From God or From Men?

John Plunkett
February 9, 2013

I would like to begin by asking you a "Multiple-choice, Skill-testing Question.  And here it is: 

From whom should we obtain our instructions:
- About how we should live?  
- About what we should do?  
- About how we should do things?  
- About our standards and our beliefs?

Now here are the two multiple choices:

a. From other men?: 
From certain ones from among our fellow human beings, whether they be ministers, our peers, our fellow Church of God members, venerable Bible scholars, Bible commentators or authors of church based websites?

b. From God?:
Specifically in our day and age, from God’s written Word?

This is the question that I would like to answer in the sermon today.  Or rather, this is the question that I would like God’s Word to answer.

Allow me to defer the answer for a few minutes while I explain why I am asking this question.  A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a long-time Church of God member on the subject of Sabbath food on which, as many of you know, I am in the middle of giving a sermon series. The comments of the writer of the e-mail basically echoed the currently common Church of God view on the topic; but there were two sentences in his e-mail that jumped right out at me and prompted today’s questions.

In the first of the two sentences, quoting Matthew 16, he wrote: “The Church and the ministry have the right and the responsibility to bind and loosen.”

In the second sentence, he wrote: “Individuals who reject and despise authority and take that decision to themselves are, in effect, starting their own church.”

This writer equates a church member’s own personal decisions
in this case about how the Sabbath should be kept with the rejection and despising of church authority even to the point of starting one’s own church!

Let’s go to Matthew 16, which the writer quoted:

Matthew 16: 
18:  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock
(Jesus Christ) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19: And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

This reads pretty plain to me; but I am not sure that Jesus meant that this authority which he gave directly to Peter should necessarily be passed down to subsequent church leaders or ministers.  If He did, I cannot find any authority in the scriptures for it.  If you can, please let me know. 

We need to beware of misusing this scripture.  We need to be very careful not to misuse it as the Roman Catholic popes and their church organization have done throughout the centuries in their claims to be Peter’s subsequent counterparts and to justify many of their very unscriptural and heretical doctrines.

Many of God’s people, in an honest and well-meaning effort to avoid the "ditch" of doing what is right in their own eyes, have fallen into the "other ditch" which is that of accepting
perhaps blindly in some cases the standards of other human beings such as the church leadership, the ministry generally, their local minister, their friends and brethren, perhaps those who have been in the church for much longer than themselves. This is may be thought of as a kind of adult peer pressure.  I ask the question: Is it right?  Is it right to get our standards from other human beings?

Please allow me to repeat my main question: From whom should we obtain our standards and our beliefs?  Should it be from men?  Or from God? 

I am sure that you all know the right answer!  Years ago in the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, doctrinal questions were asked and the answers were given in God’s holy Word.  This is what I would like to do today.  I would like to seek and prove the right answer in God’s written Word.

Multitude of Counsellors

There are at least three very well-known scriptures in the book of Proverbs that deal with this.  There are probably more; but I picked out these three:

Proverbs 11:14: 
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Proverbs 15:22:
Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

Proverbs 24:6:
For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Three times here, God’s Word advises us that seeking the aid of a multitude of counsellors is a very wise course of action.  

But then we must ask the question: Who should those counsellors be?  Should they be just any counsellors?  Just any old Tom, Dick or Harry?

Would you consult a truck mechanic to give you dental advice?  Would you consult a plumber to help you with any medical problems that you may have.  Of course you wouldn’t!  Who then is it best to go to for advice regarding the things of God?  To God Himself of course!  And to His written Word.  

What about His human helpers?  What about human counsellors on the things of God  for example, the ministry?  Are they a good source of helpful information?  Yes they are.  Or rather, they may be.  We need to be very careful; and especially considering the scattered state of the Church of God today.

Although God
through Solomon advises us that a multitude of counsellors can be a good source of help, it is obvious that counsellors who give wrong, unscriptural answers that are not of God will lead us to the wrong goal.  Solomon’s own son, Rehoboam, fell into that trap. His mistake of listening to the wrong counsellors resulted in the division of the kingdom of Israel (I Kings 12:1-17).

Isaiah 47:13:
Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels.  Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.

