Tuesday, 7 January 2014

and My People Love it this Way?

Here’s a word from yesteryear that you don’t hear very often anymore: Paraclete.

On October 6, 1872, Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon that he called “The Paraclete.” Over the years I have read several of Spurgeon’s sermons, and I even own a ten-volume collection of some of them. While I confess to being somewhat of a fan, every once in a while I find some nugget attributed to him that raises the eyebrows. “The Paraclete” is one such sermon that did just that.

Not having been known to shy away from potential controversy myself, I share this hoping that it doesn’t ruffle too many feathers, but yet at the same time recognizing that sometimes some Christian feathers may actually need a little ruffling. At the very least, if it gets us thinking outside the box a little more, then maybe all is good, regardless if we find ourselves agreeing with Spurgeon or not.

Having said that, brace yourself; here it is:
“Take care never to impute the vain imaginings of your fancy to Him [the Holy Spirit]. I have seen the Spirit of God shamefully dishonored by persons – I hope they were insane – who have said that they have had this revealed to them. There has not, for some years, passed over my head a single week in which I have not been pestered with the revelations of hypocrites or maniacs. Semi-lunatics are very fond of coming with messages from the Lord to me, and it may spare them some trouble if I tell them once and for all that I will have none of their stupid messages. When my Lord and Master has any message to me He knows where I am and He will send it to me direct, and not by mad-caps! 
Never dream that events are revealed to you from Heaven, or you may come to be like those idiots who dare impute their blatant follies to the Holy Ghost. If you feel your tongue itch to talk nonsense, trace it to the devil, not to the Spirit of God! Whatever is to be revealed by the Spirit to any of us is in the word of God already – He adds nothing to the Bible, and never will. Let persons who have revelations of this, that, and the other, go to bed and wake up in their senses. I only wish they would follow the advice and no longer insult the Holy Ghost by laying their nonsense at his door.”
Wow! Talk about speaking your mind! I can almost hear the objections to this quote already! And yet in all fairness, none of us were there to hear the so-called "Word from the Lord" that Spurgeon claimed people were regularly giving him. Whose to say; maybe they really were "semi-lunatics" after all. If so, however, could the same thing sometimes be said of our generation as well? At the risk of sounding judgmental (which I hope I'm not), are we sometimes "semi-lunatics" as well when it comes to some of the things that we do in the name of Christianity (ouch)? Forgive me, but sometimes I wonder a little bit about that too. The more I sat and thought about this for a while, the more I suddenly found myself reminded of the following verses from Jeremiah:
“A horrible and a shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jeremiah 5: 30-31; NIV).
Who knows, but perhaps these verses were on Spurgeon’s mind as well when he preached his message. While no doubt Jeremiah had a time in mind a little further back in history when he penned that, perhaps there is a truth therein that applies to each generation, including ours. Just as "the discerning heart seeks knowledge" (Proverbs 15:14; NIV), perhaps we too need a little more discernment sometimes.

Maybe sometimes a so-called “Word from the Lord” really isn’t. Peace.
“… even now, many antichrists have come.” (1 John 2:18) 
Spurgeon quote source: www.spurgeongems.org, Sermon #1074, Volume 18, page 7 & 8
“Paraclete” defined: Origin: Middle English Paraclyte, from Late Latin Paracletus, Paraclitus, from Greek Paraklētos, literally, advocate, intercessor, from parakalein to invoke, from para- + kalein to call. First use: 15th century.

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