By Rick Renner
Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.— 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Years ago I was invited to have lunch with a man who said he wanted to talk. As I sat with him, he began to tell me the many reasons why he had abandoned believing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. At first, I thought maybe he just needed someone to talk to about his doubts, but soon I realized this man was deeply bitter. I finally understood he had asked me to lunch in an attempt to dissuade me, and whoever else would listen, from believing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
As I listened to this man, I silently asked the Lord for wisdom to help him. I could tell from the man’s words that he had been disappointed in the past by leaders. Out of hurt, he dismissed them all as a bunch of Charismatic misfits. Like many have done in times of disappointment, rather than separate disappointing behavior from truth, he mixed the leaders and their poor behavior all into one big bag and then rejected the whole lot of them.
But taking this approach is illogical. It’s like someone saying, “You know, I ate food once and got food poisoning, so I’ve made the decision that food is bad and I’ll never eat food again.”
If you go without food, eventually you’ll die, so choosing to reject all food because of one bad experience would be a fatal decision. Maybe you need to be a little more selective in where you eat or what you eat, or perhaps you need to learn a little more about how to correctly prepare your food — but you cannot avoid food if you wish to keep on living.
Bad experiences surrounding false prophecies often have negative consequences, and regretfully do occur in the Christian community. But instead of throwing out our legitimate beliefs, as this man had done, we must obey the words of the apostle Paul in First Thessalonians 5:21. When he wrote to the believers in Thessalonica, Paul was speaking to Christians who felt very disappointed and confused as a result of individuals who had misused the gift of prophecy. Because the Thessalonian congregation was tired of this abuse, they were tempted to throw out the spiritual gift of prophecy altogether — no longer allowing it to operate in their church. So Paul wrote and told them, “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.”
As we saw in yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, Paul taught that we have a God-given responsibility to “prove” the prophetic words that are spoken over our lives. God doesn’t expect us to blindly accept every prophecy as from the Lord. But once we have determined that a word we received is legitimate and sound, we must “hold fast” to it because there is something we are to do with that word from the Lord. Paul was so convinced of the importance of authentic prophetic utterances that he urged Timothy to “war a good warfare” with the prophecies that had been spoken over his life (see 1 Timothy 1:18).
I think of words from the Lord that He has spoken to me over the years concerning our ministry. These words have been tested, proven, and shown to be legitimate. Denise and I have walked this walk long enough to be able to discern in our spirits the difference between a real prophetic utterance and a bogus prophetic utterance. And like Timothy, Denise and I have waged warfare with some of the prophetic words that have been spoken over our lives. Certainly prophetic utterances are not equal to the Bible, but they have been guideposts that have helped navigate our journey through good times and bad.
Yes, misguided words are given from time to time. But when prophetic words are spoken over our lives that are proven to be legitimate, we need to “hold fast” to them!
The words “hold fast” in First Thessalonians 5:21 are a translation of the Greek word katecho, which is a compound of the words kata and echo. The word kata means down, and the word echo means to hold or to embrace. When compounded, the new word means to hold firmly or to hold down lest the desired object slip away from you, or to take possession of a thing. It is the picture of figuratively wrapping one’s arms around an object and refusing to let it go. It clearly means if we don’t deliberately embrace these prophetic words and make them our own, they can slip away from us. Therefore, Paul urged us to hold sound prophetic words very tightly and to refuse to let them go.
Paul also specifically told us that we are to hold fast to that which is “good.” The word “good” is from the word kalos, which in this case, denotes something that is sound and in order. It’s been tested, proven, and shown to be authentic. It is therefore to be accepted, like a coin that has been tested and proven and therefore worthy to be put into public circulation. It is attested, dependable, genuine, reliable, and true. This is the nature of a prophetic word to which God charges us to “hold fast.”
What words have been spoken over you that you know are legitimate words from the Lord? Has life tried to seize them away from you? In order for those words to come to fulfillment, it will require you to hold fast to them — because the devil and the cares of this life have a way of trying to steal the words God has spoken over your life. Just think of the Old Testament characters who received prophetic words, such as Abraham or Joseph. Imagine how determined they had to be to “hold fast” to the words they had received from the Lord in order to see their fulfillment!
Likewise, you must wrap your arms around those prophetic utterances spoken over your life that you know in your heart are legitimate. Just because a word birthed in Heaven is faithfully delivered to you does not mean it will automatically come to pass in your life. That word God has given you will more than likely test you — just as the word of the Lord tried Joseph until the time of its fulfillment (see Psalm 105:19). But that doesn’t matter when you’ve already decided you’re going to stay in faith until you see the manifestation of what the Lord has spoken to you. You just dig your heels in the ground, hold fast to that which is good, and refuse to ever let anything take it away from you!
Rick Renner is a prolific author and a highly respected Bible teacher and leader in the international Christian community. He is the author of more than 30 books, including the bestsellers Dressed To Kill and Sparkling Gems From the Greek. In 1991, Rick and his family moved to what is now the former Soviet Union. Two years later, he and his wife Denise founded the Riga Good News Church in Latvia before moving on to Moscow in 2000 to found the Moscow Good News Church. In 2007, the Renners also launched the Kiev Good News Church in the capital of Ukraine. Both the Riga and Kiev churches continue to thrive and grow.
Today, Rick is the senior pastor of the Moscow Good News Church, as well as the founder and director of the Good News Association of Pastors and Churches with nearly 800 member churches. In addition, Rick is the founder of Media Mir, the first Christian television network established in the former USSR that today broadcasts the Gospel to a potential audience of 110 million people. Rick resides in Moscow with his wife Denise and their three sons and families.