“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4 (NIV).
Secret Church 17 was titled, “Scripture and Authority in an Age of Skepticism.” Its focus was answering whether the Bible is divine, true, clear, sufficient and good. Do you think it is?
For a follower of Christ the answer should be “Yes.” However, if you look at some research on what people believe and practice, especially about the Bible, then the answer may not be so clear. Skepticism is increasing concerning the origin, relevance, and authority of the Scriptures. Also, there is a societal rejection of an external moral authority and more reliance on an internal (self) moral authority. At the same time that the Bible is more accessible than ever before, so is everything else. (Secret Church 17, page 7).
There is some interesting information from a Barna Group survey entitled, “The Bible in America: The Changing Landscape of Bible Perceptions and Engagement.” Here are some highlights:
- Almost 90% of Americans have a Bible in their home with the average number of Bibles being 3.
- 81% of Americans believe that the Bible is a holy book.
- We live in one of the Top 10 Bible-minded cities in America; Birmingham, AL ranks #2. All of the Top 10 are southern cities.
- 33% of Americans read the Bible at least once a week. Down from 46% in 2009.
- 22% of Americans believe that there is no God behind the Bible. Up from 10% in 2011.
- 33% of Americans strongly agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Down from 46% in 1991.
- 64% of Senior Pastors believe that intentional, systematized study of the Bible is an essential element of spiritual formation.
- 60% of Senior Pastors believe that in-depth education about the Bible is essential to spiritual growth.
Consider these statistics for a moment. 90% of Americans have a Bible in the home but only 33% read it on a weekly basis. If you look at the percentages of Americans who read it more than once a week, they decrease with the lowest percentage for daily reading. Of that 90%, only 33% believe it is totally accurate in the principles it teaches. I wonder if it’s the same folks who read it at least once a week?
More shocking are the numbers of Senior Pastors who believe that the study of the Bible is not an essential element of spiritual formation or essential to spiritual growth. This should bring us to a sobering realization that we have lost respect for the Word of God and its Author.
“The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”
John 6:63 (NIV).
The Bible, THE Word of God, in 2 Kings Chapters 21, 22 & 23 and in 2 Chronicles Chapters 33, 34 & 35, tell us about Josiah. Josiah became king of Judah when he was eight years old. Very early in his reign he began to seek the Lord, this was something that his father, Amon and his grandfather, Manasseh did not do. They did evil in the eyes of God for many years. Josiah would go throughout Judah and Jerusalem and get rid of all the places and symbols of idol worship that his father and grandfather had allowed.
Josiah would eventually turn to repairing and restoring the temple. In doing so, Hilkiah, the high priest found the Book of the Law. Found the Book of the Law? Where had it been? If it was found, how did the Book of the Law get lost? How long was it lost?
We learn that God was ready to bring disaster on Judah and its people because they had forsaken God and worshipped false idols. But because Josiah humbled himself when he heard the words of the Book of the Law, God did not bring disaster upon them. All because they turned back to God’s Word and the Author of those words.
Seems a little farfetched today, doesn’t it? But is it?
Where is the Book of the Law or God’s Word in your home? Is it a nice table decoration? Maybe it’s a coaster or a dust collector. Is it stuck on some shelf along with other forgotten books? Or is it only something you pick up on Sunday? Is it a book you only refer to when you need it? Is it only brought out in December to read the Christmas story? Or is it a book you make a daily priority?
If only 33% of Americans read the Bible on a weekly basis, is it any wonder that society looks like it does? Maybe you don’t think that reading the Word of God is that important. I vehemently disagree with you but, consider how you would react to the following situations:
If you found out that the star football player on your favorite team refused to study and learn the playbook, would you be ok with him playing? What if you found this out after he made several mistakes that cost your team a chance at a championship?
If you took your vehicle in for repairs and your mechanic said that he did what he thought might help but he didn’t have time to read a repair manual, would you drive off without any concern?
If you went to the doctor and needed a procedure performed but he said right before you were put under anesthesia that he didn’t have time to refresh his memory on how to do this procedure, would you let it continue?
Finally, if you got on a plane and the pilot said he no longer used the checklist because he had done this enough, would you fly comfortably?
More than likely you wouldn’t be happy about any of the above and you shouldn’t be. But are we hypocrites and that’s the very way we treat the Word of God?
If you are not reading the Word of God daily, it’s because you don’t want to. Period. We make time for what we want to make time for. We spend countless hours on social media, sports and news websites and watching mindless television shows. But we can’t carve time out for God’s Word?
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”
Proverbs 30:5 & 6 (NIV).
David Platt shared a story during Secret Church about a man who was given a small Bible. The man actually came up and requested the Bible because the pages would be perfect to use for rolling a cigarette. The man was given the Bible with the agreement that he would read each page before he smoked it. He agreed and took the Bible. Sometime later he came back to the man that gave him that Bible. He had read and smoked all the way to the third chapter of John. That’s when he read verse 16 in chapter three. He came to faith in Jesus. Now I admit, this is a unique way of reading the scriptures but it points to the power that lies within them.
If you already read your Bible every day, Awesome! If you read it more than once a week, I challenge you to read it daily. If you don’t ready your Bible regularly, I challenge you to do so. Read it daily for a month. If you don’t notice a change in your life and your relationship with Christ then go back to what you used to do. But I have no doubt you will notice a change.
Maybe some of you need to be a Josiah and go “restore and repair the temple” and find where your Word of God had been hidden. What example are you setting for your spouse, children and others? If you attend a church that isn’t based on the Word of God (see above about 40% of Senior Pastors not finding the Bible to be essential) then I ask you to find a church that has the Bible at the center of its teaching and purpose.
“Fortune-cookie preaching will make brittle, syrupy Christians.”
Jared C. Wilson
Not too many years in the past the only people who had Bibles were the churches. People could only come to hear it read. Then the Reformation sparked the printing of God’s Word so that everyone and anyone could have a copy. Today the Bible is at our fingertips, literally. So which is worse: people who could only go hear the Word of God read or people who have the Word of God and don’t read it?
Read God’s Word and run to the Cross!