One of the stories coming out of the much-publicized memorial for Nelson Mandela is of a man who passed himself off as a language interpreter for the deaf. The unidentified man, who stood beside international dignitaries including the president of the United States, was confirmed to be a charlatan by sign language experts. His hand motions were meaningless, but his apparent attempt to make a quick buck outraged the deaf all around the world. Apparently, this is the second time this man has pulled the wool over official’s, um, ears. Driven by greed and taking advantage of the ignorance of the ones who hire them, people like this man have duped quite a few people. None of them ever pulled off a hoax of this magnitude, though.
Perhaps words like audacious, covetous, or callous may come to your mind, hearing about this event, but a far greater travesty happens routinely around this nation and around the world. Men (and women) pass themselves off as experts, but what they allege to be a truthful message is patently false. Sunday after Sunday, they pass off error as truth. Because too many do not study their Bibles or think for themselves, they are duped by those they trust. The greatest tragedy is that the consequences of such dishonesty are infinitely greater in these scenarios. Souls will be lost and not just the souls of the teachers. The hearers will have believed a lie (cf. 2 Th. 2:11; 2 Tim. 4:4). The preachers and teachers will “receive a stricter judgment” (Jas. 3:1) for scratching their itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
The challenge in preaching is for both classes, the speaker and the listener. The speaker must declare only what is right and the listener must hear with discernment (cf. Heb. 5:14). God will not allow any “fakes” to escape His notice.