Sermon Illustrations

When I was in the Navy, Sailors told each other all sorts of stories about what happened on various deployments or on liberty. They were called sea stories, and were often far from being true. In fact we used say that the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story was that a fairy tale begins with “Once upon a time…” while a sea story begins with “This is a true story, no kidding…”

Those of us who had been in the Navy for a while knew when we were hearing a sea story. But new recruits who knew almost nothing about life at sea, used to believe every word of those incredible tales.

So when Paul tells Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and firmly believe,” and how “from childhood” Timothy had “known the sacred writings,” Timothy realizes he can use that foundation he developed to discern fact from fiction.

We, on the other hand, are not as fortunate. Hebrew children in Paul’s time had the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, memorized by age 10. And even today, Muslim children memorize the entire Koran in Arabic.

Yet most Christians can’t even name the first five books of the Bible, and I’ve never met or heard of anyone who has them memorized.

Most Christians don’t even bother to read the Bible, and many disregard the Old Testament as being superseded by the New Testament.

I’ve been reading a chronological Bible in a one-year plan. The New Testament readings don’t begin each year until October 18. More than three quarters of the Bible is God’s story before the Gospels!

And many of us are ignorant about it.

That means we can be easily misled by anyone who knows just a little more about it than we do. That’s also the short definition for expert: Someone who knows more than we do about a subject. The less we know, the easier it is for someone to pass themselves off as an expert.