Friday, October 26, 2012

Epistle Christians

Epistle Christians

     I believe that an alarming number of Christians today fit into a category that I call “Epistle Christians.” If you were to ask these people how much they know about the Bible, they would probably affirm that they are quite familiar with it. But if you were to push a little further, you might find that their knowledge of the Bible is confined to little more than just the epistles.

     The epistles are the New Testament books of the Bible that were specifically written to churches. These books include the writings of Paul, Jude, Peter, and John (not including John’s Gospel)[1]. These epistles are certainly books that Christians should study, for on their pages are many instructions that directly apply to us today. But my fear is that many are settling for this as the extent of their Bible study.

     Obviously I am not implying that Epistle Christians don’t know anything outside of the epistles. They probably know portions of the Sermon on the Mount, excerpts from the Gospels, and descriptions of the Anti-Christ from Revelation. And what about the Old Testament? Epistle Christians can probably tell you about Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, Samson, Jonah, David and Goliath, David and Bathsheba, and Abraham and Isaac. Really good Epistle Christians might know more about Daniel, and possibly Solomon.

     But what do they know of Israel’s history, the judges, or the prophets? Do they understand how the sacrificial system worked? Or even why there was a sacrificial system? Do they see how the Passover served as a picture of the Lamb of God? Can they differentiate between the major and minor prophets? Can they even name the minor prophets?

     I don’t ask these questions because I think Bible trivia is important. Unless we end up on Jeopardy and there is a category called “Old Testament –ites” then Bible trivia benefits us little.

     “The answer: Ruth and Orpah.”

     “Who are the Moabites?”
     Picking up Bible trivia is something that can happen as the natural result of reading the Bible. My point is not learning facts for facts’ sake. My point is that we need to be students of God’s Word—all of God’s Word—so that we can better understand what He wants from our lives.

     Being able to recite the Judges is not a sign of spiritual growth, but it is a sign that a person is reading the Bible. The more we read it, the more we will see how all the events of Scripture tie in and apply to our lives.

     So are you an Epistle Christian, or are you reading the whole Bible?

“But he answered and said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

[1] Hebrews is also an epistle, but its human author is debated. Many believe Paul wrote the letter. Others believe Barnabas, Timothy, or some other church leader penned the letter.

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