“…they received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
When I asked where he went to church, the man working on my house said, “I used to go to church across the river. But the preacher said something I disagreed with.”
It was all I could do not to laugh out loud.
But he was serious.
After giving him a moment to elaborate, which he did not do, I said, “Man, I would hope so.”
He seemed interested.
I said, “Wouldn’t it be terrible to have a preacher who said only the things that I know and taught only what I believe? What would be the point of going to hear him if I already knew what he was going to say? There’s so much more to God than what little I already know!”
Lord, make us teachable.
It’s a mark of maturity to welcome correction, to recognize and appreciate constructive insights to make our lives better. The godliest person comes to church hoping to hear something that blesses, something that corrects him, something that inspires her, whether they had previously known it or agreed with it or not.
A quick scan of Scripture produces a long lineup of people who heard God calling their name, who made themselves available to Him, and then were told something they didn’t want to hear!
–Abraham: “You want Sarah and me to go where? And never come back? Are you sure, Lord?”
–Moses: “You want me to go to Egypt and do what? and tell who to let your people go?”
–Gideon: “You want me to attack the Midianites with torches and bugles? And with only 300 people? Is this a joke?”
–David: “You want me to face that giant, Lord? to be the ruler over your people? to build that temple?”
–Amos: “Wait just a minute, Lord. I’m a farmer, not a preacher. I wouldn’t be comfortable going up to Bethel and preaching to that crowd. A fellow can get in big trouble that way.”
–Jeremiah: “You want me to be a prophet, Lord? I’m just a teenager. Are you sure?”
A sure sign of the worldly, the carnal, and the immature is to want things our way, to appreciate nothing that upsets, to resent anything contrary to our convictions and preconceptions.
I doubt if you will believe this….
I have heard people say, “I’m looking for a church that teaches what I believe.”
I find that stunning for its shortsightedness.
Such warped, self-idolizing thinking is what drives some to create their own religion. This is the guy who would write his own Bible. He would then worship himself.
Imagine someone lost in the jungle refusing to follow his rescuer because “You’re leading me where I’ve never been before,” “You’re disagreeing with me” or “You’re telling me something I never heard before.”
That would not happen. But it happens in religion all the time.
As bizarre as it seems, many people throw out all common sense when it comes to their religious faith. They can make sound decisions all week, build a business and earn a living and contributing to society. Then, they come to church and believe the strangest things.
There are those who base their eternity on the testimony of a charlatan that angels appeared with golden plates which he then translated through a miraculous glass. When he finished, the angels left, taking the plates with them. How do we know this is true? We have to take his word for it.
If the founder of that religion was around today, his rich uncle in Nigeria would have left him a fortune in a bank account and he would be asking for our help in getting to it. He’d be on cable television urging people to contribute money for his latest scheme, in return for which he will be happy to send them a small cloth over which he has prayed.
P. T. Barnum, your descendants are still on the job today.
There are those who sit in good sound churches rejecting the message preached from the Holy Scriptures because believing it would require them to change their ways, to believe differently, to make radical adjustments in their lives. And they cannot allow themselves to do that because a) “this is how I was raised,” b) “this is what my daddy believed and taught us,” or c) “I wouldn’t be comfortable doing it some other way.”
Why some disbelieve….
For reasons known only to them, the smartest people often drop their brains off before entering their house of worship. They believe weird things and reject God’s truth for the flimsiest of reasons.
Listen closely and you will hear things like these…
–“Well, what I’ve always believed is…”
–“It seems to me that…”
–“I know what I believe is true because it gives me a warm feeling inside.”
–“I don’t know what the Bible says but I know what I believe.”
–“My mama believed this and it’s good enough for me.”
–“If that were true, I’d have heard about it before now.”
–“Nineveh would be outside my comfort zone.”
Search the Scriptures.
We have not been left to our own devices, thank the Lord. We have the inspired word of God. “All Scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
So, the solution to the problem is to get to know what God has said in this wonderful revelation to mankind.
That means, first of all, read them! Read your Bible. But begin with the New Testament. Sometime later, after you have become familiar with its message, you will want to drop back and read the background material we call the Old Testament. Only by knowing the New Testament thoroughly, however, will you be able to appreciate the riches of the Old.
Begin by turning to the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel and start reading. Don’t stop. Read as much as you can at one time.
Always begin your reading asking the Father to speak to you through His word.
When you complete Revelation chapter 22, start all over again. You’ll get far more the second time through than you did the first. Repeat this as often as you find it helpful.
When you come across concepts new to you, pay attention to them, think about them, ask the Father to help you understand, and then: Keep on reading. To repeat what we’ve said several times above, you want and expect the Lord to say new things to you, insights you had never thought of, teachings and revelations far beyond where your thought-level had been.
After all, doesn’t it make sense that if the living God were to write a book, it would be better and stronger and wiser than any other book? That it would challenge us and rebuke us and teach us?
Do not read commentaries (what others say about the Bible) until you are thoroughly familiar with the New Testament.
Do not make the mistake of limiting yourself to a few verses here and a few verses there, in the manner of many devotional books. After you are familiar with all 27 books of the NT, you’ll enjoy that. But not yet.
You will want to sit under faithful teachers and devoted pastors. But there is no substitute for sitting at your breakfast table with the open Word and reading for yourself. Read it again and again until it sticks to you, stays in your mind, and becomes part of you.
A wonderful new world is waiting for you. Get on with it. And don’t be surprised if you emerge at the end of your very first reading of the New Testament a different person than when you entered. God’s Word has a way of doing that to us.
That’s why the writer of the Psalms used hundreds of verses telling us how wonderful the Word of God is. (Look at Psalm 19 for starters.)
You are about to find out now.