7 Pathways to Hell? If you do drink alcohol or don’t read the Bible, or if you do play cards or don’t go to church, or if you do use tobacco or dance or don’t pray . . . . your soul may be in mortal danger. (If you believe any of the above you may be in big trouble just from living with a lack of biblical understanding.) You may scoff, but there are people who fervently believe the above “commissions” and “omissions” will earn you eternal “heat.” Now, where do they get such indoctrination, you ask? Often from preaching. Preaching that is either ignorant of the word and grace of God or simply a distortion of scriptural truths. Hard to believe? Turn on your radio. I’ve heard it. You have too.
The apostle Paul commended his audience in Berea more favorably than the Thessalonians for the fact that they “received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11) Now this examination might insult some preachers but it would inspire the good ones! I don’t care how pedigreed or charismatic a church leader may be, we are all subject to error as well as to deception. Do you check out what you hear if it sounds a bit “off key?” More importantly, are you continually familiarizing yourself with scripture so you even know when something you hear from others, preachers or not, sounds a little off?
In our present culture it takes a degree of boldness to proclaim (with grace) the sometimes hard truths God has given us. Pressures from society, and even from within the church itself as it conforms to worldly standards, influences preachers and teachers and even you and me to dress up what the Bible says and make it just a little more palatable to non-believers, nominal believers and even to our own “flesh.” Paul cautioned Timothy in 2 Tim. 4 that “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.” Ta Da! The time is here. “Designer” doctrine can make us all feel comfortably . . . “spiritual.”