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Hints for Pastors, Teachers, and Church Leaders from a God Seeker

As I look back over the past 30 plus years I see where my relationship with the Lord was hindered by my lack of knowledge about some very basic things. I imagine that the people that I sat under to learn more about God and about the Bible had no idea that I was as ignorant as I was. Please accept these suggestions in the spirit in which they are given. I am not giving them in criticism, only as suggestions.

Many people do not know that there is any other way to research words found in the Bible other than in their cheesy little concordance in the back of their own Bible (if there even is a cheesy one!)  Every person should feel comfortable in being able to do their own Bible studies. They should not be fully reliant on you for their information.

SUGGESTION: Have at least one church copy of a concordance, Bible dictionary, topical Bible, Bible atlas, and any other Bible study helps that are helpful. Make sure that everyone in the congregation, including children, knows how to use them.
This may sound ridiculous, but it is true. Many people do not know that there are Christian bookstores. They don't know of all the wonderful Bible study tools, biographies about Christian pioneers, bumper stickers, bookmarks, and all the other spiritual information and help that are available for purchase.

SUGGESTION: Compile a list of all Christian bookstores within a 45 minute drive for anyone who is interested and make sure everyone has an idea of the types of things available there.  Be sure to let them know they can buy their own copies of concordances, Bible dictionaries, etc.
This next one is a bit more sensitive than the others, so I will preface my suggestion with a little example. My son did research for a science project to find out how research information obtained off the Internet compared to research information obtained at the library.
Most people have been taught in school that, when obtaining factual information for a research paper, you were to go to the library and look up the subject in books and periodicals. Never once did I hear any of my teachers indicate that any information obtained at the library could be wrong. I'm hoping that you were taught the same way so you will understand my suggestion.
In my son's project he attempted to contact the authors of the information he found on a particular subject and asked them some questions that would help pinpoint whether the written information was factual. Most authors obtained some information from personal experience and the rest from other authors. (This would leave open the possibility for someone, somewhere to have written information that later turned out to be false and they had been quoted as a factual source over and over by other authors.) All the non-Internet authors had new information they wanted to include with the old published information.
One of the conclusions of my son's research was that libraries have the possibility of having a great deal of false information that is being passed around by researchers as factual. Both on the Internet and in published works the information usually contained a mixture of personal opinion based on observation as well as factual information.
The personal opinion portion is where I would like to direct your focus. Think about how you have heard people back their opinions of particular Bible topics, such as obtaining and losing salvation, gifts of the Spirit, baptism, etc., with scripture. Have you noticed that there can be people on exact opposite ends of a subject that have scripture to back their viewpoint? How is that possible?
Think of a topic in which you have one viewpoint and in which there are other people that have another viewpoint. Who taught you that your viewpoint is correct? Was it teachers, professors, pastors, or other knowledgeable people or was it the Holy Spirit? Don't answer this question hastily. It is the root of your total knowledge of all the things of God and of the Bible. These are the things that you are teaching other people.  You need to make sure that you find out what God wants you to  believe.
If you aren't seeing what I mean then maybe another explanation might clear up any confusion. I wrote about my own experience in finding out I was holding onto man-made doctrine about losing or not losing salvation. A Collection of Salvation Scriptures
I know that in my case and in the case of lots of other people I know, we have had a tendency to believe things we were taught by teachers, especially teachers who have gone to Bible college. That makes them esteemed highly for the knowledge they share with us.
As humans, we have a tendency to develop opinions about things of God based on what we were taught, what we read in the Bible, and mix in our own human understanding tempered by our own life experiences. We probably think, "If it sounds good based on all those things then it must be true." As someone who has influence in the spiritual lives of others it is IMPERATIVE that we sift what we are teaching and throw out every single minute particle that has any man-made substance in it. Also, we should be praying that every single one of our opinions be God's opinions.
"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." 1Jo 2:27
I was a Sunday school teacher for many years and taught children things that I had been taught. If anything I told them was wrong in even the slightest way and it hindered their walk with the Lord in even the tiniest fashion then I am going to be held responsible. The same goes for you.

SUGGESTION: Give God the entire sum and substance of ALL the things you know about Him, about His Kingdom, about the Bible, and every single other thing (including things not of Him, but of the world). Then ask Him to reveal anything that is not of Him. Only take back the things that have been run past Him and have been approved.
This last one is somewhat related to the previous one. As you know, time spent teaching, time spent reading the Bible, and/or a diploma on the wall do not certify that you know everything about the things of God.

SUGGESTION: Do not reject everything you hear from people who do not have the formal education or years of training that you have had without examining those things first. There is a possibility that what you are hearing is directly from God's mouth to your ear via that other person.

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