My iPhone caused a real problem in the last church I was a member of.
I was raised in a “Bible-Based” “Non-Denominational” church where there was always a NIV Bible in the pew, and the teacher on the day would often call out the page number for you to follow.
This was an excellent discipleship strategy. It’s so important to get eyes on the actual Word of God. These days the YouVersion Bible App allows easy access to verses throughout the Word as quick as a double tap.
This lightning access really helps to follow a preacher’s train of thought. Actually reading every verse referenced and placing them in context, really allows you to test the teaching you’re hearing. It can also reveal just how much of the Bible is used out of context to build the lesson for the day.
Over a few months I was struck that a minimum of 10% of Scripture is quoted out of context, misquoted, or simply ignored in church sermons. And while 1/10th doesn’t sound like much to leave out, it can significantly change the meaning of a passage.
So when testing the teaching we were hearing against the Word, iPhone in hand, it struck me suddenly that we were only hearing 90% of the Truth many, many times – and from various teachers. Thinking back I realized that it was the same challenge in many of the ‘comfortable’ sermons we’ve heard over the years, across multiple church bodies.
Every now and then though, a preacher will come and read the Bible. We had one in our last fellowship, but he didn’t last long. Maybe 10% of his whole sermon came out of his experience and exhortation while he spent 90% of his time reading full passages of the Word in context. Really, he was the rare sort of teacher who simply let the Word speak for itself.
In our current small home-based fellowship this has become an important method of establishing and testing our doctrine.
The Bible only gets confusing when you ignore parts of it, even 10%.
It becomes alive, challenging and encouraging when you accept the text as the Word of God. It’s not necessarily comfortable. No, it is useful for rebuke and correction and for instruction in righteousness.
Paul’s writings are hard to understand on their own, and yes, there are some things which we won’t figure out until we get to Heaven. But the Holy Spirit reveals the Word to us as we humble ourselves.
The Truth is just that – Truth. It stands on its own when it’s read and accepted 100%.
The Bible makes sense to me, but I had to step back and acknowledge my 3 decades of the 10%. Then I had to ask the Lord to reveal His Truth to me afresh, and what a joy to see it open up!