Hopefully, none of us ever consult astrologers, stargazers, monthly prognosticators, tea-leaf readers, etc.  There are a lot of people in the world who do set their plans and their time around the babblings and scribblings of such people.  But are these astrologers, etc. these totally misled guys and gals that do these things – are they any worse or less trustworthy than some who claim to be God’s ministers?  Men who claim to speak on God’s behalf; but do not tell it like it truly is?  Men who pervert the truth of God?  Men who have, perhaps, lost the love of the truth and who preach a dangerous mixture of truth and error?  Men who do not speak the truth in accordance with the written Word of God?  Men who talk-the-talk; but do not walk-the-walk?

I want to state right here that I am not pointing to myself as the only one who speaks the truth or who knows it better than anybody else.  I am certainly not saying any such thing.

One True Prophet vs. Four Hundred False Ones

We could go through the account of Rehoboam; but today let us look at something a little different.  Let us examine a really eye-opening account of an event that took place at a later point during the era of the kings of Israel and Judah an event in which a multitude of false counsellors were pitted against a single, truly-godly one.  We will go through this account in a quite a bit of detail; but I think you will see that a lot of good advice comes out of this:

II Chronicles 18:1:
Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab.

Big mistake!  Jehoshaphat was a relatively righteous king of the southern House of Judah whereas Ahab was arguably the most unrighteous of all of the kings of the northern House of Israel.

2:  And after certain years he went down to Ahab to Samaria.  And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, and for the people that he had with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramothgilead.

Ramothgilead was a militarily strategic town, occupied by Syria at that time.

3:  And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramothgilead?  And he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war.

Big mistake!

4: And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.

Jehoshaphat was right in requesting this; but let’s see what happened:

5:  Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear?  And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king’s hand.

But Jehoshaphat knew that, all of the way back since the division of Israel and Judah, the northern House of Israel, its evil kings, its bogus priests and its bogus prophets had departed from God.  So Jehoshaphat was evidently rightly suspicious and unsure of the truth of the words of these so-called prophets yes, even though there were four hundred of them. 

6:  But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?

He was looking for the counsel of a true and reliable prophet.

7: And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla.  And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.

In effect, Jehoshaphat was saying, "Beware of speaking against the man who is most likely the only true prophet of God in your country!"

8:  And the king of Israel called for one of his officers, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imla.
9: And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah sat either of them on his throne, clothed in their robes, and they sat in a void place at the entering in of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.
10: And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith the LORD, With these thou shalt push Syria until they be consumed.
11: And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
12: And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake to him, saying, Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good.

The words of this messenger who was sent to get Micaiah may have been a threat or a warning, either from himself or from Ahab.  In other words, what he was saying here was, "Make sure that your prophecy is the same as that of the four hundred other prophets!  Don’t rock the boat by trying to be different or unique!"  See how Micaiah answered him:

13: And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.

This is the key verse of the sermon today.  If you don’t remember anything else from this sermon, please remember this one phrase: “What my God says, that will I speak.”  We all must emulate Micaiah’s words, and standards even though, like him, we may be influenced by the many to take the easier route or the broader way the way of the majority.

14a:  And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear?... 

Micaiah's answer is interesting; it is almost like Micaiah is playing word-games with Ahab:

14b: ... And he said, Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand.

Micaiah knew exactly what the other four hundred had said.  He was apparently saying here: "If you want me to tell you the same as the four hundred false prophets, here it is."  But Ahab knew that Micaiah was not telling him what God had really said:

15: And the king said to him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name of the LORD?

So now Micaiah tells is like it really was as God had really told him:

16:  Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd {i.e. no king!}: and the LORD said, These have no master {i.e. no king!}; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.
17:  And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?
18:  Again he
{Micaiah} said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.
19:  And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead?  And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner.

These were supernatural beings.  Were they righteous angels?  Or were they, perhaps, visiting demons?  Satan’s demons did (perhaps they still do) have the ability and authority to visit God’s throne on occasion.  It seems like this "one saying after this manner and another saying after that manner" might be a confused babbling of the kind we might expect from demons.

20a:  Then there came out a spirit...

Was this a righteous angel?  Or was it, more likely, I believe, a demon?  Despite their long-standing rebellion, they were then – and still are – all subject to the will and commands of the Eternal God.

20b: ... and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him.  And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith?  {NKJV: In what way?}
21: And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.  And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.
22:  Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.
23:  Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah upon the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?

This Zedekiah was not the minor prophet who wrote the book that bears his name.  This was one of the four hundred false prophets who had been infected by this lying spirit.

24:  And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.
25 Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son;
26 And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace.

