Monday, September 10, 2012

Why are so many Christians Biblically illiterate?

I figured it out!!!  Do you ever have a moment where something that should have been obvious all along suddenly BECOMES obvious?!!  Well, that just happened to me.  It's not like this is a new revelation, because I have suspected it for a while.  But a number of recent observations have made it crystal clear, and the Spirit has helped me to put them all together to form a definitive conclusion.  Are you ready?  Here it is:  Most Christians are biblically illiterate because they don't read or study the Bible.  I know that might be a controversial conclusion, but I am convinced that it is true.

So how did I come to that conclusion?  I'll give you just a few examples.  When asked, most Christians confess to NOT reading the Bible on a regular basis.  For many, hearing a sermon on Sundays is their only exposure to God's Word.  And when it comes to Sunday mornings, many do not bring their Bibles with them, content to listen to the Pastor read to them.  (That's not meant to offend anyone - just an observation).  Another observation:  Christian bookstores.  I have written one book and am STILL working on a second, so I believe there is a purpose in sharing insights from God's Word, but most of the books in Christian bookstores and that people read have little to do with Scripture.  In nearly 200 pages in my book, more than 170 of them quoted Scripture.  I wanted to point people to God's Word.  Only God's Word has spiritual POWER to accomplish God's purpose in our minds, hearts and lives.

Another explanation for biblical illiteracy:  Christian blogs like this one.  I looked at some very popular blogs and I discovered that like many sermons, 90% of the quotes come from a book other than the Bible.  Does it really matter if "so-and-so" said something?  What does GOD say??  And that brings up sermons ... countless people have commented that they enjoy hearing the Bible preached when they come to Lighthouse.  Many say they have visited other churches - some of them a LOT of other churches - and they don't hear the Bible!  Then what do they hear?  A pastor's calling is to help people understand GOD's WORD, not to give his own ideas or offer his own pet theories or to quote from the books he has read.  When I preach, I tell people that if they hear me say, "I THINK ... , "  they can turn off their hearing aids and not listen.  It doesn't matter what I think.  What matters is what God's Word says.

Imagine the true prophets coming and saying anything but, "Thus says the LORD!"  But there were false prophets who were saying other things.  Hosea writes, "You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you.  ...  My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children" (Hosea 4:5-6).   Jesus spoke with authority (Matthew 7:24-27), because He wasn't speaking from the traditions of the Pharisees, but from the Old Testament.  "Thus it is written," said Jesus over and over again.  Paul told his young friend Timothy to "Preach the Word."  He said, "The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (II Timothy 4:2-4).  He told Timothy, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:13).  Today people claim to receive a word from the Spirit that has no connection to Scripture.  "Doctrine" has become like a four-letter word to many people who claim to be disciples of Jesus.

Jeremiah writes, "This is what the LORD says:  'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'  But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'" (Jeremiah 6:16).  Many in the visible church today do not know God because they have not listened to His Word.  They are unable to make any connections between God's promises to Abraham and His fulfillment of those promises in Jesus Christ.  Most have no idea how close we are to the return of Christ because they do not recognize the signs that are clearly foretold in Scripture.  They don't know about God's plans for Israel, for the Church, for the world.  Why?  Because they haven't studied God's Word, have not sat under biblical teaching and are content, and in fact prefer, to be entertained rather than taught, rebuked, corrected and instructed in righteousness!  (II Timothy 3:16).

The Bible should not be a foreign language to God's people, to those who desire to follow Jesus.  The Bible reveals God's character, God's plan and God's power that is at work in those who know Him.  My only desire in this blog is to point you there, to get you to read it, to grasp the message it brings and to know the God who reveals Himself in it and so to find salvation through faith in Christ and to be motivated to grow, to learn, and to live with Him and for Him.  Read the verses I share with you.  Read the context in the chapter they are found.  Memorize key verses.  Let God speak to you.  Commit yourself to being a student of the Bible.  It is the most profitable exercise in which you can be engaged.

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