I’m not sure what I expected things to be like when I started preaching back in 1999. After traveling to twenty states and one foreign country in almost nineteen years of ministry, though, I’m convinced that one of the biggest problems facing most churches today is the simple fact that many people are far too open-minded about Bible teaching and preaching.
To be fair, there are some people who aren’t open-minded enough to listen to anything that they don’t like or agree with right away. That can also be dangerous, and it is certainly important to be a good listener and to have a teachable heart. Still, I’m much more concerned about the fact that many people are so open-minded that they will listen to anybody say just about anything without even stopping to ask or wonder, “What verse are we on again?”
You see, I don’t think that anyone should just sit and listen to any preacher or Bible teacher with an open mind. I think it is much wiser to listen to preaching and Bible teaching with an open Bible. I think it is extremely important to listen very carefully and to take the time to compare what people are saying about God or in the name of God to what God has written in His Word. ¹
How else could anyone even hope to obey what is written in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22? The passage clearly states, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” We have many examples of the Apostle Paul speaking in synagogues and using the scriptures to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. Furthermore, Acts 17:11 tells us the Bereans “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” If people didn’t just take the Apostle Paul at his word, and if they were careful to compare what he was saying to what was written in the scriptures, shouldn’t a preacher today expect people to be checking their Bibles while they are listening to his sermon?
As I continue to travel in my ministry, I find myself (like Paul writes in Philippians 1:9-10) praying that people’s love would “abound more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” and that they would only “approve things that are excellent” instead of just listening to the popular preachers and teachers of the day with an open mind and without an open Bible. My prayer is that more people would have an attitude like the one we read about in Psalm 119:128 – “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”
1 For the record, this idea of listening to preaching with an open Bible instead of just blindly listening with an open mind is not original with me. To give credit where credit is due, I believe I first heard this from Chris Rosebrough on Fighting For The Faith/Pirate Christian Radio. This is definitely one of those quotes that caught my attention right away, and I find myself using it very often.