Super Bible

The Problem of Reading in our views and ideas into God’s Views and Ideas

We must be careful not to let our feelings and distractions lead us away from knowing our instructions.

God is the “ultimate author” and as depicted in the Bible, uses many ways and means of communicating such as visions, direct speaking, angels, dreams, and people to bring His message of hope and salvation as well as His precepts. God speaks the personal revelation and the coming and precepts of Christ, echoing the prophecies, types, reverberations, and shadows of the Old Testament, which come to fruition with Christ and His Work. At the same time, God carefully and progressively gave humanity, piece by piece, His instructions, revelations, and precepts, which they could comprehend-culminating with Christ. All laid out in the Bible without err!

This means God has an important message for us and we must heed it.

We can be changed, He does speak to us today; He wants to hear from you; He loves you and cares for you. So, why not clue yourself in to His plan and precepts by just spending some time in the Bible each day? Can there really be something better to do to grow your life and solve your problems? You are not going to find it in a cheap book or on TV; the best stuff comes from Him who has His directions readable and open to us now! What the Prophets of old could only imagine, dream, and hope for, we have now so we can comprehend and apply His message to our lives and pulpits (Num. 12:6-8; Heb. 3:5)!

Obey Him, live for Him, serve Him, and be grateful! This is our call, to walk with Christ. To do exactly what Jesus wants us to get for our lives. To be faithful, to be fruitful; and we do this by immersing ourselves in His Word.

Do not ignore Him or misuse His Word; rather, embrace Him and His Word, the Bible head on, fast and hard. We have a God who is Most Holy and He will not be thwarted or misrepresented or disrespected. Therefore, let us put our faith and hope in Him. Remember your experience in His love and grace and feel His fellowship and empowerment as we are His people and He is our loving Lord. As Christians, let us all be appreciative for who we are in Christ and what He has done for us, so we can worship Him and live contented lives (Hebrews 12:14-29)!

Then, with what He gives, be transformed, and made relevant. We are to build our faith and fruit, which is what we are given when we grow in Him, what we add to, and what He then multiplies. Then, we will have more of the awareness of God and His will, which has more to do with our character and faith then what we do for a living! As Christians, we operate from heaven as God’s ambassadors (Rom. 5:1-5; 1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 5:20).

 

What Bible Illiteracy Does

 

It creates false teaching! 

A pious, fraud, megalomaniac, Bible teacher can come in and say whatever he would like. And, because of his personality and charisma and our lack of knowledge, we believe whatever he says.

Thus, Bible illiteracy prevents us from thinking, processing and applying to our lives what is actually in the Bible. Instead, we get our feet caught in the gopher holes of this dysfunctional, bad teaching. We have seen this with the “little gods” phenomena that has spread like cancer with the false teaching crowd. What about all the end times’ books and speculations that led countless Christians no nowhere in faith or practice, or the overzealousness of a particular Bible translation and thus no biblical transformation results, or the rabbit holes on which we place our tent of faith that distracts us from God’s true Truth. We may think our pursuits are good, but in fact, we are just distracted from what God has for us and our church!

It creates mindless speculations. 

Too many Christians get so captivated and fixated on speculations and things that Jesus told us not to, like the timing and arrangements of His second coming, that they miss the main point of Matthew 24. His coming again is not about when or how, but what we are doing to prepare for it. That preparation has to do with our faith formation more than anything else-not our ideas of when and how. It has nothing to do with a rapture or not a rapture; a pre-trib/post-trib/ no trib/pan trib, but through all the argumentations and conjectures, the Truth and point are missed. Christ wants us to be loyal and obedient to His Word in precepts and call. He is calling us, His people in His Church, to Him!

What we do instead is take Bible passages out of their context, string them together to satisfy our whims, and fight to the death to make our obtuse points. How sad that is!

It creates shallow Christians and pretentious, incompetent leaders. 

The result? Shallow people and a faithless church, moving away from the Bible and embracing anything but Him and His Word. I am not talking about liberalism, although this is a problem too. Rather, I allude to conservative and Reformed churches moving away from the centrality of Scripture and the disciplines to learn and grow, substituting cheap stories without substance, shallow messages without challenge, and pride replacing love and fruit to be the icing on the cake of pretentiousness.

It creates emptiness and hurt!