Overcome by serious demonic deception, hatred for God, for His true Word, and for the one true prophet of God, Ahab unwisely chose to believe the four hundred false prophets.

27:  And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the LORD spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, all ye people.
28 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead.

Big mistake!

Verse 33:  And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: therefore he said to his chariot man, Turn thine hand, that thou mayest carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
34:  And the battle increased that day: howbeit the king of Israel stayed himself up in his chariot against the Syrians until the even: and about the time of the sun going down he died.

Ahab backed the wrong horse; but it was too late for him.  His "multitude of counsellors" – the four hundred false prophets – were wrong.  The one true prophet of God was right.

What actually happened here?  We find the answer in a key scripture.  If you have favourite "memory scriptures," may I recommend that you add this one to it?:

II Thessalonians 2:
10:  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11:  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

This is exactly what happened here.  Ahab did not receive the love of the truth.  We have received the love of the truth; and we need to hold on to it for dear life.  Please continue to love the truth; and never let that love go.

May I repeat that I don’t want you to think that I am claiming to identify myself with Micaiah; nor that I believe myself to be the only modern-day Micaiah – the only one who loves and speaks the truth – the only true minister or spokesman for God.  There is already way too much of such ridiculous claims flying around the church in our day and age; and I certainly don’t want to add to that. 

However, what I am recommending is this:  

No matter how many people advise you – and especially if they advise you to take the easy route – the way of the majority, please be very, very careful who you accept and trust as your counsellors – especially when it comes to the things of God. 

Go to God and His holy, written Word, and check it out and see what God is telling you through His Word:  

Isaiah 8:20:
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Herbert Armstrong used to say: “Blow the dust of your own Bible.”  I certainly concur with his advice.  If or when in doubt, choose the strait and narrow route.  Please remember what Jesus said about the easy route taken by the many:

Matthew 7:
13:  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Please take the time and the effort to enter by the narrow gate, even though that route may be somewhat more difficult.  If we do this, we may be counted among the few who find the way which leads to life.

Can Men Speak on God's Behalf?

We must be solid in this – in that we should obtain our teachings and our beliefs from God and from His Word rather than from men.  But, I' m a man!  So why am I standing up here flapping my gums?  Am I being a hypocrite?  I hope not! 

Let me ask another question, supplementary to the main one with which we began: 

Can men speak on God’s behalf? 

The answer is: Yes, they can.  In the same way that it was right and good for God’s true prophet, Micaiah, to speak on God’s behalf to the kings of ancient Israel and Judah, it is also right and good for His New Testament servants to speak on His behalf.  As God provides the opportunities, they are to speak to those who are called, to those who are being called into His Church, and "in all the world" as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 24:14.  And by the way, the duty of speaking is not necessarily just reserved for ministers. You can read in Acts 6 and 7, where Stephen who was a newly-ordained deacon, was inspired to give one of the most wonderful sermons in the whole of the Bible.

HOW Should Men Speak on God's Behalf?

When I think of the word "sermon," a few biblical sermons come to mind; and the one given by Stephen is definitely one of them.  It is interesting that the English word "sermon" does not appear in the Bible. We listen to sermonettes and sermons every week; but neither of those words appear anywhere in the English language Bible. 

Some brethren have come to think that the very idea of sermons, sermonettes and Bible studies are unscriptural and therefore wrong.  Some believe that the whole sermon concept was adopted and copied from the world’s professing Christian church organizations.
Are sermonettes, sermons and Bible studies, as we have traditionally heard and given them in the Church of God, really unscriptural?  I can readily understand why people – especially young people and children – may not like to sit for an hour or more, listening to some old guy droning on about things that they feel are totally irrelevant to their lives and interests.  This very thought brings to mind another of the well-known Bible "sermons":

Acts 20:
7:  And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
8:  And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.
9:  And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

The key words here are "preached" and "speech" in verse 7 and "preaching" in verse 9.  Let’s take a quick look at those words:

The word "speech" is translated from the well-known Greek noun "logos" which is translated elsewhere as: word, saying, or account.  All three words give the impression that it was Paul who was doing most of the talking on that Sunday night. 

However, the words "preached" in verse 7 and "preaching" in verse 9 are both translated from the Greek verb "dialegomai" which is elsewhere translated as: speak, dispute, or reason.  The last two of these alternate translations give an idea that this might possibly been more like what we call an "interactive Bible study" rather than a regular sermon or one-man Bible study, as we know them. 

