One of the most difficult parts of trying to reach a state of perfection is that many lack a real understanding of who Jesus is. Sadly, far too many Christians know very little about the Bible and what it teaches, as most of their understanding comes from what they learn in church each Sunday.
This would be great if pastors were teaching a deep understanding of the Bible, but that is not the case at all. In 1966, Charles Merrill Smith published a book entitled How to Become a Bishop Without Being Religious, which is kind of a tongue-in-cheek book about religion. One of the most important things that he explains in the book was that in his search to find the right church, he was astounded at how similar the vast majority of messages were no matter the denomination of the church he was attending.
Upon further study, he found that at most universities and seminaries they were teaching future pastors and ministers to preach about only five basic messages – tithing, forgiveness, Jesus is the only way to heaven, the need to attend church, and that God is love – because those were all things that everyone could agree upon. However, whenever a pastor introduces a point of theology, he or she risks alienating half of the congregation, who may decide to go to another church because they disagree with what is taught. Add two points and you reduce the church to 25 percent. That isn’t good for the collection plate when you do that.
What this has led to is some very bland and generic messages that do very little to make mature Christians. The purpose of each Christian person, especially of those who stand at the pulpit, is to make disciples – fully grown Christians who are ready to lead others to the cross and teach those they encounter to become mature. That is not what is happening in many churches.
Learn on Your Own, If at All
The result is that the vast majority of Christians are “forced” to learn about the Bible on their own which, to be honest, is a good thing. Even if one attends a church with an incredible teacher as their pastor who covers deep and important aspects of the Bible, a 30 minute sermon each week is not enough to really teach anyone very much.
Consider how you would feel if the surgeon who was about to operate on your brain went to class for 30 minutes a week for three or four years. Would you feel that was enough education to properly perform the surgery?
The answer is clearly no, but that is the attitude that far too many take in relation to understanding our Father, our Savior, and our God. We give it a minimal effort and expect that this will be enough. It isn’t.
This means we must study on our own. If we are going to become mature, we need to get involved in reading the Bible on a regular basis and to make sure that each of us is involved in some kind of study, even if that is done online or by going through some kind of Bible study program. The only way that we are going to become mature Christians is if we go to the book that God wrote to each one of us.
God Is the Author of the Bible
The Bible is our “textbook” so to speak, where we learn about God, about what He expects from us, and also about how we can be better people of faith. It tells the story of Jesus, and how He died to pay the debt for all our sins, and why He did this in the first place. It tells us of God’s unending love, and how He has nurtured human beings from the start, treating each of us like the child He adores so much.
The Bible tells us a lot about itself. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read:
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
What this tells us is that no man really wrote any part of the Bible. God is the One who authored it all, using men to actually do the writing. 2 Peter 1:20-21 explains:
20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
God is the One who spoke to the prophets and they recorded His words. The Holy Spirit brought all the inspiration of the Scriptures, and no one else. God makes it clear that He is the Author.
So, What Is the Bible to You
God makes it clear what the Bible is. It is His revelation, His words that inspire, correct, teach, and guide each one of us. The Scriptures are here to speak to us so that we know God’s will and so that we know He is with us no matter what. It is, in essence, a giant love letter to each one of us.
We know what God tells us that the Bible is, but that does not mean that this is how each one of us sees it. There are those who really don’t regard it at all. They go to church each Sunday, they hear messages related to a few verses from the Scriptures and that is all the Word of God is to them. Even more, this is all they want it to be.
There are those who see it as a lot of good moral stories. The Bible is a great place to turn when you are trying to figure out how to handle a particular dilemma or if you are burdened about something. There is likely to be a passage that can provide direction.
Then there are some who see it as a history book. The Scriptures tell the story of God, the Hebrew people, the Israelites and, eventually, the Jews. They also tell of the interactions with different nations, and how Paul took the message of Jesus across much of Europe.
It is a book of great Wisdom. You could read the Proverbs every day and take something new away from them each time. There is great wisdom about human nature in the Psalms and Ecclesiastes. You can learn a great deal about human interaction from Jesus. It is totally amazing the wisdom that is there.
There are those who recognize that the Bible is the story of God’s relationship with mankind. How God’s love for us has been abused by all of us, yet He has never forgotten us and never turned from us. He has loved us even when we hated Him, and He has never stopped caring for us.
It Is All of These Things
The great thing is that the Bible is all of these things and a whole lot more. It is a source of encouragement and comfort when we are overwhelmed and maybe even want to quit all together. It is a source of great knowledge and has insights into people that are truly remarkable.
Most importantly, it is the Word of God, making it 100 percent infallible truth. It is the document that God put together so that we could reach that level of maturity that he longs for from us. This is why we have to dedicate ourselves to spending time studying each and every week.
It is true that you can simply go to church each week, listen to a 30 minute message, and still be in the family of God. He is still going to love you and look after you, but if you want to have a relationship with your Father in heaven where you are actively in one another’s lives, then you must commit yourself to study and learn about your Dad in heaven. It is only at this point where you will truly start to move toward becoming a new creation.
Featured Image Courtesy of Biblical Missiology
By Robert Pannier