Because it keeps us away from God and the blessings and opportunities He has for us. The Bible contains God’s voice; so, do you hear Him clearly or do you just hear your voice and think it is His? God spoke! God speaks to His Son and to His people through His Son. In Hebrews, we have the “prophetic revelations” such as Moses and Isaiah where His voice was heard and written down for us to hear too. This has become our Bible, which contains His Word, instructions, and call for us to heed. As great as this was when first heard, it was incomplete and waiting for a culmination and fruition; now, through Christ, His revelation is clear and complete and audible for us to hear. So, why do we not desire to hear it more (Acts 2:17; 1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 10:1; 13:20; 1 John 2:18)?

We create an inability to learn from our lives, failures, and hurts. 

Sometimes, God has to get our attention though adversity; sometimes, we have a willingness to listen. He has to break our pride and call attention to our misplaced priorities. The key Jesus uses is His explanation to us of how we are able to receive Him. Are we able and willing to understand? Sometimes, that may not come until eternity as it was with Job.

Our key to Exegesis (drawing out from the Bible) and Bible literacy is to trust and know that He is in control and He will be there with us carrying us through. It is not just about understanding ourselves; rather, it is our understanding Christ. Ask Him to show you His deep, hidden treasures and be willing to listen and grow.

The Pastors Role is to point people to Christ!

John 21:16; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 4:15-16; 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:1-5; 1 Pet. 5:1-2

Preach, teach, and point your flock to the LORD Jesus Christ and not to yourselves!

“You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in your pastor. If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person, we would be on shifting sand.”  Francis A. Schaeffer

 We are not to point to trends or to ourselves, we are not to be sloppy in our studies or devotions, we are not to have dinner conversations in the pulpit, we are to preach!

Feed your sheep!  16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

Shepherd your sheep! 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Acts 20:28

Equip your people! 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up Ephesians 4:11-12

Be right with God! 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:5-9

Have Character and Fruit of the Spirit! 3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 1 Timothy 3:1-7

Do your best due diligence! 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:15-16

Be worthy! 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 1 Timothy 5:17

Teach true Truth! 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Preach and teach correctly! 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Point to Christ as LORD! 5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;… 1 Peter 5:1-2

Pastors, you must teach the Bible in full clarity with power, conviction and in the full true Truth. If not, then quit…and go sell insurance….run do not walk to the nearest exit, leave, vamoose, hit the road, and give your pulpit to someone, who knows the Word, loves the Lord and who will preach Truth, teach and disciple! Why? For the reason, you are not a ‘real’ pastor, in the biblical sense, who is called to equip, inspire and train; rather, you are just a noise of 1 Cor. 13:1….

The Consequences of not Knowing the Bible

The Church, as well as the airways, is becoming more and more filled with bad, false teaching from faulty models of biblical interpretation! 

At the same time, more and more Christians are not delving into the Bible for their spiritual nourishment, rather swapping it for “feel good” books that do not properly instruct and/or turning on the TV for the false teacher crowd-or else doing nothing at all for their spiritual growth. Bible studies, Bible based small groups where God’s Word is sought, delved into, discussed and used as challenge and talking points for a life that is transformed are shrinking and/or missing from most lives of Christians and absent from most church programs and happenings.

Endeavors that remain are being attended less and are lacking value and promotion. Additionally, we have the problem of busyness; church leaders-even pastors-are too busy to bother with Bible reading, thus leading from pride and presumption. The people in the pew are so overwhelmed in life, work, family life, and even at church that the Bible, which could solve their problems by showing them their call and God’s precepts, is the last place examined. In many American churches, we have lost our instruction book to the detriment of the Christian community’s spiritual formation, as well as the ability to know and model Christ to the community and world at large, leaving the people in the pew spiritually bankrupt and the neighborhoods with bad models of Christ and thus unreached.

When we do not garner our spiritual nourishment from God’s Word, the Bible, and instead trade it for our whims and mind-sets, we cheat ourselves and weaken our churches, holding back Christ’s work in us and our church’s life; we neuter God’s potential work to those around us too.

Thus, we swap what is good, legal tender for that which is counterfeit and thus leave nothing in our spiritual wallets but confederate notes that are worthless and thus of no spiritual or fruitful value to spend for life and ministry. To counteract these evils and stop Bible illiteracy, we must feed from God’s glorious and wondrous buffet of precepts for our faith and knowledge.

