Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Bible Knowledge and Life Change

I’ve just read a report on a lecture given by Ron Martoia at the Reformation Conference being held in Berlin at the moment. You can read a few short remarks on the conference on this blog.
In the newspaper report (and for my Afrikaans readers, you can read it here) it is said that Martoia mentioned that Bible knowledge does not help much to change people’s lives. I previously blogged about a book, Static, written by Ron Martoia (which you can read here.)
Although I haven’t had access to the full lecture and have to rely upon what I read in the newspaper report, it seems that Martoia said that Protestant churches rely too much upon Bible knowledge as the prime way of “feeding the sheep”. However, as he said, “Information does not lead to transformation.”
This is a tricky issue. One of the great frustrations that I pick up when speaking to pastors and ministers is the total lack of basic Bible knowledge amongst especially younger people. Bible stories such as Noah and the ark, David and Goliath and others are often totally unknown to people who had been part of the church since their birth. A great number of church-going younger people do not even know that the Bible is divided into an Old – and a New Testament. What is the answer? To give these people even more Bible knowledge? I have a feeling that we need to admit that we have failed in this regard.
I have to admit that Ron Martoia is correct. Life change does not come through increased Bible knowledge. Life change comes by making Christ part of your daily life and living in close relationship to Him on a daily base. But this is the tricky part: How do you live a life devoted to Christ if you do not know how He wants you to live? And where does this knowledge come from, other than through the Bible? Older Christians can become mentors and models for younger Christians, but ultimately each Christian will need to reach the point where they take responsibility for their own spiritual lives and then they need to have access to the Bible to model their lives according to God’s Word.
Possibly I would have said it in another way. We have made the mistake, thinking that the more people know about the Bible, the more “Christian” they will be. This is obviously not the truth. Mere knowledge does not lead to life change. However, once a person has come into a relationship with Christ, then the knowledge becomes essential, as this is the way in which we grow in our relationship with Him.
For too long churches have focussed primarily on passing on intellectual knowledge about God, instead of modelling a relationship with God on a daily basis.


Friday, October 31, 2008 - Posted by | Church, Mission, Theology


  1. Well, not knowing Noah is one thing, but reality of youth ministry is that the kids have no idea about Jesus really, and still they are Christians, some even “leaders” in the church. Without this knowledge you might see change, but in the long-term you might not like the change you see. Also, the lack of knowledge leaves a void which is easily filled by almost anything “spiritual”. I have a feeling that we might find that Bible knowledge will be more important in future, not less…

    Comment by cobus | Friday, October 31, 2008 | Reply

  2. You are right. The knowledge of The Bible will be much useful in future but even now also its imortant. Well I will never say to much but 1 thing I must say, that ehy the youth cannot change their life is because the Bible Knowledge is just a map which shows you the way. It is on you to follow. Remember that Jesus say’s a Proverb about a Man who was a Bos of the servents and he gave 1 of His servent authority or Power to rule on other servents and left the country for some time. But when He came back what He saw that the servent was beating to his other brothers and drinking. when The Bos which is Jesus Himself found this serven doing these thing He felt angry and punished him. Now what We find here is that Jesus gave us His Word-Bible to read carefult and do what He said us to do then our life’s will change it self once we obey.reading & understanding is not wnough but also obey then see the diffrent.Amen

    Comment by Nelson | Thursday, November 5, 2009 | Reply

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