Make Sure You Get It In Writing

by Tad Lindley

Did you ever play that game telephone when you were a kid? One kid would start by whispering something in the next kid’s ear. It would start out as something like, “Which watch is a Swiss wristwatch?” and by the time it got whispered from kid to kid, the message has gotten so convoluted that now the last kid blurts out, “The rich dog ate Hershey’s kisses with chopsticks!” And everyone is scratching their heads wondering how it got so messed up.

You see the same thing happen with rumors. Somebody stubs their toe really bad in housing and has to call the ambulance at 7:00 AM. By the time you hear the rumor at 11:39 AM, it has changed so much that “stubbed their toe” has become “drug overdose” and they found them on the ground right outside the bingo hall. That’s why I have learned to be very careful about what I repeat concerning events around town.

Can I get that in writing please?

Rewind the telephone game or the rumor mill if you will. Imagine that instead of the information being passed by word of mouth it was passed along in writing. Whether it is the police report or “which watch is a Swiss wristwatch?” having it in writing almost guarantees that the message will remain the same.

God’s message to man

When you pick up your Bible to read it, you are reading a collection of messages from God to man, along historical facts that God deemed so important for us that he had a select group of men copy down for all humanity. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (I Peter 1:21) This sets the Bible apart from other books, in that it was not the ideas of the men that wrote it, but that they were acting as a secretary for the Holy Spirit. Speaking of itself, the Bible says All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness… (2 Timothy 3:16) The Bible is not just another book, it is a written message that when followed keeps us true to God’s purpose for our lives.

OK, Bigshot, then who wrote Hebrews?

A lot of people like to try to discredit the Bible. They will do it like this, they’ll pull you aside and confidentially say, “We don’t even know if Luke really wrote the book of Acts.” Or they might come with this one, “How could Moses have written the first 5 books of the Bible if he dies in the 5th book?” These can be fun things to think about, but as far as being a discredit to the Bible they are a joke. It doesn’t really matter who the human author of the book of Acts was. It doesn’t really matter if somebody else finished writing Deuteronomy after Moses died. The men who wrote were simply secretaries for God. If we are going to argue about which secretary wrote the letter to the Romans, it is a silly as arguing about whether President Trump is tweeting from a Samsung, an HTC, or a Blackberry. It’s the message that matters, not the vehicle that was used to launch it.

It is written

When Jesus rebuked Satan, he turned back to the word of God to do it. Three times in Matthew chapter 4 (4:1-11) Jesus tells the devil, “It is written”, and then he proceeds to quote the Bible. When you go to your pastor with a question about living for God, watch and see how he responds. If he says, “Our church teaches…”, or “St. So-and-so, said…”, or “I once heard a preacher say…” then he is playing spiritual telephone. He is going to give you an answer that has been passed from one person to another, and may end up being very different than what the Bible says. On the other hand, if you ask your pastor a question and he says, “The Bible says…”, or “Let’s turn to Deuteronomy 22:5 and see…” or in some other way turns straight to the word of God, then you know that you are not likely to be lead astray.

Would I lie to you?

Men will make mistakes, and even outright lie. That is why when we hear something in preaching that is new to us, we need to approach the preacher afterwards and ask him about what he said. Step up to him and say, “Can I get that in writing please? In other words, can you show me where it says that in the scripture?” If he can show you, then you’ve learned more about the Truth. If he can’t then he ought not to have said it. Before you believe it, get it in writing!

Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.