How to Recognize a True Servant of God
Study No. 120
How can you determine if a particular writer or speaker is likely to be telling you Biblical Truth? As long as you are not looking to them for instruction, reading or listening to "outsiders" might not hurt you if you learn to discern the Truth and forget the unbiblical teachings. There is a command "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed," II John 10. What does this mean? How can you know? What follows contains guidelines rather than guarantees. Once you understand the answers you will be in a position to say "This person can probably be believed" or "Be careful, it is not likely this person knows the truth."
First, some general Biblical principles. "Study to show thyself approved," II Timothy 2:15 is required in order to know what the Bible says so that you can "Prove all things", I Thessalonians 5:21. This "prove" means "to put to the test by trying." You test by seeing if the product or principle brings the desired or promised result. Does what is being expounded agree with the rest of the Bible? It does not mean that you can learn Biblical truth on your own before God calls you.
Secondly, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ," I Corinthians 11:1. Or as Herbert W. Armstrong said for so many years "Donít believe me unless you have checked and can find it in your Bible."
Thirdly, quickly ferret out the obvious "religious nuts." With a basic knowledge of the Bible and its truths you can easily recognize the "wierdos," "wackos" and "crackpots." Satan worshipers, promoters of "situation ethics," Oriental religious followers and humanists can be quickly disregarded.
Then you need to test the person or organization by determining the answer to these questions ó most preferably by asking direct questions or observing their actions.
1. How do they "know the Lord?" Is it by saying "Do you know the Lord brother?" or "Isnít it nice to know the Lord?" The answer should be I John 2:3.
2. What is sin? If they answer movies, dancing, working on Sunday then you should read I John 3:4 for the real answer. The "law" here is the Ten Commandments as found in Exodus 20, amplified by Christ in Matthew 5:17-28 and explained throughout the Bible especially in the statutes and judgments.
3. Does he (or do they) love God? How? See John 14:15 and I John 5:3.
4. Does he (or do they) know what truth is? Ask them "what is truth?" The answer should be John 17:17.
5. Is the person or group truthful? I John 2:4 provides the answer.
If they give those correct answers or you can see by their actions that they subscribe to what those few scriptures say, you have completed the first test. However, be careful! The Devil and his fallen angels, the demons, know and can quote scripture better than you or I. Note Matthew 4:1-11 for proof of this.
The second area to watch is: Do they know Godís plan of salvation? This cannot be understood unless they are called and converted! Conversion is a six step process:
1. God must call the person.
2. The truth must be revealed to that person by another person. This is not done all at once for it would overwhelm the individual on the receiving end. It comes over a period of time. See Acts 8:31, 9:6, 11-17, 16:17.
Truth and Godís call is "delivered" to you ó almost like someone handing you something. Note that God "delivered" the truth to Moses, Deuteronomy 5:22, 9:10. Moses "delivered" that truth to the people, Acts 6:14. God "delivered" it to Christ in the human flesh, Matthew 11:27. Christ "delivered" it to the apostles and Paul, Luke 1:1-4 and I Corinthians 11:23. Paul "delivered" the gospel to those he taught, I Corinthians 11:23, 15:3. Romans 6:17 speaks of the " . . . doctrine which was delivered you." It has always come from God to a called servant who "delivers" it to those whom God is calling.
3. The person sees the errors of his past ways and repents. That is, he quits his sinful ways as they are revealed to him and begins to live as God instructs in the Bible, Acts 17:30.
4. He was baptized by full immersion, not sprinkling. Acts 10:47-48, 19:4-5, 8:38, Romans 6:14, Colossians 2:12. Being buried means you are completely covered.
5. He has had hands laid upon him by a true minister of God as a condition to receive the Holy spirit. Read Acts 19:5-6.
6. He then goes on to perfection. This is a continuous process. As new truth is revealed he continues to repent and change. There may be occasional reversals and backsliding and yes, even some apparent, blatant sins. But, when shown the error he repents again and goes forward. Remember Davidís example.
Acts 2:38 and Hebrews 6:1-2 are proof of the above steps to conversion.
Now for specifics. Does the person keep the seventh day Sabbath? That day was given by God for rest, study and worship. If the person is not keeping this day he is not likely to be following Godís commands otherwise. This day was also given to enable man to have the time to learn more of Godís way. If you work five days, hunt or fish or watch ball games on Television the other two days, you just donít have time to learn of Godís ways. One day of rest is needed and commanded.
Does the person follow the Biblical dietary laws? It has been said that you are what you eat. If you eat an unclean diet you are not apt to be clean in Godís sight in other matters. Remember Luke 16:10.
Does the person keep all seven of Godís Holy Days on the correct days according to Godís calendar? It is impossible to understand Godís plan for mankind without keeping the Holy Days! This is their purpose ó observing these days brings understanding. If he does not keep them properly he will NEVER understand Godís plan.
Does the person teach, follow, and apply all of godís laws, statutes and judgments (as much as allowed by the laws of the land ó obviously we cannot carry out many of the penalty provisions ó it is not our prerogative).
If both you and the person you are reading or listening to are applying these principles, you will find that John 16:13 and I John 2:26-27 applies. There are many writing and preaching today who claim to "see the handwriting on the wall" ó they claim to have an insight into the future. Most do not know Godís plan.
Remember that many are called, few are chosen, Matthew 22:14. The true servants of God tremble at His word and are afraid to go against it, Isaiah 66:1-2. God chooses and calls, John 15:16, 6:44, 65, 14:6. Not many wise or mighty are called, I Corinthians 1:26-31. For those God deals with, it begins with repentance and the person may then have extra ability granted by God, Romans 11:29. There is only one body, faith and spirit, Ephesians 4:1-6 and I Corinthians 12:12-31. It is built upon Christ, the Apostles and prophets, Ephesians 2:20-22.
Notice how God has worked in the past. He instructed Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, the prophets and finally sent Christ who spoke the words given Him by the Father. Christ instructed the twelve apostles and then Paul. These were instructed to go into all the world, some to Israel, some to the Gentiles. They were further instructed to teach and ordain elders in various places. So the process goes on. Since Christ, it has come from one called and chosen servant to another.
See how the eunuch could not understand until someone previously called instructed him, Acts 8:31. God calls and instructs someone in whatever age God chooses. That person then teaches others. No one has come to the truth on his own! It is impossible.
At the beginning, we were talking about II John 10, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed." Beware of those who approach you with religious ideas. The prohibition is not to stop you from learning or seeking answers. The Jehovahís Witnesses or Latter Day Saints Missionaries who come around are what this verse is addressing. Of course, it could be the television evangelists or radio speakers or even printed material. Which doctrine are they bringing that you should beware of? It is the doctrine contrary to the Biblical instructions and commands which have been revealed unto you. Then do not wish these people success. Verse 11 explains why.
Then you must follow Acts 17:11, " . . . they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so." What things? That which Godís true servants were teaching. Who is a true servant? He who preaches sound Biblical doctrine, not he who preaches his own private interpretation or expounds his own version of Biblical prophecy.
After you have been called, have had the true way "delivered" unto you, begun to apply all of Godís laws, statutes and judgments in your life then you are instructed to " . . . continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel . . ." Colossians 1:23.
ó written by William B. Scherer W
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