Always Test the spirits whether they are of God by Martyn Lloyd Jones
All the passages below are taken from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ book “Joy Unspeakable,” published as a combined edition in 1995 from the First Edition of “Joy Unspeakable” in 1984 and with the First Edition of “Prove All Things” in 1985. This combined edition is reprinted in 2000 and 2003.
At this point in our consideration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I want briefly to support the conclusion at which we have arrived by adducing again the evidence of history, the history of the church, and particularly the history of revivals.
A revival of religion is nothing but a great outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the church, a kind of repetition of what happened on the day of Pentecost. A revival, in other words; is a number of people being baptized with the Holy Spirit at the same time. You hear or read of Christian people who were doing their best to live the Christian life. They had the assurance of their salvation, which they deduced by examining themselves in the light of the Scriptures, and, indeed, they possessed a spirit within themselves that enabled them in a measure to say ‘Abba, Father’. But suddenly the Spirit of God descends upon them. Suddenly they are lifted up to a new height and a new level. They are given an assurance such as they never had before, and they see things with great understanding and luminosity.
Now that is what we mean by revival and, as I have reminded you, there are always certain phenomena attendant upon such visitations of the Spirit of God. We need not go into the details, but there is this new power, and sometimes a kind of prophetic gift is given. Yet it is interesting to observe that in the great revivals in the church throughout the centuries, there has not been very much by way of manifestation of some of these particular gifts, such as the gift of tongues or evidence of miracles.
That is to me a most important point. I am not saying that such gifts are altogether absent, but that they are uncommon and unusual. I am thinking, for instance, of the revivals of 1859 in Northern Ireland, 1857 in America and in other countries, and of the great Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century in Britain. They were undoubtedly revivals, but there was very little by way of miracles, practically nothing by way of gift of tongues and prophetic utterances. Now these are simply facts that I am putting before you—facts that are well attested and well established.
Why do I make this point? Well, I do so for this reason, and to me it is a very vital one. It is, indeed, my main purpose in this whole series of sermons. It seems to me that the teaching of the Scripture itself, plus the evidence of the history of the church, establishes the fact that the baptism with the Spirit is not always accompanied by particular gifts.
Those who are interested in the contemporary discussion will realize the importance of that statement. There are people today, as there have been now for a number of years, who say that the baptism with the Spirit is always accompanied by certain particular gifts. It seems to me that the answer of the Scripture is that that is not the case, that you may have a baptism with the Spirit, and a mighty baptism with the Spirit at that, with none of the gifts of tongues, miracles, or various other gifts. No one can dispute the baptism with the Spirit in the case of men like the brothers Wesley, and Whitefield and many others, but none of these things happened in connection with them.
Now that, I feel, establishes this all-important principle, that you must draw a distinction between the baptism with the Spirit itself and its occasional or possible concomitants. We must keep these things distinct in our minds. There is great confusion at this point. In my earlier sermons I have already drawn attention to the way in which people get confused between the baptism with the Spirit and sanctification, which leads to great trouble. This confusion between the baptism and the gifts of the Spirit leads to equally great trouble. I am very anxious to bring out this point with great clarity that the baptism of the Spirit itself may be present in great power and yet none of these gifts may be manifest as such.
That is, of course, because of the sovereignty of the Spirit. He chooses to give them at times, and equally not to give them at others. And we must submit to that and be ready for that. We must not say that gifts cannot happen, nor must we say that they should always happen. The scriptural position, substantiated by the history of the church, is that they may or may not happen, and therefore we must not lay down these dogmatic positions on the one side or on the other. So, then, the main conclusion stands—that this question of gifts is entirely within the sovereignty of the Spirit and that because of that we should always be open, in mind and in heart, to anything that the Spirit of God may choose to do in his sovereignty.
It is very important that we should be concerned about the truth about the baptism in the Spirit for one main reason and that is the state both of the world in which we are living, and that of the church. If you, my friend, as a Christian are not concerned at this moment more than anything else with the need of the power of the Holy Spirit in the Christian church, I am afraid I do not understand your Christianity. Never was there such need of the proclamation of the truth with authority and power, and nothing but a baptism with the Spirit will enable the church to do this. It is God’s way at all times. Never was there greater need of our being clear on the doctrine of the baptism with the Spirit, or revival of religion if you like to take it collectively, than at this present time.
