Pastor, you may have been and are one of my Bible mentors, and you may be the most qualified to address an issue that I believe God as given me insight into recently.
I’ll get right to the point.
In a recent sermon, our pastor touched on a number of areas that really cried out for knowing the Bible.
He mentioned how people are worried. He mentioned our minds, and listed (with Scripture references) a number of characteristics of the mind. He said, “…the state of a person has so much to do with who or what is controlling the mind.” (And I’m thinking “Satan and his demons”!)
One of the Scriptures the pastor quoted was 1 Corinthians 2:14:
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
He gave a number of Scriptures like that.
He used the word “Satan”; he used the word “enemy”; he mentioned memorizing Bible verses. Plenty of “what”… but nothing about “how” or even “why”.
Toward the end of his sermon, the pastor lamented that there were so many empty seats. (We meet in a Jr high school auditorium. This was the first of two services).
After the sermon, I was chatting with one of the elders. I expressed the thought that the sermon had given us a lot of “what” to do, but not one bit of “how” to do it.
The elder looked astonished: “What do you mean?”, he replied.
His question astonished me! I tried to articulate what I was thinking, but it wasn’t until later that I suddenly realized what was going on.
To a life-long Bible Christian, it’s second nature to look to the Bible for wisdom. They were raised on it. But that is so not true for those raised in liturgical churches where strict adherence to an external set of religious practices is the whole focus.
I used to be in the Catholic Church, where the Bible was forbidden until recent times! True. My mother once said that until the early 1940’s it was a mortal sin – you would burn in hell – for a Catholic to even have a Bible in your home! She didn’t make that up. She would have gotten it from the priest. Catholic teaching demands that people must not read the Bible alone, but must combine it with “Sacred tradition and the teaching of the magisterium”. Furthermore, and I quote, “Catholics don’t take the Bible literally”. And so the Catholic says in their heart, “I just don’t get it!” and if they have a Bible in the house (many do not), they never open it.
So you see what happens: the liturgical church member works with or lives near or interacts with Bible Christians. At some point, the Bible Christian shares about how the Bible strengthens them, comforts them, protects them, and in general gives them practical wisdom for all areas of life.
The liturgical church member is hurting. Hardly surprising. They know there is nothing in their religion to help them. So they take a huge step and walk into a Bible church hoping and longing for whatever it is that their Bible friend has.
But, having been steeped in the rites, rituals, and ceremonies of religion, they don’t know what’s going on. There’s no altar. Instead of an organ they have… what!! a rock band?? And darned if I’m going to put my hands up! (I used to be just like that!)
So the service begins. They sing standing up and with their hands in the air for half an hour. They call that worship!
Then the pastor begins preaching, and he goes on… and on… and on, for a while hour! At least in the church they came from it was less than 10 minutes.
But the desperate need is still there. They may attend for a few weeks, but they just don’t find the help and comfort they were so in need of.
And so they leave without fanfare, and go back to where at least they had some familiarity. Or they become one of the “nones”.
They leave not knowing that God meant for all of us to discover and apply principles from His Word. That concept is totally foreign to them. They may never know the joy of connecting with their creator as they internalize His Word. All they knew from the past is: “It’s a mortal sin if you don’t attend mass”.
As I’m sure you know, these people have no clue that they must take an active role in the process of getting the Bible benefits their friends seem to have. In the church they were raised in, nothing was required beyond the memorizing a few questions and answers from the catechism. When you were a school kid, that was the extent of your training. And it equips you for nothing useful in life.
To a Catholic, to attend a one hour Sunday service at a Bible church would be like coming into an epic Bible story that has been going on for over two thousand years. The person is perplexed: “what does it mean”??
I hope I have stated the situation adequately. I hope you can see the disconnect that’s going on in churches all around us. When all the leaders of the Bible church were born into and raised in Bible churches, it makes sense that they don’t realize the mindset of a Catholic or Lutheran.
Can you see the disconnect I’m describing? This is huge! And the devil is loving it! To make matters worse, Barna polls show that 2/3 of Catholics don’t believe the devil is real or that the Holy Spirit is real!
So, what to do?
There is a fundamental body of spiritual/biblical knowledge that everyone needs. Churches seem to believe that people have it, but many do not. They need massive disciplining in the areas I mentioned back at the beginning. They need more than a Sunday service and a weeknight small group. As Paul wrote, they need to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.
My purpose in writing to you is: I just want to help lost people find the truth.
The need is so great!!
Pastor, thanks for reading this.