It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that Christians are becoming more and more biblically illiterate. There could be a variety of reasons for this phenomenon. There are a myriad of distractions vying for our time... time that would be better spent praying or studying our Bibles. Satan has made sure he has put into the minds of people never ending new and different ways to stimulate the worldly tastes and desires of us. But it’s not like Satan is only to blame. Our carnal natures really do not need that much of a prodding to seek out ways to fulfill its own lusts. It’s just that the forces of evil are right there ready to give us a helping hand in those times when we are vulnerable.
Surviving life has always placed demands on people’s time, but previously, Christians have set aside time in their days and weeks to spend getting to know more about the Lord through Bible study, meditating on the Word, and hearing a good, thought provoking Bible-based sermon solidly based in scripture. Now, that is being set aside to engage in activities that are devoid of any religious value, even activities that do harm to the spirits within us.
The result of this is quite solemn, and it should cause us great concern. God is constantly talking to us, but we are listening less and less to Him. If we are true Christians, we admit that the only original, definitive book ever written, describing in detail how a Christian should live their life is His holy Word. A Christian’s doctrinal viewpoints should align with what is indisputably taught therein. Now, there is primary doctrine that a Christian must believe in order to even be able to call and consider themselves a Christian. These are that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin and the healing of our minds and bodies and was resurrected and ascended to heaven, so any who continue to believe (trust, depend and rely on Him) will also be resurrected at His return.
Then there is secondary doctrine. These include matters of doctrinal opinion that our salvation is not dependent upon. We all have the freedom in the grace of the cross to have our own viewpoints about such matters. And we need to respect each others' viewpoints in Christ-like love. However, there is a rub, and it’s a big one. Let me first explain what I want to get across in this way: Let’s say our car is not running well. There is obviously a problem with it, and we need to take it to a mechanic to have it checked out. Are we going to take our car to a mechanic that only knows how to fix brakes, or are we going to take it to a mechanic that has worked on a lot of cars and knows how to fix a lot of things? The answer is obvious. In the same way, we all certainly have a right to our own opinions, but some opinions are more valid and educated than others.
Understand, I’m not patting myself on the back here, because a lot of what I know about the Bible was taught me by the Holy Spirit directly (Read First John 2:26,27) and obviously some through preachers, teachers and other religious leaders. I take no credit for my biblical knowledge. The only part I played in my learning was that I opened myself up to what God wanted to teach me. My approach to Bible study could be called by others quite deep. I just thank God He’s given me the gift of a discerning mind. But even as a new babe in Christ, I knew I was not going to take the word of any person to be the absolute truth unless it squared with the teachings of the Bible.
Soon, (because I am skeptical by nature) I found it necessary to study the Word verse by verse, word by word in the original language as it was written in the original manuscripts. I soon found none of the modern translations of the Bible do the nuances of the original languages justice. In fact, I found that many times a word in our English translations would mean something entirely different than the original intended use of that word. I also soon began to understand that it was necessary to place a scripture or passage in an historical framework. What was happening when the writer wrote those words? Exactly to whom was he writing? Why were the words written the way they were written? What purpose and results were the words to achieve in the reader’s minds?
This all leads me back to the main topic of this blog. If we are to call ourselves Christians, then we had better make darn well sure why we believe what we believe. Otherwise, we’re letting ourselves down, and we’re letting God down after all He has done for us. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect everyone to delve as deeply into the Bible as God has given me the ability to. Let’s face it, unless you’re really a relentless truth seeker, the whole process can be pretty daunting. But on the other hand, I don’t expect a person who claims to be a Christian just pick parts out of the Bible they agree with, and throw away the rest of it. And I don’t expect a Christian to just believe a certain doctrine because they heard their pastor or some other religious leader preach or teach it to them. As a friend of mine says, “Why go to your boss when you can go to the president of the company?” Thank God if your church leaders place great emphasis on teaching the Word accurately and thoroughly.
If you are one who has trouble comprehending the truth of the Bible, then God has given you a wonderful privilege to pray about it and have Him reveal it to you through His Word. Pray earnestly, and God has the obligation to answer that prayer. I believe it’s irresponsible to take a stand on a doctrinal issue without investigating it as thoroughly as your able to. Put your religious leader to the test. When they come up with a doctrine they feel is important for their followers to believe in, check out the scriptures. Don’t just take their word for it. Whatever we do, let us not base an entire doctrine on one verse! If there is a doctrine God thinks is important for us to understand, He'll have scripture that verifies other scripture. He knows we need to be told something more than once to get it through our heads. And please let us not add words to a scripture that aren’t in any of the translations just to prove our point of view.
Satan is powerfully at work in the church, spreading really potent false doctrine, and even previously strong people of God are falling for it! I honestly don’t know why. Maybe they’re trying to get more members in the church by having a more “inclusive” approach. Maybe they’re on a power ego trip to be some sort of “guru” that only preaches the “blessings and prosperity” side of the Word so they’ll be loved by everyone. Maybe they just flat out want more money coming in the church. Or maybe they’ve actually been blinded to the truth. Paul prophesied what would happen. Here’s what he wrote to Timothy, “For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, and will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions. [2nd Timothy 4:3,4 Amplified Bible – translation quite accurate to the original manuscripts] Be smarter than that.
If you claim to love God as He loves you, then spend time with the letter He wrote to you. One final thought... any “Christian” who chooses only to believe the parts of the Bible they like, or has this habit of changing scripture to suit their homemade doctrine, there is a grave warning: “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.” [John 1:1 AMP] This essentially says that Christ is the Word of God. Further proof? Revelation 19:13, referring to Christ at his return, “ He is dressed in a robe dyed by dipping in blood, and the title by which He is called is The Word of God.” If we reject the Word of God, we are rejecting Christ Himself, and therefore we cannot call ourselves Christians!
May our gracious Lord continue to give us His divine wisdom and discernment until that glorious day He returns. Amen.