This week, while listening to an audio version of The Gospel of Mark, Mark 13:21-22 struck a chord with me. I stopped the playback and looked at my paper bible and re-read these verses several times. Only days earlier I had a conversation with a friend about who is responsible to call out false teaching. Additionally, I found an article which spoke about the results of a Barna study that suggested bible illiteracy is growing quickly in the Western Christian Church. Many churchgoers who participated in the study, admitted they did not have a bible reading plan, let alone intentionally studied the Word. It seems they have convinced themselves they can become followers and disciples of Jesus without reading or studying scripture. Most thought it was acceptable to just listen or read someone’s interpretation of scripture. They forgot scripture tells us that we can learn the truth by hearing God’s word; implying we learn not only by listening to our pastors, but also when we intentionally read and study scripture.
Many unbelievers say foolish things about scripture, but so do many believers. The problem is when Christians say these in the context of their life and ministry, incredible damage can be done. Imagine being in the lobby of your church with some friends and someone initiates a conversation about the Apocalypse. The primary speaker admits they have not read the book of Revelation, but boasts they read all the books in the Left Behind series. What is the probability they will offer a false teaching? Will you or any other person in your little group be able to spot a problem? If you recognize a false teaching, what would you do? Many fear the idea of confronting falsehood. Be assured that Satan enjoys and builds on your fear. He prompts us with excuses that we use to justify our non-action. He also knows the main reason we don’t’ or can’t confront false teachings – the main reason is that many “followers” do not read or study scripture and therefore know very little about what is contained in them. The purpose of this article is not to teach you how to confront false teachers. It is to have you confront yourself regarding your efforts to know God’s Word. It is to challenge you to admit whether you know enough about scripture to recognize that Jesus was not actually born on 25 December.
We know it is not possible for our pastors to tell us everything contained in scripture, so how do we fill in the gaps? People participate in small groups and that is a good thing. However, at some of these gatherings, there is more focus on relationship building with each other instead of with God. Also, these groups often only offer topical studies which focus on self-improvement instead of transformed lives. These types of studies are useful, however we need to go deeper so that we can know God and recognize whether we are hearing God’s truth or a false teacher. As part of the Jesus’ body, the Church, we are expected, to assist each other and apply biblical truths in our lives. When a Christian friend confides in us that they want to divorce their spouse because God wants them to be happy, our biblically grounded wisdom should cause a red flag to go. We may not have the knowledge or skills to provide marriage counselling, but we should understand God’s expectation for the marriage relationship. God wants what is good for us and sometimes what is good, such as marriage counselling, may not make us happy.
Our motto at the MCF is “Equip, Engage”. We believe that a solid faith foundation, built on biblical truth, equips us to share the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus as Lord and to engage brothers and sister who knowing or unknowingly are sharing false truths. Prayer, fellowship, worship, service, reading and studying the Word will equip us to engage others. A scholarly, comprehensive understanding of scripture would allow us to become apologist’s focused on defending or explain the Bible. However, for most of us, our best response to doubters, sceptics and false teachers is to share how Jesus affects our daily lives; we can share what we know about our relationship with God. Reading and studying scripture will help us recognize God’s truths as well as the false truths around us.
Will you go to a mirror, look yourselves in the eyes and ask yourself “Am I lacking truth because I lack the resolve to read my bible?” It is hoped that your response will be to ensure you find a way to start or continue to read and study scripture. We are on the front line addressing false truths that Satan wishes to have us believe. Equip yourself so that you are not bamboozled by false truths.