Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Smooth Teaching

Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.” (Isaiah 30:8-14 NIV)

The first thing I notice is that this was written down “as a witness forever.” The second thing is the unwillingness to listen to the truth when it is known to be the truth: “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions” (v. 10). The third thing is that the uncorrected iniquity does not have immediate judgment. But it is “like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant” (v. 13). The judgment is certain, devastating, and we have an advance warning (the wall is cracked and bulging).

How does this apply today? We as Christians have two temptations. First, we want to hear smooth things, so we seek teachers who speak of pleasant things. It is something that Paul warned Timothy of in 2 Timothy 4:3, 4:

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (NIV)

The second temptation is the willingness to respond to the request or the demand and be the prophet of “smooth things.” We cannot lay this charge at the feet of liberals. It is a major problem among evangelicals. We want to hear and we want to teach “smooth” things.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

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