Every now and then I read or hear something so far outside my way of thinking it hardly seems real. Often I take another step or two before it hits me and my mouth drops. A few days ago a friend wrote me about a church where he was told they didn’t like to study the Bible before they preached because it hindered the flow of the Spirit. I had to re-read it two or three times before I was sure I got it. I am a great proponent of allowing, encouraging, and expecting the manifestation of the Spirit in our services. The Word without the Spirit brings death. But I am also a stickler for the Word of God. Without the Word, the flow of the Spirit cannot be accurately judged, nor can the hearers ever grow up in the things of God. The concept of standing to minister without study is just bizarre to me. The primary reason I go to any service is to receive the Word of God. It dawned on me that these folks have a completely different model in their minds for what it means to have church.
Why do we go to church? What is the purpose in our gatherings? It pays to ask these kinds of questions. If we don’t, we fall into going through the mindless motions of tradition. I don’t believe that a person has to go to church in order to be a Christian. That comes by faith in Christ, and can be received at home or on the bus, or wherever. We can all read our Bibles on our own (that is different from the book of Acts – they didn’t have Bibles). Some groups believe that the minister imparts grace through the sacraments, so you go to church to get a bite of Jesus, but I don’t believe that. Why then do we trudge to church on Sunday and what should we be doing when we get there? I think the Bible gives us some good answers to this question, and the very first one is that we need the Word of God. Peter told us to desire it (1Peter 2:2). Jesus said we can’t live without it (Matthew 4:4). Paul told Timothy to preach it whether they liked it or not. (1 Tim 4:1-4). Whatever else we do, for Heaven’s sake, let’s be sure we give them the Word – not ours, His.
Scripture Reading: So then, my child, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. And the things which I have said to you before a number of witnesses, give to those of the faith, so that they may be teachers of others. (2 Timothy 2:1-2 BBE)
Somebody Said Hold fast to the Bible. To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look as our guide in the future.
Ulysses S. Grant
At our church we still encourage people to carry a Bible and follow along during the sermon. We have the capacity to project the Scripture on the overhead screen with attractive backgrounds, but we don’t. It is important that people know their own Bible. In their darkest moments when the banshees of doubt are wailing in their minds, they won’t have me or a projectionist, only a Bible and the Holy Spirit within. We come to church in the bright and shiny day in order that we might be victorious in the dark and dismal night. Give them the Word! Give them a chance to win.