Learning to Avoid Ditches in Discipleship

Learning to Avoid Ditches in Discipleship

To be a Christian involves learning. We were created to be learners. In fact, to be a disciple of Jesus means to be a learner and a follower. Without learning, you can’t be a Christian in the first place and you can’t be an ongoing follower of Jesus. As we think about learning, we must remember that the ultimate goal is to know God. All other knowledge sits at the feet of God and his revelation to mankind. Knowing God involves both intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge—both are essential.

It was J.I. Packer, who in his book Knowing God, penned these words:

What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the eternal life that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. “This is life eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God. “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me” (Jeremiah 9:23). What, of all the states God ever sees man in, gives him most pleasure? Knowledge of himself. “I desire … the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,” says God (Hosea 6:6).… Once you have become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord. [1]

The Christian life requires balance. It’s often easy to fall into ditches along the journey. As we consider the world of Christian learning—we must learn to avoid two dangerous and often debilitating ditches.

Worshipping Without Learning

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who after they left church they talked about how wonderful the worship was, but when you asked them what they learned—they couldn’t give you a proper answer? They could articulate how they felt and what they enjoyed about their worship experience, but they didn’t learn anything about God. They found themselves singing and being captivated by the mood of the song or the emotion of the congregation—but they didn’t learn anything about God or have their worship connected to their knowledge of God. This is a common experience for many people on the average Sunday morning. People are worshipping without learning, and this is a dangerous position to find yourself or your church. It’s possible to attend church without learning—or to worship without being discipled by the truth in the songs or the sermon.

Before Adam could properly worship God in the Garden, God had to teach Adam what was expected of him. It was God the teacher instructing Adam about life, creation, marriage, and the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:16-17). Only in Adam’s knowledge of God and God’s demands could he properly and rightly worship God in obedience. From the very beginning God has created mankind with the need for knowledge.

Israel was chosen by God from among all of the other nations to be a separate people for the glory of God (Deut. 7). It was God who was teaching Israel through Moses the prophet. God placed boundaries and demands upon Israel and it was only through this knowledge that they could rightly serve and worship God (Deut. 4:1). This has always been God’s plan for his people.

As we live on this side of Pentecost, God has similar demands for us as members of Christ’s Church. In order to follow Jesus, we have to know the gospel (1 Tim. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:25). Through the knowledge of God’s justice and God’s mercy we come to a place where we accept God’s grace by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16-17). Only through this knowledge that has come to us from God are we able to rightly worship God (John 4:25). Yet, many people insist on worshipping without learning. Far too often you hear people claim that learning is for seminary students or Bible college—not for the average person in the church on Sunday morning. This often results in ministries that are shallow, sermons that avoid biblical vocabulary and sound more like self-help talks with some encouraging Bible quotes on the side. This trajectory sends people off down the trail of emotionalism, mysticism, and the end result is zeal without knowledge.

Did you know that ten billion years after you receive your glorified body as you enjoy the visible presence of God in eternity—you will still not know God in totality. We will forever be knowing and learning our God—and the pursuit of God through biblical knowledge should never be boring to us. Are you guilty of worshipping without learning?

Learning Without Worshipping

Another ditch that often entraps people in the faith is the passion for knowledge that’s disconnected from worship. Many people possess a firm commitment to the rigorous study of God’s Word—always learning, but not always worshipping. If your learning is not causing your zeal for God to increase, something is misdirected in your discipleship. If you possess a love to learn the Bible—but that knowledge doesn’t bring you to a place of worship—something is seriously wrong. It is possible to attend church and learn truth without worshipping God.

God’s people should love the Bible because of their love for God—not merely because of their love of knowledge. God’s people must avoid a disconnect between the head and the heart in discipleship. It’s possible to be a learner without being a worshipper. Remember, demons are learners and they are capable of learning theology too (James 2:17). However, demons are devilish creatures who are outside of God’s grace and they certainly don’t worship God as God has intended.

