When to stop eating? 15

Steven Furtick says that we can study the Bible so much that it can be harmful. For example, he warns people not to go to churches where they learn about things like the doctrines of grace and “stuff your face until you’re so obese spiritually that you can’t even move.”

Eating God’s Word is an interesting metaphor, given that Jeremiah also used it in Jeremiah 15:16, but in a very different way.

When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O LORD God Almighty.

Perry Noble has also told us that we need to go on a spiritual diet:

Christians DO NOT need another Bible study.

David told us when we were supposed to eat in Psalm 1:2.

His delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

Two questions for Furtick and Noble:

  1. How much eating is too much?
  2. When, besides night or day, are we to stop eating?

15 thoughts on “When to stop eating?

  1. Josh Aug 26, 2009 6:58 am

    I suppose a person could become so obsessed with the academic pursuit of knowledge that he forgets other important aspects of living the way the bible tells us. A substantially bigger problem is ignorance of basic biblical doctrine by professing believers. I always think it’s odd when I hear pastors in seeker sensitive churches discourage most forms of organized bible study, while bragging about how their sermons are intended for four year olds. They profess to be very missional about sharing the gospel (which is great), but they neglect the charge to make disicples.

  2. James Duncan Aug 26, 2009 8:15 am

    Josh,

    I agree with the general gist of your comment, though I’d take issue (Level-3 style) with a couple of your concessions. First, I’d like someone (not necessarily you) to show me how the academic pursuit of the knowledge of God’s Word leads to problems. Yes, people will point to seminary and university religion programs, but I would argue that the failures of the folk they’re thinking about are because they study everything BUT God’s Word. People who read and study God’s Word as God’s Word are not the problem.

    Second, I think we err when we assume that sharing the Gospel means preaching to sinners. Although that would be included, the Gospel is still the Gospel–especially for Christians. In other words, preaching the Gospel and making disciples should be the same thing.

  3. Paul Aug 26, 2009 8:34 am

    A couple of comments. First, it is abhorrent to me that pastors would say these type of things about feeding on God’s Word. It is His Word taht teaches us and and enables us to live the Chrisitan life. Without it, there is no power to change and no power to obey. I weep for people who sit under this kind of nonsense.

    2nd, Bible study becoming purely academic can only happen to those who don’t believe it as God’s Word. Now, Christians can fall into this trap for a season, but true Christians won’t do this long…they love God and His Word too much.

    3rd. A Gospel centered (missions minded) church is always preaching the Gospel. Two reasons: First, Luke tells us that all the Scriptures point to Jesus, so Gospel preaching is inevitable. Second, believers desparetely need the Gospel as much as unbelievers. We are prone to wander from God, and it is just as important to pursue each other as the lost.

    Lastly. furtick and these guys often use the term self-feeders. we need to be these. what i find ironic is that their style of preaching does little to no exegesis or explaining what the text means. They use texts to match their own ideas. Their preaching fails to feed their people the text as the authors intended them to mean, and it fails to teach them to study the Bible on their own.

  4. James Downing Aug 26, 2009 10:35 am

    Interesting thought:
    This past weekend, Elevation claimed their highest attendance ever at about 7,000. Just last week, Furtick claimed over 5,000 had been saved through Eelvation in the last 3 years. http://www.stevenfurtick.com/uncategorized/the-power-of-an-invite/
    Now, if those numbers are anywhere close to correct, one has to assume that roughly 70% of Steven’s audience is new converts.

    These are the people he is telling not to study the bible.

  5. Josh Aug 26, 2009 2:12 pm

    James Duncan: “First, I’d like someone (not necessarily you) to show me how the academic pursuit of the knowledge of God’s Word leads to problems.”

    Imagine an extreme situation: someone who lives in a cave and literally does nothing except eat, study the bible and sleep. Obviously that person will know lots about the bible, but will be disobeying lots of it. We are called to do lots of things besides studying the bible. We’re called to preach, to serve, to work, to care for widows and orphans, etc. In my extreme, unrealistic example, the man isn’t doing any of this, he’s just “self-feeding.”

    Obviously in the real world there is no such person, but there are lots of professing believers who view their Christian walk as consisting of attending Sunday School, attending church, attending Sunday night prayer, and attending Wednesday night business meeting. While none of those things are wrong, if that’s the whole focus of a believer’s ambassadorship in this world, he’s not doing what God told him.

    I do believe there are people like this that don’t need another bible study…they need to go out and do the things they’ve already studied. My original point, though, was that there are many, many more people who claim to be Christians who 1. Don’t have any idea what the bible says; 2. Don’t believe what the bible says, and 3. believe a false or corrupted version of the gospel. These people DO need another bible study. They need to understand the gospel. They need to know how to live a godly life. They need to know the truth, so they won’t be confused by the lies of the world. If the Sunday services (sorry…”experiences”) are going to be on a grade school level for missional purposes, the church needs to disciple those new believers somehow. It doesn’t HAVE to be during the Sunday ser….experience, but it needs to be sometime and it needs to be encouraged rather than pooh poohed by church leaders.

