You've undoubtedly heard the saying, ignorance is bliss.
Well, that might be true when you're trying to overlook someone's personal flaws. However, Chuck Swindoll reminds us that ignorance is a breeding ground for fear. You see, there's nothing charming about ignorance when it comes to biblical literacy. And today on Inside for Living, Chuck continues his series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. As the name implies, we're embarking on a study that will motivate us to grow deeper in our walk with God.
Today's message is titled The Value of Knowing the Scoop. All the way through the Bible, the word to the people of God is learn, study, grow, so that you can defend your position when asked about it or faced with attack. I want you to find a place somewhere in your Bible where there is a blank piece of paper.
And I want you to write down six things. And just put at the top of that sheet reasons for knowledge. Let me give you five or six benefits that come directly to us when we know what we believe. Why do I want to learn the truth of God? Number one, it gives substance to my faith. It gives substance to my faith. Those who do not know the truth rely on emotion, feelings, or someone else's word, or another book, or some empty hope. And their faith lacks substance that is especially revealing when they are under attack and when testing comes.
That brings me to the second. It stabilizes me during times of testing when I know what God has said and the bottom virtually drops out of my life. I don't give up the faith. I have been stabilized by my knowledge of the truth when the tests come. Number three, it enables me to handle the Bible correctly.
By knowing the general themes of scripture, I am enabled to handle the Bible correctly. Number four, it equips me to detect and confront error. It equips me to detect and confront error. I have developed a knowledge and it's still growing. I still have gaps of ignorance that at times embarrass me. But that knowledge that I have gained, that reservoir of truth, allows me to detect and fine tune where that person is coming from. I can, if necessary, confront error with the facts of scripture.
And many of you are able to do that too. Number five, it makes us confident, it makes me confident in my walk. Show me a person who stumbles along in the Christian faith and I'll show you a person who isn't learning the scriptures.
The learning process has somehow been interrupted. It makes me confident in my walk. I am confident in my God. I am confident when I confess, he hears and he forgives. I am confident when I open his book, truth will come. I don't question that.
The more I learn of him, the more confidence there is. Number six, it filters. It filters out my fears and superstitions. How important that one is.
I think we would all be amazed if we knew how many people operated their lives from superstition and fear. Before going any further, I want you to sit quietly and listen to two passages of scripture without turning to them. One I will read from the modern language Bible, the new Berkeley version, Hosea 4, 1-6. The other I will read from the living Bible, Amos 8, 11-13.
Both from minor prophets who had a major message for our times. Hosea, listen to the word of the Lord, sons of Israel. For the Lord has a charge against the dwellers of the land because there is no fidelity, no kindness, no knowledge of God in the land.
There is swearing, lying, murder, theft, adultery, violent outbreaks, bloodshed after bloodshed. Wherefore the land mourns and everything living in it languishes, even at that let no one enter complaint, let no one bring accusation. For my people are like their priestlings, you priests. You stumble by day, the prophet too stumbles with you by night. My people perish for lack of knowledge and because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being priest to me.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I too will forget. Amos 8, 11-13. The time is surely coming, says the Lord, when I will send a famine on the land. Not a famine of bread or water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will wander everywhere from sea to sea seeking the word of the Lord, searching, running, here and going there and will not find it. Beautiful girls and fine young men alike will grow faint and weary, thirsting for the word of God. Even though those two prophecies are many centuries old, I ask you are they not up to date?
Is there not a famine? Is there not a thirst for the truth of God? I'll tell you sound doctrine is invaluable, not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end of survival. Turn from 1 Peter 3 over to 1 Timothy 4. We're turning from one of the letters written by an apostle to yet another. 1 Timothy 4. This chapter, written to a minister at a local church whose name was Timothy, at that time pastoring the church at Ephesus. This chapter contains special instructions on various subjects. The first six verses which interest us for the moment have to do with that which will occur in later times.
Certainly our own times would be included here. But the Spirit explicitly says, I don't want to go any further, I want to wait just a moment and study that word explicitly. Sometimes I like to get a hold of a word and trace it back and find its meaning and see what it really meant. Why would he add explicitly? Why wouldn't he just say the Spirit says or thus says the Lord? This adds emphasis to what is to follow. This term explicitly and it's used only here in all the New Testament.
This term means expressly, most assuredly in stated terms, it is introducing an unequivocal fact. I thought of that when I this past week was reading about earthquakes. The article read, in this country geologists say that a major earthquake not only can but will strike somewhere in California with appalling loss of life and enormous property damage, a quake of a magnitude greater than 8.0.
Geologists, I suppose we could say, explicitly state it isn't simply a theory, it isn't a haunting idea, it is fact. By the way, when I was reading that magazine, someone on the second floor started the vacuum cleaner. I will never forget that.
