Have you never read?

July 20, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Back in the early church (even to the 1800’s), there was one foundation for every doctrine and action – the Bible. I guess that I should clarify what I consider the church. It is the body of believers – those people who have repented of their sins and put their trust in Christ by faith alone.
 
In the modern church, especially in America, it seems that the foundation of every doctrine and action is anything but the Bible. There are thousands of churches who use “church growth models” like those put out by Willow Creek and Saddleback.
Others water down the gospel message to the point that it’s almost unrecognizable and powerless to save (but boy will it fill the pews/seats!). Evidence of this scriptural decay can be found in the various notions that some “Christians” cling to even though they go directly against the Bible. Many also show a lack of knowledge, which is how God’s people are destroyed (Hosea 4:6).
 
This disregard for the Word, lack of knowledge, and inability to pass on sound scriptural understanding has put the body of Christ at a severe disadvantage. Because many have forsaken the only weapon they have, they’ve resorted to worldly methods to “fight the fight of faith” with deplorable results. Many cannot answer the simplest of questions posed to them by non-believers. They have no grasp of sound hermaneutics, but they can twist scripture in a way that would make Chubby Checker jealous.
 
What little solace I have comes from the fact that this is nothing new. God has had to deal with those who profess Him as Lord and misrepresent Him. This was so even in Jesus’ day. Numerous times in the gospel of Matthew alone, Jesus asked the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Have you never read?” (Matt 9:13; 12:3-8; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:29).
 
This statement had to be one of the most offensive things they heard from the mouth of Jesus. The Pharisees were men who separated themselves from the influence of Hellenism (basically Greek culture) to observe strict adherence to the laws of God. While the Pharisees accepted the entire Old Testament as authoritative, they also accepted oral tradition as equal. Pharisees devoted their lives to the study of the law. The Sadducees only accepted the Torah (the first 5 Old Testament books) as authoritative. They were more rigid in their observance of the law, and opposed oral tradition. They also denied things like resurrection, life after death, the existence of angels/demons, and reward or punishment after death. The Sadducees were influenced by Hellenism (which made them unpopular). The reason this statement would have been so offensive to them is because both sects prided themselves on their understanding and ability to interpret the law. For someone to ask if they’ve ever read anything would be an attack on their entire life’s work.
 
The problem is, while both groups knew the law, they failed to understand it or its purpose. They put themselves above the law and added to it, expanding it to touch every part of daily life. By doing this, they placed burdens on the people that were unscriptural and spiritually unhealthy. They took scripture out of context and twisted it to suit their religious and political needs.
 
Sadly, this si the same state that the church is in today. “Pastors”, “preachers”, and “teachers” twist and convert scripture to suit themselves while placing burdens on others unjustly. They teach others to disregard scripture by example; failing to act on its truths and align their lives according to what it says. They “preach” the “gospe” to the congregations week in and week out unconcerned that what they’re saying has no basis in scripture rightly divided. Meanwhile, the majority of their congregations sit and dutifully listen without ever wondering if the scriptures are being used in context or if what they’re hearing is really what it says. Instead of being like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11), who compared what Paul the Apostle said against scripture, many blindly accept what they’re hearing as a “divine revelation” from God. After all, if God didn’t tell it to them they wouldn’t preach it, right?
 
It is extremely important for those who name the name of Christ to both understand and be able to defend their faith (1 Peter 3:15). Next week, I hope to start a series of blogs to answer some of the most commonly asked questions I’ve heard or read. While I realize that there are many places out there with this information already, I believe that one more isn’t going to hurt. We obviously need it…
 
If you have a question or comment, please feel free to post it and I’ll do my best to respond. Also, if you get the chance, pass along the links to others. It is important that our answers are scripturally sound and loaded with the truth of the gospel. Time is short and salvation only comes through Jesus (John 14:6)!
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