God has given believers several assignments that all members of Christ’s church are to follow—in every era. Among these, Jesus’ Great Commission has been for 20 centuries a core duty in which the church is to invest itself (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15). Christians are to be ever telling the world about Jesus.
Individually, each Christian’s daily obligations are to worship and commune with the Lord, and to grow spiritually. Discipleship involves a number of things, but the goal is that we each pursue increasing conformity to Jesus and His will (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:9-11). Christians are also to pray regularly (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) and participate in corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25).
Notice that all such aspects of the Christian life find their basis in the Bible, God’s Holy Word.
It cannot be overstated how important the Bible is for the daily life of each Christian. Scripture is—as 19th century British minister J.C. Ryle often proclaimed—“the rule for faith and practice.” Said another way, the church of God, obeying the Son of God, must live by the Word of God.
I believe that if even the most casual disciples from some previous generation were to return for a day or two, they would immediately cry out to God for repentance and revival. If God’s church in America is to survive, there must be a Spirit-led recommitment to Biblical thinking and living. These would result in a church that is positioned to be a truly Biblical influence—something for which our culture is desperate.
The times in which we live make knowledge of and fidelity to the Bible more crucial than ever. Christians of all ages need dedicated study of the Bible. Without a commitment to disciplined study of God’s Word, any Christian is likely to drift from the Lord and gradually accumulate false beliefs.
Mindfulness and spirituality
Three decades ago, Christian thinkers warned the church of the implications of “the New Age movement.” While use of the term New Age was eventually eclipsed by concerns about postmodernism, both share many unbiblical, spiritually lethal assumptions: Each insists that everyone may decide “truth” for themselves, and reality needs no further litmus test than one’s own strong feelings about something.
Yet another word can now be added to the lexicon of approaches to spirituality: Mindfulness. Have you seen or heard this term used? Mindfulness in the New Age sense is a loosely defined, almost undefined, term used in self-help literature dealing with inner peace through meditation and the emptying of one’s mind. Mindfulness encourages an individual not to think, but only to feel. The 1960s may be long behind us, but once again, Eastern philosophy is being sown into the consciousness of millions.
Regardless of a commentator’s label du jour, decades of opinion-forming done apart from God’s Word have left our culture in a crisis of truth. The public mindset at this moment of history could rightly be described as one of “militant autonomy.” Decades ago, historian Gertrude Himmelfarb (1922-2019) warned of the implications of our cultural abandonment of morals and objective standards: “Postmodernism is the denial of the very idea of truth, reality, objectivity, reason or facts—all words which postmodernists now put in quotation marks. It’s a totally permissive philosophy—anything goes—and it’s extraordinary how far it goes.”
Unfortunately, the church has not been immune to the influence and appeal of “truth as I define it.” A study released this year found that nonbelievers (and even many professed Christians) carry within themselves numerous convictions contrary to Scripture: Some 38% of Gen Z respondents believe that Jesus sinned while here on earth. Among those of all ages who are “Bible-engaged” (reading Scripture regularly), only 18% believe that Jesus could have committed sin.
Biblical illiteracy, with its negative cultural repercussions, is a burdensome topic. An encouraging note, however, is that throughout the Western world there is strong “spiritual curiosity” among people of all ages. People want to know truth about God, life’s purpose, resolving evil, death, the afterlife and more.
Not surprisingly, agencies gathering such data emphasize that the church must be intentional about imparting Scriptural content to hungry souls all around us. We must help people understand that compelling lines of evidence show us that, yes, the Bible is God’s trustworthy revelation to humanity! Every indicator shows that our post-COVID, traumatized world is looking for security, reassurance and direction.
God’s Word can give every individual these things and more. ©2022 Alex McFarland
Evangelist Alex McFarland has written numerous books on apologetics and the Biblical worldview. He regularly speaks throughout the U.S. and internationally. His website is AlexMcFarland.com.
Alex McFarland will be leading a seminar titled “Thriving ‘Til He Comes” at The Cove July 7-9, 2023. To register, go to TheCove.org.