Greetings in the name our common savior and only master, Jesus Christ. I remember you often in my prayers, as I beg our God and Father to strengthen your faith, increase your love, and magnify your hope through the good news revealed in the unbreakable Scriptures delivered to us through the mouths of his holy apostles and prophets. We do not serve a silent God. He has spoken to us by his Son (Heb 1:1-2), who in turn has spoken words of Spirit and life (John 6:63). In his limitless mercy, our God has made his will known and knowable to all his people unto the ages.
You, Church, are the bride of Christ. Do you hear what your Husband has to say to you? You, Church, are a pillar and buttress of the truth. Are you grounded directly in the truth that proceeds from the very lips of your God? You, Church, are the household of God. Does your Master have the final say on all that takes place on your watch? You, Church, are the assembly of the firstborn. Does the only wise God preside over all your affairs? Does your firstborn brother have preeminence? Is his teaching the primary lamp to your feet and light for your path?
I fear for you, that you have listened to so many voices, you no longer trust yourself to hear your Lord’s voice. That, from fear of ignorance, you have relied on experts to mediate God’s words to you. That, from fear of getting it wrong, you have become addicted to being told what to do. That, from fear of disapproval, you have created self-contained, self-congratulatory communities that no longer know how to give other God-honoring, Christ-worshipping, Truth-loving communities the benefit of the doubt.
Let me be clear: I fear that you may not trust your Bible to be enough for you. And if your Bible is not enough for you, it is inevitable you will stray from the truth of the Lord.
As we near the end of this year and prepare for the start of another, I dare you, Church, to trust your Bible this year. I dare you, church leaders, to preach the word. I dare you, teachers, to teach good reading skills at least as often as you teach true content. I dare you, all, to spend more time in the Bible itself than you spend in supplemental works about the Bible.
I dare you to consider some of the following resolutions:
- Our pastors will preach the word (2 Tim 4:1-2). When preparing a sermon, they will not read any commentaries until after they have identified a probable main point from the biblical text itself (Ps 119:15-16). Our preachers will not preach every possible point of theology or morality brought to mind by the passage’s terminology. They will preach only the main points of each sermon text, and they will connect those main points to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- Our Bible study groups will study the Bible. They won’t depend on a curriculum. They won’t use a study guide. They won’t read a Christian book together. They will sit down, open their Bibles, read what’s on the page, and discuss what it says (Ps 119:18-19). Group leaders may use study guides to help them prepare, but they will reject any resource that doesn’t show its work (i.e. that doesn’t explain how it reached its conclusions from the text).
- Our elder meetings will not allow for any major decisions to be made without explicit reference to one or more specific Bible passages that inform our thinking. We will not excuse our failure to do this by appeals to “broad biblical truth not contained in a single text” or to “general wisdom informed by biblical truth, even if this specific decision isn’t addressed in the Bible.” We will not assume that every church leader knows how to apply biblical truth to real-life situations, and we will reject the lie that it is too elementary or pedantic a task to list specific verses for specific decisions (Ps 119:10).
- Our children’s ministries (Sunday school classes, Bible clubs, preschools, etc.) will dedicate time to read a passage from a normal (adult) translation of the Bible at every meeting. We might use children’s Bibles to supplement the instruction, but the children won’t be able to escape without hearing God’s own words unfiltered through a paraphraser (Ps 119:43).
- Our youth groups and teenage classes will not need a specialized curriculum to address moral issues facing teens. They will focus on learning how to study the Bible so they can be equipped to apply this old truth to any new problem they happen to face (Ps 119:27-28).
- We will train church members to lead their own evangelistic Bible studies. When we encourage them to reach out to coworkers and friends, we will encourage them not only to invite these contacts to church, but also to invite them to read and discuss the Bible over lunch breaks or in their homes (Ps 119:21).
- We will in no way communicate that anyone is too young, too immature, too uneducated, or too unbelieving to be able to read the Bible and understand it. We will trust the Lord Jesus to work by his Spirit through the word to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Ps 119:17).
Let me also clarify: Scholars, academics, researchers, professors, pastors, and educators are a great gift to Christ’s Church. Commentaries, study guides, and academic resources have inestimable value. We could not thrive without them. But please remember that while they are mighty assistants, they make poor high priests. We do not need such things or people to mediate our relationship with Christ; we need them to help us see the way to him.
Dear Church, are you willing to trust your Bible this year? Before you reject these ideas out of hand, why not try them for a while and see if they produce pleasing fruit? Perhaps you will do well to pay much closer attention to the prophetic word, as to a lamp shining in a dark place (2 Pet 1:19).
Your servant and co-laborer in the word of truth,