I looked up the words "preach," " preaching" and "preached" in Strong’s, where I found 145 appearances in the King James Version.  135 of those are in the New Testament.

We will come back to this shortly; but for now let us look at the English noun "sermon."  My thesaurus gives six alternatives: oration, talk, homily, discourse, or address.  It also gives eight alternatives of the verb "preach": lecture, moralize, advocate, urge, speak, discourse, talk, and finally, sermonize.  So we can see that preaching can certainly be the same as giving a sermon.  It can be an interactive activity; but not necessarily always so. 

Referring back again to Acts 20, that Sunday evening get-together at Troas appears to have been a farewell dinner followed by a Bible study, in which the apostle Paul was doing the preaching, and as we see, perhaps for a little bit too long!

I don’t know how many of you remember Gerald Waterhouse’s four-hour sermons and Bible studies!  But it is right for us to ask the question: Is that length of sermon and Bible study authorized or recommended in the scriptures?  No it is not.  So what is reasonable?  How long should a sermon or Bible study last?  Although the Bible doesn’t say, from past experience, I would say that if a speaker goes very much longer than an hour at one run, it is too hard on both the brain and the rear end!  Probably, some might think that even a one- hour sermon is too long.  If the importance or urgency of a topic necessitates very much more than an hour, I feel that it is best to break the message up into two segments, separated perhaps by a "hymn-and-stretch-break."

It is interesting that in his instructions for preaching in I Corinthians 14, the apostle Paul seems to recommend an upper limit of two or three messages at any given time. 

Once, a few years ago, when we had a group of church brethren together sailing on an ocean cruise, not intending to break Paul's "two or three" limit, we had five speakers all of whom gave a sermonette separated by hymns.  It was really great!  We have done this kind of thing at camp-outs too.  It doesn’t have to be exactly the same format every time.

Again, because the words "sermon" and "sermonette" are not found in the scriptures, some brethren feel that the format should be scrapped altogether and that we should just have interactive Bible studies so that all of the attendees can get "a kick at the can."

Historically, the church has shied away from the interactive Bible study format.  Personally, I don’t have a problem with the format, per se; but there is always a dangerous possibility that, without proper control and oversight, it could get out of hand.

The main positive aspect of the sermon format, in a nutshell, is decency and order, as commanded in:

I Corinthians 14:40:
Let all things be done decently and in order.

With a regular sermon, sermonette or Bible study, one man gets up and "says his piece" with little or no interaction with or interruption from his audience.  The members have always been encouraged to take notes and were always given the freedom to discuss the message's topic and content with the speaker and with each other afterwards. 

The speaker usually has his message timed to last an hour or so.  However, if he goes into a two-way dialogue without much planning or control, the length could increase by orders of magnitude, depending on how controversial is his subject matter.  If not firmly regulated, the interactive format can get out of hand and can even stray way off from the poor speaker’s original subject!  I readily admit that I would not be good as a facilitator for interactive studies.  If it was me who had to run one, the dialogue would probably stray off into never-never-land!

Manner and Location of Services

Some brethren have cited the example of Jesus’ seemingly ultra-brief sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth as the only valid manner in which services should be conducted.  Let's take a look:

Luke 4: 
14:  And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
15:  And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
16:  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17:  And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18:  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19:  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20a:  And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down... 

Was this the end of Jesus’ "sermon?  Was it even a sermon at all at this point?  No, it wasn’t.  At this juncture, it was more like just a Bible reading.  Was it the end of Jesus’ discourse?  No.  From what we read here, it was just the very beginning:

20b:  ... And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21:  And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

This phrase, “He began to say unto them” indicates that Jesus’ full, possibly lengthy discourse is not recorded here at all.  This is borne out by the very next verse:

22:  And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.  And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?

Neither the Bible reading from Isaiah, nor the very few words that He said in verse 21 could accurately be described as "gracious words."  He must have said much more; and what He did say was likely meant to prompt discussion afterwards.  But, of course, on that particular occasion, things turned nasty, as they sometimes did.

Here is a related question arising from this Luke 4 account:  Is the Sabbath service location important in the preaching of God’s Word? 

Again, some have taken Jesus’ and Paul’s attendances at the Jerusalem temple and at various synagogues as examples for the modern church to attend services at Jewish synagogues.  Although the temple is mostly gone now, many of its stones having been removed and rebuilt into other area buildings, still, it was the earthly house of Jesus Christ and God the Father (Luke 2:46-49; 19:46). 

