Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
"Chutzpah" is a Yiddish word used to describe someone who is shamelessly bold. Usually, chutzpah is not a compliment.
Dr. Mark Barclay of Mark Barclay Ministries has chutzpah. I say that because in May Dr. Barclay sent out a letter asking his supporters to contribute $79,000. Seventy-nine thousand dollars is a lot of money. Still, it takes a lot of money to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison.
Sadly, Dr. Barclay was not going to use the 79-thou for the hungry, the naked, or the prisoner. He needed the money to do a complete paint job on his ministry's private jet. No, that's not right. With considerable chutzpah, Dr. Barclay said, "Actually, the airplane does belong to Him (God) and not me and is used for His ministry and not personal use."
In our text above, the apostle John said we should tests the spirits to see if they come from God. Well, let's take a look at the legitimacy of Dr. Barclay's request: First, why would the Lord need a private jet? When Jesus walked this earth, well, He walked this earth. Second, if this really is God's jet, why doesn't He say the word and make the rust go away? Third, if I look at the jet's passenger list, I wonder whose name will appear more often: Dr. Barclay's or God's.
In this particular request, Dr. Barclay gets an "A" in chutzpah and an "F" in faithfulness.
Is that sour grapes on my part? Not at all.
God's ministers have been given the charge to share God's gracious message of salvation. We are privileged to tell a lost and dying world about the salvation that has been won by God's sinless Son through His life, His death, and His glorious resurrection from the dead.
The message of forgiveness-of-sins-made-possible-through-Jesus'-blood is the heart and soul of every sermon that is preached. When that gracious truth is accompanied with encouragement for God's people to leave their sinful lives behind and do everything in thanksgiving to the Lord, the pastor has preached -- and the people have heard -- a pretty complete sermon.
But when a pastor goes beyond that message of salvation, when he wanders far from the directives contained in the pages of Holy Writ, he is on thin ice. That preacher may have chutzpah, but that doesn't mean he has done what His Lord has asked. Indeed, he may even be working at cross purposes to what God expects.
This is why this devotion encourages every one of you to test the spirit of every message you hear. If the preacher promotes his ministry more than that of the Savior, if he says, "This message comes from God," but it doesn't sound like anything your God has ever said in the Bible, then, my friends, it is time to run like the devil.
Or maybe I should say it's time to run from the devil. That's not chutzpah, that's just plain smart.
THE PRAYER: "Dear Lord, Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word. Curb those who fain by craft and sword, would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son. And set at naught all He hath done." In Jesus' Name. Amen. (Taken from The Lutheran Hymnal, 261, verse 1)
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries