Departing from the text…

It comes as no surprise to me that the Christian church (Catholic and Protestant alike) is in decline when the central foundation – the Bible – is not given the respect and treatment that it should be granted. Given that the Bible is the foundational scriptures of the Christian faith, while it may be held in high esteem, it certainly doesn’t seem to have a place within the Christian life. In recent discussion with friends, browsing various churches on the Internet, looking at the top 25 Christian podcasts, it brought to my attention how little the Bible is actually taught.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Bible-bashing Christian, but I am a firm Bible-believing Christian that believes that the Bible is the centre of my faith and it “may” come across as Bible-bashing in certain circumstances, for instance, now. The Bible says, “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6) When the decrees of God are first recorded, it also says, “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it…” (Deuteronomy 4:2)

[Side-note: arguments about the compilation of the books of the Bible are irrelevant as Bible-believing Christians believe that the Bible authors were inspired by God (literally or not is another argument) and that the compilation of it was also inspired and guided by God.]

Yet, despite this, people seem to believe that there is something missing, something extra that God missed and you find preachers and ministers giving their own spin on what God is saying to the people of this generation which have little or no basis in the text of the Bible. [Interestingly, in looking through the top 25 podcasts, only a handful were Bible-based expositional messages.] Sure, they have Biblical principles, but they have no actual basis in the Christian Scriptures. So, where does Biblical preaching come into the picture if the Bible is the flawless Word of God where nothing is to be added and subtracted.

Biblical preaching has nothing to add or subtract from the Word of God. The purpose of preaching is to teach and reveal the breadth, heights, and depths of the Word of God. It is one thing to read the Scriptures, but it is another thing to live it and that is, I believe, where preaching comes into play. Preaching is bringing to life the Word of God in practical, everyday living so that the man and woman of God might live the holy and righteous life for which Jesus Christ came to die.

The letter to the Galatians, clearly, addressed this issue of an ‘extra’ gospel for the believer. There is no other gospel, but the one based and founded upon the life of Jesus Christ. Paul, in addressing the Galatians, painstakingly sought to establish that the gospel of Jesus Christ was complete and there was nothing to add and nothing to subtract from the gospel. (Galatians 3:15)

The attempt to modernise the message to the masses is a worthy cause, however, while the method of preaching/teaching/transmission might change there is no place for the message itself to change. As the proverb quoted earlier said, God will rebuke those that change His flawless words. As such, the future of the church is bleak.

If the church, so desires, to become the light of the world which it was called to be by the Lord Jesus Christ, then it needs to take His words seriously, not merely holding the physical book of the Bible in high regard and keeping it clean; rather, taking the written word proclaiming the spoken word pointing to the living word, that is, Jesus Christ.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)