The Boiling Pot and the Poisonous Stew
2 Kings 4
38 When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. [t]As the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” 39 Then one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and sliced them into the pot of stew, for they did not know what they were. 40 So they poured it out for the men to eat. And as they were eating of the stew, they cried out and said, “O man of God, there is death in the pot.” And they were unable to eat. 41 But he said, “Now bring meal.” He threw it into the pot and said, “Pour it out for the people that they may eat.” Then there was no harm in the pot.
“In the days of Elisha there was the toxic stew, there was poison in the pot (2 Ki. 4:38-41). Elisha was able to throw grain into the poison stew. He was able to put grain into the poison pot and the grain was able to absorb the toxins. Right doctrine will clean up false doctrine. Grain can be put into the poison stew—right doctrine will correct wrong doctrine.” (Sermon by Jacob Prasch)
Anyone listening to Jacob Prasch would not come away without being impacted by his passion to exhort believers of the need to discern the truth. Either one love the man or is turned away by his brashness.
I have learnt much from him, and have collected and consumed his articles, sermons and books. Appended below is a sampling of his meditations-
The Boiling Pot and Poisonous Stew
The Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Error
The Plastic Bible
The Bible and Faulty Interpretations
And my pastor also spoke on this on the 30th November.
Turning to the global audience, and addressing pastors, he conceded, cautioned and coached that sermons out of the pulpit are not perfect …. never. He persuaded pastors to make sure we have the Lord Jesus in our sermons, in our midst. Jesus is the flour, the fine flour (the Hebrew term can mean meal or flour). As errors are inevitable, at least He will purify the rest of the unclean elements in the sermons. In every sermon there is a human working, in every sermon there is a tradition … in every sermon there is a ignorance being manifested… but when we put the Lord Jesus in it, He will purify …..
Wow, pastor, preach it, proclaim it! Yes, we have to let Christ be in the center of it all. Let Him interpret His own words. And ask God for Spirit of wisdom and revelation, that we may know Him and place our hope in Him, and then our hearts will be enlightened, and illuminated, grasping the legacy and inheritance in Christ, and the power of His resurrection.
Yes, the truth will set us free.
Exegesis – Inductive explicit truth against conclusions and opinions that are deduced or speculated (Eisegesis). We have to be very careful of being overly dogmatic with teachings that are derived from devotional meditations, “sanctified” imaginations, presumptions, preferences, personal conclusions or even speculations and guesses without any explicit clear teaching. Guard against Eisegesis. Wonder whether the American culture of positivity and rhetoric led to the pervasiveness and prevalence of the pulpit and politics to draw others with fluency and eloquence. Nothing wrong, but what matters more is truth. Clever politicians can easily talk their way out. It goes with the calling and craft, as the pulpit has to appear to be scholarly, sound and authoritative. The job hazard for the pulpit is the tendency to project confidence and competence, to be credible, not to be ashamed or to display vacillation or uncertainty (2Tim 2:15). Tendency to exaggerate, to embellish.
Subjective impressions or even subjective convictions should not be imparted as truth. Explicit teachings of scripture must be the plumbline. I am not sure about the value of the pulpit claiming that God spoke or showed them. Of course dropping names (especially God as the source) would lend weight to whatever is spoken. Why say that God spoke to me or showed me (only) when we can proclaim that He has revealed completely and finally in the scriptures to all. (I do submit that there are gifts of knowledge and prophecy to lead His people, but probably not to specific people to prop up certain interpretations and teachings not revealed to the Church). Why use ambiguous passages to put forward and support an alternative idea when scriptures are clear about the teaching on the subject. That is why Jacob Prasch is a good teacher, passionate to the core. But an uncompromising stand that can sometimes alienate sensitive pastors and fellow preachers. When scriptures are not explicit, Prasch would clearly claim uncertainty – “my guess is … ”; “It could be …”, “my personal understanding is …”.
When one begins to interpret scriptures in a inventive and imaginative manner, opinions and speculations can indeed sound reasonable (2Tim 4:3,4), especially when listeners are oblivious and ignorant. Asserting that God has shown the teacher (especially suggestions and submissions that are not explicit in scriptures) can border on Gnosticism. It is a gullible congregation who would accept that the early church escaped to Petra (fact: it is Pella) before Jerusalem was razed in AD70 when the pulpit teaches it in a compelling and convincing manner. I know this is very trivial, I am just trying to show how a poised and confident pulpit can greatly influence and impact a gullible trusting congregation who can just lap it up and drink it in.
I remember years ago, a family group member commented and marvelled that our pastor is so anointed with revelations to perceive and interpret the prophecies in the chapter numbers of Psalms. So I said that the content of the sermon was taken from J.R. Church. (My pastor does his due diligence in research and reading more than most other pastors. That is why there is never a dull moment in NCC). I could sense that the family group reacting with scepticism and disbelief at my statement. A couple of weeks later, the group leader asked for verification of my allusion to J.R. Church’s teachings. Such is the high regard and respect a pastor is accorded. (P/S 10 Dec. Wonder whose IP right would it be when the CD messages are sold, NCC, pastor, or the estate of JR Church)
So let’s continue to pray for our pastor, as he nourish, nurture and nurse the flock. Let’s protect the pulpit. To keep the message, motives and the methods pure. 1 Thessalonians 2:3-12
P/S. 10 Dec. I suppose the pulpit should realize and accept that there might be others, Bereans from the universal church or closer at hand, members of the congregation who would “throw fine fluour or grain” into the teachings from the pulpit.