Posted in discernment, theology

A clock that is 5 minutes off is still wrong

By Elizabeth Prata

Pastor Adrian Rogers has gone on to glory, but I enjoy his sermons and the clips that are still broadcast on the radio or Youtube. His large body of work remains with us even if his soul is now with Jesus.

I was driving home from church on Sunday and the Christian radio station I was listening to broadcast this short clip from his ministry Love Worth Finding. Dr. Rogers began it by saying Satan is the cleverest liar. It turns out the clip was from a longer sermon called “The Great Deceiver”.

It’s not that often these days that a preacher forthrightly discusses the evil qualities of our adversary. I turned up the volume to listen.

I can’t find the audio to that clip but here is a transcription I found in a book about Dr Rogers. I’ll post it and then below flesh it out from my memory of it as I heard it in the car.

Two things we learn about Satan from the Lord Jesus Christ. 1. He is a murderer. 2. He is a liar. Never forget this about the devil. His motive is murder. His method is the lie. And he is the father of all liars. And he is the best liar. He is the master liar. And because he is the master liar he tells the cleverest lies. And the cleverest lies sound the most like the truth. And every good lie has just a little truth in it. We had a clock that wouldn’t even run that was right twice a day. And any lie has some truth in it.

But I want to say, dear friend, that a clock that is five minutes wrong is more dangerous than a clock that is five hours wrong. You see a clock that is five hours wrong, and you say, “Ha, that’s wrong, what time is it? Somebody tell me.” But a clock five minutes wrong could have caused you to miss your plane. And so the devil wants you to believe the wrong thing. And there are seducing spirits with doctrines of devils. And the devil is not primarily a pusher of dope, though he is; he is primarily a pusher of lies.

He is making an excellent point here. A false teacher who is waaaaay off base and on the fringes of orthodoxy, will be seen for who he is much more easily. You look at a clock that has stopped and you know that is the wrong time, except for one minute, twice a day.

But a clever false teacher will be a clock that is only 5 minutes off. He will blend lots of orthodoxy with the false. He will twist in subtle ways the verses he is preaching. This is a more dangerous path to follow because whether you are 2 hours off or 5 minutes off, you will still miss your plane. You will miss that important appointment. Follow a five-minutes-off clock long enough and your course will soon be off by a wider margin than you realize.

One rebuttal I usually hear when I point to this or that false teacher is, “But they follow/mention/preach Jesus!” This Gospel Coalition article titled “7 Traits of False Teachers” reminds us that,

It’s rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.

In this essay, John MacArthur sticks close to the Bible when explaining the marks of a false teacher by his life and his doctrine.

Invariably, if I write about a false teacher’s lifestyle, a rebuttal will include that it’s none of my business how they live. However in this article by Wyatt Graham, we learn that False Teachers Out Themselves by Their Way of Lifetoo.

False teachers by definition teach false doctrine. Usually, we imagine that this means that false teachers deny certain concepts like the Trinity, the Incarnation, or the Second Coming. Yet second Peter challenges the idea that false doctrine only means denying true ideas. In Peter’s second letter, false teachers primarily are called such because of how they live. For Peter, false doctrine can mean denying true concepts or denying our Master by our behaviour.

Here is a helpful article titled “10 Invalid Arguments in Defense of False Teachers

The Bible is precise The Gospel is precise. God is precise. The Word is so precise it can divide bone from marrow (Hebrews 4:12). A clock that is five minutes off is still wrong.

I teach in an elementary school. When I gather my second graders for our small group reading instruction, I rely on the clock to finish the session so I can go pick up my third graders for their small group instruction. I have to release each group to within a minute of the scheduled time because they are on to the next session and they need to arrive punctually so the next teacher has a full period of teaching. The 3rd graders leave me and go to their classes to pack up their books and then disperse for the bus. The buses need to roll within a minute of their schedule so that car riders can get going and release all the children in the gym one by one into the waiting cars. This needs to be completed by 3:10. And the car riders can’t get started until the buses roll, and the buses can’t roll until all the kids are aboard, and the kids can’t get aboard until they pack up and line up, and they can’t pack up until I release them from our group. And so on. It’s an interlocked and cascading schedule of events that relies on precision in order to work.

If I am 5 minutes late letting the kids go from group, the entire school schedule will be put off. The other day I re-adjusted my clock because it was 2 minutes slow.

Why do we care about precision during our commuting/working day, but not about the Gospel? Or a favored Bible teacher’s teaching?

We must.



Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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