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Organic Teaching

Have you seen any of the news stories about some of the unthinkable products and processes that are used in food?  Some of them will almost make you want to give up eating.  Man’s tampering with food includes genetic modification, which can cause a host of problems that no one really yet understands.  It also includes the use of some substances that you would never knowingly eat, such as ammonia, propylene glycol (antifreeze), shellac, silicon dioxide (essentially sand), crushed beetles (for red food coloring), and more.  So many preservatives are used in foods now that I have heard that dead bodies will hardly even decompose anymore.  There are also growth hormones used in beef and dairy cattle that are passed on to us when we eat the products that come from these animals.  No wonder we have so much trouble losing weight!

To provide a way to avoid these strange food additives and processes, many foods are now produced organically.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a lengthy standard for foods that are certified as organic, but it essentially requires for organic foods to be produced and processed with only products that exist in or are derived from plants and animals.  Generally, this precludes any of the strange and harmful additives that none of us want to consume.  After all, God gave us plants and animals for our food (Gen. 1:29; 9:3-4), so it is obviously unwise to eat antifreeze, sand, or any other non-food or manmade products.  This is not to say eating these things has any effect on the soul, for "food will not commend us to God” (1Cor. 8:8), but it is simply of matter of living wisely on the earth.

My point in writing these things is not really about food (although there are some lessons to learn there), but rather it is about a parallel situation concerning our spiritual diet.  Like our food, much of the teaching of our time has been corrupted by messages that provide no spiritual nourishment or are spiritually harmful.  Manmade doctrines and philosophies of man dominate the information that is fed into our minds by popular media, public education, and government.  Furthermore, many churches across the land conform their messages to man’s wisdom, teaching creeds and traditions that have their origin in the writings of man rather than God’s word (Matt. 15:7-9).  Many preachers give messages that contain more entertainment than truth, and their sermons are little more than puffy collections of cute stories, jokes, and emotional fluff that do nothing to edify their hearers in the truth.

How can Christians avoid these contaminated messages that are ostensibly presented as the gospel of Christ?  May I suggest that we need organic teaching.  By this, I mean that we need an organic standard for our teaching and preaching that demands pure, unadulterated truth that comes directly from the word of God.  Indeed, this standard already exists, for it is the standard of "sound doctrine” that is commended within the word of God itself (1Tim. 4:6; 6:3; 2Tim. 4:3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1).  It is the standard that Christians should have been following from the beginning.

An organic standard of teaching begins and ends with the Bible.  We need to demand that every preacher "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2Tim. 4:2).  Furthermore, each one of us needs to "long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it [we] may grow in respect to salvation” (1Pet. 2:2).  As we grow to maturity, we need a continual, steady diet of the solid food of the word of God so that we may understand the deeper things of God (Heb. 5:12-14).  This is the organic diet prescribed by our God, for "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4).

Moreover, an organic standard of Biblical teaching prohibits the additions of man’s doctrines, philosophies, traditions, and opinions.  God’s word has always forbade both additions and subtractions (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19), so "additives” and "fillers” in our teaching and preaching should not be tolerated.  Our minds should be on guard against these things, just as Paul advises us in Colossians 2:8 – "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”  Not only should we guard against inorganic, unbiblical teachings, but we must denounce those who attempt to corrupt the pure, organic word of God.  Paul wrote, "As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed” (Gal. 1:9).

Therefore, for the health of our souls, let us feed ourselves on nothing but the truth as it is given by and viewed through the word of God.  God has "granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us” (2Pet. 1:3).  This does not mean that every piece of information that we will ever need to live on earth is found in the Bible, but it does mean that the Bible teaches us how to properly understand everything we need to know.  This soundness of doctrine is the diet we need for spiritual health.  Perhaps the best organic menu for our souls in given in Philippians 4:8, which is "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Stacey E. Durham




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