Monday, June 20, 2011

Why don't all churches and preachers understand (and teach) the truth of Scripture?

As I look at the world around me, I can not help but to notice that most people don't have a biblical worldview.  Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this is that there are many "churches" that claim to be Christian, yet promote a worldview that is anything but biblical.  Rick Warren thinks we should be working side by side with Muslims to solve various social issues and bring about world peace...although unless the Muslims they are working with are converted to Christianity, the peace they have isn't real.  Joel Osteen says that people can get everything they want if they have enough faith and that will help them have the best life that God wants for them (basically repackaging Schuller's message).  He is basically saying God wants you to have a great life with lots of money and friends and that if you don't have that stuff, your faith just isn't strong enough.  I don't remember that being part of what Jesus and the apostles taught, but I do remember that we are to share in the sufferings of Jesus (1 Peter 4:12-13) and that we are to consider our trials to be a joy (James 1:2).  Then there are those who claim that we can't have a strong conviction of what the Bible actually says because we can't understand it well enough to do so (think Brian McLaren and Rob Bell).  These guys have some of the largest congregations in the country, too, so it isn't like people don't follow them.  And there are many more just like them with sizable congregations.  So why is it that these guys and the people listening to them don't understand Scripture well enough to see the problems with the message they put forth?  The name of the blog gives the short answer that it is by grace alone that any of us understand the Scripture that we do know, but let's dig a little deeper.

Anybody can spend a number of hours studying various portions of Scripture and come up with various ways to apply what is stated there.  And I am going to give these pastors the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have studied Scripture during the week as they have prepared their messages...I feel this might be too generous, but they do use verses from Scripture and any pastor who holds Scripture in correct esteem would spend a good deal of time in Scripture before delivering a sermon.  So what separates these men from mature pastors and Christians around the world who have a correct understanding of Scripture?  Is it that they haven't heard the truth taught before?  Is it because they want to hang on to some lingering sin?  Is it because they feel that the God of the Bible just isn't fair enough?  These may be true, but when you get to the heart of it, all of us have had various reasons for not following God before we were saved.  The real difference between how they understand Scripture and how mature Christians understand Scripture is the Holy Spirit.  We wouldn't understand or apply any of Scripture if it were not for the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to the truth and helping us to apply what we learn.

The reason I bring this up is that it seems that many people take for granted the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian.  Also, the more we keep this in mind, the less likely we will be to find ourselves trapped in the sin of self-righteousness.  I know that I have looked at others with contempt before because they don't understand that what they are saying is in total opposition to what the Bible really teaches.  It isn't that we shouldn't take the time to refute false teaching and try to present the truth, but we shouldn't act like we've figured out something special and that we're the superstars of the faith.  Instead we should have the attitude of Paul when he wrote this to the church in Corinth: "Now these things, brethren, I have applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.  For who regards you as superior?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" (1 Corinthians 4:6-7, emphasis mine)

So, let us stand boldly and make a defense of our faith while we refute false teaching, but let us remember that we received our understanding of Scripture from the Holy Spirit.  This will help us to not become arrogant against others.  We need to speak the truth in love in hopes of bringing others to a better understanding of Scripture through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.


  1. Robert.
    Great post.
    I agree with you whole heartedly.
    It seems that you do not consider Joel, Warren, Rob or Brian as Christians. I think a very strong case can be made for all but, Warren.
    I do agree he is on a very slippery slope and has open the door to many things but, I believe he understand and believes the basics of the gospel.

  2. Thanks, Thomas. I thought about how I had lumped them all together after I had already posted. I'm not sure if Warren doesn't just have a head knowledge without an effect on his heart based upon how his fear of man pops up so much. And I see a great deal of pride come out in interviews that I have read. Still, I'd probably err more on the side of grace...and only God knows hearts.

  3. Agreed.
    I sometimes think that we forget the scripture like “ the road is narrow” and the parables of the wheat and the tares. (I hope I got tares right)
    If you look at all the kingdom parables many think they were saved but weren’t.