Accurate Teaching Without God's Presence
Biblical orthodoxy is necessary but not sufficient.
Here are words from A. W. Tozer, written more than sixty years ago, that are worth pondering today:
There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy....
Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts…
The scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells us what he has seen… Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are overrun today with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they? The hard voice of the scribe sounds over evangelicalism, but the church waits for the tender voice of the saint who has penetrated the veil and has gazed with inward eye on the wonder that is God. (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, 1948)
Soul Winning and Sound Doctrine
Earlier I posted an excerpt from The Soul Winner, written in the late 1800s, in which Charles Spurgeon warned against the danger of prizing doctrinal precision without striving to win souls. Yet Spurgeon also emphasized that if we are to win souls, then we must hold sound doctrine and preach the true gospel. Here's a snippet: "If they will be faithful reporters of Christ's message, He will make them 'fishers of men.' But you know the boastful method, nowadays, is this: 'I am not going to preach this old, old gospel, this musty Puritan doctrine. I will sit down in my study, and burn the midnight oil, and invent a new theory; then I will come out with my brand-new thought, and blaze away with it.' Many are not following Christ, but following themselves, and of them the Lord may well say, 'Thou shalt see whose word shall stand, Mine or theirs.' ... Certain things not taught in the Bible our enlightened age has discovered. Evolution may be clean contrary to the teaching of Genesis, but that does not matter. We are not going to be believers of Scripture, but original thinkers. This is the vain-glorious ambition of the period. Mark you, in proportion as the modern theology is preached, the vice of this generation increases. To a great degree, I attribute the looseness of the age to the laxity of the doctrine preached by its teachers. From the pulpit they have taught that sin is a trifle. From the pulpit these traitors to God and to His Christ have taught the people that there is no hell to be feared... They have given the people the name of the gospel, but the gospel itself has evaporated in their hands."
I've been re-reading Charles Spurgeon's The Soul Winner, written in the late 1800s. Spurgeon urges those who are not winning souls not to criticize others who are winning souls, not “to go about the churches, doing nothing yourself, and railing at the Lord’s useful servants." He speaks of those who specialize in matching Bible prophecies with headlines but neglect soul winning: "Here is another who has spent all his time in interpreting the prophecies, so that everything he read of in the newspapers he could see in Daniel and Revelation. He is wise, so some say, but I had rather spend my time in winning souls. I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unpick all the mysteries of the divine Word.” Spurgeon warns not to be satisfied with holding orthodox beliefs and contending against errors: “It is comparatively a small matter for a minister to have been a staunch upholder of orthodoxy all his days, and to have spent himself in keeping up the hedges of his church; soul-winning is the main concern. It is a very good thing to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; but I do not think I should like to say in my last account, ‘Lord, I have lived to fight the Romanists and the State Church, and to put down the various erroneous sects, but I never led a sinner to the cross.’ No, we will fight the good fight of faith, but the winning of souls is the greater matter, and he who attends to it is wise.”
Alzheimer's and Pat Robertson
I knew a woman with Alzheimer's whose mind degenerated so far that sometimes all she could do was repeat over and over, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Her nurse heard those biblical words repeated so often that she took them as God's message to her and put her faith in Christ. That nurse was literally saved through the testimony of an Alzheimer's patient who could not recognize her own children.
Recently TV evangelist Pat Robertson said that it would be okay to divorce a spouse afflicted by Alzheimer's and marry someone else. Here's an excellent response to Robertson's ungodly advice.
If you like to think that homeschooling is a failsafe method for producing fabulous kids, or that homeschooling parents are immune to blunders, then you won't want to click the link at the end of this paragraph. But if you want to learn from a longtime homeschooler about some of the most common pitfalls that he found in other homeschoolers and in his own family, then read on. It may be painful reading for some, but it might also be liberating. Click to read Reb Bradley's Homeschool Blindspots.