What can we do about it? This is actually easy; just take the time to read it through. Read and know the Bible!

It just takes minutes a day, less than half of a half-hour TV sitcom, to know our Lord and grow in Him for an effectual, transforming life and to dig out what He plainly and abundantly has for us so we have His spiritual spending power. Our reading of the Bible is not meant to merely learn its trivia; rather, we are to be rehabbed in Christ, be changed, renewed, and transformed.

We must take this remarkable currency of His remarkable and astounding precepts and spend it for our spiritual improvement and then for kingdom building. But, what gets in the way of our good buffet and spiritual currency? Simply ignoring God by ignoring or misusing His Word. 

What does Bible illiteracy give us? Shallowness and pretentiousness! These rotten fruits have taken our churches hostage, leaving our pews filled with ignorant, hurt, disconnected children of God who do not know His love or His ways and who make pathetic faith decisions and bad life choices, creating more dysfunction and stress in their lives and homes, and a church that is inept, dysfunctional, and impotent, with an incapacity to know and glorify the very Lord we are to be all about.

 

The Problem of Bible Illiteracy!

Hebrews 3:12-13; 4:1-2; 5:11-6:3; James 1:22-25

From our research and experiences, we have discovered big problems in our churches, the sheepfold of God’s chosen and precious creation. 

The sheep are getting skinnier and dumber (the people of God)! And, many of the shepherds (leaders and pastors) tend to be merely puffed-up, directionless, arrogant, imperceptive halfwits leading their flock away from the prime pasturelands of our Lord to rather feed on the garbage piles of the world and in turn, crafting obtuse sheep with inadequate nourishment and a lack of proper care. They are ignoring our great Shepherd and thus are relying on the way of the wolf and not on the way of our Lord!

The problems, as we have seen slowly creeping into the churches over the last one hundred years, are these: First, the mainline denominations were hit and sunk. Then, the Pentecostal communities (not all of course, but many) were hit and are like a listing ship, leaning into the ocean in a bad storm.

Now, the torpedoes of worldliness, trend setting, misguided management styles, and pride have set their targets on the conservative churches too, replacing the good food of the Shepherd for cheap chow and showmanship.

Therefore, the sheep have food poisoning and thus are too sick to move and do for our Lord. The main problem is not just the lack of Bible knowledge and understanding; it is the lack of even getting into the Bible. It is the refusal and laziness of not encountering our Lord and Savior through His primary communication platform: His Word, the Bible!

We are seeking anti-intellectualism at one end of our church spectrum and shallow seeker-ness at the other.

We are becoming overly scholarly to the determent of any impact from God’s Word, totally ignoring His precepts and replacing them with ours. Both spectrums give mere “sermonettes” that have no substance or effectual teaching. They give no kind of challenge or discipline that is necessary for authentic Christian growth, thus creating small-minded pew sitters who can’t even find their way around the Bible or even know the difference between John the Baptist and John the Disciple. While other churches may say they are Bible and conservative orientated, they too have moved away from the Bible with a fixation on business and consumer models for ministry, seeking a consumer approach to church, relying on strategies for growth instead of the pursuit of love, trust, and obedience to our Lord. Or, they are, as James tells us, merely reading the Word, not doing as it says (James 1:22). 

Remember, God desires us to be transformed agents of His Work and Word!  

How is your church accomplishing this? If it is not, your church is not following the Lord, it is not following The Person; rather, you are following a person or trend or worse! 

What does Bible illiteracy give us? A failed church and a meaningless life. As our churches give what they think are eloquent and edifying discourses, they are, in fact, delivering empty words and the image of a divine bell hop, not the Holy LORD whom we worship, lean on, and learn from and with whom we discourse.

 

 

Outlining the Bible?

Outlining the Bible is the primary means to prepare one to teach the precepts of Scripture in a clear and logical way. This is designed for the pastor, Bible study leader, or curriculum writer to learn how to examine the text and then draw out what is there in a logical and systematic way. In this way, we can develop well crafted sermons and studies that are personally edifying and impacting to our congregation. This form of study can even be used by a mature Christian wanting more out of the Word for personal edification. Outlining will enable one to “exegete” and then write out what the Bible is saying. 

I developed this curriculum for you to use from over twenty years of research. I sought out the principles and resources that a good “sermonizer” uses to teach.

