AMONG THE FASCINATING things in modern technology are software tools called search engines which you can use to trawl the World Wide Web. The most popular among them are Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Key in words or phrases related to the information you seek, and you may find what you want from the long list that appears on your computer screen.
But, search engines do simply that – search. Fact is not distinguished from fiction, or truth from lies. The World Wide Web is like a bottomless pit – information, good, bad, distorted and false can be mined from it.
To determine whether the information that is thrown up is reliable, truthful and verifiable with other sources, you need to apply wisdom and discernment, and occasionally, a healthy dose of skepticism. Sources need to be checked and double-checked.
There is a “search engine” however in God’s Kingdom that works in a ifferent way. This is “the Spirit (that) searches all things, even the deep things of God”. (1 Corinthians 2:10)
God does not use the Spirit to search for information – instead when the Spirit searches, He already knows what lies out there. The Spirit searches through plumbing the depths of truth and knowledge, very much like how fishermen use an instrument called an echograph to determine how deep the ocean is and where the best fishing spots are.
In the process, what the Spirit uncovers is knowledge that is then revealed to us as revelation, for us to receive and know.
Search engines throw up volumes of information, much of which would need to be verified and checked.
When the Spirit “searches all things”, only the truth is revealed. There is no doubting the source. This point is especially relevant today when some in our churches are moving in the prophetic.
In The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament Today, Wayne Grudem describes prophecies that are given today as “speaking merely human words to report something God brings to mind”.
Prophecy today, he explains, is not equal to Scripture in authority. Therefore it is confusing, and incorrect, to always prefix what we today call “prophecies” with “thus says the Lord”.
Today, many Christians moving in the prophetic have learned to refrain from this unhealthy practice. However, it is now more the case of those who hear such words who believe that they are the words of God.
Because we are using human words to bring across God’s message, distortion easily comes into play. It is therefore beholden upon the hearer, or receiver, of such words, to discern the accuracy of the prophecy. Evaluate good and bad, helpful and unhelpful, discern true from false through the process of filtering.
In the New Testament, evaluation is based on whether the message conveyed conforms to Scripture or (during the early church) the teaching received from the apostles (Gal 1:8; 1 Cor 14:37-38; 1 John 4:2-3, 6; Acts 17:11).
Over-indulgence in prophecies has a tendency to make us lazy in our personal relationship with God. It is probably part of our traditional and cultural make-up to lean on a medium’s words as carrying more weight than straight and plain language.
When we have to filter, much like going through the results from search engines, it just takes too much time.
So instead of disciplining ourselves to hear from God directly, we take the “easier” (and probably more mysteriously attractive) route of getting a message from God through a third party.
It is therefore appropriate for me to conclude by reminding us of the target audience for whom the Spirit searches the depths of God:
But as it is written:
What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind– God prepared this for those who love Him. (1 Cor 2:9, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
It is not the sole preserve of prophets to reap the rewards of the Spirit’s search. It belongs to those of us who love God.
And may I add, to those who also take time and effort to pay personal attention to what He says to them directly.
Picture by landio/Bigstock.com
By DR Wee Boon Hup