For years I have heard charismatics voice the excuse, "Well, I just don't know the Bible like the Baptists." As I visit Spirit-filled Pentecostal, charismatic and nondenominational congregations around the world, I sense that God is richly blessing His people with tremendous conversions, awesome healings and powerful worship. But a frightening lack of teaching, knowing and properly applying Scripture exists among us.
Jesus reveals that His words are "spirit and life." Paul writes to Timothy that all Scripture is God-breathed and suitable for equipping us in righteousness: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16, NKJV).
Strong emphasis is placed in many of our churches on worship services, children's and youth ministry, and cell groups. But a dearth of adult Christian discipleship and education resources exists. Sunday school, adult Christian education and elective equipping courses seem to be on a rapid decline.
Some argue that this trend is a good thing, reminding me that too much adult education in the past has been like the "letter of the law," lacking the Spirit and life. I agree in part, but let's not throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water.
People perish for a lack of knowledge. Spiritual excesses foment when teaching of the Word declines. Preaching isn't enough to equip the saints.
Immorality, adultery, pornography and divorce seem to be exploding like popcorn among our leadership as well as our laity. Quite frankly, God's Word isn't being hidden in our hearts, from leadership on down through the ranks. As a result, moral restraints are loosened and even leadership flaunts sin.
Too many among us are more adept at quoting the pundits of TV personalities than the Word of God. In the early days of Christian television, the airwaves were filled with Christian teachers. Now it seems that entertainment has become the standard fare.
We need both to share what's available in educating and equipping adults as well as to develop a new emphasis on an atrophic office gift in the body--the office of teacher! Larry Keefauver is a teaching pastor at The Gathering Place Worship Center in Lake Mary, Florida. His most recent book is a 12-week workbook titled, Experiencing the Holy Spirit (Nelson).
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