As we get older, we have more and more opportunities to look back on things in our lives that have guided and impacted us. As I am about to join my new church based on testimony, I have been remembering back to February 9, 1975 when I first learned the Gospel message, when I had my first introduction to what God's Word really is, and when I first heard real preaching of the Word. My pastor at the time, Lowell Spencer, who still pastors that same church in Ohio today, taught me many, many things. He was very patient with me as I grew in my new-found faith and answered my many questions with patience and love.
Of all the things he taught me, one thing stands about among the rest. Actually, this one thing he taught me is what guides the rest of what he taught me. It's a truth so profound, yet so simple, that it is often overlooked, minimized and even disregarded. But, it's so necessary. This one thing has impacted my life more than any other.
This simple truth is straight out of Scripture and is found in Acts 17:11. The Apostle Paul, and Silas, had come to Berea after they'd been sent away from Thessalonica in the night. The people of Berea "received the Word with all readiness of mind" and "searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." This was my pastor's advice to me: "Seek it out for yourself....search the Scriptures yourself to see if what I'm teaching you is true." And I did. And I still do. No matter who is preaching or who is teaching God's Word to me, I seek it out for myself to see if the things they are teaching me, or have taught me, are true. You might be shocked to find out how many times people in these positions are not teaching the Truth! I have found that to be true again and again.
I can summarize a few things I've learned:
Seeking it out for myself has protected me from falling victim to false teaching more than once.
Seeking it out for myself has given me a passion for inductive Bible study.....the only definition of Bible study there is.
Seeking it out for myself has honed my discernment, making it easy to spot false teaching, even in its most subtle forms. (And it's always subtle, my friends.....at least when it starts out.)
Seeking it out for myself has caused me to be dissatisfied with what the Christian world calls "Bible study books." They simply aren't....they are someone else's observations and interpretation. They do not lead you to study the Bible, they lead a study of what someone else thinks about the Bible. There's a big difference.
Seeking it out for myself has created a discipline for Bible study that I do not believe I would otherwise have, or even desire to have.
Seeking it out for myself has created a dissatisfaction with shallow teaching. It has caused me to want the meat of the Word more and more.
Seeking it out for myself has given me a boldness I would not otherwise have.
Seeking it out for myself has opened my eyes to the power of a life transformed in Christ.
I could go on. I might go on as I continue to think about this. But, for now, for today, I want to say a resounding THANK YOU to Pastor Lowell Spencer for his great advice and resulting impact on my life.