As this question of gifts is involved with it, we must examine it, because there are many people who reject the doctrine of the baptism, because they reject the gifts. Again, there are others who, rejecting the false `coalition’, as it were, of sanctification and the baptism, reject the baptism because they feel the claims to entire sanctification cannot be verified or substantiated. What should be of concern to us is the power of the Holy Spirit upon individuals and upon the church in general; and it is in order that we may be clear about this that we should consider this question of gifts. Obviously, if the Spirit chooses to give them, it is a wonderful attestation of the truth. But it remains in his sovereignty and we must not lay down any rules of our own.
Are we to assume, then, that everything that claims to be a re-appearance or a revival of such gifts in the church is of necessity true? That is the immediate and urgent practical question. We are open; we have no longer shut our minds to the possibility in terms of a false understanding of the scriptural teaching; we are clear about that. And suddenly we hear reports of the appearance of the gifts. Are we therefore to accept them immediately as being the gifts and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit?
At this point there are two main dangers which confront us. The first is the danger of quenching the Spirit. I put that first because I believe it is the more common of the two. There are people who automatically discount anything that is reported; their whole bias of mind, their whole prejudice is against it. History demonstrates that the greatest opposition to a true revival in the church, or to the work of individual men who have been baptized with the Spirit, has almost invariably come from the church herself. It is a startling, frightening truth, and it is all due to quenching the Spirit. The Roman Catholic Church persecuted the Reformers for this very reason; and, alas, the Protestant Church has often in her turn persecuted men upon whom the Spirit of God has come.
Why? Well, the danger is institutionalism and the fondness for decorum, order and pomp and ceremony with everything being controlled and ordered. So that if anything different happens it is immediately frowned upon and disliked. It is the same as the objection to the personal emphasis in the gospel. I have quoted elsewhere that remark of Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria’s first Prime Minister, who said, `Things are coming to a pretty pass if religion is going to start becoming personal.’ How typical that is! We want a dignified religion which never disturbs us, nor anybody else. There must be no liberty and freedom of the Spirit—the very thought is almost indecent. Fancy upsetting the clocklike, mechanical perfection of a great service with an outpouring of the Spirit! The thing is unthinkable! Now that is quenching the Spirit, and so you find the Apostle saying, `Quench not the Spirit.’
Temperament undoubtedly comes into this. Some people have the temperament which leads to their liking order and discipline and decorum and so on; and they have to watch that. Their danger is to quench the Spirit, and this is a very real danger. And so there are many people in the Christian church who, the moment they hear of anything unusual, condemn it. `There must not be anything unusual. We have never had anything like this before,’ they say. That has always been the opposition to revival; that is why the saints have always been persecuted by people who like the ordinary, the drab, the uneventful and the dead. And remember it can be true of orthodox people quite as much as others. You can have a dead orthodoxy as well as a dead formality. The great danger confronting the majority is that of quenching and resisting the Spirit, thereby standing against the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit.
The other danger is the exact opposite and it is interesting to see how the one extreme or the other predominates: it is the danger of an uncritical acceptance of everything. Again temperament comes into this. Some people are credulous. It is very interesting reading the history of the church to see this element coming out in some of God’s great servants. There are some men who are always anxious for the unusual—it is the thing they have to watch. Each of us has got to know himself or herself. We all have certain weaknesses and tendencies and we must watch them. It is the most difficult thing in the world: `Know thyself!’ And we have to be on our guard lest our natural temperament should become a prejudice and we may be found fighting against God.
This uncritical acceptance is often the result of a spirit of fear. You see, the first people are never afraid of quenching the Spirit at all; they just have their set fixed opinion in which everything different is condemned. But then there is this other type, who are terrified of quenching the Spirit. And that can become `a spirit of fear’ which interferes with their critical faculties, so that they are ready to believe anything and everything. They are so afraid of standing against a work of God that they pass things that they should not pass.
