The pastor from the very liberal Christian church asked me a very pointed question. She said, “Do you really think we’re outside of the faith?” It made me pause to think for a moment before answering.
Only God knows the heart and only He can judge someone’s salvation. Scripture doesn’t call for a perfect understanding of doctrine before we’re saved (and that’s a good thing).
I told her as much but then I also had to confess to her, that I believe any church that teaches the Bible is not truth or that there are any ways to salvation other than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ teaches lies. So while I would never presume to judge the salvation of a member of a liberal Christian church, I would counsel anyone who asked not to attend based on bad teaching.
Now not to single out liberals, I have encountered some extremely conservative Christian groups that are so focused on legalism that the teaching is full of lies as well.
How’s a Christian to know good teaching from bad?
To start, we have to read our Bibles. That might sound overly simplistic, but despite the fact that more than 170,000 Bibles are sold a day in the US (the only country I have statistics for), more than 95% of all professing Christians have never read their Bible through even once. I’ve even encountered large numbers of pastors who have never read the Bible from cover to cover.
The only time most Christians ever spend in the Word is listening to a Sunday morning service. There are more than 31,000 verses in the Bible. That means if your pastor introduced a new verse from the Bible every Sunday of the year, and you never missed a Sunday, it would take over 590 years to hear the whole Bible. It’s no wonder most Christians don’t know what the Bible says. Only the oldest of Old Testament characters lived long enough to have enjoyed (or endured depending on the preacher) that many sermons.
If the pastor introduced an entire new chapter of the Bible every Sunday, it would still take almost 23 year to hear the entire Bible.
The most common estimate I’ve seen is that it takes the average reader 70 hours to read the Bible cover to cover. Studies have shown that the average North American watches 16-20 hours of television a week. That means if you shut the tube off for a month and read the Bible instead you can read it through in a month. In a year that’s a dozen times, more than enough to begin to have a working familiarity with the Word.
The Word is the ultimate source of truth. All teaching must be weighed against the truth of the Bible. All our conduct must be measured against the standards of the Bible.
We’re commanded to know the truth.
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful Joshua 1:8 NIV
The very first step to discerning truth in Bible teaching is to learn first hand what the Bible says. How’s your Bible reading coming?
Until next time may you make time in the Word a priority.
Hallelu Yah (Praise God)!