I almost lost it when I read of this. I thought it was happening now. Now. The Spirit explicitly states it is a fact. What is? What is Paul? Why would the Spirit of God reserve this term for this one passage and no other place in scripture would something explicitly be stated because of its importance? That in later times some will fall away from the faith. The Greek term is the same word we have in English, apostasize, abandon, withdraw from, leave. In later times some will leave the faith. Why? Why would anyone want to leave something as marvelous as the Christian faith?
Why would they defect? He tells us. Because they will begin to pay attention to deceitful spirits, that's the style of teaching they'll get exposed to, and doctrines of demons, that's the source of the information.
We don't like to call it that. We're in a demon denying era. We're in a world of such radical thought that there isn't even a devil in people's minds and that's the thing that the devil applauds. However, the basis of that which will cause people to defect will be deception in style and satanic in source. There will be doctrines that come from the pit, but they will be displayed as truth, convincingly so.
How? Verse 2, by means of the hypocrisy of liars who are themselves seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron. They have no qualms about leading you into the realm of error.
They're convinced it's truth, and they have charisma, and they have the ability to convince, and they have what they call facts to pull you away from where you stand. This isn't a scare passage. This is truth.
This is truth. Remember the spirit explicitly warns of such. For example, verse 3, in those days one of the heresies was Gnosticism. Gnostics taught that matter was evil and that which was physically pleasing was displeasing to God which would include things like marriage and eating certain foods. So they had a whole system of thought that taught you're not to marry and you shouldn't eat certain foods. Verse 3 includes those. Men will come who forbid marriage and they will advocate abstaining from certain foods. Now, you don't find the apostle Paul biting off his nails and gripping himself and wondering, how am I going to make it through this?
He just calmly says, but that's not true. Why isn't it true? Because, keep reading verse 3, God has created those things to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. Theologically, God has created marriage. God has given foods. Theologically, we are delivered from a law that keeps us from eating certain foods.
So you haven't a thing to be afraid of. The reason he's calm is because he knows his doctrine. He knows his position. And when he writes so calmly, he says, in fact, everything created by God is good and nothing to be rejected if it's received with gratitude for it's set apart, in fact, made holy by means of the word of God and prayer. How calm can you be?
Calm because he knew where he stood. In fact, he gives me a word as a minister of the gospel. He says to Timothy, verse 6, Timothy, in pointing out these things to your flock, to the brethren, you'll be a good servant of Christ Jesus. Timothy, here's what you're to spend your time doing, constantly nourishing yourself on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.
Isn't that great? That gives me my job description. I am supposed to constantly nourish myself in the book and the longer I'm in this work, the more I have to be nourished because the greater the pressure, the more the problems, the more the calendar gets filled with other things and the more I have to pour over this book so that my mind stays sharp with the truth and I can deliver it personally as well as publicly. Most importantly, live it. Today, I could not be more thankful for the school where I studied, for mentors who loved the truth and helped me cultivate it, for parents who taught me the way, for a wife who put me through my higher education, for congregations who patiently labored as I forged out my theology right up to this present moment. I am grateful for so many who had a hand in my learning growing experience. My message to you is where are you in that process? Do you really know your way around the book?
Let me make it even more practical. Would you ever think of going to a doctor who stopped studying? I don't think anyone would ever say to his wife who's hurting deeply, just check the yellow pages. One of those guys with MD after his name is fine. No, you check them out. You get a second and sometimes third opinion. You check their degrees. You want to know if they're still growing, if they're still learning. You want to get to know that physician well enough to know that he's up on the latest.
That's his job and so is mine. The same could be said for an attorney who takes our case and presents it before a court of law and we are at the mercy of the man's intelligence and style and knowledge of law. Coming up in this series is a marvelous set of studies just in front of us. The doctrines of our faith.
I plan to develop such things as what the Bible teaches about the Scriptures, the Trinity, God the Father, the Lord Jesus, God's Son, the Holy Spirit, man and sin, justification by grace through faith apart from works, our whole subject of salvation, the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the universal church and even the ordinances and what they're all about. Now I want to warn all of us against something very, very dangerous. I want to warn us. Knowledge is dangerous when it lacks scriptural support, intelligent scriptural support. It becomes dangerous. Knowledge just for knowledge sake is a heady thing and can turn into pride. Knowledge is dangerous when it becomes an end in itself. Knowledge is dangerous when it isn't balanced by love and grace. That turns into an intolerant spirit. Ever been around a group of people who think they've got the corner on truth?
They're the Bible club and you're not in it because you're dumb and they're smart. That's a dangerous kind of knowledge when it leads to an intolerance of other people. Our knowledge should give us a passion to get the word out and infectious contagious enthusiasm that says you've got to get into this with us. Knowledge that isn't balanced with love and grace is dangerous. Knowledge that remains theoretical.
It isn't mixed with discernment and action. That's dangerous. Now I know there are some who say, Chuck, give me a break.
