May 13, 2015
II Peter 2:1, 15
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We saw in the last blog why Peter focused on Balaam as the prime example of a false prophet and a false teacher. He deviously led Israel into such gross sin that God punished His people with a plague that killed 24,000! He certainly proved false, but he obviously was famous and had a loyal following!
Let’s continue with our study of II Peter 2:1 and 15 and see how it applies to us today — The Danger Of Following One:
…there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be
false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies,
even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift
destruction….They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following
the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteous-
First, why am I calling this blog The Danger Of Following One? It is because one person never has all the answers! He or she and may be so off the truth they will lead people astray – even into eternal hell!
Perhaps the most grievous example in modern times was James Warren Jones – Reverand Jim Jones, pastor and leader of Peoples Temple, first in Indianna in 1956 and then moving in 1964 to California, eventually making the Temple headquarters in San Francisco. Jones was a charismatic individual who championed civil rights. But his “Christianity” had a lot of holes in it, including his denial of the authority of the Bible and preaching that he was the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi and Father Divine, as well as Jesus of Nazareth, Gautama Buddha and Vladimir Lenin. By the testimony of many members of Peoples Temple, Jones sexually, physically and mentally abused his flock, and forbid them to defect from under his authority.
In 1978, Marshall Kilduff, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, published and expose of Jones and the Peoples Temple in New West magazine. In the summer of 1977, Jones learned of the publishing plans as well as the content of the expose which included member testimony of the above-named abuse. In August that summer, Jones and hundreds of Temple members fled to Jonestown, Guyana (in South America, east of Venezuela and north of Brazil) to escape the coming negative publicity and investigations. Jonestown had been carved out of the jungle in the early 1960’s as the “Peoples Temple Agricultural Project,” with plans to become a “socialist paradise.”
With pressure from former Temple members, Congressman Leo Ryan led a fact-finding delegation to Jonestown in November, 1978. The delegation included relatives of Temple members, an NBC camera crew, and reporters for various newspapers. But Ryan and the delegation hurriedly left, on November 18th after a thwarted knife attack on the congressman by a Temple member. They took with them fifteen Temple members who expressed a desire to leave. At the airstrip as the they were boarding planes, Temple armed guards – Jones’ Red Brigade – arrived and opened fire, killing Ryan and four others.
Later that same day, Jones instructed 909 Temple members (304 of them children) to commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid. Nine hundred and nine people dead – and many more led astray by blindly following one person!
I have friends, a couple who have recently become very excited concerning their faith and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. They are even studying for the ministry, and waiting for direction on how they will use their training. But they are concentrating on only Following One! All their books and study guides for the first two years of training, which was at their home, are authored by that one person! And now they are attending further training at a school he founded and runs! I do not know all the facts about this person, whether he is sound in the faith or not. But I see The Danger Of Following One in that one charismatic personality can instill such a hold upon a person’s life, that that leader can be blindly followed even if he or she is wrong!
What does the Bible say on this matter? In Proverbs 11:14 it says, “…in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” So it is with teachers and mentors. To be taught by several people helps bring balance to the teaching. There is no one person who has a monopoly on the truth!
Besides the wisdom from Proverbs, there is this from I John 2:27:
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and
you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches
you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has
taught you, you will abide in Him.
The anointing is the Holy Spirit whom you have received from God (see John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:13-15; II Corinthians 1:22; 5:5). It is not that we will not benefit from human teachers. After all, according to Romans 12:7, Ephesians 4:11 through 16 and other scriptures, God has given us inspired teachers to help us grow in our faith. But the Holy Spirit will take what we receive and – if we are closely listening to Him – He will weed out the false and approve and apply that which is true to our lives!
So do not blindly follow just one person, no matter how charismatic or right he or she seems. Remember, there is a real danger there – The Danger Of Following One!