Learning is a good thing.
Or, then again, is it?
How many Bible classes and sermons does the average “faithful” church-goer listen to in a year? A decade? A lifetime?
Hmmmm… let’s see…
If he or she attends every class and every scheduled event in the average church? Thats …
Two Bible classes per week (Sunday morning and Wednesday) = one hundred four Bible classes + Vacation Bible school of three to five nights duration = one hundred seven to one hundred ten classes per year not counting men’s classes and ladies classes at other times and maybe small group meetings, etc.
Two sermons each Sunday X fifty two weeks a year = one hundred four sermons + two “gospel meetings” with at least four and up to seven or eight lessons twice a year = one hundred twelve to one hundred twenty sermons per year.
So, with classes and sermons added together we get as many as two hundred thirty such events in the average church per year! Now multiply that by the number of years a specific individual has been doing this and the numbers will astound you. That is far more learning time than an average post-graduate student has to put to earn a Ph.D!
Yet, how much more competent in Bible knowledge is the average church-goer at the end of his life than he was at the beginning?
Oh, I know! Most people who profess to be Christians are good people. They are good “go to church” people. They are good to their families. They are good neighbors. They are good citizens. They are good employees/workers. They tell the truth. They pay their debts.
But then, so are many people who don’t go to church at all people who don’t listen to all those repetitious sermons and sit through all those dull, boring classes.
So what advantage does the church-going, sermon-hearing class-attender have over these people?
Shouldn’t all that learning make more of a difference in their lives? Shouldn’t it make more of a difference in the world? If it makes little or no difference, what is the point of all that learning?
They are saved, you say?
Is salvation dependent on the amount of knowledge we have? If so, how much knowledge is necessary to be saved? Is salvation dependent on attendance in all these classes and meetings?
What is salvation all about if it makes little difference in the lives, influence, work and productiveness of those who profess to be saved?
After all the learning, does the average church-goer really understand what the Christian life is all about?
Does he really have a real grasp of what God wants of him or her?
Does he or she have any real concept of what the Bible is really all about?
What we are proposing in the articles we will be posting is to take a critical look at what most churches and their members do and compare that to what we really find in the Bible.
The title of this series is taken from the apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Paul wrote this letter from a Roman prison. He was concerned about the faith of those who had been converted under his preaching and who were being strengthened and prepared for greater service by Timothy’s continuing ministry.
In this particular context, he is dealing with the practice of some teachers who professed to have a superior wisdom or insight over the simple truth he had preached and which Timothy had been commissioned to continue to teach in Ephesus. In the process of describing these treacherous teachers who led people astray, he described some as “weak women” who were “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
Now, before anyone accuses me of comparing all preachers and Bible class teachers to the people the apostle describes in the preceding verses or comparing the hearers to the women described here, that is not my intention. I full well recognize that most people who preach and teach have the best of intentions as well as those who sit and listen to their lessons and sermons. But at the same time we have become what the apostle says about these women. We are “always learning” and have failed to come to grips with what Bible truth really is all about. Moreover, we have failed to apply what we have learned in ways that actually accomplish God’s purposes here on this earth.
What I am saying is that many individual Christians and the churches they make up have failed to grasp what the Bible, the church, and the Christian life are all about.
Christianity is not just about “going to church.” It is not about attending classes and hearing sermons. It is not about learning lessons for the sake of learning lessons.
Neither are sermons, classes, nor private Bible study about learning how to win arguments with our religious neighbors. They are not about proving ourselves right so we can prove others wrong. If that is our concept, then we have a very much mistaken idea of what they are all about.
If all the teaching and all the learning does not issue into something more than people donating money for the church to “do it’s work,” then the church is failing in it’s mission.
That mission is not just to grow the church in numbers so there will be more people who can donate more money for the church to “do it’s work.” Neither is that mission to “save people so they can go to heaven when they die.” Oh, salvation is certainly a part of it and eternal life is also a part of it, but that is not all of it – not by any means.
And that mission is not just to teach people aimless lessons week after week after week year in and year out. There has to be some tangible, observable outcome from all that effort.
So, stay with us as we examine these matters more closely in the following posts.
Co-authored with Bill Van Dyke, Ph.D, Give Me Liberty: Restoring the Spirit of Jubilee examines the mission of Christ as viewed from the fulfillment of Jubilee and how legalism robs the church community of the joy Jubilee brings.
A Better Way is an exploration and critique of the traditional method of determining Bible authority and suggestions for a better approach to understanding the Bible.