This, of course, is what always leads to fanaticism, or what the Bible calls a false fire. Here again not only does the Bible give us great teaching, but history also confirms the danger of fanaticism, wild fire, of another spirit simulating the Holy Spirit. Fanaticism is always to be condemned and it has often caused great havoc in the life of the church. Even an uncritical acceptance of anything purported to be the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit may well lead to manifestations of certain excesses. Again, anybody who has ever read the history of revivals will know this danger and also that of a false emphasis, a lack of balance, the kind of thing that was obviously happening in the church at Corinth and which necessitated that section which the great Apostle devotes to it.
We proceed now to the next big principle. Why must we not accept uncritically everything that claims to be a manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit? The answer is, first and foremost, that the Scriptures themselves warn us against uncritically accepting everything that is put before us. This is for the simple reason that there is such a being and person as the devil, that there are such entities as evil spirits, foul and malign spirits. You remember the great word of the apostle in Ephesians 6:12, `For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ The beginning of this matter is to realize that we are living in a spiritual realm, a spiritual atmosphere. This world is not only a material one—there is the spiritual element surrounding it and there are forces and spirits which are evil and malign, set against God and everything that is holy. That is why by contrast the third person in the Trinity is designated the `holy’ Spirit.
If we do not begin by realizing that there are these two kinds of spiritual powers and forces, we are doomed to disaster because the teaching of Scripture is that these evil powers and spirits are always there and they have tremendous power. You see it even in the Old Testament. You remember how Moses, the servant of God, was given power in order that he might have means to attest his claim to his God-given leadership. He was sent by God to rescue the children of Israel, but Moses foresaw the difficulty. He said in effect, `When I go and say this to them they will turn to me and they will say, Who are you, why should we listen to you? You are asking us to take a great risk. All right, said God, I will tell you…. I will tell you what to say…. say that I AM has sent me’. But God said beyond that, `Look at that staff you have in your hand; I will enable you to do things through that.’ He gave him certain miraculous powers. But that alone, you remember, was not sufficient, because the magicians of Egypt were able to repeat and to counterfeit many of the things that were done by Moses. So the apostle Paul, in writing his second letter to Timothy, referring to those magicians, and comparing them with the evil teachers of his day, says, `As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith’ (2 Timothy 3:8). There, then, we have a great instance of this very thing in the Old Testament.
Unfortunately, things are not, therefore, quite as simple as some people seem to think. We are always surrounded by these evil spirits as well as by the `holy’ Spirit and their one object is to ruin the work of God. The devil rebelled against God, and his great ambition is to bring God’s work into disrepute. There is nothing that he is more ready to do, therefore, than to confuse Christian people, especially those who are most spiritual, and the havoc that the devil has wrought in the history of the church is quite appalling to consider. Because of this, Scripture not only gives us the history and its teaching about the devil and his followers, but it also goes so far as to tell us to `try the spirits’, to `prove the spirits’. `Try the spirits whether they are of God’, says John in his first epistle chapter 4:1. Now that is a commandment. `Believe not every spirit’, he says. Do not believe every spirit, but prove them and try them to see whether they are of God,or `of the world’ as he puts it, and that is an actual injunction to us. We are not therefore to accept everything that is reported. No; the Bible tells us to exercise our critical faculties and to prove and test them.
Writing to the Thessalonian church, Paul says, `Prove all things; hold fast that which is good’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Do you notice the context? He started by saying, `Quench not the Spirit’. There is the rebuke to that first group—do not quench the Spirit. There were people who were doing that, but you must not, says Paul. But then, he says, do not go to the other extreme, `Prove all things.’ Do not be uncritical because I have told you not to quench the Spirit and not to despise prophesying. Do not act hastily and say, `All right, I will believe everything….’ `Prove all things; only hold fast to that which is good.’ You will have to reject a lot, but `Hold fast to that which is good.’ Now there it is as plain as anything could be.
Let me sum up this point by putting it like this. The trouble in the church at Corinth was entirely due to their failure to do this very thing that the Apostle exhorts the churches to do. They were confused about spiritual things because they had not learnt this all-important lesson.
In addition to Scripture we have exactly the same warning from the history of the Christian church—and you notice that I keep on putting these two things together. We must do so. The church is one. The church is the church of God, and essentially the same throughout the ages. There is an amazing continuity, and the principles taught in Scripture are worked out in the history of the church. And because we are in the flesh, we are helped by examples and illustrations, hence the great value of history. I know of nothing next to the reading of the Scriptures themselves that has been of greater value to me in my own personal life and ministry than constant reading of the history of the church. I thank God for it more than ever, for the way in which, by illustrating these things, it has saved me from pitfalls and has shown me the right way to assess these matters.
