“We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.”
-EFCA Statement of Faith
When a referee blows his whistle in a game it signals a stoppage in play (another basketball analogy?). In a basketball game, often it means that some violation has occurred, such as a foul or traveling with the ball, or ball went out of bounds and so on. Like a good referee in a game, he must make a judgment call based on what he sees and knows of the rules. From a coach’s perspective, sometimes he gets it right, and other times he missed the call.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to make judgments. That is different than being judgmental and feeling empowered to referee everyone else’s life. But we are to discern between truth and error. And as D.L Moody put it, “The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it.” Our straight stick is the Word of God.
This past week, I had to make a judgment call around a Bible Study video series that I was excited about. When the study was sent to me from the Adult Discipleship team, I loved the subject matter and I personally have listened to and appreciated the ministry of Andy Stanley going as far back as 30 years ago when I served as youth pastor. There is a great need today to have guardrails in our lives so that we don’t fall off the edge morally, financially, physically, and spiritually.
That was one reason my decision to replace this study with another study was so challenging. But church, when I laid the straight stick of the Word of God alongside of some other words spoken by the respected Andy Stanley, a judgment had to be made. I understand Pastor Stanley had his reasons for saying what he did around the virgin birth and the Old Testament (you can research it yourself), yet in the essentials of the faith in particular we must be precise. In my judgment, he wasn’t precise and for the collective good of the church, I did blow the whistle.
Let me clear, there is not a writer or preacher out there, or right here at EBC, that has it all correct. You have heard me say often while it is my responsibility to handle the Word of God as accurately as I can, it is your responsibility to make sure what I and anyone else says lines up to what Scripture says. Be Bereans, who “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Wow! Every day?
Also, I want to be clear in saying that it is not my responsibility to find something wrong with everyone. In other words, there is no perfect teacher so there is no perfect teaching. We won’t agree with every teaching, in every message or every book. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from what that teacher says. Nor does it mean we can’t use the material for personal study or to teach others. We are back to our word, “discernment.” Please use discernment! Please examine the Scriptures. Don’t accept everything you hear or read. Lay the straight stick of the Word of God alongside of it.
As we have held up these last two weeks through our two messages on the Word of God, I do not want anything to undermine our belief in the Scriptures. In my judgment, this was at risk, so a decision had to be made. I do hope you will attend the timely study on “Kingdom Agenda” by Tony Evans, that begins on Sunday, February 6 from 9:00-10:00.