The title of this series of posts is “One Destination, Many Paths.” That title is not what I believe, but instead what a majority of Americans believe according to the article and survey. According to Scripture there is only one way to God and that is through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Jn 14:6; 1 Tim 2:5; Ac 4:11-12).
I believe the reason for this condition in America is the poor knowledge of Scripture and the poor application of discipleship in believers lives. Biblical ignorance, and thus the absence of Biblical holiness, is the reason America is in the religious condition it is is. But let me go a step further…
The reason Evangelical Christians are deficient in their beliefs is not because they aren’t going to church… it is not because they haven’t heard Bible preaching. It is because a good number have not been taught historic orthodox Biblical Christianity. And there is one person who is responsible for this situation… pastors.
This is not to say that pastor/teachers have not been preaching from the Bible… I am just suggesting that there has not been a proper emphasis on the part of the Christian faith AFTER conversion. Evangelical pastors have called for conversion and placed a heavy emphasis on salvation… and rightly so! But if that is all that people hear from them the result will be an anemic faith in those who hear.
Consider a few thoughts from Hebrews 5:11-6:2. This is a strong call for maturity in the faith. Note in 5:14 that only when a person is maturing are they able to discern truth from error, good from evil. It is the pastor who is primarily responsible to teach, train, and disciple God’s people in their faith. If the people are not discerning in their faith and can’t tell truth from error, the first place to look is the pulpit, the preaching/teaching and disciplship ministry of the pastor.
Note then in 6:1 that while the foundation is important, it is just as important for believers to mature in their faith. Believers must move past what I call a “John 3:16 faith.” John 3:16 is important. It is where all believers begin their walk with God. But if that is all they have… if that is as far as they go… if that remains the only element of their walk with God they will fall under the description found in 5:12-14.
If the pastor is fulfilling his call but believers are still not maturing, there is one more place to look. The individual believer must be active themselves in the discipleship process. If God’s people don’t apply and live what they hear, the pastor/teacher is spinning his wheels.
Thus what is found in 2 Peter 1:5-8. Here believers are encouraged to “make every effort.” This means it is not enough to just hear Sunday School lessons and/or messages. Biblical truths must be worked into every area of life. This is what Paul meant by “Work out your salvation.” Believers are to do more than hear… they are to be active in becoming more like Jesus. Christians are to be forgiving… merciful… compassionate… and loving as Jesus was. Christians are to mauture in their faith.
How can you know if you are maturing in Christ? Here’s the standard. If you are MORE loving, MORE forgiving, MORE merciful, MORE gracious, MORE compassionate, MORE like Christ today than you were last week… last month… last year, THEN you are growing in your faith.
Pastors… Make sure you proclaim the whole Gospel. Feed God’s people what is necessary for them to grow in Christ and be mature in their faith. Leave the cute stories and psychological fuzzies for others. You are the purveyor of God’s truth and nothing else should come from the Sacred Desk. The reason is that God is going to hold you accountable for your teaching and preaching ministry.
Christians… Settle for nothing less from your pastor than solid Bible exposition and pure Gospel truth. When he preaches or teaches, test what he says by the Scripture to make sure it is true. Then work God’s truth deep into your soul, spirit, and life.