  6. JT Aug 26, 2009 4:16 pm

    Duncan- “I’d like someone (not necessarily you) to show me how the academic pursuit of the knowledge of God’s Word leads to problems.”

    James 1:22-25 comes to mind.

  7. James Downing Aug 26, 2009 4:29 pm

    Jt – Keep reading to vs 25 there:
    25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, othe law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, phe will be blessed in his doing.

    You see, even James is saying in this passage that you CAN’T be a DOER of the word, if you don’t know the word. He isn’t saying to study the word less, he is saying to act upon it more.

  8. JT Aug 26, 2009 5:32 pm

    Downing,

    Agreed.

    I’m certain Noble and Furtick would agree, as well.

    However, their penchant for constructing shocking statements makes it easy to use their sound-bites against them, doesn’t it?

    Here’s some surrounding context from which Duncan pulled the “Christians DO NOT need another Bible study” line:

    “One of the greatest tragedies in Christianity today is that too many Christians are sitting around “waiting on God,” when in actuality they are using excuses such as, “Well, I’m praying about it,” and, “I don’t want to get ahead of God.” What I have discovered is that MOST of the time these are excuses for laziness, fear and a lack of faith.

    Christians DO NOT need another Bible study…another book…another seminar…most of us need to simply just do what we know we should do…that desire inside of us that we know is from Him!”

    Noble did not say “All Christians…”, although it appears that some here would like to interpret it as such.

  9. James Duncan Aug 26, 2009 5:48 pm

    JT, even if he meant “a few” Christians, my questions remain. When is it too much, and when should they stop?

  10. Micah Taylor Aug 26, 2009 6:24 pm

    The interesting part of the quote (I watched this clip a few months ago and became an instant fan) is that he says “obese SPIRITUALLY.”

    If a person was going to church in hopes to become obese in intellect, I could see where the problem would come in. And while I think that may be the point Furtick’s attempting to get at (I say maybe because I rarely understand what he’s really trying to say… or hope that I’m misinterpreting it) if he’s really meaning the actual words he is saying we have a problem.

    I think there’s a surmountable amount of evidence to show that if you are a believer coming to church to be spiritually filled then they have a pretty good idea of what church is all about. Without this idea… we wouldn’t have oh I don’t know… Pentecost.

  11. JT Aug 26, 2009 8:50 pm

    James Duncan,

    I think you are asking the wrong questions, as Noble was not arguing against studying the Bible.

    He was saying that Christians who are “sitting around ‘waiting on God'” (his words) need to be doers of the word and not hearers only.

    Read Noble’s original full quote again:

    ““One of the greatest tragedies in Christianity today is that too many Christians are sitting around “waiting on God,” when in actuality they are using excuses such as, “Well, I’m praying about it,” and, “I don’t want to get ahead of God.” What I have discovered is that MOST of the time these are excuses for laziness, fear and a lack of faith.

    Christians DO NOT need another Bible study…another book…another seminar…most of us need to simply just do what we know we should do…that desire inside of us that we know is from Him!””

  12. James Duncan Aug 26, 2009 8:57 pm

    JT, I’ll see your quote and raise you.

    PN is using some sleight of hand in his argument. I’m kind of with him on the “waiting on God” bit, though I think he’s a bit hypocritical to be hard on people for this. His whole leadership style is to wait for personal revelation and vision from God, so it’s a bit much for Noble to be down on other people wanting to follow his example.

    The second paragraph is about something very different. In the first, we’re talking about feeling good in our bones about a decision; in the second, we’re talking about God’s certain revelation. Reading God’s Word is a world apart from trying to read his mind from the ether.

    How are we to really know what we are to do in the first place, if not from reading and studying his Word?

  13. JT Aug 26, 2009 9:13 pm

    “How are we to really know what we are to do in the first place, if not from reading and studying his Word?”

    But that’s exactly Noble’s point. These Christians (and I’m certainly a part of this set, at times) already know what God has asked them to do.

    Noble’s argument is that if they already know what God wants of them, they simply need to do it, and stop using “another Bible study…another book…another seminar” as an excuse.

    He clearly is not saying that Bible studies, Christian books, and seminars are unnecessary– Newspring has scores, if not hundreds of Bible study groups, hosts an annual seminar, and Perry is writing a book.

  14. James Duncan Aug 26, 2009 9:26 pm

    JT, you write, “Newspring has scores, if not hundreds of Bible study groups.”

    Surely you’re not calling PN a hypocrite? 🙂

    You know, if you study the Word, one of the things you’ll find is that God repeatedly tells us to … study the Word. Good Bible study should always lead to more Bible study.

    Again, when are we supposed to stop?

  15. JT Aug 27, 2009 12:49 pm

    Again, you are asking the wrong question.

    Nobody is saying that Christians should stop studying the Bible.

    Read the entire quote again. Then read James 1:22-25.

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