But this I say as my opinion, and not as an order of the Lord.
But to the married I give orders, though not I but the Lord . . .
But to the rest I say, and not the Lord . . .1 Corinthians 7:6,10,12
Notice how Paul seems very careful to spell out when he is speaking “ex cathedra” (to steal a term from Catholicism) and when he is voicing his opinion. It is important for us to know and we ought to be grateful that Paul spelled it out. He realised the clear difference and was careful to distinguish between the two. It would aid us greatly nowadays if we were to do the same.
I was involved in an interesting discussion while at Bible College related to the saying “thus sayeth the Lord”. We had been at a baptismal service where a young woman was being baptised. After she came up from the water there was time given if people had any words for her from the Lord. One man made the following statement “Thus sayeth the Lord, I forgetest thy name but . . . [then he went on to give a word of encouragement to her]. Interesting the Lord who has the hairs on her head number forgot her name. There were other Bible College students at the service and the next day it became the subject of discussion in class.
I made a summary statement at the end saying the fact that he used those words was unfortunate. I think what was clear was the speaker had forgotten her name and unfortunately couched the act of forgetting as though it was the Lord forgetting. It would have been far better for him to have said something like “I forget your name but I feel the Lord has a word of encouragement for you” – an example of this I say not the Lord. Maybe we should all begin “prophetic statements” with the proviso “I sense a word from the Lord for you but I strongly suggest that you check it out to determine if it is from Him or from just my thoughts.” A more balanced approach.
At the risk of being pedantic let me share another anecdotal story with you from my own experience.
At the risk of being pedantic let me share another anecdotal story with you from my own experience. When we were back in our home town after a stint in Indonesia I was asked by a home group leader about the symbolism of a certain term in the Old Testament. I told the man I didn’t know but if I had time I would check it out, but I didn’t think the symbolism extended that far. On checking there was no way that symbolism could have been included in the intent of the passages in which he had found it. There were only four references in the Old Testament. No, not possible. I read him all the references and asked him if he thought this could be construed to mean that. He agree and said “well it must in the meaning of the word itself then. I told him No it was not in the etymology or in the lexicon anywhere. That symbolism could not be applied to this word. Then he said an interesting thing. “Well it must be!” I responded by asking “Why must it be?” He said because Derek Prince said it. I said oh, that is where you are coming from. Well I don’t care who said it, I stand by what I said about that symbolism not being in the word or the context. He then made an even more startling statement. “Oh no, that means I have to throw out all of Derek Prince’s tapes.”
Hang on a minute: what is going on here? We have now committed two serious errors. One we accept everything someone says as the oracle of God. Then when one aspect of teaching has been proved to be wrong we throw out everything. We have moved from one extreme position to another, one extremity of the swing of the pendulum to the other. Think through what it is that you believe. Take at face value what someone says and check Scripture to see if it is true. Have the wisdom of the Bereans (Acts 17) who examined all that Paul said against the Scriptures to see if it were true. They investigate, they examined, they searched the Scriptures, they checked it out. If they did that with Paul, how much more should we do it? Check it out.
That is why I am starting a new focus in our ministry in Indonesia and calling it “Berean Insights”.
If it was important for Paul to spell out when he was speaking from his own experience and when the Lord, how much more you and me?
Still on the topic of marriage:
Bigamy is having one husband or wife too many. Monogamy is the same.Oscar Wilde
My wife says I never listen to her. At least I think that’s what she said.Anon
Marriage is not a word – it is a sentence.Anon
My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God, and I didn’t.Anon