Recently, I was in a small group of people, and we were speaking about evangelism. We talked about some difficulties in reaching people today, mostly because everyone thinks they know it all. Sadly, many people that claim to be Christian rarely study scripture. Sure, people read their Bibles, but that’s not studying. To fully understand God’s messages from His Holy writ requires diligent study. Even simple topics, such as what we must do to be saved, are twisted and knotted in such a way they can’t untangle the mess they’ve created. I believe the greatest reason for this is pride. People don’t want to be wrong, and they’re willing to lie to themselves and others just to appear right. Well, that may work out okay in some areas of life, but with God’s word, it flies like a cast iron kite.
Understanding God’s Word starts with a desire to know the truth, and a humble heart, and a willingness to hear the hard things God has to say about the condition of a soul that exists outside of His saving grace in Jesus Christ. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
I’ve been sitting here at my desk for far too long trying to come up with a kind way to talk about what’s going on in America today in what people call Christianity.
First, Christianity simply means a way of living according to the teachings and practices of Jesus of Nazareth. The word comes from the Greek word “Christianos” (transliterated word), and this word means a follower of Christ. Christ means Messiah, and Messiah means The Son of God, the anointed. Therefore, when we talk about Christianity, we’re talking about a belief system where people believe Jesus is the anointed Son of God, and are following His teachings, examples, and practices. We do this because “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-13
Now, to the hard part. Too many preachers today are preaching false gospels. Some say the way of salvation is possible by simply saying a prayer, a prayer they have written themselves because it’s not found anywhere in the Bible (see my writing titled “The Gospel Defined”). Some teach it’s by works (mostly sending them money), and these preachers are not only doctrinally dangerous, but they’re also tremendously greedy. Then there’re the preachers that rely on their listeners being people that just blindly believe them and rarely open their Bibles. They teach all we need to do is believe, and ask Jesus into their heart, and start sending checks to their address. However, that teaching cannot be found anywhere in scripture.
So, the question is, why would anyone believe something that has eternal ramifications without double and triple checking its accuracy? I have two answers. One, they don’t genuinely believe that God means what He says about the judgment to come. Two, that God’s grace covers all sin, even sins of the omission of His will. That’s some scary ground to be walking on, and even scarier ground to use as a foundation. In fact, it sounds like sandy ground that will not hold up under pressure. “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and it fell—and its collapse was great.” Matthew 7:26-27
It’s almost as if some “Christians” are playing a deadly game of truth or dare with God. They ignore His truth and dare Him to keep His promises about false teachers, false gospels, and false discipleship. They walk in what they think is in just enough light to keep them from the outer darkness. To believe this requires an almost complete misunderstanding of scripture and God’s character and an absolute absence of a fear of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
Listen, I’m not asking you to believe me. No, I’m asking you to stop believing everything said by your preacher, pastor, or whatever title they use. You must realize, some pulpit preachers are wrong. Some are honestly wrong, and some are liars that only desire to deceive as many ignorant souls as possible, usually for monetary gain. They also enjoy recognition and fame. Does that sound familiar?
I encourage you to pray before each study, and throughout your study. It’s your eternal life at stake. If you don’t know how to study the Bible, learn. But learn from people that accurately handle scripture, the way God instructs us all to do. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
You don’t have to be a scholar or theologian in order to dive into God’s Word. You only need the hunger and thirst for righteousness. Ask God for His wisdom, and He will give it. “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:4-6
If you would like to learn how to study the Bible, check back here on my website frequently. I will post tips on how to study and accurately handle the word of truth. You’ll have many “Ah-Ha” moments, as you learn how to navigate scripture. I’ll post my tips and excellent resources from reliable Biblical teachers, scholars, and theologians.
Always remember, your preacher can’t get you access to Heaven, nor can they keep from condemnation. It’s up to you! I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Philippians 2 to get the entire context, but I will leave you with this excerpt. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” Philippians 2:12