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1 Peter 1:13-1:25
A Nation of Bible Illiterates
George Barna wrote The State of the Church in 2002. Barna conducted a survey of self-pronounced Christians and here’s what he found about their knowledge of the Bible. These are Christians.
• 48% could not name the four Gospels.
• 52% cannot identify more than two or three of Jesus’ disciples.
• 60% of American Christians can’t name even five of the 10 Commandments.
• 61% of American Christians think the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
• 71% of American Christians think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.
George Barna said, "Americans revere the Bible, but by and large they don’t know what it says. And because they don’t know it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates."
Just as the people in this Barna poll are woefully biblical illiterate, Christians are far too ignorant of the Word of God. No wonder 21st century Christians are failing to finish their marathon race. No wonder Christians by the thousands are falling prey to the false teachers of our day. They are being feed junk food and don’t feed themselves on the Word of God. They are desperately in need of a solid diet of good food, Scripture. We need to get into "spiritual shape"!
There are some surprising statistics regarding the Ten Commandments. A Gallup poll was given several years ago, and its results revealed 85% of Americans believe the Ten Commandments are still binding today. However, only 15% could name five of them. This is not terribly surprising considering the secular slide our country has had in the past 50 or so years. But what is surprising is what Newsweek once reported about supposed religious folks. Newsweek reported that of people who go to church, only 49% of all Protestants and 44% of all Roman Catholics could name FOUR of the Ten Commandments.
It is no surprise so many people do not know how to respond to God today!
FELLOWSHIP @ THE NEIGHBOURHOOD BAR
Research that shows the more friendships a person has in a congregation, the less likely they are to become inactive or leave. I once read about a survey of 400 church drop-outs who were asked why they left their churches. Over 75% of the respondents said, “I didn’t feel anyone cared whether I was there or not.”
These are shocking results, especially as church should be one of the most caring places in the world!
The neighbourhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give His church. It’s an imitation, dispensing alcohol instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is a Permissive, Accepting, and Inclusive fellowship. It is Unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know & be known, to love & be loved & so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.
How valuable is salt? 40 million tons are required each year to fill our needs. Homer called it divine. Plato called it a "substance dear to the gods." Shakespeare mentioned salt 17 times in his plays. Perhaps Leonard da Vinci wanted to send a subtle message about purity lost when he painted "The last Supper." In that painting an overturned salt cellar is conspicuously placed before Judas. In ancient Greece a far-flung trade involving the exchange of salt for slaves gave rise to the expression, "...not worth his salt." Special salt rations were given to Roman soldiers and known as "Solarium Argentums" the forerunner of the English word "salary." Thousands of Napoleon?s troops died during his retreat from Moscow because their wounds would not heal--their bodies lacked sal...
Sebastian Kresge started a five and dime in 1899 and it grew – people came to his store for good prices on decent products – his idea of a “blue-light” special reinvigorated the retail industry…at it height thousands upon thousands of stores serving millions and millions of people…
But then, something happened…something happened. Some claim it was do to increased competition – another company started by a young man named Sam Walton was giving Kresge’s stores a run for their money. Still some claim Kresge’s stores just built too much too fast…by over-expanding they found themselves deep in debt.
But today, I’ll tell you why the once mighty Kmart, the eventual product of Kresge’s five and dime, is in bankruptcy today, and its actually a simple reason…they forgot what they were known for.
Instead of continuing to offer great prices on decent products…they began to compete with the Targets and the Meijers in quality merchandise beyond their customers reach, while on the other end facing the low-pricing of Sam Walton’s creation, Walmart, at every turn. (When Kmart announced they were bringing back the blue-light special and lowering prices throughout the store, then I knew they were doomed. If Kmart has too announce that they have lowered prices, then they’ve lost their identity.)
Soon, being pulled at both ends, Kmart finds itself with the agony of closing stores and firing workers because instead of continuing as they were “known” they tried to change…and failed.
Why do I tell you this story?…because we are “known” too! God knows us. But often we try to be someone different than the way we are known. And if we continue to be something that God knows we aren’t, we are going to end up in a spiritual bankruptcy where God has planned so much more.
The most often visited internet site in the summer of 2001 was reported to be an interview with God. Some of you have sent me a copy of this. It’s an imaginary question-and-answer session with God. In June alone it had 2.4 million visitors log on, and all of this without advertising!
Human beings long for a conversation with God. We’re still looking for answers to the basic questions of life. The greatest longings in our heart are found in Jesus Christ. We want direction for our life. Jesus said, “I Am the Way.” We want to know what’s real. Jesus said, “I Am the Truth.” We constantly look for life. Jesus said, “I Am the Life.” How do I deal with my guilt? John said of Jesus that he was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
George Hunter contends that the first characteristic of a secular person in the modern world is that he or she is ignorant of basic Christianity. It has been said of the Baby Busters, those born between 1963 and 1977 and the first generation to grow up in a postmodern context, that they lack even the memory of a hope-giving gospel. Today many people outside of the church struggle with the concept of Christ’s deity. They think he was a good man, perhaps even a prophet, but not God in human form. Further, 72 percent of Americans now deny the existence of absolute truth, and few have confidence in the historical accuracy or ethical authority of the Bible. Two-thirds of the population does not know what John 3:16 refers to, and less than four out of every ten Americans have any idea what the term gospel means. Ten percent believe that the name of Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc.
