Each year, in July and August, I get to teach “Growing in the Word” to Diploma Students of Covenant Vision School of Ministry. Across eight weeks, I take them through the paces of basic bible interpretation, a subject I particularly enjoy teaching.
For one, I simply love the Word of God and how each foray into Scriptures promises a fresh discovery into the depths of God’s person, plan, love and wisdom. The day I began praying Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” the Lord has been so gracious to show and teach me from His Word. In turn, I count it a privilege that I have the opportunity to provoke, challenge and encourage others to get deeper into the Word and discover this for themselves – regardless the hermeneutical hurdles and hoops one needs to grasp and overcome.
For another, it serves as a stern and stark reminder of the general level of biblical literacy amongst God’s people. Whilst many may know how to quote verses, it has been shown consistently that these do not necessarily know where the verses are found, what they actually mean and how they are to be applied in their lives and situations.
A scene from the Indiana Jones movie comes to mind where Dr Jones comes face to face with a very aggressive enemy, wielding and waving a huge sword and quite impressively too. Tiring of that display, however entertaining, Dr Jones pulls out his pistol and promptly guns the swordsman down. Sometimes, I wonder if that is how we appear to our enemy? Christians swing the Sword of the Spirit all over the place, sounding spiritual, but we are of no threat to the powers and principalities at all. Sadly, this powerful weapon of warfare has been reduced to a motivational device to make us feel good about ourselves.
Now, some may read this and think that I am a tad harsh and ungracious. Yet I make no apologies for my tone if that would cause you to pause, to ponder and to realize the deceptive environment we live in today, one that has produced a brand of Christianity that many have bought into.
Earlier this week, I attended “A Worldview Conference” and an illustration by the keynote speaker Dr Jeff Myers confirmed what I had been observing all this while. In university, the professor (clearly a postmodernist) said to the class Myers was in, “In reading any book, it doesn’t matter what the author meant to say. It only matters what it means to you.” That statement hit me like a thunderbolt! “Hey! I recognize that! He just described what goes on in church, in a typical cell or bible study group!” Paraphrased, this is what it would sound like amongst Christians today: “Well, I don’t really care about what the Apostle Paul was addressing. All this context jargon is too difficult. This verse spoke to me this morning and I believe that is all that really matters. After all, it is the ‘rhema’ word that jumped out at me. And oh, one more thing, I feel the peace in my heart.” And all postmodern Christians said, “Amen!”
Yes, my dear friends, this is popular Christianity today. We are no longer looking for the truth but what feels good and what works. Take, for example, the Charisma Magazine’s article, “Is Joseph Prince’s Radical Grace Teaching Biblical?”. In my humble opinion, the author argued and presented well, striving to stay close (and rightly so) to the Word of God as the standard. I was surprised at the comments it drew. Most were largely emotional and based on how Prince’s teaching had blessed them and how it had made them feel good about themselves without any reference to the biblical standard much less the biblical context!? Clearly, we are living in the age of itching ears. I am totally convinced that you can be as hermeneutically accurate and people will still hear and believe what they want to hear and believe.
In a society that thrives on buzzwords and sound bites, the Body of Christ has likewise been infected with the disease of shallowness. The general observation is that few are willing to get deep into the Word of God. We love the words of love, of grace, of freedom. But sadly, we do not understand what these mean, as defined by God and His Word. What’s even more troubling is that those who truly desire to hold to the words of Jesus are labeled Pharisees and legalists. That shows you how far we have slid and continue to slide when we begin to speak such nonsense, unable to discern between the Law of Moses and the words of Jesus. The last time I read my Bible, the ones who observe and keep the words of Jesus are called disciples.
I could go on but I pray that the point has been made. This is not the time to be stroked and molly-coddled. Instead, Eph 5:15-16 exhorts us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (emphasis mine) As one called to teach and to preach the Word of God, I regard that privilege and responsibility extremely seriously. To this end, I covet your prayers too as I sought to diligently present myself “approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15
Thank you for journeying with Serene and myself as we serve the Lord where He has placed us. Whether in the ministry or in the family, we know that every experience has been allowed in our lives, and that of our children, to train and raise us up for His name, mission and glory! Yet, at times, ministry is like swimming laps. Along the way, there are many obstacles and challenges and we are thankful for your prayers and support that help us get through these by the Lord’s grace.
Specifically, for this season, please pray for four year-old Anna Joy who has an aggressive outbreak of eczema all over her body (much like what Serene experienced before). Pray also for the Lord to provide for our family of growing children, especially the need to eat proper food in view of health challenges, which cost more than processed food. Please keep in touch with us through our weblogs and as the Lord leads, please lift up a prayer for us or share a word with us.
We appreciate your love and partnership in the Kingdom as we co-labour in the work of the ministry. Thank you for reading these regular newsletter updates! Many have written to say that these have blessed, encouraged and even challenged them. Feel free to share the same with your friends and family too.
In His love and for His glory!