"My regional evangelist told me it wasn’t that important for our church to study our Bible in depth. He said what is important is how we live our life. He said the apostles and even Paul didn’t have the Bible. They had to rely on Old Testament and words passed through the disciples. He said he doubts if Paul the apostle read any scroll or manuscript daily. I believe this thinking creates a biblically shallow church. Can you shed light here?"
I couldn’t disagree more! The attitude you describe, though, perhaps held in good faith faith, makes my blood boil!
Your evangelist is not right if this is what he actually said. The apostles had been taught the Bible by Jesus, himself and it is clear from their ready recollection that they knew the scriptures extremely well. In his Acts 2 sermon, the ignorant and unlettered Peter showed a mastery of the Psalms and the Minor Prophets attained by few preachers in our day! Teaching the church to read the Bible correctly brings so many benefits:
* Perspective during hard times.
* Interesting and stimulating personal devotional times.
* Faithfulness when the going gets tough.
* More powerful and convicting lessons, including Sunday sermons.
* A wider range of outsiders will be attracted to the gospel, from those who just want to learn to those seeking something more meaty than the typical Sunday offerings.
* Skeptics and non-believers will see the truth of the Bible more easily when messages are better prepared and thoroughly thought out.
* Greater integrity; the more faithfully we handle the word (2 Timothy 2:15) the more competently we will act and lead, thus inspiring confidence in those who hear us.
While it is true — and I have often said this — that most early believers did not personally own a Bible, they did in fact have access to it. And they were to pay attention when it was being read and discussed–for example Nehemiah 8 and Acts 17!
How different to our own day with wandering minds, over-packed schedules, and limited attention spans! I agree with you that wrong thinking can and does create biblically shallow churches.
Your leader is right that knowledge without obedience gets us nowhere, and if I had to choose between the two — perish the thought! — I would choose an obedient heart. But all the adventure and mystery and wonder of following Christ I fear would be lost if we resigned ourselves to the shallow seas of dumbed-down Christianity.
Has not God made it clear that we are love him with all our heart — but also all our mind? Loving him with all we have is in fact the first and greatest commandment. I wish everyone had the indignation you have. Do not bow to pressure to stop demanding excellence in the pulpit.
Scriptures for further study: Hosea 4:6, 8:12; 2 Timothy 2:15.