So we turn to history and we find that very early in the Christian church great difficulties arose owing to this very matter. This is a very difficult subject. There was a movement towards the middle of the second century called Montanism. I want to be careful about this because I believe that Montanism has been wrongly judged on many occasions. The official church was against it, because the official church was tending to become institutional and the Montanists were concerned about life and power. But there is no doubt that the Montanists went too far in this; they violated certain biblical principles such as, that women should not be teachers in the church, and that in itself showed that they had already gone wrong somewhere. And with that certain excesses tended to come in at the same time.
Then as you come on down the centuries you will find that the Roman Catholic Church began to report almost endless miracles; they began doing this in the fourth century. And, of course, it increased by leaps and bounds. They were claiming the most amazing miracles—healings and various other forms of miracles. Generally they happened in connection with what are called the `relics of saints’. A bone was claimed to be from the body of Peter or some other `saint’ and this had miraculous qualities; or it was the `grave’ of a saint, or some such site, where endless miracles were reported. You will even find great men like Saint Augustine and Chrysostom and others reporting them and believing in them; by the Middle Ages it had become not only widespread but very profitable for the church herself.
What are called the miracles of the Roman Catholic Church, such as you get at Lourdes at the present time, are another fact and phenomenon in connection with the history of the church. Many people—credulous, uncritical people—are prepared to believe any wonder or sign by which they may be confronted and immediately to attribute it to the work of the Holy Spirit. Many people have done this and become `converts to Rome’, directly as the result of this kind of thing. There, then, is one great warning from history. We shall be dealing with these things again later on.
Coming down the centuries you find the same thing in Protestantism. It is very interesting when reading about the great Revival of two hundred years ago, connected with men such as Whitefield and the Wesleys, to consider the story of what were called `The French Prophets’, particularly in London. Many of the Huguenots had come over to this country at the end of the seventeenth century and this kind of connection was kept up. There had been certain phenomena in some parts of France and they gradually came over to this country. It is very interesting to notice how even a discriminating, intellectual man like John Wesley, was for a while captivated by this. Whitefield was not, as he was always more fearful of these matters. But John Wesley, who for so long had clung to his own intellect and understanding, tended as such men often do to swing too far to the other extreme. He became credulous and was greatly impressed by the manifestations of these so-called French prophets. But eventually he came to see that at the very least it was very doubtful whether all these manifestations were of the Spirit of God and not rather of the evil spirit.
In other words, I am simply trying to make this point. You hear a great deal at the present time about the revival of these gifts and so on, but this is not the first time this has been reported, nor the first time it has been claimed. It is a repetition of something that has happened frequently in the history of the church.
Let me move on to the last century and to the whole episode known under the name of Irvingism, in connection with Edward Irving. This man was a brilliant Scot, a one time assistant to the great Dr Thomas Chalmers, who subsequently came down to London and began to preach in the Scottish Church near Hatton Garden. He became the sensation of London in the 1820s. People flocked to hear him, including society people. He had many things which attracted—his personality, his appearance, eloquence and so on—and he became one of the most popular men in the whole of London. But the story ended in great tragedy and it all arose from the claim that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were being renewed and were being repeated under his ministry. I must not take you through the history; there are books which have been written on this, which are most instructive to read. But I have had the privilege of reading a little booklet called Narrative of Events by Robert Baxter, which I should like to refer to at this point.
Robert Baxter was a barrister who lived in Doncaster. He was an able, godly, spiritually minded man, who for a while became the very centre of the movement round Edward Irving, and their leading prophet. He claimed to be receiving messages direct from God, messages concerning the truth to be delivered, and what he was to do. He was told, he claimed, by the Spirit of God that he must leave his wife and family and his profession, and go and deliver this message. He was told, he claimed further, to go into the law courts and to get up and interrupt a case and address the judge and deliver this message from the Spirit of God, if he felt the impulse while he sat in court. Actually he did not feel the impulse, and did not do this, but he had taken steps to leave his wife and family, having been told that he was not to bid them farewell even, but was to go at once.
