“They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. ‘Teacher,’ they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay not attention to who they are’” — Matthew 22:16, ESV.
“The high majority of incoming freshmen are biblically illiterate.” This was the statement that one of my former Bible professors told me when I became a youth pastor. Over his decades of teaching Bible at the undergraduate level, he realized that most of the new freshmen that he had in his introductory Bible classes were biblically illiterate. As he shared this with me, my heart hurt and fear gripped my soul. I started thinking, “How could this be? Many of these students are attending church and youth group on a regular basis. Of course not every student is coming from a church background, but many are.”
And then it hit me: One of the reasons is that many of them are not having regular times of Bible reading during their adolescent years. However, another reason that they are biblically illiterate is because they aren’t being taught the full counsel of God, but rather small sections of it. And those small sections are usually topics that are geared at making sure that they will bring the most people into a worship service for 4-6 weeks. And what are those topics that seem to be most popular?
Sex. End times. Is there sex in the end times? Relationships. Self-image.
Now please understand me: I am not anti-topic when it comes to teaching. Honestly, even when a person preaches through a book of the Bible, topics will come out the passage so topical teaching is happening all of the time. I’m also not one of those people who believes that the only way to teach the Bible is verse-by-verse through a book. I believe in doing both topic and exegetical teaching. However, we must be responsible teachers of God’s word to teach “the way of God in accordance with the truth,” even the stuff that is not “super exciting.”
There should be times when we teach through books of the Bible, verse-by-verse, taking the principles found in that book and helping the students apply them to their walks with Jesus. There should be times when we are looking at a topic that students are facing (friendship, forgiveness, family issues, temptation, sex, dating, money, etc…). There should be times when we focus on key doctrinal beliefs within the Christian faith. Students should learn what the Bible says about God, grace, faith, wrath, heaven, hell, demons, Jesus, propitiation, the Holy Spirit, the devil, atonement, righteousness, sanctification, justification, etc… Students should learn about people that God has used in the past to advance his kingdom. We should be striving to take full advantage of the 4-6 years that we are blessed to teach these students, giving them a wealth of information with a true desire for authentic transformation. Of course, more information will not always result in authentic transformation, but teaching the full counsel of God and his truth will bring them closer to a point of authentic surrender resulting in genuine transformation.
Having a proper view of who God is will affect every aspect of our lives. Some of this teaching will be explosive. Some of it will seem dry. All of it is necessary. Or we can back to what’s easy…