Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Jesus said, "If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch." But that warning from the Master of the universe has never stopped blind people from following men who are also spiritually blind. It is the way of the earth for people to judge a man's spiritual qualifications by the flesh: how he sounds, how he looks, what his credentials are, his resume, and so forth.
"How can a man preach unless he is sent [by God]?" wrote Paul. Paul, above all men, understood what folly it is to sit at the feet of men who have a reputation for being God's servants but who have no anointing from God to teach anybody. Paul almost lost his soul because he trusted men to guide him who looked good, and sounded good, but who did not know God. Following them, he partook in the murder of saints and persecuted them even in foreign lands. What people need is a man with a vision from God; otherwise, they can only follow a man who has some good ideas.
Isaiah told Israel that in God's sight "all our righteousness is as filthy rags". The Lord had not failed to send prophets to show His people the right way, but they chose instead to hire men to teach them what their flesh wanted to hear, men with ideas instead of men with revelations from God. The tragic end of people who follow men with ideas about God and who go about establishing their own version of righteousness is described by Isaiah: "Therefore the Lord will have no joy in their young men, neither shall He have mercy on their fatherless and widows, for every one is a hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly" (Isa. 9:17).
There are many who claim to speak for God. It would not be rude of you to bluntly ask any man who claims to speak to you on God's behalf if he has ever heard from God. In fact, you are foolish if you do not ask such questions of anyone who wants you to follow him and his doctrine. Your soul is at stake; why not find out if the man has anything from Jesus to feed you? His knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is irrelevant; his previous titles and positions are irrelevant; recommendations from other congregations are irrelevant; his education level is irrelevant; even his age is irrelevant. What you need to know concerning a man who claims to speak for Christ is whether or not he himself has heard from Christ. If he has not heard from Christ, he has nothing to say from Christ. All he can do is repeat what others have said about Christ.
The harvest is out there, waiting to be reaped. Pray, Jesus told his disciples, that God will send workers into the field. The workers whom God will send into His fields will have the knowledge of God, and they will feed it to the hungry instead of feeding them their own clever ideas or the clever ideas of others just like them.