Keep the main thing
My dad has an office in Wensleydale Evangelical Church where he is pastor. And on the wall is a poster that says: ‘The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing’ (Anon). No doubt he put it there to remind him of the importance of priorities. But what are the ‘main things’ – the things that are of central importance to the church of Jesus Christ? Let’s consider one of them.
The main thing
We all say it, don’t we? We believe in Bible-centred ministry. But have you ever asked yourself why? Why do we reject the modern idea that we should drop the exposition of God’s Word in favour of a mystical musical experience in which the Spirit of God is received via some form of rhythmic osmosis. After all, that’s much more fun than reading and studying the Word of God, isn’t it?
Well, it may be easier, but that doesn’t make it right. Believe it or not, guys, God means it when he says he has given us his Word to be ‘profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible touches every area of our lives – it’s there to be lived by.
Who are we to dictate to God exactly how he does things? Could God have burnt a DVD for us or sent us a blockbuster movie script? Yes! Did he? No! He gave us the Bible and that’s why we need to centralise our thinking on it.
The main attack
I often listen to BBC Radio 5 Live. I understand their worldview – the unregenerate want to debate things on a humanistic level, bowing down and worshipping our brains as the answer to everything.
They can do that. But I wish I could be hired to put across the Christian worldview on some of these programmes. I am no theologian, but it’s not rocket science to point out where they go wrong!
Time after time I listen to highly placed religious bigwigs spouting a whole load of pointless hot air. It’s a bad sign when the ‘Christians’ want to argue intellectually, not from the revealed Word of God but from the same philosophical basis as the world. Doesn’t God say of this worldly wisdom, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent’ (1 Corinthians 1:19-20)?
I tell you, I would happily stand up and defend the Word of God to the hilt, day in day out, on these shows and let them laugh at me. Instead, these foolish men and women go on, causing the world to laugh at them. If I wasn’t so upset I’d laugh at them too.
Let’s get this straight; the Bible is the Word of God, and therefore we believe and follow it to the letter. Full stop!
The main responsibility
But how does it work in practice? There is a real danger of believing the Bible, learning the Bible, understanding the Bible and admiring the Bible – all without obeying the Bible. Jesus ended his famous Sermon on the Mount with a story known to everyone who has ever been to Sunday School. That’s right, the house on the sand and the house on the rock!
But do we understand the story? Read carefully what Jesus actually says: ‘Whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken to a wise man who built his house on the rock … [but] everyone who hears these sayings of mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand …’ (Matthew 7:24-27). You know the rest.
The point is that both the wise and the foolish hear the teachings of Christ (in all the Scriptures, not just in this one Sermon); but the wise obey them while the foolish neglect them. Let’s be clear about this. The Word will only profit us if we both hear it and obey it.
Where do we start? By obeying the call of the gospel, for ‘this is the work of God that you believe on him whom he has sent’ (John 6:29). Then you can start building on the rock, for that rock is Christ himself.