All this was reported and was regarded as the leading of the Spirit. Men claimed to be speaking in other tongues and Robert Baxter, who was at the very heart and centre of this, was regarded as an `oracle’, as an unusually spirited man. He testified that his love of the Lord was greater than ever and so was his happiness. Yet this man came to see that all this was not of the Spirit of God. Exact prophecies had been given to him but they were not verified, and did not happen. And then he began to realize that some of these things he was told to do were not in accord with the plain teaching of Scripture. But he had thought, and he was as honest as the day, that this was all the Spirit of God. Eventually his understanding was restored to him and he continued the rest of his life a godly, saintly man in the church. It was to warn others that he wrote that book long since out of print called Narrative of Events.
Now, my dear friends, we must not discount such things. Irvingism collapsed, though they did establish what they called the Catholic Apostolic Church. But the whole thing ended in disaster, including the death of poor Irving who was overwrought and even suffered physically, eventually dying a broken man. There were certain prophetesses who even denounced one another while some of them later admitted and confessed that they had invented facts at certain points. Do not misunderstand me—I am not saying all this in order that you may say the moment you hear of any claim, `Obviously nonsense! A repetition of Irvingism; have nothing to do with it.’ That is not my object. All I am saying is do not believe everything uncritically. `Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.’
I could recount at length stories about the freak religious sects that arose in the United States in the last century. A book was written once on these called Group Movements and Experiments in Guidance. Now the point about them all is that there was no doubt about their sincerity. They all really believed that the things they experienced were the acts of the Spirit of God, but the story ends in disaster.
Let me move on to a third bit of evidence which is equally important and which illustrates the danger of evil spirits counterfeiting to mislead `if it were possible even the very elect’. The third evidence is that from spiritism and from psychology. Here again the thing is quite clear if you take the trouble to examine it. I have never understood those people who say that all that is claimed for spiritism should be rejected. A man like the late Sir Oliver Lodge was not a fool, neither was the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I know that there is a lot of dishonesty in the realm of spiritism and a lot of fictitious evidence has often been presented. But—and I think that the Society for Psychical Research has established this—there is always a residuum which simply cannot be explained away in terms of trickery and dishonesty. There are such things as phenomena belonging to spiritism. I have no difficulty in believing this, because I believe the whole of spiritism is the manifestation of the work of evil spirits. There are evil spirits who can produce phenomena and can do amazing things.
In other words there is no question—and it has been reported and established many times over—that in spiritism you have people who can speak in tongues. Evil spirits can make people speak in strange tongues and languages that people do not understand. They can counterfeit the speaking in tongues produced by the Holy Spirit. To all appearances they appear to be identical. Not only that, but there is no question that healings can happen in the realm of spiritism. This again has been checked by careful observers and people who do not believe in spiritism at all. You cannot say that the whole of the work of a man like the famous Harry Edwards is all dishonesty and fraud. There are certain cases of healings which are as genuine as anything that can be reported by Christian faith healers. It is ridiculous to deny the facts. The danger is that the practitioner claims that he is the medium of the spirit of a dead person.
I am putting this evidence before you as a warning—spiritist phenomena can be amazingly like these other phenomena, so that if you are going to believe anything that is put before you uncritically, you are obviously exposing yourself to the deceit of spiritism and all that belongs to that realm.
This is, also, true of psychology. All this is being discovered more and more and it is receiving a good deal of attention of course. You may have seen programmes on the television, or read the book by Dr William Sargent, Battle For the Mind where the intention is to discount the Christian faith and to explain it all away in terms of psychology. What they can demonstrate is that under hypnotism you can make people speak in other languages which they know nothing about and of which they have never heard. And there are people who can hypnotize themselves and make themselves do this without invoking the spiritual realm at all. Purely on the level of psychology, you can reproduce certain spiritual phenomena, such as speaking in tongues by auto-suggestion and auto-hypnosis or by the reviving of something that is deep down and lost in the memory, something of which the man is no longer conscious can be brought to the surface again. There are extraordinary phenomena along that line.