Attending seminary or Bible college is not a mandated pursuit for all Christians—although we are certainly free to engage in higher learning. Reading other books other than the Bible is a permissible and healthy practice in the Christian life, but no book or blog article should overshadow the Bible. God’s Word reigns as king in the library of human history. One indication that your learning is disconnected from your worship is that you spend more time reading other books than you do God’s Word.

Do you have a passion to know what heaven will look like, but you’re not too interested in knowing God? Perhaps you are really passionate about learning about the end times (biblical eschatology), but you’re not so much interested in knowing God. Maybe you’re like the scribe who once asked Jesus what commandment was the greatest? Even that man was interested in gaining knowledge, but he wasn’t so much interested in gaining knowledge about God. Jesus, after answering his question, responded with these words, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). What a sobering response. The scribe was religious. The scribe was seeking to learn, however the scribe was a million eternities away from a saving knowledge of God no matter how close he must have been.

We want to know God—not just the Bible. We want to know God—not just facts about theology. We want to know God—not just knowledge itself. The moment we cease to learn is the moment we stop pursuing God. We must be always learning for the glory of God.

  1. J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), p. 29.
Discipleship Is Dangerous

Discipleship Is Dangerous

This past week I was reading through a passage of Scripture in preparation for our family worship time, and it hit me with renewed force—in a way that it hasn’t in the past.  Perhaps I’ve been guilty of reading over this text too quickly or without giving the necessary attention.  However, when I read John 12:9-11 this week with my family, it was clear—discipleship is dangerous.  Today, we approach discipleship casually, but in the early days and all through church history—discipleship has always been dangerous.

The World Hated Lazarus Too

After the dramatic resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, the word undoubtedly spread faster than a California wildfire through Bethany and the surrounding regions.  Not far from Bethany was Jerusalem—which served as ground zero for the religious establishment of the Jewish people.  The Sanhedrin gathered in Jerusalem where the center of the religious life of the Jewish people was focused.

After Jesus claimed to be one with the Father and after Jesus claimed to predate Abraham (John 8:58), the gospel of Jesus was not exactly good news to the religious leaders of Israel.  They hated Jesus because they felt threatened by his preaching and teaching.  He taught as one who had authority—unlike the scribes of the day.  Yet, Jesus was rejected by the religious community as the promised Messiah. Time and again, Jesus validated his claim of deity by controlling the wind and waves, feeding a multitude of people with a small boy’s lunch, and healing the sick.  However, each time the skeptic would reject it by refusing to believe it actually happened as the witnesses stated.

Something was different about the miracle with Lazarus.  Suddenly, it wasn’t like a storm that had long passed or a group of people on a hillside who walked away well fed.  This time, it was a man who many people knew and had witnessed his burial in Bethany who was now walking around alive and well in the same town.  People were coming from all over to see this man who once died and had now been raised by Jesus.  Could it be true?  Was Jesus really the Messiah of Israel?  As a result—the religious community hated Lazarus too and plotted his death. Think about Lazarus for a moment.  He had already died once apparently due to some unknown sickness and now he’s being targeted by the Jews.  Certainly the thought crossed his mind that he wasn’t going to live to a ripe old age and then die in peace.

Why Did the World Hate Lazarus?

It’s not enough that they wanted Lazarus dead—again.  Why did they want Lazarus dead?  They wanted him dead in order to stop the spread of the gospel.  They thought if they could kill Jesus and Lazarus, it would stop the spread of the good news, but as we all know—that is not the end of the story.  Lazarus had been marked by Jesus, and as an intimate follower of Christ, they hated him too.

The text says that many people were coming to see Lazarus and as a result—they were placing their faith in Jesus.  Anyone who has been marked by Jesus, changed by Jesus, and seeks to make that known to the world—that person can expect that the world will hate them too.  No servant is greater than his master, according to Jesus (John 15:18-19).  If the world hated Jesus, the followers of Jesus should expect nothing better.  David Platt once remarked, “To everyone wanting a safe, untroubled, comfortable life free from danger—stay away from Jesus.”

Discipleship is dangerous. The closest circle of Jesus’ followers were brutally murdered for following Jesus.  Discipleship is teaching others and helping others to follow Jesus.  That sounds like what Lazarus was attempting to do following his resurrection. As a result, the world hated Lazarus.  Discipleship was far more than sitting around in the local Starbucks with a group of hipsters in Bethany for Lazarus.  He was a marked man.  He was making disciples and the world hated him.