When Jesus or the apostle Paul spoke in the temple or the synagogues, it was to preach the true New Testament gospel message.  If any of us were to attend a synagogue in this day and age and tried to preach the New Testament gospel, it is likely that we would be shown the door pretty quickly!

In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am, in the midst of them."  If we cannot attend Sabbath services in a place where we can hear the true New Testament gospel, being freely preached, why would we attend there at all? 

Still on this sub-topic of service location, I want you to notice another account of a lesser-known Sabbath service if that is actually what it was conducted by the apostles Paul, Silas and Luke in a peaceful, countryside place just outside the city of Philippi:

Acts 16: 
12:  And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
13:  And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
14:  And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

Please notice the wording here. Luke, Silas and Paul sat down and spoke to these women who God was evidently calling into His church.  The women heard their words and Lydia, especially, attended to the words of the apostle Paul.  Yes, it could have been a casual get-together on the Sabbath Day; or it could have been a pre-baptismal counselling session which just happened to take place on the Sabbath.  But please note that the accent is placed on the apostles' words and not on a two-way dialogue or a two-way conversation.  

The other side-note that we can learn from this scripture is that Sabbath services can be held in any quiet, private location even a peaceful riverside setting.  We do not have to use a rented hall every time we have Sabbath services. Over the years, many of us have enjoyed some wonderful out-door Sabbath services at various places.

Who Should We Listen To?

Let’s bring our attention back to our main question - worded another way: But who should we listen to?

The LORD YHVH of the Old Testament, told the Israelites and as the Lord Jesus, He told Satan that man shall not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.  In its original, unadulterated form, God’s written Word is perfect.  The holy scriptures are faultless.  

But which church group and which church minister perfectly interprets the pure Word of God into their practice and their teaching?  Where is the perfect church?  And who is the perfect Pastor?  Whose message perfectly matches God’s perfect Word?  Have you found them yet?  I haven’t!  Just like you and me, all ministers are human and are therefore imperfect.

Of course, we all have our favourite speakers and we all have our favourite ministers.  I do!  We all have ministers whose way of speaking or rendering God’s Word resonates with us personally.  I have my favourite speakers; and I believe that that is fine.  I tend to home in on my favourite speakers.  I like to listen to them all the time.  Somebody will recommend a sermon by another speaker and I will struggle to take time to do so! 

But should we totally reject all speakers other than our favourites?  Should we totally reject all other speakers and other Church of God branches as "not part of God’s true church" just because their style or their format may not one hundred percent match those of our favourite speakers?  Do we have our own ideas or opinions of what a true branch of God's true church should be?  Or what a "good speaker" or true minister of God should be?

Please consider this: Although there is only one, pure truth of God or rather, only one pure set of truths only our perfect God has them perfectly right.  Even with the indwelling of His Spirit, our human imperfections and limitations cloud our understanding from being perfect. 

When you read and study God’s Word in the Bible, because of your background and your past experiences, you understand the details of your reading in a certain way.  Because my background and my past experiences are different than yours, I may understand some of the details in a slightly different way than you do.  Does this mean that you are all right and that I am all wrong?  Or vice-versa? 

If this is the case, the expectation for a one hundred percent perfect church group or a one hundred percent perfect pastor who perfectly match our understanding and belief is unreasonable especially at this juncture in church history. 

By saying this, I am not saying that we should attend with a church group that we are not comfortable attending with. Neither am I saying that we should lower our standards (which should be God’s standards, of course), nor that we should compromise with pastors or church groups who have evidently gone off the rails, or are going off the rails. 

What I am suggesting is that we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater!  Just because a church group or a pastor is not one hundred percent perfect  please don’t reject all of their teachings as false.  Or perhaps what is even more important, please don’t reject all of their members as not being true Christians or as not being part of God’s true church.  

I have said this before and I will say it again:  If we keep rejecting all of the Church of God groups because they are imperfect, then we will all end up sitting home alone every Sabbath.  Please don’t overlook the many benefits of regular, frequent Christian fellowship with other brethren:

Hebrews 10:25:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

In conclusion, one more time: From whom should we obtain our true beliefs and doctrines?  From God?  Yes, of course, from God, through His holy written Word.  

And through "God's men" too His human representatives.  But again, please be careful and make as sure as you possibly can with prayer and study that those men are God’s men.  Don’t ever be afraid to check out what they say in God’s Holy Word.