Why Our Bible Fixation?
One Sunday after a worship service a woman who had attended our church for a number of Sundays told me, “I will not be attending your church anymore.” When I asked why, she explained, “All you do is talk about the Bible.” I said, “I can’t disagree with you about that.”
Amazon.com carries a million different books. Why are Christians so obsessed with this one ancient book? Why do we prefer the marriage advice of the Apostle Paul over that of Dr. Phil, the parenting wisdom of Solomon over that of Dr. Spock, and the cosmology of Moses over that of Carl Sagan? Why should Christian churches find their center of gravity not in social action, healing ministries, music style or youth programs, but in preaching and teaching the Bible?
We should focus on teaching and preaching the Bible because God uses the message of the Bible to bring people to salvation. This afternoon I spoke with a fellow who is not a believer but wants to know whether Christianity is true. I told him, “Just keep reading the Bible, sitting under the teaching of the Bible, and asking questions about the Bible.” This is the ordinary means that God uses to persuade people of the truth of Christianity. As Paul wrote in Romans 10:17, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Similarly, Peter wrote that spiritual birth comes “through the living and enduring word of God...And this is the word that was preached to you" (I Peter 1:23,25).
We should focus on teaching and preaching the Bible because the Bible transforms Christians. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers, "When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe" (I Thessalonians 2:13).
We should focus on teaching and preaching the Bible because preaching was the focus of Jesus' ministry. While in Capernaum, Jesus had a healing ministry that would make some TV preachers salivate (Mark 1:29-34). "The whole town gathered at the door and Jesus healed many who had various diseases" (1:33-34). The next day the disciples told Jesus, "'Everyone is looking for you!'" Jesus response to this news is telling: "Jesus replied, 'Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come" (1:38). Did you read that? Though healing was an important aspect of Jesus' ministry, Jesus explains that the chief reason he came was not to heal, but to preach!
If someone is not transformed by reading or sitting under the preaching of God's Word, the problem may be in the hearer. "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Corinthians 2:14; cf. Matthew 13:22). If that is you, ask God to open your eyes. Continue reading and sitting under the preaching of God's Word.
On the other hand, if someone is not transformed by the preaching of Scripture, the problem may be with the preacher. He may not actually be preaching the Bible, but using the Bible as a pretext to present worldly wisdom, psychological or political. The preacher may not believe the Bible is God's Word. Or the preacher simply may be a bore.
The problem never lies in the Bible, for "the word of God is living and active" (Hebrews 4:12). Never rest from studying it and applying it to your life. May be said of us, as was said of John Bunyan, "You can prick him anywhere and his blood is bibline."
Peter Kemeny, Pastor
Good News Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 1051, Frederick, MD 21702