Does the world have any reason to hate you?  Have you had a spiritual resurrection (salvation) that has caused your life to be marked by Jesus?  Does the world know about it?  Is the devil threatened by it?

John 12:9–11 — When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Stop Complicating Discipleship

Stop Complicating Discipleship

Growing up in a Southern Baptist church setting, I was accustomed to returning for church on Sunday evenings each Lord’s Day for worship.  However, we not only returned for an evening service, we returned each week for a five o’clock training hour.  We referred to that class as—”Training Union.”  I still think that name works better for some branch of politics rather than a discipleship class in a local church, but the time spent training together as a church was memorable.  For that reason, our elders and I plan to restore that in the life of our church in 2018—but under a different name for sure.

As we plan to provide our discipleship goals to our church family next Sunday, it’s imperative that we don’t complicate discipleship. One thing we do well as Christians is complicate what God never intended to be overly complicated.  We often do it with worship, with service roles in the church, and with discipleship.  What is discipleship?  At the most basic level, it’s helping people to follow Jesus. That means seminary isn’t absolutely required to make disciples.  We aren’t mandated to attend conferences or read books designed to provide a helpful model or philosophy of discipleship.  So, what’s necessary and how do we engage in the work of discipleship without complicating it?  I believe the most basic elements can be found in Paul’s words to Titus in the New Testament.

Biblical Preaching and Teaching

In Titus 2:1, we find these words from Paul to Titus.  He writes, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”  Paul expected Titus to set in order the local churches in Crete, that was his purpose in being left there.  Paul makes this clear in the first chapter.  In the second chapter, Paul develops the clearest pattern of disciple-making in the New Testament.  Naturally, he begins with biblical preaching and teaching.

Immediately after the multitude of new believers were baptized following Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, we see the church gathered together under the teaching of the apostles (Acts 2:42).  The pattern of making disciples centers on biblical preaching and teaching.  It is the role of the pastor-teacher to preach and teach the Word in order to equip the saints for the work of ministry.  Without biblical preaching and teaching—the church will become a shallow religious club that builds itself on a faulty foundation that will never last.  God’s pattern for disciple making is always centered on the preaching and teaching of the local church.  The pulpit serves as the catalyst for every other area of discipleship in the local church.  Mark Dever writes:

Pastors  teaching the Word is the core of a church’s discipling ministry. It provides the food and water that feeds all the other discipling relationships within the church. [1]

Older Training the Younger

Paul moves on from the pastor to the congregation as he develops the idea of the older men and older women training the younger men and younger women.  It was first of all Titus’ job to teach the older generation (as he taught the whole congregation), and they older generation would go on to possess sound faith and teach what is good.  This is where iron sharpening iron and family worship find their roots.  If the pattern explained in Deuteronomy 6 was to be faithfully carried out in the homes and if fathers and mothers were to raise their children under the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it’s critical that they are first taught by the pastors of the local church.

Once again, you see the clear pattern of the older investing in the younger.  This is true in life outside of the gathered church, but it’s likewise important that the older and younger spend time rubbing shoulders in the church as well.  While I do not believe that it’s an imperative to be family integrated in all aspects of worship and discipleship in the life of the local church, I do believe that we are far too segmented in today’s evangelical church culture.  It’s helpful for the younger generation to know older people in the church and to learn to value them as role models of perseverance in the faith.

Proper Pastoral Example

Paul then returns to the pastor in Titus 2:7-8.  The emphasis in these verses is clearly upon the example of the pastor.  His doctrine was the focus of the first verse of this chapter, but now the emphasis is upon his character.  Paul understood that the entire church—including the younger generation needed proper examples of conduct and Christianity put on display in the pulpit and beyond.

The pastor must preach and teach with integrity, but he must live with a character that is beyond reproach as well.  Far too many pastors are falling stars rather than strong mature trees with deep roots that provide an example of Christian perseverance.  Many pastors in our day are little boys who are playing church.  The need of the hour is maturity among those who occupy the office of elder.  That’s why the title of pastor is elder in the New Testament.  The title itself points toward maturity—not immaturity or perpetual adolescence.

