Bible teaching and Bible teachers
Those who read my blogs will note I often quote from the Bible and while I talk about all sorts of things, weird and wonderful, I try to do so from a biblical perspective. That does not put me on a holy pedestal, however, and some of my opinions can be disputed, although I do try to be beholden to the truth, mindful there is still much in the Bible I don’t know or can be seen or applied differently. Moreover, I am constantly aware of the classic caricature of a Bible thumper, who lacks love, whose words do not match his actions.
As I survey how best to spend the few years I have remaining, I am reminded of the adage of playing to one’s strengths. Besides doing the obvious – being the best I can in the circumstances, such as by showing kindness to others, I ask what can I do that might result in the most good. In my case, it is I know my Bible well, having grown up loving it. In a day when sincere Christian believers all too often subscribe to unbiblical notions, I can perhaps guide some along the right path, mindful of the need to do so with grace and humility.
One of the reasons I blog on biblical themes and write Bible based books few people read is at least I can bless those who do care to check out what I write. But the question is often begged: where to go for sound Christian teaching? First and foremost, I say go the source – the Bible itself. Since my focus will be what can be found freely online, I should mention one resource I use daily, BibleGateway, where the Bible can be read in any number of versions, including doing word searches and able to check out their meanings, and sometimes doing so in tandem with listening to the words being read from the King James Version Audio Bible. While in some places still getting a Bible is not easy to come by, for most who read this it is not an issue and one is spoiled for choice.
I feel blessed as a child and a youth, insofar a number of adults influenced me concerning the importance of the Bible. While they did not have the amount of resources we have now, they were diligent in their studies and sincere in applying what they had learned. I recall some who took the advice of Billy Graham to daily study the Bible and the news, whose example I followed in later years. These days, there is a multitude of resources to help us in our studies, in old fashioned paper form and increasingly online. The best piece of advice I have been given came when I was an infant in Sunday School, when we often sung a chorus: “the best book to read is the Bible … if we read it every day, it will help us on our way …”.
When it comes to preachers, we are spoiled for choice in terms of who to check out although, when it comes to content, there are few I would rate highly and, as for folk who go to a church where such preachers all too often operate (even in so called “Bible believing” ones), my advice is to check out what is said against scripture (that applies to all preachers incidentally), glean what you can and do your own study, using the helps that are available. If there has been a paradigm shift in my time, from as a child, even with churches divided between Evangelicals, Liberals and Catholics, I have found these days the attention once given to what the Bible teaches has dwindled, and now replaced by homilies and sermonettes, pious platitudes and the gospel of woke. The danger is clear – the battle between God and Satan has been taking place since before creation and it is becoming increasingly evident that Satan influences what goes on. If we neglect the Bible, we can all too easily adopt Satan’s agenda, the one that is all too often embraced by modern culture.
top (l-r) Jacob Prasch, J.D.Farag, Jonathan Cahn; bottom (l-r) Jim Packer, David Pawson, Barach Korman
There is helpful Bible teaching found outside of attending traditional church, made even more assessable with the advent of the Internet to supplement and often replace books. I have been helped by many preachers over the years and despite their faults have belonged to churches that took the Bible seriously. I have been blessed by the teaching of Jim Packer and David Pawson (to name but two, both died recently) who represent quite different theological traditions. Like all the teachers I am going to mention, they were not 100% spot on. In the case of Pawson, his “Unlocking the Bible” series is available on YouTube as is the content of most preachers I do refer to. Three helpful preachers, who I suspect many who read this article will like, are JD.Farag, Jacob Prasch and Jonathan Cahn. Interestingly, all touch on Bible prophecy, which while of particular interest to this author, comes with a health warning as key to our Bible understanding is the need to find balance. Finally, while I am in name dropping mode, there is Barach Korman, giving a helpful Jewish perspective. Type in something like “Barach Korman Genesis 1”, when you are in YouTube, to access his content.
Often when studying a Bible subject / text, I type the appropriate words into YouTube and am often taken with the number of hits I get. A word of obvious advice is not all content is particularly helpful, some content is more helpful than others (depending where you are at spiritually or interest wise or what you are looking for) and preachers (even the good one) often fail to cut to the chase by getting to the point of what you want / need to know and often go off on well skippable, personal tangents. While, listening to an engaging preacher may be a nice idea, do not neglect your own Bible study.
In wrapping up, I would encourage folk reading this to study the Bible for yourselves, in whatever version you find helpful, using whatever resources to help identify meaning and application, bearing in mind we are talking about the Word of God and if approached in prayerful manner there is always something fresh or new to come out. Then by all means turn to Bible teachers, whether books or online (and occasionally by attending live gatherings), mindful some are more helpful than others and may be more appropriate to where you are at in your own spiritual journey. Finally, head knowledge must translate to heart application.