Monday, March 28, 2011

Curiosity or Responsibility?

Bible study is good, but it makes a difference how and why we study. Some people study out of curiosity. They just want to know what the Bible says. They have no intention of allowing the word to reform their character. They treat the study of scripture as a game of trivia.

Instead, we should study the Bible with a sense of responsibility. We should start with the question, "What does the Bible say?" But we should not end with that question. Our end goal should be to allow the Bible to inform our actions so that our lives might give glory to God.

The curiosity angle is nothing new. The Israelites sometimes wanted to know things that were not for them to know. Moses had to tell them, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut 29:29, ESV). The Apostles wanted to know things that were not for them to know. "So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’" (Acts 1:6-8).

We must not let our curiosity get the better of us. The end goal of Bible study is not knowledge; knowledge is only an intermediate goal. The end goal is the glorification of God (1 Peter 4:10-11). And we best glorify God when we leave the unrevealed things alone and get on with the task of obeying what has been revealed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Occationally, I search the web for my own name. When you have a name as unusual as mine, it works. You can find out what people are saying about you. Earlier this week I tried it and I came across this article, which I had written so long ago that I had almost forgotton it. Someone in Texas thought it worth reissuing, after nearly thirty years. Maybe it will be useful to others as well.

The problem with a lack of fellowship is that we haven't the slightest idea how to solve it, many of our efforts to do so are counterproductive, and the New Testament says little, directly, about it. This seems like a bleak picture, but really, it isn't. Within the Bible's seeming lack of information is our cure.

We read nothing in Acts 2 of how their wonderful fellowship program worked simply because they didn't have one. The Jerusalem church was drawn together by a common faith, not by a comfortable building or good food. The churches that had erred in regard to fellowship were not instructed to map out a program, but to "be of the same mind in the Lord." Like-mindedness, not bodily proximity, is the first and most important step toward true fellowship.

The church today is, unfortunately, like that lonely teenager we all know. All he wants in the world is a friend. In fact, he wants a friend so badly that friendship is all he can think about. Thus, when someone talks to him about their car, he is uninterested. All he wants is a friend; he doesn't care about cars. When someone tells him about a good book, he is disappointed. He doesn't want books, he wants a friend. What this type of person needs is to forget friendship and learn to love cars, or books, or baseball, or something other than friendship. Then, and only then, will friendship happen.

The church that has a fellowship program needs to forget about fellowship. If one hundred people sit together and try to force themselves to fellowship, they will likely reap only frustration. But if the same one hundred people develop the same heart-melting love for the Lord, the same mission concern, the same thirst for righteousness, then suddenly they will each find ninety-nine friends to fellowship with.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Perhaps you have seen the billboards around town.

Harold Camping of Oakland, California is predicting that Jesus will return and bring the world as we know it to an end on May 21 of this year. Is that what Jesus taught? Is that what Christians believe?

Not as a stunt, but simply as a part of our ongoing series of lessons from the Gospel of Matthew, I will present a lesson on “The End of the Age, Matthew 24.” I am not as interested in mathematics as Mr. Camping. My lesson will be based on what Jesus said, rather than on Mr. Camping’s cyphering. You may not completely agree with my understanding (that’s OK with me). It may not answer every question that you may have. But I think you will find it interesting. If you are anywhere near Toledo, try to join us on Sunday, March 27.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Looking Ahead

In our Sunday morning series from Matthew, we will be coming to chapter 24 fairly soon (likely on March 27). Discussion of this passage always seems to interest people. Right now, with billboards going up around town predicting the end of the world in May, the interest may be even greater than normal.

There are two things you need to keep in mind as we get ready for this sermon on Matthew 24.
1. It will be longer than a normal sermon. Sorry, but I cannot do justice to this passage in 30 minutes. Be prepared to start a little early and end a little late.
2. Keep earlier lessons from Matthew in mind, especially events recorded in chapters 20-23. One of the main reasons chapter 24 is so badly misunderstood is that people ignore the context.

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" Matthew 24:3, ESV