The Mountain of Material…

“Many Christians are overwhelmed by a mountain of material which they erroneously think they must master if they are ever to answer the questions of thinking Christians and non-Christians.”

This past Sunday, in Sunday School, I taught a lesson based on John 11, the familiar story of Jesus raising Lazarus. Instead of using a video of Mark Batterson’s “Grave Robber,” we turned to the Scripture itself and we worked through the story line by line.  Everyone said they knew the story but did they really?

We examined the words of the Scripture and then someone said, “I have never looked at this closely because I thought I knew it.” Someone else added that they did not study the Bible because it was so intimidating; they felt they could not understand all that complex material.

These are common reasons why people don’t embark on the study of their faith.

How can we correct this?

Part of the answer is found in a person’s attitude. Many of us have jobs that are overwhelming.  How about those fifty pounds we need to lose?  How about that garage that needs to be organized and it looks now like it should be featured on the “Hoarders” show?  Life if full of big jobs that we put off because we hate to start.  The task will take too long and we don’t think we have what it takes for a long-term project.

Don’t get me wrong when I say this. The Bible is a book that we can approach with ease if we have a more relaxed attitude.  Don’t get hung up in a plan that will discipline you to read a certain number of pages every day.  Some of you may have embarked on that “I am going to read the Bible through this year” resolution and that is wonderful if you know you have the discipline.  But the main thing we need to do is just read the Bible.   It does not matter if you have a plan;  just read it.  Be systematic if that works but be regular in doing it.  Along with reading, think about what you are reading.  Some recommend that you memorize it but I am not a big memorizer.  I am a regular reader and I have noticed that regular reading leads to the ability to recall important passages, almost as good as memorizing.

Let’s get one thing straight. The mountain of material is really only one book, intimidating as it is.  The Bible is God’s training manual and it is the mountain that you need to start climbing.  The Bible contains the words of God, a living message that is direct to you.  It contains everything that you need to live and grow as a Christian.

But you have to open it systematically and regularly.

Will the questions that you get from non-believers be that complex? Paul Little says they are not and they are of the nature like the ones he discusses in Chapters 2 through 12 in his book.

I know someone asking you “Is There a God?” can be scary but how will you have the answer?   First of all, you have to think through why God is real for you.  We’ll examine many reasons why people believe in future posts but start now coming up with your own answer.  Can you articulate an answer?   Get into scripture and find the answer.  A great place to start is the Gospel of John.  John tells about what Jesus said and who Jesus was. In John are some of the simplest and clearest passages, but also some of the deepest and most profound passages.  Don’t let the deep and profound passages stop you, just do some thinking about them.  Come up with your own answer to give someone who asks “Is there a God?”

Recognize that you have a Holy Spirit that can come in handy in two ways.   One, your Holy Spirit can reveal God’s message to you through His word and the Holy Spirit can guide you to the best things to say to an inquiring non-Christian.

Like Moses in Exodus, we can rely on God’s word “I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”

Lastly, we need to realize that God is the one who will do the work. We not only fret about the mountain of material we have to master and the words we have to express, but we also worry about “saving” the non-Christian.

We don’t do that. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit—and not merely your words—that will ultimately lead someone to receive the message of the Gospel.  Remember, your job is to proclaim the Good News.  It’s up to the Holy Spirit to convict and convince.

I know about the mountain. I have looked up at it too.  I have thought, I can’t climb this, I don’t know where to start my climb, the task is too overwhelming.

Remember, two people will benefit from our efforts to know why we believe. The non-believer questioner can benefit as you serve God with your answers to his or her questions.  You will benefit as you develop your own needed foundation for your own faith.

 

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