In the minds of many, if not most "Christians" of our day, historical-biblical aspects of their faith are considered insignificant and obtrusive. After all, the post-modern church keeps reminding us that the only vital element is to love Jesus and get along. Perhaps, if understood properly, that would be the case, but because of our lack of knowledge concerning the true identity of Jesus Christ and the unfortunate misunderstandings surrounding the basis of Christian unity, the church has fallen into a deadly trap. For instance, the Jesus that we are to love, is not the Jesus of the Latter-Day-Saints, nor is He the Jesus of many so-called evangelical churches in which His majesty has been replaced with superficiality and His great love has been turned into a pathetic sentimentalism. And this misinformation about Christ has gained prominence for one reason--we do not get our information about Christ from the right source--the Bible. Therefore, unity, which is to be a goal of the church, is not attained because of doctrinal ignorance and theological apathy. It is tragic that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has replaced theology with pop-psychology and anthropocentric philosophy.
The fruit of this demise has been the abandonment of careful exegesis of the one document which would bring the church out of her tailspin--the Bible. Not long ago, I heard of a young seminary student who spoke to a well-known Southern Baptist pastor about the difficulty of seminary training. The student said, in response to the pastor's enquiry about how the young man enjoyed the seminary, "I have found Greek and Hebrew extremely difficult, but all-together I'm finding my seminary experience quite enjoyable." The veteran pastor responded by saying, "Don't worry about all that technical stuff, when you become a pastor you won't have time for all of that anyway." To which he added this telling statement, "After you become a pastor you'll get most of your sermons from the Internet, that's where I get mine." STOP! LISTEN! And WEEP! No wonder the sheep are starving, and as their hunger pains intensify they become like ravenous wolves devouring each other. Of course the sheep (and the shepherds) keep shouting, "let's just all get along" which prove useless when the flesh takes over. It's like trying to stop an avalanche with a baseball bat; it just doesn't get it done. Only the Word of God interpreted properly, proclaimed boldly and loved dearly will bring about the desired unity of the body of Christ. There is no peace without the Prince of Peace and there is no Prince of Peace without the Bible.
Now, some will say, "but we have the Bible at our church." Listen carefully and take heed, having the Bible in the church and understanding the Bible are two distinctly different realities. I'm aware that almost all churches have plenty of Bibles laying around, some are even read periodically, but the question is not, "do you have a Bible in your church," It is, "Do you diligently study to show yourself approved of God by rightly dividing the Word of Truth?" In other words, do you consistently read, analyze and examine it's content? For most, in my opinion, tradition is the foundation for what they believe, not the Bible. Now they wave the Bible when they're defending their "faith," but they do not really know the true origin of their beliefs. Just because the preacher in the pulpit (including myself) said it, even in a bold fashion, it is not necessarily the Truth as it is in Scripture. It is to be the constant endeavor of the people of God to measure ALL things according to the Truth of the revelation of God--the Bible.
To summarize my argument, I would state unequivocally, that true Christianity is based upon historical propositional truths as stated in the Bible and not on the whims, visions, special revelations, feeling, hopes, dreams, ad nauseam of man. If your faith is resting solely on what your preachers taught you, what your parents brought you up to believe, what your church embraces, or how you feel about yourself, then your house is being built upon the sand and it is not in order. But, on the other hand, if your faith resides in the Truth as it is in Scripture and upon the One to whom the Scripture points your faith--Christ--then your house is indeed built upon The Rock. Now perhaps, that truth has been taught by your preacher, your parents and your church and if so, rejoice in the Lord for His smiling providence upon you which established you in the Truth through such means. But, on the other hand, if you find in your search that all those whom you have respected in the past have not taught you according to the only true standard, you have no choice but to abandon your faulty beliefs and embrace the Word of the Living God. Finally, take heed, for the test will be in the storms you face, which will prove of what sort is the foundation upon which your life is built. By God's grace may we be left standing--not in our own strength--but in His power and might, which we know of, by the way, through His WORD!
Let goods and kindreds go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
Gods truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is FOREVER!
From Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"
Dr. Roy Hargrave is Senior Pastor of Riverbend Community Church in Ormond Beach, Florida