Rev Henrik du Plessis
What Professor Floor taught us in class
During my recent visit to Bere, but also in D’kar, the subject more and more arises as the reason why so many churches stagnate or even die. In fact, it was Paul’s great struggle in his ministry, false teachers and false apostles.
One day Professor Floor asked us in class a question: “Why do you think Paul forbade the woman with the divining spirit to continue walking with them? She was telling the truth, wasn’t she?”
In Acts 16 from verse 16 it says: “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17She followed Paul and us, crying out, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.’ 18And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’”
Why did Paul prevent her from continuing to walk with them? She did not lie, did she? Would it not have been better if Paul had let her commit, as long as she only spoke the truth, because what she said was the pure truth: “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” At least Paul would have kept the peace, because right after that it was chaos. It says: “But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, ‘These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.’ 22The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.”
One could have asked Paul why was he looking for unnecessary trouble? Why do you dump your head in a beehive? Of course, the bees will sting you. One sometimes needs wisdom to keep quiet, Paul. You could have been dead. By remaining silent you could have led many more people to Christ. Now the whole town is in turmoil over this.
Professor Floor’s answer to this was short. By doing this, this woman and of course the devil in her, wanted to pretend that she and Paul were working together. In the eyes of the people, it must have seemed as if she and Paul were on an outreach together. The uninformed person on the street had to come to the conclusion, this woman and Paul are in the ministry together, because everywhere they go, she was with them. She does not put them down, no on the contrary, she praised them. In other words, Paul arranged it for her to walk behind them and sing their praises, so that the people would know later, the day after tomorrow, when Paul left, who they could call for help. In other words, she is Paul’s “local colleague”.”
To this day, it is the devil’s strategy in many mission churches. There are occult activities in the church that are tolerated for the sake of peace, that have crept in because they, like the woman, are not necessarily lying, but followers of the church. When such a person has wormed himself into a church, he ruins it from the inside and you do not get rid of him easily. In the mission churches one often finds such people. They even serve on the church council and can pray the most beautiful prayers, but after a while they provide a kind of traditional service to the community. The fact that he is a member of your congregation makes him credible in the eyes of the uninformed. Later he has a kind of spiritual hold and followers among your members. So syncretism has seeped into many churches.
How could this be prevented? At the catechism class, where people are prepared to make confession of faith and are allowed to become members of the church. Many missionaries and pastors are all too happy and too eager to add members to their congregation numbers that will end up costing them dearly. Not in vain does Paul say in 1 Timothy 5:22: “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands,” and furtheron: “nor should he deal with the sins of others. Keep yourself clean.” This principle of life was applied by Paul when he rebuked the spirit in that woman in the Name of Jesus Christ and distanced himself from her.
To conclude: In the mission field we lack wisdom and courage to take an evangelical standpoint against these kind of behavior and even in the end, like Paul and Silas, have to pay a price for it. Nowhere the Bible tells us to compromise to keep the peace.
We ask for your earnest intercession in this regard.
Your brother in Christ,
Hendrik du Plessis.