I have noticed that a lot of churches have already held their vacation Bible school programs this summer, while others are doing so this week or will be doing so in the near future. I think this is great! A good VBS program can begin to tackle one of my most serious concerns about the church today — biblical literacy. How familiar is your congregation, your family, or even you with the facts surrounding the characters, stories, and writings in the Bible?

My colleague, I often wonder how fundamentally sound we are in the North American church? We constantly try to simplify the Lord’s message, often without including the nitty-gritty background details that make it so relevant. How about those of us (you) who are leaders in the North American church? Are we fundamentally sound?

I find it hard to imagine that any church or any believer could be considered fundamentally sound without an ever-deepening knowledge of God’s Word. How can anyone fully relate to a biblically sound sermon or lesson without knowing the facts of the biblical story, the context of a scriptural quote, the historical background in which that part of the Bible came into existence, the names and accounts of those characters whose faith, exploits, adventures, and misadventures were used by God in His book to reveal His important teachings.

And yet, that’s what I see more and more often. I see those who cannot identify in which book the story of creation is recorded, the distinct chapters in the rich life of Joseph, the unnatural courage demonstrated by Daniel, the risks taken by Esther, the tension surrounding Jeremiah, the apathy faced by Jesus, the anger encountered by Paul, or the political world in which Epaenetus became the first Christian convert in Asia (Romans 16).

Pastor, your people need to know the Bible and its content. They need to be proficient at Biblical quizzes. They need to know which major world empires and forces existed as God was working with His chosen people at the various stages and eras of their development. They need to know what prevailing philosophical and theological concepts the people of God faced as they moved forward in their maturity. Of course, people won’t completely grasp much of this information as they begin their journeys of faith, but you must be sure they are continuing to grow in their biblical literacy each year until they do. Only then can they fully appreciate how amazing God’s presence has been throughout the history of mankind, and the enormous power He brings to bear on our futures.

Paul advised Timothy, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). In an earlier letter, he told Timothy to “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity … devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:12-13). Paul was referring to the basic gospel that “Jesus is Lord,” but as one who had learned every detail of the Scriptures as a Jewish student and theologian, he certainly hoped that the characters, stories, and content of the Word would eventually become equally as familiar to those in the churches he led.

Paul also admonished his protégé to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace” (2 Timothy 2:22). Paul regularly referred to these and other fundamental contents of God’s Word as he explained their applications for his readers. Fundamentals! You can’t maintain a high level of ministry without good fundamentals.

What do you think? What do you perceive to be a fundamentally sound church and/or Christian leader? Please take some time to consider the fundamentals and whether your church needs a course correction.

“They must keep hold of the deep truths [stories and concepts] of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9).

2 thoughts on “Being Fundamentally Sound

  1. Hello there HB,

    Bill Peck here, the younger one 🙂 (My Dad passed away in 87, if you didn’t know, and Mom in 98) from back in the Salem First Church days, very long time no see, good to catch up with you, pray you have a blessed retirement.

    I think what you’ve written here is amazingly crucial, knowing God’s word, studying it consistently, knowing history. It’s something the Lord has guided me into the past 20 years or so, and I’ve been greatly aided and enriched by getting to know the teachings of the great Puritans over these years. So many in our day could not care less about any of that, and to me that’s a very serious situation for a professing Christian to be in, like, do you really love God, are you really saved, do you ever examine yourself as the Bible instructs us to do, where is your desire to read God’s Word etc?

    So I’m encouraged by what you’ve written here! Hope you and family are doing well.

    Take care and God bless,

    Bill

  2. I’m beside you all the way on this one, H.B. I have been astounded (or maybe ashamed) at how many pastors and congregants only know theological tidbits and practical three-point action steps towards living the Christian life. But give them a Bible quiz on the characters or stories from the Bible and they are wide-eyed, mystified, and lost. The simple application of a Biblical truth might be there, but there are no deep roots to give it continual radiant life. There was a parable that Jesus used to explain how the gospel is received and matures. He even explained it in detail to his disciples. Perhaps it applies here.

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