“Fake News”

By Steven Chan

1. Living in an age where “fake news” are increasingly common, one ought not to be surprised if and when some bible believers start wondering about the truth of what they have been taught.  How does one know whether what has been taught to them is indeed true? How does one discern between “truth” and “fake news”? “Fake news” simply means that the news is not true. They are produced by some pranksters for whatever reasons best known to themselves.

Sadly many do not even attempt to try to discern between what is true or false. It is not uncommon for one to simply “pass on” or “forward” what one receives to others on our contact list – without any effort to verify or ascertain the truthfulness of what is being “shared” with us and by us. Some “fake news” may appear innocuous but others may result in awful consequences.

The tragedy is when such “fake news” are believed and acted upon by unsuspecting readers merely because it was sent to them by a friend. Sadly, although the sender may not have been deceived, the undiscerning recipients could have been deceived to the latter’s detriment. So, we need to exercise considerable “discernment” or “circumspection” before we “forward” materials to our friends. In the event that we are not certain whether it is “fake news”, it may be good to place proper caveats or warnings accompanying your note.

2. We need to realize that we are lending/adding our “influence” or “tacit endorsement” to such “fake news” when we circulate them to our friends without proper caveats or appropriate warnings that such may or may not be true.

In due course, our personal credibility for truth would be undermined such that when we share the gospel with others, the latter may become equally skeptical about the truth of the gospel.

It is not unusual for some to share via WhatsApp, contemporary stories about so-called “miraculous” activities done in the name of Jesus Christ – even though we know that the Bible teaches that the time period of disciples of Christ having the power to perform miracles has ceased with the completion of the revelation of God’s Word through the apostles as per 1 Cor 13:8-10. The signs, wonders and miracles were performed by the apostles to confirm that the message or Word they preached was indeed authentic as God confirmed the Word preached with those signs (Mark 16:20; Heb 2:4). We now have the “once for all delivered faith” (Jude 3) which we will do well to take heed to (2 Pet 1:19).

3. The risk of people becoming confused as to what is true or false is increasingly high these days due to the prevalence of “fake news”. So, we should avoid adding to the confusion. We need to exercise some restraint and be a bit more discerning.

4. Being aware of the risk of some questioning the authenticity of the account about Jesus and His teachings, the apostle Peter wrote thus in 2 Pet 1:12-21:

“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. 16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God[c] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Peter reaffirmed his personal eye-witness account of the truth of the revelation of Jesus Christ when God Himself testified that He is the beloved Son (Matt 17:5)

5. Luke wrote thus in Luke 1:1-4:  “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”

Luke stated that his objective in writing the account concerning Jesus was to assure the reader that he may “know the certainty of those things in which (he was) instructed”. The account concerning Jesus is not “fake news”. It is the truth. Sadly many prefer to believe the “fake news” rather than the truth that would save them (2 Thess 2:9-12). They prefer to exchange the truth of God for a lie (Rom 1:25). Let’s share the good news; not “fake news”.