Text: Luke 20:27-44 | Listen to Message
More and more nationwide research confirms the disturbing data behind the shocking (infuriating?) headline: “Survey Finds Most American Christians Are Actually Heretics” (The Federalist, October 10, 2016).
For example, of self-described Evangelical Protestants, . . .
- Over 1/3 don’t read the Bible even once a week.
- Only 55% believe the Bible is the Word of God and should generally be interpreted literally.
- 8% don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God.
- 38% believe humans evolved rather than being created by a direct act of God as Genesis describes.
- 28% strongly agree that “all people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.”
- 23% strongly agree that “what is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes.”
- Only 17 percent have what the researchers consider a biblical worldview. For that definition, these markers were used: “believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.”
Houston, we have a problem.
We American Christians, as a lot, have traded in sound doctrine and Gospel faith for prosperity, power, and privilege. We’ve conformed to the thought patterns of the world in exchange for acceptance and influence – so, ironically and tragically, our influence doesn’t even remotely resemble the heart of Christ and the Bible.
We’ve become like the Sadducees that Jesus confronted in the Gospels. We see whatever we want to see in God’s Word, rather than seeing what’s actually there. We like our theology à la carte, instead of being orthodox, all-in Jesus-followers. We’ve condensed Scripture to a shortlist of grossly misinterpreted “proof texts” that imply we have God’s stamp of approval to indulge even our unholiest appetites. Our own wit and “common sense” are reason enough to reject much of what Holy Scripture says; surely God understands we can’t believe and act on things our society deems irrational, unscientific, or absurd.
But Jesus isn’t amused by this kind of thinking. He didn’t hesitate to sarcastically excoriate the Sadducees, “Isn’t this the reason you’re wrong, because you understand neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Matthew 22: 29; Mark 12:24) And he’d say the same to many of us: “Your theology stinks because you don’t have a clue what my Word says, let alone what it means.”
For those who care to grow in this area – and grow in their true knowledge of God’s Word – here’s a 3-step process that’s worth repeating over and over every day:
- Ask God to show you what lenses you’re viewing His Word through. We all read Scripture through some series of social/cultural, philosophical/ideological, political, and theological lenses. We want it to mean certain things that fit our presuppositions and agenda. So step one is realizing what your lenses are – and letting God strip them away so you see the Word as it is, not as you are.
- Ask God, the Living Word, to meet you in the pages of His written Word. Ask the Spirit to illumine and guide and teach you. Ask Him to lead you into all truth, as Jesus promised He would.
- Adhere to healthy practices of Bible reading and study. The Bible will never mean what it never meant. Our job is to discover that original meaning, distill the timeless truth, and relentlessly apply that truth to our contemporary situation.
In this process, we’re deliberately choosing to recognize the Bible as the very Word of God – who is His own, best interpreter. We’re reading it in faith, trusting God to show us everything we need for life and godliness. And we’re reading it with integrity, allowing God to say what He says and mean what He means.
Herein is found life: Allow the Word of God to say all that it says, and especially about the person of Jesus.