any movement or group of people or Preacher of old. I think there is a “Cult of personality” with many popular Pastors and also with groups of people who are giants of the faith in history as well, even if their theology is right on, often we become so focused on being part of a group or adhering to a certain label that we end up in dangerous territory.”

    You and me both!

  2. “We serve Jesus Christ and not man, and we are to be grounded in the Bible, not confessions and the like… The power that Paul speaks of is power from the Holy Spirit…” I hope you could see me nodding my head as I was reading this post, Teresa!

    “Ah, it is a great thing when once the Holy Spirit teaches a soul…” so so so true. For far too many years we stayed in churches where there was lifeless preaching, thinking that somehow us being there would change things. Looking back now I can see how arrogant that was, thinking that we had the nutrition ourselves to pass on to others – no, we needed feeding ourselves, and I see now how I withered during those lean years. But those lean years just make the true, powerful medicine all the more sweet♥

    Thanks for this post, Teresa!

  3. Peter Blyth

    Dear Teresa

    I came across your site for the first time today after trying to find a copy of Corrie Ten Boom’s Broken Chords story to send to a dear friend. I was interested in this post from Arthur Pink, a teacher who I suspect is unfashionable in modern times. Having recently started theological study I do despair at times about some of the academic debates on the Bible. I have asked the Lord to give me discernment to determine truth from error.

    We all need to pray for wisdom and discernment as we are warned throughout the New Testament about false teaching that will inevitably arise, and the false teachers being “wolves in sheep’s clothing” will appear to be reasonable in what they say (i.e. a loving God could not condemn anyone).

    A.W. Tozer argued that the rise of “critical” scholarship of the Bible in Europe, particularly in Germany, from the 19th century was a direct attack on the Church by the Devil. We see the consequences today, the European church decimated as pastors had their confidence in the inspired nature of the Bible undermined their preaching lost its power.

    I favour writers who have stood the test of time and have recently encouraged a group in my church to read “Sit Walk Stand” by Watchman Nee for a small group discussion.

    I was at a healing ministry session over the weekend and the speaker made the point that we should seek the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth’s of the scriptures to our heart such that we might be a revelation not an echo of others. He argued that what held back many Christians was their failure to fully appreciate what God had already done for us in Jesus. Over three days I saw a number of people healed through the power of Jesus. All glory to our Lord Jesus.

    God bless you

    Peter Blyth

  4. Teresa

    Hi Peter, I included a link to the Music From Broken Chords piece by Corrie Ten Boom, it’s where I got the name for the blog. Here is the link if you still need it. I tweeked the piece a little and added a personal note, but you can always copy and paste just the Ten Boom part for your friend. https://musicfrombrokenchords.wordpress.com/the-story-behind-the-name/ I liked what you said about the modern Church being “decimated” I think the modern Church never preaches the Gospel and that’ s the real problem. It’s a watered down, seeker sensitive stew that leads to false converts and mass confusion. No matter, I believe God is Sovereign and in control. He’s still working saving His people, and I praise His holy name for that. Thanks for stopping by and God bless!

  5. Peter Blyth

    Dear Teresa

    Thanks for your reply. Corrie Ten Boom’s books are a great encouragement to show how the Lord can use all of our experiences for his glory. On the subject of great woman of faith I was reading the biography of Francis Ridley Havergal a couple of days back. I was particulalry taken by the story behind her writing of one of my favourite hymns “Take my life and let it be” in 1874. The hymn reflected her personal prayer one evening when being too happy for sleep she reconsecrated herself to the Lord after he had graciously answered her prayer for a blessing upon others who either were unconverted or did not share her personal.

    God Bless

    Peter

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