Jump Start # 3160
Acts 17:11 “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.”
The other day someone suggested that I listen to a certain sermon that had been preached. I did. The preacher knew his topic, used many passages and had a good presence in his delivery. All in all, it was good. There was just one hiccup. He started with an assumption, an opinion. His whole lesson hung on that assumption. If the assumption was not true, then everything would fall apart. This was a critical assumption. It needed to be true. It needed to be crystal clear. It needed to be proven.
There are some things we need to learn here:
First, just because I can connect the dots doesn’t mean that God intends for the dots to be connected. Not everything in the O.T. is mirrored in the N.T. We must remember, especially in those letters to Gentile audiences, their knowledge of the O.T. wasn’t like the Jewish mind.
In evolutionary thinking, the flipper of a whale, the wing of a bird and the arm of a human, all have similar mechanisms and therefore they conclude that it evolved that way. That’s how they see it. It could be that God liked that concept and He used it in several different applications, and the only connection is that they are similar and nothing more.
Many words in the Bible have more than one definition and application. Words like “kingdom,” “world,” and even “apostle” have more than one common application. To see such a word and then to assume that it means the same everywhere, every time, leads to some scary conclusions. God so loved the world and love not the world may seem to be opposites. They are not. Understanding how “world” is used brings a clear understanding to those statements.
Second, because I want something in the Bible doesn’t mean that it is in the Bible. Biblical concepts, principles and commands belong to the Lord, not the church and not to us. It is easy for us to conclude that if I don’t like something, then it is wrong. You may feel that way, but that does not mean it is wrong with the Lord. Sin is against God. God is the one who declares what is right and what is wrong. My dislike or displeasure of something does not necessarily mean that it is wrong. I don’t like folks getting to worship late. Now, there are times when something happens. But for some, it’s every time. They can get to work on time. They can get the kids to school on time. But getting down to the church house? Nope. Late again. Late just about every time. Now is that a sin? I sure don’t like lateness, but that doesn’t mean I can call that a sin.
Third, when teaching, if we don’t start out right, we likely will not finish up right. It’s like drawing a line on a piece of blank paper. If we begin crooked, it remains crooked. So, to start right, let the Scriptures speak for themselves. Learn concepts and understand Bible words. Whole religious doctrines have come from assumptions that are not upheld by the Scriptures. What sounds good, may not be good. What sounds logical, may not be Biblical. What makes sense to us, may not be how God operates. A grand example of this are the parables. Most start out like a typical first century story, and then there is a twist and they end up not the way most would assume. And, that alone, shows that the kingdom of God does not operate the way we think. The story of the prodigal is an example. No father back then, or likely today, would throw a celebration party for a wayward child who lost a fortune and ruined his name. The laborers in the vineyard is another example. Back then, one would not pay the last workers first and you certainly would not pay them the same that you paid a man who worked all day long. That just doesn’t make sense. We must let God speak for Himself and allow the Bible to show us the will of God.
Fourth, our teaching is about the word of God and not ourselves. That’s always the key. The old timers would pray that the preacher would hide himself behind the cross. The thought was, after the sermon I saw Jesus, not the preacher. I tend to think we praise the preacher these days more than we praise the Lord that we should be seeing.
Begin with a fact. Build upon that. Teach what the Bible says. One can’t go wrong with that.