How strong would our churches become if we refused to compartmentalize our discipleship into little workbooks or a five o’clock class on Sunday afternoons?  How healthy would our churches become if we put into practice the simple circle of discipleship that Paul developed in his letter to Titus?  How impactful would our churches be in our local communities if we worked together to make disciples for the glory of Christ under the leadership of mature men who were godly examples?

Stop making discipleship overly complicated.  Help people follow Jesus.  Remember, it’s not about the title of your class—it’s about the depth and commitment of the people.  You can change Sunday school to Life Groups but if the people don’t take discipleship seriously the end result will not be discipleship.  Aim for creating a culture of discipleship in our local church in 2018.

  1. Mark Dever, Discipling, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2016), 60.
Luther and Discipleship

Luther and Discipleship

This past week, I spent eight days tracing the steps of Martin Luther on a Reformation 500 tour. As I read, studied, and prepared for the tour over the past year, I focused on the big events and important facts of Luther and the Protestant Reformation. As with any trip like this, you always leave with a better understanding of history and the context in which these events unfolded.

One thing that became clear to me over this past week is Luther’s focus on discipleship. We often have the image of the monk at the Castle Church’s door with a large hammer in one hand and his Ninety-Five Theses in another hand. Perhaps you have the image of Luther burning the papal bull outside of Wittenberg in your mind. In some cases, people hear Luther’s name and immediately they see the scene of 1521 as he gives his passionate “Here I Stand” speech before the Diet of Worms. Have you considered the Luther of knowledge and disciple making?

Luther and Family Worship

Sometimes when you visit statues of historic figures, such as Luther, you will see important scenes depicted in art just below the feet of the person who is put on display. On several occasions this week, I noticed a very important scene of Luther playing a guitar with his family gathered around. It was obviously a scene of family worship.

Before Luther helped spark the Reformation, the homes of people were filled with darkness. After Luther labored to give the people the German Bible in their own tongue—suddenly there was light in the homes of those who believed the gospel. The open Bible had replaced the relics and alters to saints that had been given to them by the Roman Catholic Church. Post tenabras lux—after darkness light!

Luther helped shape the way fathers could lead their family to know God. This was the fruit of not just the Reformation in the abstract, but the Reformation that produced the open Bible in the homes of God’s people. Luther was twenty years of age before he saw his first Bible. He wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case for God’s people in the future.

Luther and the Protestant Worship Service

Just a few blocks away from the Castle Church in Wittenberg was St. Mary’s Church—the location of the first protestant worship service. Often called the town church, it was in St. Mary’s Church that the first true protestant worship service was held following the dark ages of the Roman Catholic Church.  Not only did the open Bible in the homes lead to a more fruitful discipleship, so did the open Bible in the pulpit.

The era of the raised pulpit at the front of the auditorium symbolized not just a priority of God’s Word, but the elevated position of God’s Word in the worship of the local church. Luther once said, “The pulpit is the throne of the Word of God.”  Rather than viewing the confession as the gate to God’s presence, the people now looked to the Word of God opened and proclaimed from a lofty pulpit as the gate of glory.

From the raised pulpits in church buildings, men of God would place the open Bible on the desk and proclaim the gospel to the people in their own tongue. Gone were the days where people were forced to gather in Catholic cathedrals and listen to the priest mumble through the liturgy in Latin. Suddenly disciples were made through the open preaching of God’s Word in the people’s language.

Furthermore, this led to joyful response of God’s people in song. The darkness of the Roman Catholic Church led to a dark worship liturgy. There was no light. The people held onto a thread of hope as they mindlessly followed the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. As a result—there was no joy. With the open Bible in the church, now the people were singing and lifting their voices to God in songs of worship and praise. In many ways, our weekly worship service is directly connected to the movement of the historic Reformation.