Then there is the whole realm of hysteria where almost anything can happen. You will hear people say, `Now look, if you are going to base your Christianity upon the presence of these phenomena, here they are for you,’ and they will produce them by using hypnotism, hysteria and trance conditions. They will give you pictures which they have taken in certain odd sects in various parts of the world where you can see the thing happening psychologically. There it is, they say, and that is the whole of your Christianity—Christianity is nothing but that.
These are some of the reasons why you and I must pay close heed to the exhortations of Scripture. `Prove the spirits’; `test the spirits’; `prove all things; hold fast only to that which is good’. It is our bounden duty as we value the doctrine of God and as we are concerned about the state of the church. God forbid that people should confuse the phenomena, the manifestations, with the baptism of the Spirit itself, because if they do people who reject the phenomena will reject the baptism with the Spirit also. These two things must be kept distinct and separate.
How do we test the spirits? It is vital that we should know how to test, especially those of us who really know something of the burden of the times in which we live. God forbid that there should be anybody sitting back in smug satisfaction and contentment at this point and saying, `Of course, at last he has said it, I have been waiting for it all the while. I have always said there is nothing in this, lot of nonsense—some even say it is of the devil.’ God have mercy upon you if you can be smug in the Christian church at a time like this!
No, I am speaking particularly to those good, honest, spiritually-minded men and women of any age whatsoever, who are longing for revival and reawakening, longing to see the church speaking with power in this evil age, addressing governments if necessary, doing something that will arrest the moral declension that is happening round and about us and believing that this is what we need. It is to such people that I address these words in particular. For it is your very anxiety to know the fullness and the baptism of the Spirit that constitutes your danger and exposes you to this possibility of not using your critical faculties as you should.
At this point I will give you the negative only: Do not rely only upon your inward feelings. Many have done this and have found themselves in grievous difficulty. What I mean is that they make decisions entirely on their own inner feeling. They say, `You know, I have a feeling that this is right. I don’t like that other possibility’ But that is entirely subjective, and while I do not discount the subjective altogether, I say it is not enough. You must not rely solely upon some inner inward sense, because that is the very thing the devil wants you to do. That means you are not using your full critical faculties; deciding in a purely emotional and subjective manner.
Let me add this: do not be swayed even by the fact that something reported to you makes you feel wonderful. You may say, `Well now surely anything that makes me feel greater love to God must be right.’ Robert Baxter, to whom I have already referred in connection with the Irvingite movement, used to say that he had never felt so much love, the love of God in his heart, or so much love in himself to God as he did at this period. He was ready to leave his wife and family for God’s sake. He was filled with a sense of the love of God, he said, that he had never known before, but he came to see that it had all been misleading him.
So we must not judge even in terms of such feelings. You may say, `I have never known such love, I have never known such peace, I have never known such joy.’ The people who belong to the cults will often tell you exactly the same thing. So we must not rely upon our own subjective feelings. Do not, dismiss them or discount them, but do not rely upon them. Do not say, `I feel this is right, everything in me says this is right, all my Christian spirit.’ It is not enough. The devil is as subtle as that. Remember our Lord’s word—`if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.’
Lastly, do not base your judgement on the people who are speaking to you and making their report to you. The tendency is to say, `Well now, I know this man to be a good Christian man, an honest soul, and a most devout person—therefore anything he says must be right.’ He may be wrong! He is not perfect, the devil has brought down greater and stronger men than he. So the mere fact that the report is brought to you by good people who may say to you, `My whole experience has been transformed by this’, is not enough. It may be right, it may be wrong.
Once again, you have these warnings not only in Scripture but in the continuing history of the Christian church. It is often some of the best, most honest and sincere people who can be most seriously led astray. The cynics sit back and say, of course, I knew that that was false.’ Exactly! They say that about everything. They say that about the true as well as the false. They down everything, they condemn everything. God have mercy upon them. Are they Christian at all, I wonder? No, it is the good and the honest and the true soul that the devil tempts most of all because this person is the nearest to the Lord. The devil does not waste any of his time and energy with your smug formalist—he is safely asleep, already under the drug of the devil, though he is sitting in a Christian church. The devil does not waste time with him. But the man about whom he really is concerned is the man who is anxious to follow his Lord all the way.
So I say that you must not decide merely in terms of the character of the people giving the report, nor even in terms of their experience, whatever they may say to you. Be open, be ready to listen but never be uncritical, `Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.’ [179-196]