“What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” A. W. Tozer

Sermon #62: The Importance of Studying the Scriptures

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures." – Matthew 22:29 (NIV)

The Bible verse does not say, “You are in error because you do not know what the teachers of the Word, or preachers, teach.” Neither does it say, “You err because you do not know what the prophets have prophesied.” Instead, it says, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures.”

Pastors, prophets, preachers, teachers, evangelists, etc. play a critical role in advancing the cause of the Gospel. We thank them for this. However, important as their role is, they teach the Word of God at different levels of revelation (frequencies), interpretation and for different motives! 

It is therefore important for every Christian, personally, to study the Word, instead of, as some do, solely relying on preachers. Studying the Word must be every Christian's daily vocation and devotion, an undertaking indispensable for a proper walk with God (wholesome Christian living) and personal spiritual growth and development.

Ignorance of the Scriptures is the reason for Christians erring.

The Word of God is the final authority or final word on everything pertaining to Christian life. Pastors (whether junior or senior), priests, prophets, teachers, evangelists, cell leaders have an important role to play in Kingdom matters; but they are not the final authorities. 

The Word of God is the final authority. This is why it’s vital for one to garner enough inspiration to dedicate themselves to the study of the Holy Scriptures. It is by studying the Word that one guards against falling into error.

Some preachers (God bless their hearts) teach only what they truly believe to be the truth. But the teachings of some, whether by error or design, are partly true and partly false - a mixed bag. For one to be able to tell the grain from the chaff, they must have gained enough knowledge of the Word themselves.

Preachers always face the temptation to twist the Word, to add to or subtract from it, sometimes even to lie. Those who do, do so mainly for three reasons:
  •      They want the congregation to see them, or their work, in a specific (spiced-up) light.
  •      They want to blackmail the congregation to act in a specific manner.
  •      Realizing they've a captive audience, they tend to go to excesses, like 'going overboard'.
Some Christians take every word by their pastor to be correct, without even validating it. Some take every instruction by their leader to be spiritual, hence something to be obeyed, without question. 

Only recently, a South African pastor instructed his congregation to graze, like sheep, the lawn in the churchyard, and the congregation obeyed him! Pictures of the congregation grazing, and making fools of themselves in the process, were shown all over the world! This kind of error results from blind allegiance, from taking the word of the leader to be the final authority, without even exercising one’s mind regarding the soundness of it!

Satan tempted Jesus; he will, and does, tempt pastors also, in the same manner he tempts each and every Christian. Some pastors, bless their hearts, prevail over the temptation; but some give in.

Study the Word. 

You may not know everything now; in fact, you may never know everything about the Word during the course of your life. But God looks for one thing in you – motivated, consistent and sustained progress in learning the Word. Be a diligent student of the Word, so that you may grow in it, be able to uplift others and to have better judgement on matters of Christian life.

God knows the status of your heart. Your heart should say, “Lord, I will put to good use every new knowledge or revelation that you give me as I study the Scriptures.” Note this: Knowing the Scriptures means living by them. It’s not the mental type of knowing. It’s a life to be lived, a being, a Christian walk, a godly journey.

Here is my exhortation to pastors: Teach only that which you sincerely believe to be the truth. In this case, even if you go wrong, I believe God would understand you. Note this: You condemn yourself each time you teach something that you feel, even remotely, not to be the truth, because you will be like somebody passing on a lie.

My advice to church members: Validate every teaching that you get from whomever, even from a great teacher. You will find some teachings to be biblically correct or sound, some only partly, others completely off the mark. You will find some teachers sincere and some insincere. It’s your duty to find out; God expects you to do so! 

Here is what I believe: I believe that even though pastors and prophets play a pivotal role in these matters, the question that God always asks each of us is never, “What did the pastor say?” or “What did the prophet prophesy?” I believe the real question is, “What does My Word say?”