The level of your spiritual health—and mine—is in direct proportion to what we know about God’s Manual, sometimes called the Bible.

Not long ago, I had to lease another car; my old lease ran out. This new car, very similar to the last one, had a new feature. The steering wheel can be heated. I thought that was a bit extravagant until we had a cold snap in late December—two weeks of temperatures in the single digits.

My wife was with me in the car, and I asked her, “Do you know how to turn the heat on for the steering wheel? It’s really cold.” She reported, “It’s your car! Don’t you know how to do it?” I said, “No, that’s why I asked!” Then came the response I should have seen coming. She said, “Have you read the manual?” Of course, I hadn’t!

I’ve become convinced about why most churches are stalled or declining. I’ve worked closely with well over a thousand churches, so I’m fairly sure about this. I think churches are weak and ineffective in their primary mission because they haven’t read the Manual.

This conclusion leads to another: As great and important as they are, the sermon-preaching is not enough. So, what happens? If that’s all we get, we are spiritual infants, and that’s why our churches—many of them—have drifted. And that’s why our churches—many of them—are not reaching unchurched people.

In Romans 3:1-29, Paul writes about the holy Scriptures and faithlessness. It leads to spiritual shallowness.

Paul reminds the faithful living in Rome that the Scriptures are not just about others. They are about us. We are imperfect and desperately need God’s revelation. Not just in a sermon twenty minutes a week or so. That would be like eating once every seven days. We’d be stunted. There is so much to learn, so much to grow. Our priorities need fixing.

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