Recently, I’ve seen some discussions going on where there seems to be a preponderance of an attitude that I see often going on in the church. It is the attitude that since God is in charge of the universe then we don’t really need to be active with how we handle matters. This is the case in politics or in personal Bible study. No need to do much. Let God do His part.
After all, His Word will not return to us void. (Isaiah 55:11) If that is the case, then speak forth the Scripture and let it do its work. The Scripture is plain after all and needs no interpretation. Just say it and watch what happens. This is a highly fundamentalist approach, and one that is used by Christians and mocked by atheists that sadly read the Bible in the exact same way. They just disagree on the truth value of Scripture.
If you want to have repair done on your car, don’t take it to me. I know nothing about cars except basic operation and putting gas in them. I go to a mechanic to change my oil and check my tires. No. Go to someone who knows about cars. How does someone learn about cars? They can study on their own, but there are also mechanic schools they can go to to learn how to do repair.
If you want to learn philosophy, what you need to do is to read the great masters, but also it can help to go to a school and take classes on philosophy. If you want to learn science, read the great masters of science and then go to a school and learn about science. My own sister has gone to beauty school to learn how to be a beautician. This is something women do most every day to themselves to prepare to go out and yet, if you want to be a specialist in the area, you need to get an education.
Yet somehow, when it comes to what we call the Word of God, we think that you don’t need to really study to know what it means. You just sit back and God will tell you what it means and you say the Word of God and sit back and let God do the rest.
To many, this sounds good and holy and righteous. It is trusting in God to fulfill His promises isn’t it?
To some of the rest of us, it reeks of laziness that the Lord condemns and it is a reversal of the role. Instead of you being a slave of God, it is you making a slave of God.
Consider “My word will not return to me void.” Okay. That’s in Scripture. If we believe in the authority of Scripture, we have to accept it. Now comes the question. “What does that mean?” Does it mean that every time you utter a passage of Scripture, that God will take those words and use them in a way that will return to be effective?
Friends. That view is more treating Scripture like a book of magic than it is the Word of God, as many prefer to say. (Personally, I prefer to call it Scripture instead. It’s the term I find used most often in the Bible.)
What it is saying is that you don’t need to study the Bible either. You just need to go out and say it. One might as well go out and read the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles, which is largely genealogy, and expect the rest of the world to convert immediately! If all it takes is the reading of Scripture, establish Scripture on loudspeakers everywhere you can and then just sit back and wait until the world is won for Jesus.
Or maybe you should actually study the text and find out what it means. You know, it could be your interpretation of it is wrong. If it is, don’t you want to know that? Do you really want to believe the wrong thing about Scripture? Even Paul who had been preaching the gospel for years, when he got a chance to meet with Peter, John, and James, would check with them and make sure that he had gotten it right, and this is someone who was called of God specifically and saw Christ appear to Him!
You know, if this guy thinks he needs to check up on what he’s doing, am I going to be so arrogant to think that I don’t need to do that?
For my fellow Protestant readers, we can say we have a problem when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, which is basically giving an infallible pronouncement. Fair enough. Yet the problem with so many of us is we just think the Bible must mean what we think it means on a base reading. We make ourselves to be little Popes. (Of course, it gets worse when we add in that the Holy Spirit is revealing it to us.)
By the way, having added that parenthetical comment, always be wary of people who say that the Holy Spirit has led them to such an understanding of a passage. For instance, I heard a prophecy expert speaking on a program recently who said the Holy Spirit led him to the understanding he has. As an orthodox Preterist, I say the Holy Spirit did no such thing, and if this person is wrong as I think they are, then they are attributing error to the Holy Spirit. Note. I am not saying that the Holy Spirit led me to orthodox Preterism either. Do I think that’s what the Bible teaches? Yes. Would I defend it? Yes. Does that mean I could be wrong? Yes. If I am wrong on my view, I would want to be shown. If we say the Holy Spirit has led us into a belief, we are not likely to think that we could be mistaken and thus be really capable of analyzing our views.
Often as an apologist, I have met people who have told me that I do not need to defend my faith. I should just let God do that. I have always asked the same question in response. “Do you take the same approach to evangelism?” After all, if God can do the defense without our help, which of course He can, then the same follows for evangelism.
This is not an option because as Christians, we have been told what to do. We are to go forward and make disciples of all nations. There is not a “Plan B” anywhere. There is nowhere where God says “Of course, if you don’t do this, then don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.” No. We are told our task and if we are to be good slaves of Christ, then it is our duty to do the task. Not doing what we have been told is laziness, and we know that books like Proverbs have much to say about the sloth.
This means that, yes, you need to get some basics at least in defending your faith. Of course, we all differ in the time and intellectual investments that we can make. Still, we are told to do what we can. Your neighbor might have more time and intellect than you do. Do not worry about him. You are not responsible for him. You are responsible for you. You do what you can. If you have one talent, you are required to use that one talent just as much as the man who has five talents is.
Our approach today in the church of being lazy is instead making God to be our slave. It is saying that if we say the Scripture, God is obligated to do His work and that is to get the person to come to Christ. No. God has given us the responsibility of being the messengers of grace and we are to fulfill that. We dare not expect Him to reward laziness on our part.
In fact, the less we take the commands of God seriously to study and do evangelism properly, it means that we are not taking God seriously either as we do not think He means what He says in His commands. Of course, we can all improve on this. I know there are ways I can do better. None of us are serving perfectly the way we ought, but all of us can do better and this will be done by realizing that God means what He says when He speaks. It is hypocritical for us to say we believe in the power and authority of Scripture and yet not live in obedience to the commands of Christ with regards to our presentation of His gospel to the world.
If anyone truly deserves 110%, then it is God, and if we do not think He does, then we need to reexamine our theology. Let us be clear in who we are. We are slaves. We are to live like slaves. When our master gives us a command, we are to follow it. We do realize our master will help us, but He will not reward sloth in any way.