Why is one preacher bad and another good when they come from the same seminary and denomination? From my original mentorship under Francis Schaeffer, study under Ray Stedman, and interviewing hundreds of excellent Bible teachers including Charles Swindoll and R.C. Sproul for my book, Into Thy Word, it has been my quest to see what “secrets” and means can best be utilized to learn and then teach His Word. I discovered that an outline is essential, after a good inductive and or exegetical study, to lay out what we are to learn and then to teach. By the way, every good preacher is first a learner before they become a teacher! Being a learner, doing an inductive approach, and then outlining are the common denominators of what a good Bible-centered pastor does to prepare. There are no shortcuts to good Biblical messaging. We need, your congregation needs the right essential elements and tools to produce sermons. Outlining is essential for a Bible teacher use to prepare their lesson. Outlining will be your primary means of producing quality, Bible-centered lessons, talks, sermons, or even research papers. 

http://www.intothyword.org/articles_view.asp?articleid=31442&columnid=3801

Building a Church that Points to and Honors Christ PVIII

Incarnational Churches are aware of their Eternal Covenant  

Because of Christ’s incarnation, work, and sacrifice, He takes the place of our debt of sin and fulfills the old covenant and the blood sacrifice, which was temporary and flawed, to atone for our sin. Now, we can go directly to God, person-to-Person. God renews His relationship with us, His people, and gives us an age of grace in Christ by faith alone (Ex. 24:8; Deut. 30:11-14; Psalm 37:31; 40:8; 119:11; Isa. 51:7; 55:3; 61:8; Jer. 31:31; 32:40; Ezek. 37:26; Rom. 6:9; Heb. 8:8-13; 9:11-22). 

A Name for Jesus in the Hebrews text is our Great Shepherd, meaning He is the One who leads, equips, and guides us—as we all desperately need. It is our call to hear His voice and obey as a good sheep does in order to be fed and not be eaten by predators. And who and what are our predators? Our wayward ways of all infighting by our pride, and the fact that when the sheep go unfed, they bite each other. For us to be in the safety of faith, we not only need to be in Christ, we have to obey Him. This is a result of our intimate relationship with Him that is synergistically touching all those who come into His Home. We know Him, He knows us, and we do what He says. We are concerned with what concerns Him, and we act accordingly. Like sheep, we can’t lead others or ourselves without being forever lost and unfed (Psalm 23; Isa. 63:11; Jer. 23:1; 31:34; Ezek. 34:6-16, 31; Hos. 6:6; John 10:1-8; 16:13-15; Rom. 10:7).  

For our church to work well, we need to be taught and encouraged to grow so we can be our best, to reach out and to worship and function in humility and encouragement.  

In so doing, we support and remind one another to remain in Christ and not fall away. We do this as we honor the superiority of Christ and hear God’s call so we can venture into Christian maturity. The bottom line of an Incarnational Church is that we are not just the means of the communication of the Message of God; we are also the message to those who do not know Him. Because we are His work, we are His Gospel in action as an example that communicates far more than any book, program, or speaker or evangelist. We present and demonstrate not just the Jesus who lived, but also the Jesus who lives in us (Col. 1; Phil. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:3).  

The Incarnational Church produces a fellowship filled with real purpose and inspiration because we are rooted in the life of our Lord. As a result, people are treated in the parameters of Fruit and by people of character, as maturity is sought so everyone feels loved, appreciated, treasured, and encouraged because they are so—discipled and involved by mentoring before they are deployed in ministry. This is what a “Christ life” looks like before “Church life” is fully engaged. Thus, the leadership top down is producing a church authentic in spiritual maturity by its involvement in Christ so that the people are inspired to be devoted, as in caught up in Christ and with one another to be more worthy in and for the faith. In so doing, we are all making Him known in the world too. The key to making this happen is how people are cared for before they are deployed; the equipping and encouraging must always continue. The antagonist to this is our pride, apathy, or manipulation, seeking to connive, posturing ones agenda over others, and/or absent from God’s precepts, call, or love. The Incarnational Church shows the kind of direction that sees Christ glorified as our tempers and temperaments come in line with His guidelines. So our church—your church—is a collection of imitators of Christ so we go in the direction of the possibilities of His lead. And, we can indeed do this if we dare stretch beyond what we think we can do or where we can go, and seek where and what Christ has for us, even with our limitations and frailty (John 14:21-22; 1 Corinthians 12:7; Colossians 4:2-5; 1 John 1:2). 

