Summary: Our purpose in this series is to reacquaint ourselves with the fundamentals of our faith.
Why We Believe What We Believe - Why Doctrine is Important
Why We Believe What We Believe Series
Gages Lake Bible Church
October 4th, 2009
Pastor Daniel Darling
At great risk to my life, I’m going to open with an illustration from the Green Bay Packers. I realize that Bears fans are not fond of the Packers. I hear that the feeling is not mutual from the other side.
If you know NFL history—and you should if you’re spiritual—you’ll know that the dominant team in the 60’s and 70’s was the Green Bay Packers. They were coached by the great Vince Lombardi.
It was said that Coach Vince Lombardi began every new season with a lecture to both the veterans and the rookies on the basics of football.
He literally held up a football and said, "This is a football." He talked about its size and shape, how it can be kicked, carried, or passed. Then he took the team out onto the field and said, "This is a football field." He walked them around, describing the dimensions, the shape, the rules, and how the game is played.
He did that every year -- even after the Green Bay Packers became NFL champs and then won the first two Super Bowls ever played. Can you imagine how "basic" and "fundamental" that must have sounded to his veteran players? And yet maybe that explains why Vince Lombardi was such a successful coach, because he began with the basics.
“Fundamentals were the foundation of my father’s coaching philosophy,” Vince Lombardi, Jr. wrote in his book The Essential Vince Lombardi
A New Series
It is with this idea in mind that I begin a new, 10-week preaching series, entitled “Why We Believe What We Believe.” I believe Christians today at all levels need to be schooled in the basics.
If you believe the mountains of church research done in the last few years by George Barna, Lifeway Research and others, you know that Christians have lost touch with the basics of faith.
Pastors can no longer assume that Christians in their congregations are either a) fully aware b) believe or c) understand the fundamentals of their faith.
Let me share with you some troubling findings. I took these second-hand from a paper by Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D., entitled, “Crisis in America’s Churches, Bible Knowledge at All-Time Low.” He has a great website at theologicalstudies.org.
According to George Barna:
• The most widely known Bible verse among adult and teen believers is “God helps those who help themselves.” – Which is not actually in the Bible and actually conflicts with the Bible’s central message.
• Less than one out of every ten believers possess a biblical worldview as the basis for his or her decision-making or behavior.
• When given thirteen basic teachings from the Bible, only 1% of adult believers firmly embraced all thirteen as being biblical perspectives.
Here are a few more revealing statistics:
Gary Burge, who teaches New Testament at Wheaton College, finds that incoming students are knowing less and less of the core doctrines of the Bible. For instance:
• One-third could not put the following in order: Abraham, the Old Testament prophets, the death of Christ, and Pentecost.
• Half could not sequence the following: Moses in Egypt, Isaac’s birth, Saul’s death, and Judah’s exile.
• One-third could not identify Matthew as an apostle from a list of New Testament names.
So is there a crisis among Christians in America? Absolutely. We have shockingly lost grasp of the fundamentals of our faith.
The Purpose of this Series
Now, for some of you, you hear those statistics and you roll your eyes and you think to yourself, “Wow, people really don’t know their Bible.”
For others, inwardly you think to yourself. “Hey, that’s me.” Maybe you’re a new believer or you have attended a church that didn’t really open the Bible and teach it in a fresh new way.
Wherever you are on the spectrum, the purpose of this series isn’t to embarrass those who don’t know some of the basics. Nor is it to puff up with pride those of us who have been trained or who have grown up in church.
For those of us “veterans” the purpose is to get reacquainted with the doctrines of the Bible, to sharpen our knowledge, to know more of the why than the what, so we are better equipped to make a difference in this world and to teach the next generation of believers.
For those who are “rookies” the purpose is to teach and to learn some of the basics of the Bible, so you are not as Ephesians describes, “tossed about by every wind of doctrine.”
Bible is Our Middle Name
Gages Lake Bible Church is proud to share fellowship with a vibrant Christian community here in Lake County. God has raised up several different types of churches with different emphases. It’s not for me or for you to throw stones at other churches and other pulpits. I like to have the attitude of Jesus, who at the end of the Gospel of John told Peter, when Peter looked over at John and said, “Lord, what about him?” and Jesus said, “What is that to thee, follow thou Me.”