Luther and the University

In many of the cities that Luther visited, lived, or influenced—universities of higher learning were established. Not only would students learn common education, they would be taught theology as well. Ministers could train for the ministry and prepare to preach the gospel. The ability to know God and to pursue formal education was something that Luther was greatly passionate about. He understood that there was a direct connection between the success of the Reformation and the knowledge of God’s people.

Luther would serve as a professor of theology in Wittenberg and often spent time writing extensively in the world of theology in order to engage the minds of people. When Jesus gave his people the command to “go and make disciples of all nations,” that command is not focused on the “professional” missionary alone. The call to make disciples is the call of God’s church. We are to engage people with truth and to help people gain a better understanding of who God is and what he has done for wretched sinners. The work of discipleship begins in the home, is solidified in the church, and today we have many institutions of higher learning where disciples can be strengthened in their faith and prepare for vocational ministry.

Luther had a commitment to discipleship. What about you?

*To the readers of this blog, thank you for your patience as I’ve been away from home for over two weeks.  The Thursday article was forced to post today (Friday) due to no Internet service on the flight home.  Next week will resume the regular blogging schedule.  


Knowing God

Knowing God

Christianity is the pursuit of God.  J.I. Packer in his excellent book, Knowing God asks, “What were we made for?  Knowing God.  What aim should we set ourselves in life?  To know God.” [1]  Unfortunately, today’s evangelical church would be quite pleased with religious platitudes, social gatherings, comedy presentations, moving testimonies, and motivational speeches from celebrities in place of a theologically rich sermon that engages the mind and heart with a biblical text.  How do we as followers of Christ know God?

Knowing God—Salvifically

God has ordained that we know him in a very specific manner.  First, only through the biblical text can we see God’s revelation of himself to the world.  Through creation, we see God’s power on display in a general way.  Only through the Word of God do sinners come to see the God of salvation in the way in which he has chosen to reveal himself—through words and sentences and paragraphs.  This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit—the work of God in breathing out holy Scripture (see 2 Tim. 3:16 and 2 Pet. 1:21).

Secondly, God has intended to make himself known to us through flesh and blood.  We read these powerful words in John’s Gospel:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

We come to know God in a saving way through the Son of God—Jesus Christ who died on the Roman cross to save sinners.  Through the substitutionary death of Jesus, we as imperfect and guilty sinners come to know God as redeemed children.  The person and work of the Son of God is the unique way in which God has made himself known to the entire world—especially to those who believe (1 Tim. 4:10; Jn. 17:3).

Do you know God?

Knowing God—Intellectually

It is possible to know a god of your own imagination rather than the God of all creation.  Many people have crossed off into eternity with a false assurance that they knew God and that he knew them.  What a tragic reality we see in Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:21-23.  The masses of evangelical Christianity in our day crave entertainment and push back against the idea that Christianity involves thinking.  James Montgomery Boice stated it well as he called the evangelical culture and era of his day, “mindless times.”

Abraham Kuyper, famously said, “There is not an inch of any sphere of life of which Jesus Christ the Lord does not say, ‘Mine.'”  If this is true of every sphere of life, as Kuyper argued, it certainly must be true of our minds.  God desires that we know him and worship him with our intellect.  That involves reading his Word, meditating upon his character, memorizing his truth, and all of this can find expression in a worship service where the mind is engaged in the singing, Scripture reading, prayers, and preaching.  We find these familiar words from the Shema repeated in Mark 12:30:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Through the pages of Scripture we come to know the voice of God.  We come to know his justice for the rebels and his grace for his children.  We spend this life getting to know him through his Word and we will spend all eternity knowing him on a much more intimate level as we will dwell in the presence of our God.

Do you know God?

Knowing God—Relationally

When we come to know God, we do so in very specific ways.  As the divine being, God is relational and as created beings created in the image and likeness of God—we too are relational beings.  We come to know our God in very specific ways as we see expressed in four biblical analogies.

We know God as a servant knows his King.

Psalm 24:10 — Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

We know God as a sheep knows his Shepherd.

John 10:27 — My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

We know God as a child knows his Father.

Matthew 6:9 —  Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

We know God as a wife knows her Husband.

