The well-known church researcher, George Barna, recently conducted a survey examining how many American”s believe their life has been “greatly transformed” by their religious faith. 1 While 51% said their lives had been greatly transformed, the study generated some disconcerting results. First, when asked what it was that had brought about that change, the least influential agent of transformation mentioned was reading the Bible (10%). Family and friends, and spiritual experiences were some of the main causes of change, but the Bible no longer seems to play a pivotal role in the process.
Even more troubling, is Barna’s discovery that “among the individuals who are classified as born again Christians because of their commitment to Christ and their belief in salvation by grace and their personal confession of sin, one out of every four indicated that they had not experienced great life transformation attributable to their faith. That questions the nature of their commitment to Christ. This represents more than 20 million adults who consider themselves to be devoted to Jesus Christ but who also claim that their life has not been dramatically changed by that relationship. Perhaps this suggests that the religious community has become more adept at marketing Christian principles than modeling a genuine, life-changing connection with Christ.”
Barna”s findings should cause concern among us as believers about the condition of the Christian church today. This description, in many ways, seems similar to the condition of the Laodicean church described in Revelation 3:14-22. The lesson this week gives us the opportunity to reflect on this situation as we consider the topic of the Bible and spiritual growth.
Questions for Discussion:
- What, in your opinion, accounts for the decreasing role of the Bible as one of the main reasons for life transformation? Do you think this applies to the Adventist church as well? How might this trend be reversed?
- Richard Foster, author of a well-known book about how to live a spiritual life entitled the Celebration of Discipline, said, “Superficiality is the curse of our age”. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” Do you see any validity in his statement? Why or why not?
- Reflect on your Christian life. How have you grown in your walk with Christ through the years? Has the Bible played a pivotal role in your experience? If so, how? If not, why not?
- Sunday”s lesson states, there is a “need for growth” in the Christian life, but it never explicitly states the reason why. Why, in your opinion, is such a need necessary? If one can be saved as a “babe in Christ,” why should we be concerned with growing into spiritual maturity?
- A new believer wants to grow in Christ. What advice would you give her about how to read the Bible, and where to begin reading?