And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.Mark 9:38-40
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.Luke 9:49-50
I must be honest at the start of this article. I struggled quite a bit on how to reconcile the accounts among the three gospels and how to explain it to my congregation when I presented the topic. What I did not realize was that I was acting just like the disciples through this entire event and could not see my own error!
You see, I, just like the disciples, was focused on my position as pastor of a church and leader of a Bible Study that was going to take place. I didn’t realize until we got into the study in person that I had focused on my abilities to explain things to others. I had put God in a box just like the disciples did. I thought, “I’m the pastor, the explanation for this passage should come from me.”
No, the correct explanation comes from God.
On this particular occasion God used two young men sitting in the room with me as well as two young Elders online with us in the Philippines to bring us all to HIS understanding at the same time.
We need to not think that God will reveal things the same way all the time. The disciples needed to learn that God was working in people outside their small circle. Why? Because it wasn’t about them. It was about God’s kingdom and Hisglory. God can and does work outside of our comfort zone. God can and does work outside of our local church, denomination, etc.
With this in mind, we have liberty to listen to preachers who are outside of our fellowship. We have liberty to read authors who do not believe exactly like we do. We should certainly closely consider what we are hearing or reading by comparing it to the word of God, but we should not be shocked when God uses a man to teach others or even us something when he holds a different set of doctrinal beliefs than we do. God is not limited to our church, denomination, or preaching preference.
There is a great liberty in this. I think one of the greatest liberties to be found is when we admit that we are so small and tiny compared to God. When we do this, we can see that what understanding we have of Him and His word is by His marvelous grace and mercy. There is also liberty when we realize that we do not know everything, and have no qualms about admitting it! We don’t have to be the one who knows is all. We just need to the One Who is All in All!
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?Romans 11:33-34