And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-2
Of all the church epistles that Paul wrote to, it is undeniable to me that the American church is most like the church at Corinth. They were not unified, they were immoral, and they were immature . . . a perfect picture of us. One of the most condemning things Paul says in chapter one is in the fact that the people were saying, “I am of Paul,” “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas.” They had a bit of preacher worship going on. They were dividing themselves by relating to a particular preacher. Paul absolutely hated this. He simply asks the question, “Was I crucified for you? Were any of these guys?”
As I read the two verses above, I’m so convicted because I fell into the trap. I don’t know how or when the trap got set, but many, many preachers have fallen into it. We believe that we have to come up with some clever way to communicate the Word of God. In effect, we believe that the Word of God needs our help. Paul, on purpose, when he went to Corinth “did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom,” but “determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
I just read a study that claimed that 80% of pastors only read their Bible when they are preparing for a sermon. If these guys don’t read it, then I can guarantee you their congregations aren’t reading it. Here is a paragraph from a different study done two years ago:
One in 5 Americans have read the entire Bible at least once — including 9 percent who’ve read it through multiple times. Just over half (53 percent) have read relatively little of it, and 1 in 10 haven’t read it at all.
Here is the bottom line of the study: “The only time most Americans hear from the Bible is when someone else is reading it.”
I am an avid sermon listener. I listen to lots of them. After reading 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, the very next sermon I listened to, I made some intentional observations. The preacher spent approximately 80% of his time on politics, football, and working out. Of course, this left the remaining 20% to talk about the Bible.
I am not condemning the guy at all. I repeat, I’m not condemning this guy at all! It was a very entertaining sermon. I’ll even say this: Had someone been doing to me what I was doing to this guy on one particular sermon, they would have found that I never highlighted a singe Bible verse . . . I was 100% just talking about stuff and didn’t focus on any Bible verse.
Now, what if in 2019, the Word came alive to us? What if we fell in love with it? What if we really believed it was powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword? What if we believed that it alone was enough? Would we not read it all the time? Would we not sit in church and just anticipate the reading of God’s Word? Wouldn’t we just marvel at it? We would just say in our heart . . . “I can’t believe we get to hear God’s Word . . . this is amazing!”
The truth is that we aren’t amazed because we are a sensual and carnal people. We live in a society that feeds these desires 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore, we find ways to make His Word more palatable. We like singing to God as long as it is shrouded inside the work of professional musicians. We like hearing a little bit of the Word as long as a dynamic speaker who keeps our attention delivers it. I have nothing against these things. I like them. But, I have to ask the question this morning: Why is God’s Word alone not enough for us?
Paul purposefully didn’t embellish the Word like he could have. He kept it simple. A heart that has been changed by Christ will marvel at Christ and Him Crucified. A heart that has not been converted will go to a simple church service where these things are proclaimed and call it “boring.”
I don’t really have a grand finale ending to this. I just want you to consider whether or not you have a real deal love for God and His Word. Are you amazed that you even have a copy of it? Do you open it and read it with reverential awe?
God, help us to get it.