I'm 57 years old. Man, I've been down a pike. I've paid my dues. You guys can get all excited about that truth, but I know I'm saved. I'm not going to hell. I know I'm going to be with Jesus when I die. Just don't make me think. Just tell me and I'll believe it. You know, the problem with you, my friend, if there would be one or two of you like that, and not all of them are 57, the problem with that is that you've got people around you who rely on you to know. You're their defense and they expect you to know.
I love the way C.S. Lewis put it. If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the church, whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple to allow, not to be able to meet the enemy on their own ground, would be to throw down our weapons and to betray our uneducated brethren who have under God no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. He adds, good philosophy must exist if for no other reason because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether.
Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. The learned life then is for some a duty. My Christian educator, for you it is a duty. You who are engaged in the shaping of minds, it is a duty to stay sharp in the truth, firm in the faith. It is a duty that you help those under your tutelage to know how to do it too. And Christians all over who hear me, it is as well our duty if for no other reason than to help answer our neighbor's questions and help calm our mates' hurts and help strengthen our friend's faith when the bottom is dropped out of his life.
It's a duty. Our problem is that we, not that we know so many things, is that we know so much that just ain't so. We want to clear that out of the way and find out what is so. Let's bow together, shall we?
We live in a strange world, strange world. It is so convincing, it's so appealing and attractive. It's able to convince us that we're hearing the truth when in fact it's a lie. And it's so full of charisma that it will stand against the Bible and you won't even know it if you don't know your Bible. If you happen to be one of our friends who has been listening and you just aren't really sure about whether you're even a Christian, you think some of this is starting to sound interesting, let's take first things first.
Let's be sure you're in the family and then you can handle family truth. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. You're loved by God. His son died for you.
Yes, he did. There will never be a time when God doesn't love you, but he's got to keep his word. If you reject his son as your savior, God will keep his word. Your destiny is hell and eternity without hope and without God.
We all have eternal life, it's just some are going to spend it in heaven and some are going to spend it in hell. Make your choice now for Christ. Thank you, Father, for the truth there is, that as many as receive Christ, to them he gives the authority to become the children of God, even to them who believe in his name. I have done that and you have graciously, in spite of my sin, admitted me into your family and so have so many who hear this message today. May we be all the more convinced as we dig into these truths that what you have said is reliable, foundational, and trustworthy. And may it stabilize us when the tests come. May it strengthen us so that we're able to detect error and when necessary confront it. But may it not in any way cause our love to diminish, especially our love for the lost. Enlarge it and increase it, our Father, as we learn and walk with you.
In Jesus' name we pray, amen. The value of knowing the scoop. That's the title that Chuck Swindoll assigned to his message today, and it certainly embodies the essence of what Insight for Living is all about, helping each of us become engaged as personal students of God's word, allowing God's Spirit to conform us into his image as wise, discerning, and maturing men and women of God. If you'd like to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org.
And then if you'd like to take your understanding of this topic to the next level, we'll remind you that Chuck wrote a book that parallels this teaching series. It's also called Growing Deep in the Christian Life, and the book is our featured resource today. Embarking on a personal study of the essential doctrines of our faith will surely accelerate your spiritual growth in the new year. To purchase a copy of Growing Deep in the Christian Life by Chuck Swindoll, go to insight.org slash store or call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. As we conclude another week of daily Bible studies, I want to remind you this teaching series represents a deep archive of sermons that dates back nearly five decades. This longevity in Bible teaching, this heritage, is due in part because of the faithful friends who financially sustain Insight for Living. And if you're among those who give, we are deeply grateful for your generosity. In fact, thousands of people around the world call and write to thank us, but their gratitude should really be directed toward you. We couldn't provide Insight for Living without your faithful giving. To those who give generously to this Bible teaching ministry, we are deeply grateful. In fact, it's not too late to make an impact by giving a donation right now. To give a contribution today, you can call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 1-800-772-8888 or give generously online at Insight.org. Travelers who want to take a tour to Israel have lots of choices, but few measure up to the thoughtful journey prepared by Insight for Living Ministries. With a proper mix of historical information and biblical context, we provide ample opportunities to pause and let the wonder in.
Our goal is to create special moments when you deepen your love for the Bible and draw closer to your Lord. Experience an unforgettable 12-day tour to Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries, March 5-16, 2023. To help you grasp the significance of each site, you'll be accompanied by hand-picked Israeli guides, and we choose the best, along with seminary-trained pastors and professors to enhance your spiritual journey. No organization I know of offers this level of exceptional, in-depth instruction and personal care for Holy Land travelers. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444.
Just imagine walking along sacred sites and watching the Bible come to life. Make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to Insight.org slash events. Insight for Living Ministries' tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll talks about the value of developing discernment. That's Monday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Value of Knowing the Scoop, was copyrighted in 1985, 1987, 2005, and 2011, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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