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Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Famine

It was actually a pretty good church. Good worship. Good preaching. Seemed alright. But I did notice a strange thing. The offerings for things beyond church -- small groups, etc. -- were all book studies. I mean, they were studying books besides the Bible. There was a study for the ladies about the life of Esther and a study for young marrieds from a book on a biblical view of finances ... that kind of thing. So I asked the pastor. "I have enjoyed your preaching from the Word," I said, "so I'm curious. Is there anywhere the people in this church can go to learn to dig into God's Word?" "Sure," he told me, "there's the class on the life of Esther and a study on the biblical view of finances and ..." "No," I said, "I'm talking about studying the Word of God." "I don't know what you're talking about," he answered.

We seem to have a dearth of Scripture in the church these days. We surely give it lip service. We're in favor of it, we say. But what we normally get is a topical sermon with smatterings of verses. I went to a church with "expository preaching" -- preaching through the Word -- where the pastor preached Ephesians 2 as an advisory on marriage. Really? Have you read Ephesians 2? There is, in fact, a downright Bible famine these days. It sounds like something I read.
"Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord GOD, "When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.
(Amos 8:11)
We have become some of the most illiterate Christians in history even while we are the most educated. We don't really want to read God's Word. We don't really want to put it together, see the "whole counsel of God", pursue the truth of it, apply it to life. "Doctrine divides," they tell me by which they mean, "Just tickle my itching ears."

It is, of course, a generalization. I'm pretty sure an accurate one, but a generalization. So if you are in a church that expounds the Word, thank the Lord. If you are in a small group that digs into Scripture, thank the Lord. If your church pushes the Bible every chance they get, thank the Lord. If not, maybe you have some work to do.


Bob said...

It seems that we have forgotten the fundamental reason for reading God's word.
It is so that we may hear what God has to say. for some reason we became bored with the Word and now replace it with
commentary on the Word. how different it would be if we had an attitude of anxious anticipation, knowing that God is going to
talk to me tonight, thru his word. how wonderful a blessing it is, to know that He wants to talk to me.

David said...

I think it also comes from the idea that it is too philosophical for us to individually understand it, so we need someone else to explain it for is.

Stan said...

Yes, Bob, somewhere along the way we seem to have forgotten that "the word" is a means of communication and "God's Word" is God's primary means of communication with us. How could that be boring?

Stan said...

David, I do believe you're right. Many of these "Bible studies" (for they call them that even when they're studying a book) are predicated on a non-teacher who calls himself or herself "a facilitator" because they don't wish to be arrogant or to try to personally understand and explain Scripture to us. "Why should we when we have so many good teachers around?"

I think in a similar way there is the problem of the American dual-edged sword of individualism and equality. On one hand it's, "I'm an individual and no one has the right to tell me what to think." On the other it's, "We're all equal, so you I'm not better than you and can't teach you anything." These are part of the American mindset even if they don't actually fit in a biblical mindset.