Hebrews ends with this final exhortation: pray and live honorably so God may produce even more in you. Remember your fellow Christian workers and pray for and support them. May the God of peace who saved you continue to equip you. May you produce effectual fruit for the glory of Christ, our Great Shepherd. To God be the glory!

Building a Church that Points to and Honors Christ PIV

Incarnational Churches Go to People 

Following Christ means just that: we follow His character and teachings. We also follow Him so He takes us where the people and needs are and where we can meet Him there. This may require the deliberate rearrangement of our traditional thinking, so our lives apprehend the application He has for us. This may mean planting a church where it needs to be, making ministry and relationship happen where the people and needs are. I learned many years ago from the founder of Young Life, Jim Rayburn (who was a Calvinist and a Presbyterian pastor) that we must go and not wait until they show up. Because our thinking in the Reformed Church as well as many Evangelical churches tends to be to wait for them to come to us, which is seen also as the template for the mainline churches. Well, people will not come; we have to go to them and live our lives well enough that they will want to come to us to meet Christ and worship Him. We have to see people as separated from God, who can’t or won’t see Him because of the clouds of hurt and culture, and of course, sin. They need an example more than they need answers; they need hope and love more than they need a tract or a onetime program, and they need to see it as consistent. Because in God’s sight, every person is important; everyone is a gift, made in His image, and we are to display that image of what each one can be. 

The question is: are you willing to rearrange your life so that you can be with people who matter to Jesus? And who are they? Jesus says they are our neighbors! 

Incarnational churches do not have programs that only cater to those who come; they go to others too. We can’t be a “come and see” organization; we have to be a movement that also “goes and tells.” We can have the goal, hope, and mindset to make our church totally focused on Christ and His Way. It is how we lead, how we treat others, and how and where we go that represent the ways of Christ. People see the church by how they see Christians in action. How they see God is how He is displayed and deployed in the life of believers. Thus, our template, vision, and goal as a local church are by the teaching and example of Christ. Period. We are called to love and to continue to do so to build our church for Christ’s glory no matter what the circumstances or oppositions. In so doing, we show hospitality to both those we know and those we do not know.

 

Building a Church that Points to and Honors Christ PIII

Incarnational Churches are Impacted by Christ 

Christ’s Incarnation was about His building a crossing for us by His cross, so the unsaved may become Christians, and then we are to build a crossing for others so they can know Him too. We do this in our personal lives; as leaders, we bring our growing, impacted relationship with Him into leadership as a servant, which is what “servant leadership” is all about. Then we model this so it becomes a contagious practice collectively for the body of believers with a since of deep and profound love and gratitude for our Lord, and then seeing others as His children too. Thus, as we practice church, we bring Christ to others as Christ was brought to us in birth (Eph. 3:14-21). 

This is an aspect of servant leadership, where God calls us to a higher level of excellence, one of love—so that our call, vision, ability, and integrity are all translated into functionality for a healthy, vibrant, triumphant church. In “Incarnational Leadership,” we will lead the way Christ led; in the incarnation is at church, we treat and go to others the way Christ did. Then we commit to lead, but not in the ways of the world, or in the way of others who are biblically ignorant who may manage our churches, or of those whose eyes are on worldly wants. So, we are the influencers and not partakers of our neighbourhoods and world.  

What does this look like? The Epistle to the Hebrews’ closing chapter shows us this call with an exhortation to be incarnational in our love. The word “incarnational” is not there, but the concept is. In fact, love is one of the main themes of Hebrews as well as many of Paul’s Epistles and of course, was the pinnacle of Christ’s work and teachings. We are to love fueled from our hope and faith, all of which make a triad of primary virtues from which all Fruit and character flow. This is what being “impacted” means. We are in full contact in and by Christ, fully engaged in Him so we can build our faith that helps us bridge our interpersonal relationships. We do this as people who love the Lord and, as a collective of Christians, show others that we are true and genuine followers. We show others our love, caring for people because we are being dependent upon Christ and His precepts in order to be real and effectual in Kingdom values and the modelling of His ways to the world (Phil. 2:6-8).