I am blessed and privileged to serve in a church where people have questions about the Bible and they are not afraid to ask them. This is a wonderful blessing from God, but it can also be a terrifying proposition for the pastor to answer the questions. We re-tooled our Wednesday night study about a month ago now. I can honestly say it was probably one of the best changes we have made. There is excitement for a mid-week Bible study now that frankly wasn’t there, and I take that as my fault. I believe it is a sin not to teach the Bible in a way that excites people, gets them studying their Bibles more, and ultimately questioning their faith. That may seem odd that I believe people should question their faith, but let me explain. I don’t mean should they question, is the Bible true, does God exist, etc. I believe we should examine what we believe to make sure that we have the biblical answer, and not our opinion. That is a little of what we do on Wednesday night. Within the context of the book we are studying, I throw out a question generally on Sunday, and we work through it on Wednesday. Of course the one question spurs 10 more. But I believe this is a good thing.
I like many grew up in church. From my earliest recollections my family and I went to church. I can’t tell you the number of Sunday school classes I sat through or the number of sermons I have heard in my life, but suffice to say in my 34 years of living I have heard a few. And like most church-goers I soaked it all in, filed it away in my mind as the truth, and that was that. I became what I rail against today, a consumer Christian. I would go to church, listen, trust it, and that was the end of the story. I rarely opened my Bible and asked, “is what I am being taught and believing the truth?” 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Notice that to be approved by God I need to study His word. Also if I don’t want to be ashamed of my beliefs, I need to rightly divide the word of truth. These two statement require more than a simple come into church, listen, nod in agreement or say Amen, and go home. False teachers prey on consumer Christians. Unfortunately the church is responsible for creating an environment where false teachers can thrive. I don’t know about your church, and so I will simply speak on churches I have grown up in as well as the ones I have served in. On Sunday mornings you come in, and at some point the preacher is going to get up and start preaching. The overwhelming majority of people will not open their Bibles, they will look up on a screen where the Bible verses are displayed, and they will sit there and listen to the sermon. Very few take notes and write down other references mentioned to go back and study them to make sure the pastor is teaching them the Bible and rightly dividing the word of truth. It is called consumer Christianity. We take in what we are given, we are expected to give back very little if anything, and if we don’t like what we are getting at this church we can go to another church and find it. And this is the breeding ground for false teachers. Paul warns us that in the last days there will be false teachers who are lifted up because the people have itching ears (they want to hear what they want not what God wants) and they will not endure sound doctrine.
I encourage our church and I want to encourage each of you to take at least three things to church with you every week. First, take your Bible whether it be in print or a digital version. Look at what your pastor is preaching on and read it along with him. Secondly take a note book. We try to make it a little easier here at Westlake. I give the church (by way of our secretary) an outline of the message for the morning and plenty of space to take additional notes. Finally take a pen/pencil to write your notes down or your questions, and to underline key phrases or verses in your Bible. Be active in your learning of the word of God. If you have questions about something, write it down so that you can talk about it with your pastor. The only way you will ever know if you are being taught the truth or that you believe biblical teachings is if you study the Word for yourself. Go ahead, question what you believe and even what your pastor preaches. Make sure you are hearing and learning the word of God, and if there is a question go to him and ask. In so doing you will be approved by God, and you will make your pastors day!
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him