“My People Are Destroyed
For Lack Of Knowledge.”
In those days before the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians
(722 B.C.), the prophet Hosea focused upon one of the causes of Israel’s
impending destruction – ignorance was a fundamental problem (4:6). In
a similar vein, Isaiah, speaking for the Lord, warned the southern kingdom of
Judah of a coming time of punitive devastation: “My people are gone into
captivity for lack of knowledge” (5:13). The prophetic curse was fulfilled
in the Babylonian Captivity (606-536 B.C.).
Since the great truths of the Old Testament serve for our learning (Rom. 15:4),
surely we can conclude that a sustained ignorance of Jehovah’s will can
bring nothing but tragedy to the modern church.
Christianity is a religion of instruction. Where there is no solid biblical
instruction, the Christian system can neither commence nor continue. One of
the basic differences between the Mosaic regime (into which one was born physically)
and the church of Jesus Christ, is the fact that knowledge is prerequisite to
identifying with the faith of the gospel (Jer. 31:31-34). Jesus declared that
favor with God must involve instruction, reception, comprehension, and commitment
Anyone with a smattering of Bible knowledge, and any experience at all within
our brotherhood, is aware of the fact that the church of today is facing a time
of great crisis. We have those among us who have a pathetically low regard for
the concept of Bible inspiration/authority. Not a few have made serious compromises
with the dogma of evolution in an effort to mesh with society. Many of our people
are very fuzzy on what constitutes a Christian. They think the church of Christ
is but another denomination. A number of prominent personalities contend that
there are few guidelines for regulating worship, and so the church must jazz-up
its services to appeal to an entertainment-oriented culture. Basic truth has
been thrown to the wind.
Why are things in such a state of chaos? One of the reasons is ignorance. There
probably has not been a time in this century when Bible knowledge among the
Lord’s people has sunk to such a base level. Let us be more specific.
We are suffering a leadership
crisis. Where are the godly elders who know the Bible from “cover to cover”?
Where are the bishops who can, and will, stand and exhort in sound doctrine and
convict the gainsayers (Tit. 1:9). There are still some great elders, but far
too many who are serving in this capacity have been given the job because they
were successful businessmen, had wealth, or possessed other traits that were wholly
unrelated to tending the flock of God.
The church has on its hands a new generation of preachers who have matriculated
through some of our schools (and denominational seminaries), but who do not understand
the most elementary matters about the role of the gospel preacher. They are experts
in everything but the Word of God. These new princes are theological clones who
can scarcely frame a sentence that the common man can understand. They know nothing,
teach nothing, and stand for nothing—but, unfortunately, numerous people
love it this way.
It is no longer the case that the average person in the pew is a good Bible student.
Everyone has probably heard the old story about the judge who couldn’t find
a Bible in his courtroom with which to swear in a witness; so he simply called
for a Christian man and had the witness place his hand upon the brother’s
head. The days are gone when God’s people were known as a “Bible-toting,
Bible-quoting” people. Many members of the church never carry a Bible to
worship, and they could not cite scriptural references on the most fundamental
of doctrinal issues.
Most of our schools are not the solid training centers they used to be. The time
was when the presidents and faculty-members of our colleges were great gospel
preachers/teachers who knew how to powerfully proclaim the truth and win souls.
They were rich in Bible knowledge. Many of our current administrators have arrived
in their positions because they are adept at fund-raising. Too, we have become
so “degree” oriented that we have allowed the secular accrediting
systems to structure our teaching programs according to their ideals. Many labor
under the illusion that one cannot be an effective herald of the gospel unless
he has at least a Master’s degree. Is it any wonder that some of our schools
have become the “Trojan horse” by which corruption has wormed its
way into the church? Some of our colleges constitute one of the greatest threats
to the church today.
The Bible school literature that we have produced in recent decades is woefully
anemic. It is hard to find material that is strong in doctrine. The current slick
and colorful literature is filled with case-study scenarios and role-playing exercises
that rely more on human wisdom than a respect for the authority of God’s
Our homes are void of biblical instruction. Domestic lives are so crowded –
both dad and mom working, children are involved in school, sports, etc. –
that virtually all religious instruction has been left up to the Bible school,
which, in many instances, represents a sorry effort. A hastily-prepared, Saturday-night
lesson, with a fill-in-the-blanks format, simply will not provide the foundation
for spiritual stability.
Most congregations are suffering serious attendance problems. Only a fraction
of the local church attends Sunday or Wednesday evening gatherings. Aside from
the Lord’s day morning assembly, only a skeleton crew will attend the services
of a gospel meeting. Almost no teenagers will be in evidence. It is utterly amazing
at the casual way in which many children of God treat the meetings of the church.
Neglect of the assemblies for trivial circumstances – even by leaders and
Bible class teachers – is a common occurrence.
The crisis we face is real and deadly. Unless there is a revival of interest among
church leaders; unless there is some resurgence of rich teaching of the sacred
Scriptures; unless there is a rekindling of passion for the cause of Christ within
the church—we are in for rough times. The church cannot flourish if she
continues to drift in the same sluggish direction she has embraced in recent years.
May God help us to responsibly address these problems.
By Wayne Jackson
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