Why would a preacher tell you to never trust your preacher? Isn’t trust inherent in the job of preaching? I mean, if you never trust your preacher, who can you trust?
Gallup published a new poll last month which put preachers on par with journalists for trustworthiness. Only 37% of respondents rate clergy as high or very highly honest or ethical people.
“Gallup has measured Americans’ views of the clergy’s honesty and ethics 34 times beginning in 1977, and this year’s 37% very high/high rating is the lowest to date. Although the overall average positive rating is 54%, it has consistently fallen below that level since 2009. The historical high of 67% occurred in 1985.”
Gallup suggests the decline is, at least partly related to scandals in the Roman Catholic Church. Christianity Today cites many failures among protestant preachers too. All of this may be so, but my warning isn’t based on a survey.
There’s another reason you should never trust your preacher.
Never Trust Your Preacher Because He Is Human
Human’s err. The Bible is even stronger.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“If we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
“This is a faithful saying and worth of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15 (KJV)
So if I put my faith in a man, no matter how good he may strive to be, I make a deadly mistake. He, like me, is a sinner.
Never Trust Your Preacher Because His Wisdom May Be Faulty
There is a real conflict between worldly wisdom and godly wisdom. The same clash happened in the first century too. Paul had much to say about it.
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. “ 1 Corinthians 2:12, 13
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’” 1 Corinthians 3:18, 19
Surely we hope that our preachers are steeped in God’s wisdom. We expect and hope that their motivations and passions are driven by the Spirit of God. But remember, we are thinking of our own soul; that precious eternal piece of me that will live forever. Am I that sure that my preacher’s wisdom is divine?
Never Trust Your Preacher Because He Is Not Inspired
God’s word is inspired ( 2 Timothy 3:16, 17). It is infallible and must never be tampered with.
“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2
” I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. “ Revelation 22:18, 19
Your preacher is not inspired because he doesn’t need to be inspired. The word which you possess is from the very mind of God. It has been delivered to us today in a final and complete form. Jude writes that the word was “once for all” delivered (Jude 3).
I do not suggest that your preacher is not inspiring; I hope he is. But that is vastly different from being directly inspired by the Holy Spirit. As preachers, we have nothing new to bring to the theological table. We are spokesmen for what God has already given.
Never Trust Your Preacher Because You Can Understand the Bible
It’s nice to be wanted. It’s nice to feel needed. It’s nice to think yourself important. But when it comes to your knowledge of God’s word, you can understand it through your own study and prayer. You have no need for someone to tell you what the Scriptures say.
Solomon knew that study was hard (Ecclesiastes 12:12). But Paul tells Timothy that study is important.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
The command to Timothy is to study and to be a workman. The Scriptures were written for our learning (Romans 15:4). It is in the word that we find hope and comfort. The Christian was never pointed to a priest or rabbi but instead was always pointed to the word of God.
I know you appreciate, love and respect your preacher. You should. But your soul is far too precious to entrust to fallible men. Be sure and read our coming article on Fact-Checking Your Preacher.