Taking Responsibility

This weekend has flown by. I had wanted to post on two or three occasions in the last few days but just could not find the time.

I would like to speak to something that is sort of a follow-up on the joke I wrote last week about biblical ignorance in the church.

I think that one glaring weakness among Christians is a lack of knowledge where scripture is concerned. They have Bibles, they may even bring them to church, they would claim to revere the Word of God, yet they do not know it. I realize this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation, but it is the source of a lot of problems in the church.

A former pastor of mine used to tell the story of the lady who argued the Bible with him, swearing up and down that the Bible says that, “Every tub must stand on its own bottom.”

For some reason, many Christians have adopted the notion that they can get enough Bible while sitting in church or Sunday School to suffice for their spiritual growth. They place the entire responsibility for their maturity on the shoulders of a pastor, elder or teacher.

In some discussions relating to this matter, I have heard the opinions of some who have suggested that this is the pastor’s fault. I have, personally, never known a pastor who has told his people that they were to rely on him for their spiritual growth. I would say that any “pastor” who does such a thing is no pastor at all, but a cult leader. I have known, however, many pastors who tried to encourage their flocks to take personal responsibility for their growth.

I Peter 2:2 tells us that as newborn babes, we should desire the “sincere milk of the word”. That is, every believer needs to have a hunger for the word of God. We should have a desire to grow that stems from our “spiritual DNA” as children of God. As members one of another in the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to one another to grow. Above all, we should seek to glorify Christ in lives that are transformed by the power of His word.

I have nothing against books, study courses, seminars, conferences, etc. I partake of all of them at any opportunity that I have to do so, but none of these will ever replace the spiritually nutritional benefit of scripture. A Christian cannot grow apart from God’s Word.

How hungry are you?

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17 responses to “Taking Responsibility

  1. this is a great post,

    and say to say I haven’t been as hurgry as I should be! πŸ˜•

    thanks

  2. This post strikes very close to home. Neither do I believe nor teach that the spiritual growth of the congregation I serve is my responsibility. I probably take more responsibility than I should and find myself crying out to God for a greater hunger for the Word on their part.

    One afternoon close to Easter, my oldest daughter and I were visiting an older man in our congregation. He had a dogwood tree in his yard and shared with Maddy the story about how the dogwood was used as the tree upon which Christ was crucified. Before the crucifixion, the dogwood was stately and majestic.

    After Christ was raised, the dogwood was cursed by God and it was declared that its wood would never be able to hold a man again; hence its gnarled and knobby appearance. (There also is a story to go along with the cross-shaped blossoms.)

    He then went on to tell Maddy that the story was in the Bible and she should have daddy read it to her later.

    Aaacckk! I gently explained that it was not in there. He responded, “Now, Tony, I know you are a preacher, but suppose that there is something you don’t know about the Bible?”

    I graciously admitted there were a lot of things I did not know about the Scripture but I was sure that story was not in there. He then responded that he would look it up and get back to me.

    I have gone on long enough, but I would like to share another testimony, with your permission, Gordon.

  3. Hi, Janice, glad to see you.

    Tony, that is precisely the kind of ignorance to which I am referring. Please feel free to continue to share.

  4. After experiencing similar situations, I used to think “What on earth is their pastor preaching?”

    But think about it. How much of a weekly sermon does the average listener retain? 10%? (That’s probably generous.) If a person only attends church on Sunday morning and then only two or three times a month, they aren’t getting much.

    (I’m not negating the importance of preaching, but I do think there is a misconception about its purpose.)

    But isn’t this another indication of inadequate discipleship? Jesus didn’t just teach His disciples, He obviously taught them to study for themselves. (Acts 6:4 seems to indicate this) If the church doesn’t teach believers how to study the Word, how will they know?

    Reminds me of the old adage, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

  5. Cameron, you do have a point. Many churches are not emphasizing personal Bible reading.

  6. Hey guys…Cameron’s comment just floored me. That is the nature of the testimony I want to share. First of all, please don’t take this as me tooting my own horn, OK?

    I have been at the church I serve for five years now. Right before I came, one of the questions I was asked over and over was about Bible teaching and preaching. “Do you do this???” was the clarion question.

    Obviously, they had been getting very poor teaching in the past. I do not like to talk about other pastors, but the pastor that preceded me here actually taught gardening on Wednesday evenings.

    After I had been at this church a month, the SS director, who orders SS literature, was in awe because I preached my own sermons. “I guess I don’t have to continue paying that bill to LifeWay, do I?”

