We are not mindless robots, we are meant to have opinions. We have the ability to process thoughts, which goes into the core of our personality, peculiarity and individuality as human beings.
Therefore, you can listen with a critical mind. That is what it means for the ear to taste words. The other person is talking trying to sell you a product, making various claims, and throwing at you his points. You have the responsibility to judge from your own standpoint of truth. There are standards of truth that you should use to measure whatever is being packaged as spiritual truth.
Paul thought that the Galatia church should be more critical, rather than act as gullible fools, when certain people came along claiming to have a different take on the message of the gospel from what he told them originally.
Those people said they should be circumcised before they can be truly saved, accepted by God. They declared to them another gospel, which was no gospel at all, preaching another Jesus, different from the one they were told of by Paul, the appointed apostle to the gentiles (Romans 11:13). The wrong message they embraced, made them fall from grace. Paul said that they have been deluded; they have allowed themselves to be deceived. He expected them to be more discerning of the truth they subscribe to.
Writing to the Ephesians, Paul said that the plan of God for his people is that they should be matured (spiritually stable) enough, to not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. They are to be more discerning (Ephesians 4:8-16). The psalmist says: I have more understanding than all my teachers (Psalm 119:99), for your words are my meditation. When we study for ourselves (take personal responsibility for our understanding of truth), we would not be mere echoes of the errors of others. They may not even know they are in error.
James says that we should not take the faith of the Lord Jesus with respect of persons, in the context of this discuss, it means that a powerful personality does not equate infallible source of truth). There is a difference between display of power and display of truth, and because someone perform miracles does not make whatever they say the truth, neither the fact that they are old or experienced, or they have endorsement from others, or that they have a large following.
Jesus did not even encourage a blind followership that was not ready to taste the words he says and swallow it just like that. He said that if anyone wants to do the will of God, that person will know if what he (Jesus) says is the truth (John 7:17). He wants each one to take responsibility for the truth they know.
After his resurrection, Jesus took two of his disciples through the evidences of scriptures to convince them of the validity of his resurrection (Luke 24:13-35), based on prophecy. Thereafter, he manifested himself to them, so that they know who he is.
He explained the truth to them, respecting them as intelligent people. He did not say: I said it therefore you must believe it. He wanted them to develop their own conviction so that they act based on their own understanding of truth. He wanted them to believe the resurrection but not by force and not by threatening them with excommunication.
How you response to truth is very important. Those two disciples on their way to Emmaus said that when Jesus was speaking to them, with his identity hidden, as he shared the words, they were stirred in their hearts. They were not robots even in the issue of believing Jesus; they have to follow their hearts.
Isaiah said: to the word and to the testimony, if they don’t speak according to this word, it is because there is not light in them (Isaiah 8:20). God himself said: come, let us reason together (Isaiah 1:18). God is not against your reasoning process, he gave it to you in the first instance. But he wants our reasoning to be guided by the claim of scriptures. Our reasoning should embrace the scriptures as our litmus test for truth. John said that we should test all spirits, to see which one is from God (1John 4:1-3). He said that the spirit that does not affirm the humanity of Christ should be rejected. You cannot create truth by the over-excitement of your imagination. The word of God is truth (John 17:17). Your business is to discover it. Truth is discovered, not created.
God wants you to have his word as the basis of your reasoning, since you came from him in the first instance. Adam and Eve bought into the lying reasoning of the devil, and rejected God’s reasoning (Genesis 3). God’s reasoning said that if they eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they will die, the reasoning of the devil says that they will not. Satan’s reasoning says there is no repercussion for rejecting the reasoning of God, but history has shown otherwise.
We should take the word of God seriously. Each one has to focus on the word of God, to read and understand it for ourselves, not the interpretation imposed on the bible by anyone else. We should understand the movement of God through the ages and what he is doing now. When we understand that the scriptures points to Christ (John 5:39), all about him, then we are right on the money.
We need to know how the various portions of scripture relate to each other (1Corinthians 2:13), how they connect. And we should not presume we understand what one portion means when we don’t. What we don’t understand today, we will understand tomorrow, if not on this earth, then in heaven.
Not to worry. God is not going to asked how much of the bible you know before you enter into heaven. The only thing relevant to get to heaven is: believe in Jesus (John 5:24). That’s not so hard, is it?
All these talk about the personal responsibility does not mean that we should not respect the fivefold ministers, whose preoccupation is to feed us with knowledge and understanding (Ephesians 4:8-16, Jeremiah 3:15). We do need them to help us with navigating to the right interpretation of the word of truth. We should respect them.
However, since Paul told Timothy he needs to be able to rightly divide the word of truth (2Timothy 2:15), it means there are incidents when a leaders may not rightly divide the word of truth, correctly interprets what it means. That does not make them evil, it only makes them fallible.
You are not supposed to be parrots; you are supposed to take what they tell you and use it in the process of forming your own conviction in cooperation with the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Though we should realise with humility that you will forever need others to help you understand the scriptures better, but on the long run, you are responsible for yourself; everyone is going to bear his own name.
For the truth, you should not just know it, but you must walk in it. James wrote: it is not the hearers only that will be blessed but the doers of the word (James 1:22). Those who just want to hear and acquire knowledge to boast about it are merely deceiving themselves (1Corinthians 8:1). It is not real truth, if it is not transforming truth (John 8:32).
- Jehovah Witnesses – How to open their eyes to Truth by Ray Aldridge (watchtowerinvestigated.co.uk)
- Peace (oldbelieverfaith.wordpress.com)
- Exegetical Muse | Ephesians 1:1 (shaneleewilliamson.wordpress.com)
- The finished work of the cross (jtlvoice.wordpress.com)
- Episode 11: Persons of the Trinity, Part 3 – The Son (evangelismguys.wordpress.com)
- I AM God’s Soldier (authorbrianlknack.wordpress.com)
- You fools! What kind of fool are you? (onedaringjew.wordpress.com)
- SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 2:4-5 (settledinheaven.wordpress.com)
- The New Man (lehdsn.wordpress.com)