The apostle Paul said that another reason why the ministry of the New Covenant is honest is because the truth taught is backed by life lived by the minister.
For the ministry to be backed by life, the apostle said a number of things were done:
- They renounced disgraceful and underhanded ways.
- They refused to practise cunning.
- They refused to tamper with God’s Word.
- They, by an open statement of the truth, commended themselves to each man’s conscience.
Let us consider the third point.
They refuse to tamper with God’s word.
l know a man who ten years ago preached and led people into an experience of the baptism into the Holy Spirit. He got into financial problems and then met missionaries of a certain group who were hostile to the baptism into the Holy Spirit, but who were rather interested in sanctification. These missionaries promised to help finance this man if he would become their man. He agreed and off went the baptism into the Holy Spirit from his Bible and in came a particular interpretation of the doctrine of sanctification. How is it with you?
I confess that l have had great temptations in this area. In the early years of my ministry, l did a lot of personal evangelism. l was in the streets many nights a week. l used to use Revelation 3:20 often as I talked to people about the process of receiving the Lord. However, part of the verse did not suit my purpose. The verse says, “Behold, l stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, l will come in to him and eat with him and he with me.” The portion of the verse that l did not want was that one which said “If anyone hears my voice.” So, there were times when l tried to make the verse read, “Behold l stand at the door and knock. If any one opens the door, l will come in to him and eat with him and he with me.” If the verse read like that, l would not have problems with the many people who said that they could not open the door because they were not hearing his voice. Now l know better. Conversion is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. All attempts to tamper with His Word only stand in His way, block conversion and bring judgment on those who do it.
This tampering with God’s word is seen very often when people want to support a certain doctrinal position. They enlarge the texts that support their views and close their eyes to other texts of equal importance, which are well known to them, that put a question mark to the particular line they are taking. There is this attempt to take the element of mystery out of the Word. This is tragic beyond telling.
In order not to tamper with the Word of God, the minister of the New Covenant must take sides with God and say what God says, even if it contradicts his system of thinking, practice, etc. He will often appear to be contradicting himself, but that must be so. He must preach eternal security and he must preach the possibility of falling away from the Lord since both are there. He must preach on the gifts of the Holy Spirit and their manifestations without forcing Acts chapter 8 to include speaking in tongues which it does not. He must teach on the last things and clearly show that there are many things that are far from clear. His teaching must leave room for the Author of the Word, the blessed Holy Spirit, to continue to enlighten and make clear that which is not easily understood. He must teach and acknowledge the fact that some of his views could be wrong. He must be prepared to change positions on things upon receipt of new light and confess this, making the necessary restitution. He must be honest and prepared to admit when he is wrong. He must be firm and insist on the truth that he has received, regardless of what it will cost him. In this way he will never need to tamper with the Word of God and be disqualified for doing so.