Hosea 2:16 — And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’

God is not the distant “clock maker god” who assembles the clock with great precision and then stands far off and watches it tick.  God is interested in the big picture and the small details of our lives.  Just as God has created and named the stars of the sky (Is. 40:26), he has our very hairs numbered and is interested in every detail of our daily life (Matt. 10:30).  In short, God knows his children and he has called us to a pursuit of knowing him.  This is what the LORD said through his prophet Jeremiah:

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD” (Jer. 9:23-24).

J.I. Packer concludes his excellent book, Knowing God, with these words:

From current Christian publications, you might think that the most vital issue for any real or would-be Christian in the world today is church union, or social witness, or dialogue with other Christians and other faiths, or refuting this or that ism, or developing a Christian philosophy and culture, or what have you.  But our line of study makes the present-day concentration on these things look like a gigantic conspiracy of misdirection.  Of course, it is not that; the issues themselves are real and must be dealt with in their place.  But it is tragic that, in paying attention to them, so many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is, and always will be the true priority for every human being—that is, learning to know God in Christ. [2]

Do you know God?

  1. J.I. Packer, Knowing God, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 32.
  2. Ibid., 279.
Can the Uneducated Learn Bible Doctrine?

Can the Uneducated Learn Bible Doctrine?

Some of the greatest Christian examples in my life are (and were) uneducated.  They gave themselves to the study of God through the pages of the Scriptures.  What a tremendous example it is for the uneducated factory worker to set before his family the importance of learning the Bible.  It’s encouraging to witness the uneducated evangelist who travels to various churches preaching the gospel with no seminary degree but if you pricked him he would bleed Bibline.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Doctrine is not for me, I’m a blue collar kind of guy” as an excuse for not giving himself to study the Bible?  The fact is, most of the people to whom the Bible was originally written and addressed were very uneducated.  It might shock you to know that most of the people who received the letter to the Ephesian church (likely a circular letter that went to Ephesus and surrounding cities) were not seminary trained apologists.  They were not ivory tower theologians.  They didn’t find the deep wells of election and the doctrine of regeneration in Ephesians 1-2 as complicated truths cloaked in mystery and only useful for the seminary classroom or moderated debates.

Have you considered the life and ministry of John Bunyan?  An uneducated man in Bedford England with a grade school education who worked as a tinker (metal worker) was once raised up by God to be a mighty preacher.  Not only was he a man who proclaimed the Word, but he was likewise a pastor-theologian.  He didn’t stand up in the pulpit and after reading a deep theological truth say, ‘I don’t know that this means.”  Instead, he labored in the Bible and studied to rightly proclaim the gospel.

John Owen was a learned man and a great scholar of his day.  He was also a contemporary of John Bunyan.  When Bunyan would travel to England, if any notice was given at all, upwards of 1,000-1,200 people would gather at 7:00am before work to hear the uneducated metal worker preach the gospel.  Owen would often travel 20 or more miles to hear the man himself.  When King Charles heard of Owen attending the tinker’s sermons, he asked why he as an educated man would give himself to listening to an uneducated tinker preach?  Owen replied, “I would willingly exchange my learning for the tinker’s power of touching men’s hearts.”

Men can learn to remember statistics of every major sporting event, athlete, and race car driver.  Uneducated men can learn to excel in their trade or occupation in life.  Uneducated men and women alike can excel at whatever they so desire, but it’s the Bible that is often neglected.  We need an army of uneducated blue collar men and women to once again give themselves to the study of the Bible.  Another generation is watching and waiting.  When we are gone, will our legacy be a building of wood, hay, and stubble or will it be something of eternal value?

I will never forget pastoring a small country church in Kentucky while I was in seminary.  The congregation was made up of all blue collar workers and farmers.  Not one single professional or highly educated person attended the church.  After I issued a challenge to memorize large portions of the Bible, an 80 year old retired farmer approached me.  He wanted to accept the challenge.  He gave himself to study and read and commit to memory the third chapter of John’s Gospel.  After completing it, he stood in the front of the church and recited it in full. I was amazed, humbled, and grateful all at the same time.

Anyone can learn Bible doctrine.  In fact, that’s what God intends for all of us—educated and uneducated alike.

Mark 12:30 — And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.