Pure Spiritual Milk

Pastor, theologian, and author John Stott passed away Wednesday at the age of 90.  A quick perusal at the number of memorials written about him in the last 24 hours will give you an idea of the impact this man had on Christianity in the U.S.  One of the men dramatically influenced by Stott is John Piper.  Piper had his heart opened to the wonders of God's word by Stotts's dedication to expository preaching.  When writing about discovering the meaning of the word of God Piper writes:

And of course what God means is staggeringly important and glorious and horrible and tender and rugged and shocking and ravishing and relevant. And implications are crashing down on me every minute, and my heart is churning with shock and wonder and fear and hope and sorrow and joy and cries for help. This is what I have been waiting for all my life. 

A couple of questions come to my mind when I read that quote.

The first question is "Are you and I affected that deeply by the preaching of the Word of God?" Does God's word humble us, afflict us, comfort us, and change the very nature of our lives?  It should.  We need to pray that God would open our hearts to the wonders found in His word.

The second question is one that keeps me up at night.  "Are we members of churches where the scriptures are faithfully taught to us?"  I am not talking about spiritual self-help sermons that reference scripture.  Does your pastor open up the word of God and teach you what it says?

Here are couple of things to look for if you aren't sure.

If your pastor only teaches topical sermons then you might want to be wary.
If your pastor often bases his sermons off of Christian books you might want to be wary.
If your pastor's sermons seem to be mostly stories and illustrations, you might want to be wary.

I am not saying every pastor that preaches a sermon in these ways is wrong, but these types of sermons should not be the primary form of teaching.  You cannot teach the whole council of God in these ways.

I think it is absolutely critical that you find a church that teaches you what the bible says.  This means finding a church where the pastor teaches through books of the bible.  There is no way to truly know what scripture is saying if you are constantly teaching it out of the context of the book it is written in.

Nothing is more important in finding a church home than this.
Not worship style.
Not children's ministry.
Not community service opportunities.

The single most important characteristic of a church is whether or not the truth of the word of God is faithfully taught and explained to the saints.  Nothing else equips God's people to complete the mission He has given us of making His name great among all the nations.

Are you being fed the spiritual milk of the word of God that leads to maturity (1 Peter 2:2) or are you settling for a watered down imitation?