Codependent No More!
I have been a Christian educator all of my adult life. I speak in churches most every Sunday. I am a firm believer in the public teaching and preaching of God’s Word. I have written not a few books about the Bible. God’s truth is the spiritual food that is absolutely necessary for spiritual growth.
Yet no single person or program or product in the church is given the responsibility of teaching the Bible. This includes Sunday School, Awana, sermons, seminars, and websites. A Bible study class of any kind may be a helpful auxiliary to spiritual growth, but it is not to replace personal Bible study. Similarly, public and corporate prayer is a wonderful thing. But Christians must develop habits of daily, private, personal prayer. Mature Christians do not expect others in the church to do all the praying for them. Neither will they become overly dependent on a Christian leader or a Bible teacher for their spiritual diet. And certainly no Bible teacher holds the magical “key” to any aspect of the Christian life.
When Jesus was on earth He gathered His disciples together and taught them personally. Into these men and women He poured His life and truth. Nothing has changed today except that Jesus now continues His teaching ministry through the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God. He still desires to speak to us personally, and as we grow in our personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus we learn to walk in a manner pleasing to Him. Of course, our ascended Lord also delights to speak to us through “pastors and teachers” whom He has gifted to communicate biblical truth (Eph. 4:11), as well through others who have the gift of teaching (Rom. 12:7). But this should never take the place of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit to us through the Scriptures. “All of you have an anointing from the Holy One and you know all things,” wrote elder John. “You don’t need anyone to teach you!” (1 John 2:20, 27).
The tragic truth is that American Christianity has become spiritually codependent. A spirit of deep sleep, to use Isaiah’s phrase, has fallen on the faddish evangelical church. It cannot seem to make up its mind about anything until it first consults Dr. So-and-So to see what he says. When the counsel of men is heeded more than the Word of God, the devil always stirs up trouble. This is the day of the “expert,” and we listen to fallible men more than the infallible Scriptures. The Good News is that through the New Covenant Jesus has set us free and we are His. We need no pope or prelate to tell us what course we are to set. We may legitimately make use of all the avenues of sound biblical teaching available to us today. But unless we have the mind of Christ and a clear conviction based on personal study of the Bible we shall make no real progress. Finite Bible scholars cannot provide this conviction. Indeed, they need it as much as anyone else.
Something, someone, governs the thoughts and actions of every one of us. May that something always be the Bible, and that someone be the Lord Himself.
February 15, 2007
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.