Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Knowing and Teaching the Word (8/14/08)

James 1:22 - “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” There is a beautiful key to knowing God’s Word in this verse - application. For example: if you ask 10 different Christians whether their coworkers are interested in hearing the gospel or not, most likely 9 out of those 10 (at least) will tell you their coworkers are not interested in hearing about Jesus. However, Mt.9:37 promises that the harvest is ripe and Jn.12:32-33 tells us God is already drawing everyone around us to Himself. That being said, when I believe those around me aren’t interested in Christ, I am believing a lie. According to James 1:22, if I know I am supposed to share my faith, but don’t, I become deceived (ie. The reason I believe they aren’t interested is because I’m not sharing). Similarly, the excuse most Christians give for not tithing is that they don’t have enough money. We know that is not the case because with the measure that we use, in giving, it will be given back to us (2 Cor.9:6-8) and He will provide for all of my needs as I am faithful to give to Him (Phi.4:16-19). As I give to God, He is faithful to provide, but if I refuse to apply His Word by giving, I believe the lie that I don’t have enough. James continues on that theme, in 3:13, saying, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” True wisdom produces humility, which results in obedience to God. Conversely, head knowledge produces pride which results in apathy and disobedience concerning God’s commands (1 Cor.8:1). That is why I must apply God’s Word, out of the right motives. If we know the Word but don’t apply it we become deceived and proud. It is because of the danger of that accumulation of knowledge un-applied, that 2 Tim.3:7 warns that godless people are “always learning but never able to acknowledge the Truth.” This is why James tells us in 4:17 that he who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins. I must apply God’s Word out of my love for Him (Jn.14:15, 15:14), loving Him with action and in Truth, not just with words and tongue (1 Jn.3:18). I must be that workman approved, rightly dividing (ie. knowing and applying) the Word of Truth, not needing to be ashamed (2 Tim.2:15). God’s Word was never intended to be learned in the context of intellectual achievement but rather in daily application. Now here is the kicker: if I teach the Word, but don’t actively take those I’m teaching by the hand helping them apply it, I am contributing to their deception and pride. The best Bible teacher in the world, if he doesn’t actively teach hands on application, is more of a deceiver than legions of demons because by his actions he is teaching Christians that it is O.K to relegate God’s Word to an intellectual pursuit and not a life passion and focus. That is why James warns us in 3:1 that not many should be teachers because we know teachers will be judged more severely. I must apply God’s Word daily, otherwise I will become deceived. As a teacher of the Word, I must place an equal emphasis on teaching and applying, actively taking those I teach by the hand and helping them learn how to put in practice all that the Word says, otherwise they will become deceived and I will be an accomplice to their deception. I think this is where the Church in America has gone so wrong. We have millions of seminary trained theologians and more content of knowledge on TV and radio than anyone knows what to do with, but we have very few who have made a life goal of applying that. The result is a church lethargic and apathetic, deceived and unmotivated. God teach us to love your Word and apply it daily.

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