Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Priscilla du Preez
Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? – Luke 6:46
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. – John 13:17
Show us what you do and we can decide for ourselves whether you believe the Bible.
My friend Kristin was commenting on meaningless questions some of our Facebook friends suggested should be put before pastor search committees. Most, she said, are useless because they presuppose the answer.
Asking a search committee “Does your church believe the Bible?” is meaningless.
Because they’re all going to answer in the affirmative, and you’re no better off than had you not asked it.
“Wait a minute,” Kristin said, interrupting herself. “I just remembered a time when my pastor answered that differently."
It was the time of year, she said, when visitors traipsed through their Boston church, all seemingly in search of a church that met their (ahem) high standards. Many are young adults, she said, often with impossibly strict demands.
An 18-year-old visitor approached Pastor Daniel Harrell and asked rather crudely, “Does this church believe the Bible?” Daniel was thoughtful for a moment, then said, “No, we don’t.”
The youngster had heard what he wanted to hear and walked out, never to return.
Note: He was being facetious, class. Please note that.
Later, the pastor related this incident to his leaders. He said, “The only answer to that question that makes sense is to listen to what we preach and observe what we do. Make up your own mind. No other answer suffices.”
After all, in defense of Pastor Daniel, to say “yes, we believe the Bible” is as meaningless as asking someone if they have embezzled company funds or committed adultery. They will almost always answer, “No.”
Anyone who would do such a thing has no trouble lying about it.
Likewise, anyone who compromises in teaching the Word will not hesitate to say they believe the Bible. (Note: Dr. Daniel Harrell is presently Editor-in-Chief of Christianity Today and he still believes the Bible.)
Some questions are pointless because the answers will be worthless.
The evidence, the proof, is in the individual’s life and conduct.
Watch my life and you will know what I believe.
But let’s admit the obvious here: Many churches clearly do not believe the Bible.
A church does not believe the Bible if….
1. It does not practice what Scripture teaches.
My little children, let us not love in word and in tongue (only), but in deed and in truth. – 1 John 3:18
If they are not practicing it, they do not believe it. Period.
They head to the lawcourts to settle their disputes? They do not believe the Bible. They welcome active addicts and adulterers into their pulpits since, as they say, “we’re all sinners” and “who are we to judge?” They do not believe the Bible. They love the people of the world more than they do those of their own denomination with whom they disagree on doctrinal issues; they do not believe the Bible.
2. It condones unbiblical practices.
My friend was interim pastor of a church that had an unmarried couple living together as husband and wife while in leadership positions. When he took that interim pastorate, the deacons assured him they would deal with that situation. Some months later, it was becoming apparent that the leadership was afraid to face the couple and had no intention of dealing with the matter. So, my friend resigned.
That church does not believe the Bible, regardless of what they say or teach.
The church which has made the pastor a lackey and put the deacons in charge of the heavy lifting (i.e, major decisions) does not believe the Bible.
Our Lord said:
Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say? – Luke 6:46
3. It rationalizes the miracles and spiritualizes the resurrection.
Nothing identifies a liberal (by which we mean “compromising’) church quicker than this. To such a church, the miracles were not really supernatural but natural events the unsophisticated people of the First Century did not understand, them being stupid and ignorant.
And the resurrection was not actually meant to be understood as having actually happened on a physical plane—us being stupid and all—but was merely a divine teaching fraught with spiritual applications.
Give me a break. Why don’t they just admit they are pagans and let it go at that?
4. I’m tempted to say a church does not believe the Bible if it does not teach all the Scripture. But that needs clarifying…
Not all Scripture has the same food value. The New Testament is more important for believers than the Old. The Gospels are more important than the epistles. The Epistle to the Romans is of greater value than any other epistle. And while the intricate details of tabernacle construction or the symbolism of priestly garments carry wonderful teaching for God’s people, none of that is as urgent as the Sermon on the Mount.
The pastor who majors on the New Testament and the sweep of God’s history through the Old Testament while preaching little about the prophetic elements in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation, has my vote. I say this knowing full well that some will disagree. They are surely entitled to their position and I respect that. Whether they will love me (and those who agree with the above), and show us the same respect, remains to be seen.
Calvinists believe the Bible. Arminians believe the Bible. They just disagree on what it means. We must never confuse differences of interpretation with denial of the Word.
Once in a while, when an online magazine posts an article of ours on a controversial subject, some critic will jump in to say “McKeever does not believe the Bible.” The other day one said, “McKeever must be a pessimist who has soured on life.” I smile at both. No one who has ever sat under my ministry believes either of those.
Listen to my preaching and watch my life, then decide.
Or, if you want a shortcut, ask my wife or my children. Whatever they say, you may take to the bank.
Joe McKeever has been a disciple of Jesus Christ more than 65 years, been preaching the gospel more than 55 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian publications more than 45 years. He blogs at www.joemckeever.com.