    I made the mistake of asking what that bill was and he said that the last pastor bought his sermons from LifeWay and then read them from the pulpit. (Honestly, I don’t know if LifeWay even provides that service, but if they do its reprehensible. He could have been mistaken, but nevertheless, the pastor ordered prepared sermons.)

    I was dumbstruck.

    I am an average Bible student. I don’t have exhaustive knowledge and would never claim to. However, the folks were saying things like, “Wow, he really knows the Bible. Where did you learn all that? I wish I knew the Bible that well.” And the comments went on and on and even to some extent still do.

    Like I said, it was nothing that I did or am doing. I just preach and teach the Bible as best I can, led by the Spirit, with much prayer. The folks have followed that. My enthusiasm for the Word was contagious and thankfully it trickled down to a lot of the folks!

    A lot of folks will follow their pastor’s lead. An apathetic pastor breeds apathetic people.

    Two years ago, I had “Year of the Bible” and promised a certificate to everyone who read the Bible through in a year. Thirty-eight folks received certificates and the church I serve is between 90-100; so over one-third!

    I could go on and on about just basic Bible teaching classes and the questions the folks bring me, but I will digress. Suffice it to say, God has done an amazing work, and He honors His Word when it is rightly preached and taught and it is given its due place in ministry.

    Thanks for allowing me to share, Gordon.

  7. Tony, thanks so much for sharing that. I do not take it as tooting your own horn at all.

    It just goes to show what can happen when pastors and churches focus on the Word of God. Keep up the good work, my brother.

  8. Bro. Gordon, I won’t say that I over read the Bible either! But I do Know that I have read more of the Bible in the last few years and especially the past year because here in blogland through out the day when I visit the posts when the verse is not wrote out I keep my Bible by my computer and look up the verses. I find that is a blessing to me ? I have actually had portions of a verse in my head and come to find the rest of it by reading those verses ! Blessings and have a good week! RON.

  9. Gordon,
    I had a pastor tell me one time that I needed to do what Paul advised, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

  10. Bro. Ron, there is always a benefit from the Word isn’t there?

    Matthew, thanks for the visit. Hope all is well in Japan.

    Jamey, was he telling you that in the context of Bible reading or what?

  11. Gordon,

    I have been a better student of the Bible in the past than I am currently. I think I go in “waves”. In other words, there are times that I dig deeply and use many resources to understand what God is trying to teach me at any given time.

    There are other times where I “coast” a bit.

    As humans, we remember stories much better than we do facts. If you give someone a bunch of facts, they don’t retain much. If you tell someone a story (like the magnolia tree Tony referenced), that will be better retained by most. Our Lord knew a little something about his creation, eh? Why did Jesus tell us so many parables instead of just “Thou shall” and “Thou shall not”? He knew what we needed in order to retain his teaching.

    Do I say this in defense of people sitting in the audience on a Sunday morning? No. I share this as an observation, or perhaps an explanation why folks think certain stories or sayings are in the Scriptures when they are not. As you point out, as individuals, we need to take responsibility for our own salvation and knowledge of the scripture (Php 2:12-13). We also need to be people of noble character: Acts 17:11.

    I didn’t quote the passages just for Ron’s benefit! πŸ™‚

    I guess this is a long-winded response to say that I agree with you and I need to get myself in gear!

    Thanks, Gordon.

  12. Thanks, Byevad, for sharing your thoughts on this. It’s always good to hear how God is working in someone’s life.

  13. Tim A. Blankenship

    Gordon,
    This is a great word from your heart and from the Lord. I have had people say that the Bible says, “The Lord helps those who help themselves” It doesn’t. I usually tell them it teaches us other wise. The Lord helps those who cannot help themselves, and that is all of us.
    I do believe that part of the calling of a pastor is to generate interest and hunger for God’s Word. Then, the people will get into the Word for themselves.

  14. Excellent thought, TA.

    Here are some others that I’ll bet you’ve heard are in the Bible, too.

    1. “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” (Although, I’m not opposed to cleanliness, and I doubt God is either.)

    2. “In the last days, you won’t be able to tell one season from another.”

    3. “Train up a child in the way he should go and if he gets away from it he will come back.”

    I’m sure there are others as well, but these come to mind.

  15. I found this site very helpful. Thanks for your good work. Blessings and Love.

  16. Thanks for your visit, Frank. Come back any time.

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