James White, Rethinking the Church, p. 41
THE MEANING OF THIRST
Do you know the importance of water to our physical bodies? When our bodies fail to retain the right amount of water, dehydration sets in. It is the water in our body that determines the vitality, strength, and energy associated with daily living. Think about these facts associated with our body and water:
Ø The human body is ⅔ water.
Ø The body absorbs cold water faster than hot water.
Ø By the time you are 70-years-old, you will have
required 1½ million gallons of water.
Ø Studies show that increasing water consumption can
decrease fat deposits. Water is a natural appetite
Ø If you loose 2% of your body’s water supply, your
energy will decrease by 20%. A 10% decrease in water,
you will be unable to walk, and a 20% decrease – you’re dead.
Well, I think you get the point. And what is true of the physical is also true of the spiritual. Because God has made you with a spirit, soul, and body ...
Dr. Martin Wiles
I recall one of the All in the Family episodes where Archie and Edith were having some discussion that had to do with God, and Mike-their atheistic son-in-law, asked the question, “What God.” Then their daughter, Gloria, said, “Yeah, what God.” Archie could not believe his ears. He knew his son-in-law was an atheist, but he could not believe his daughter said such a thing. When questioned about the statement, their response was, “We just don’t see any evidence of God.”
Just how bad is it out there? And what really are we up against? Well, let me share with you some of the information I gleaned from 17 pages of fairly up to date statistics. [SLIDE 4] I learned first of all that sex is the #1 topic searched on the internet. Now I wasn’t really surprised to learn that---but the number of pornographic sites did surprise me. [SLIDE 5] I found that in 1998 there were 14 million pornographic websites. Five years later that number had grown to 260 million. The next year that number jumped from 260 to 372 million. If that rate of growth continues through the end of this year---when 2007 comes to an end there will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 million pornographic websites out there. And we’ve got a whole generation coming up---many to be married soon who have been gathering strange, unholy and unhealthy ideas about sex from the net---incredibly sad is that the [SLIDE 6] largest consumers of internet pornography are young people in the 12-17 year age bracket. [SLIDE 7] Folks 2.5 BILLION pornographic emails are sent everyday over the web. And while many people operate under the assumption that porn is a guy problem---the truth is [SLIDE 8] there are growing numbers of both men and women who are becoming addicted to internet porn. I don’t know about you [SLIDE 9] but it makes me wonder ---what’s next?
Besides the internet sexual immorality is being promoted via the adult movie industry. [SLIDE 10] Here in America we’re producing 11,000 new porn films every year and Americans are renting 800 million adult videos & DVDs annually. [SLIDE 11] HALF of all hotel guests watch pornographic movies. [SLIDE 12] And PORN accounts for 70% of the in-room revenue raised by hotels. ARE YOU BEGINNING TO GET THE PICTURE? [SLIDE 13] Cable networks provide pay per view services for those who don’t feel like they have to sneak off to a hotel to watch adult programming. [SLIDE 14] It wasn’t all that long ago that MTV launched a new channel---the LOGO channel which has been designed to appeal to and promote the homosexual lifestyle. [SLIDE 15] And in America the number of couples cohabitating went from about ½ million in 1960 to over 5 million by the year 2000. I’m not sure what that number is today. By the way I’ve got to say this about cohabitating---besides the fact it’s a sin---society has sold us a totally lame idea. Here’s what I’m talking about [SLIDE 16] in our culture people often speak of cohabitating---that is living together before marriage—in terms of a test drive. They say ---well now you wouldn’t go out and buy a car without taking it for a test drive first, would you? So doesn’t it just make sense to have a trial run before you commit to marriage?” [SLIDE 17] Now the idea of taking the relationship for a test run sounds pretty good when you think in terms of being the driver…but that’s where the analogy breaks down. [SLIDE 18] The idea of the test drive doesn’t sound so good when you think of yourself as the car. Get real. Cars don’t have feelings. They don’t have a soul---so if you take them back after a test spin---they feel nothing. But dumping people because you decided to look for a different model—that’s a whole different matter.
And while we’ve talked touched on the topics or internet pornography, the adult movie industry, homosexuality and cohabitation--- there’s so much more going on--- [SLIDE 19] there’s printed porn---STDs/AIDS…900 numbers…adult bookstores, strip joints, night clubs, prostitution and on and on we could go. But let me tell you what really concerns me most in all of this---it’s the indifference of so many Christians---the lack of voices speaking out against this tidal wave of immorality---even worse than the lack of voices are those voices of agreement. Believe it or not---[SLIDE 20] studies show that half of the people in our nation who call themselves Christians don’t see a problem with couples living together. [SLIDE 21] 39% think there’s nothing wrong with sexual fantasizing. [SLIDE 22] Incredibly more than 1/3 of today’s church going women have intentionally visited pornographic websites. [SLIDE 23] And get this ½ of church going men struggle with pornography.
And here in this seventh commandment, [SLIDE 24] the commandment where God says “You shall not commit adultery” is a clear call for God’s people in every generation to maintain sexual purity.