With Thanksgiving Day approaching, perhaps it could do us well to travel back to the year 1620.
America’s Christian forefathers, the Pilgrims, are preparing to set sail on their voyage to the so-called “New World.”
The Pilgrims dream of worshipping God in spirit and in truth, far from the Catholic-like Church of England and its oppressive partnership with the English Crown. ... The Pilgrims wish to live freely as English Christians.
Just before their departure, their pastor John Robinson launches them off with this charge: “...The Lord has more truth to break forth out of his Holy Word... Luther and Calvin were great shinning lights in their times, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God, I beseech you, remember it, ’tis an article of your church covenant, that you be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known to you from the written Word of God.”
A haunting requisition, especially when we consider that these many centuries after the Protestant Reformation, most believers in America are still having “church” in a manner that violates New Testament instructions.
In I Corinthians 14:29-31, we read where Paul, the Apostle, clearly instructs believers to “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye all may prophesy one by one, that all may learn...”
This is check and balance. Two or three believers speaking during assembly, rather than just one career reverend guarding his position, promoting his building program and milking more money and activity out of “his” spiritually-starved congregation.
What’s more, according to Paul’s instructions, those listening are to be judging whether or not everything said is in agreement with God’s Word and spirit. If something regarding a matter is revealed to one sitting by, the one speaking is to pause and the other is to speak.
As you can imagine, gain-seekers looking to establish their own following would not fare well in this environment, nor would cultists or hard-core denominationalists.
Hence, under their preferred scheme of assembly, only one man is licensed to speak before the congregation. Everyone else must remain silent until church is over; nothing is revealed to anyone sitting by, and no one may ask a question. Presto: The perfect setting for corruption, manipulation, and outright deception.
Paul knew that men advertising themselves as spiritual experts (perhaps “doctors of theology” even) would dispute his instructions. Hence, in verse 37, he orders believers to remind such ones “...that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”...
Where are the prophets? Perhaps their voices are being drowned out by the roar of temple-builders, hireling reverends and bought-off scribes–as they all clamor together for capacity crowds, full offering plates, and the ear-tickling “Amen.”
What’s more, don’t we all try to silence the prophets whenever we cling to our own sins?
May God help us to heed John Robinson’s charge to the Pilgrims, and may we become pilgrims more so ourselves – as we discern the signs of the times.