Don’t Settle 4 Fool’s Gold

23 Apr

Eureka! This simple Greek word—meaning “I have found it!”—became the life slogan for thousands of California gold prospectors in the mid-1800s. It summed up every treasure hunter’s dream and expressed the thrill of striking pay dirt. For James Marshall (the first to discover the precious metal in 1848) and the “forty-niners” who followed him, the term meant instant riches, early retirement, and a life of carefree ease.

However, world-be prospectors quickly learned that not everything that glittered was indeed gold. Riverbeds and rock quarries could be full of golden specks that were entirely worthless. This “fool’s gold” was iron pyrite, and miners had to be careful to distinguish it from the real thing.

In the same way, Christians must learn how to distinguish teaching which is biblical and sound from that which is not. We need to be wary of spiritual fool’s gold. That is the subject that the apostle John addresses in 1 John 4:1-6.

Don’t believe every teacher who comes along (1). Some of John’s readers were being swept away by false teachers. John is telling them to take the time to test and see if what they are being taught is true.

Some theology being taught today is the equivalent of eating a candy bar. It is sweet, tasty, and filling, but it has absolutely no nutritional value. In fact, it can blunt your appetite for healthier fare. Rather than blindly consuming everything we hear, we need to put it to the test and see if it is true or not. John provides two tests we can use.

Test #1: What do they say about Jesus? (2-3). In the same way you can identify a follower of Christ by their works, you can identify a false teacher by their message. Rather than ask, “Do you believe in Jesus?” we should ask, “What do you believe about Jesus?” A false teacher will err on either the humanity or the deity of Christ.

Test #2: Who are they listening to? (4-6). John reminds his listeners that they are victors, that they have overcome. They are not necessarily more intelligent or more skilled than false teachers, but they possess the Holy Spirit. In contrast, the false teachers are listening to the world (4-5) rather than to the truth (6). A teacher’s doctrinal beliefs are often revealed by the character of their followers.

As Christ followers, we must practice discernment. Get into the Scriptures for yourself on a regular basis. Ask God for wisdom to know truth from error. Ask God to give you ears to hear and a heart to obey.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on April 23, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on The Letters of John. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


2 responses to “Don’t Settle 4 Fool’s Gold

  1. Steven Sawyer

    April 23, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I was immediately drawn to your blog, On Target, in my reader. Great inspirational, motivating stuff. I read a few of your posts and would like to stay in touch. I’d like to republish some of your posts from time to time or include portions and give you credit and a link back to your site. I find them thought-provoking and true to Scripture. I have been blessed by the posts I’ve read. I look forward to reading lots more.
    I write semi-regular posts on a blog called BloggersMeetup called “Write-on-target” It’s the reason your blog caught my eye. I give serious, purposeful bloggers tips on how we can all improve our writing. The Write-On-Target posts have their own tab at the top of the site on the far right.
    I spent 30+ years as a writer, newspaper reporter/editor and English and composition teacher. I’m retired now and write posts for my blog, For His Glory,
    I’ve taken some notes from your stuff and look forward to reading more and reblogging more.

    I won’t be able to do anything soon. I’m in Tucson, Arizona now, helping my brother take care of our aging, invalid uncle. The three of us are what’s left of our Sawyer family. I took a sabbatical from my blog until things get resolved here in Arizona. My wonderful wife, daughter and granddaughters and I live in Atlanta. We attend a wonderful Bible believing and teaching church, which is the focus of our family life.
    I really miss them all. Don’t know when things here will be resolved so I can return to them. I miss them all.
    Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more of On Target. Take care and God bless.

    • wheelsms

      April 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate the encouragement. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.


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