Reading the Bible or reading in general for that matter seems to be something of a lost discipline in this age of computers, smartphones, and social media. These and other mediums of entertainment have all but crippled our ability to think as a nation. Some statistics show an average of three to five hours on social media alone. These along with other daily tasks of life its no wonder there’s a decline in reading especially of God’s word. It doesn’t take rocket science to see the inevitable fallout spiritually. A nation founded on the BOOK will soon be a nation lost without the BOOK! Perhaps we praying for the wrong kind of revival, maybe we need to pray for a revival of Bible reading and learning.
The Bible states in Proverbs 14:34 that Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. By removing the underpinning of God’s word in the local church and in our daily lives we are witnessing first hand its devastating effects. The spiritual and moral morass that has been fostered has created an anemic church, where now what is bad is entertained as good and good as bad. It should be no surprise that the moral and spiritual relativism here in America has metastasized into many mainline denominations including some Baptist churches.
The Bible reading default button needs to be hit, along with a vigorous return to Bible preaching, teaching in the local church. America’s decline morally and spiritual is a direct result of a departure from scripture and biblical preaching. Reading/studying the Bible is the panacea against many of the social and spiritual ills of this age.
To better understand the gravity of this situation LifeWay, Barna and even Christianity Today have put out some notable studies and this one here on Bible reading among Americans was very telling.
They “surveyed 1,000 Americans about their views of the Bible and found significant splits in how familiar they are with the Christian scripture. One in five Americans, LifeWay Research found, has read through the Bible at least once. That includes 11 percent who’ve read the entire Bible once and 9 percent who’ve read it through multiple times. Another 12 percent say they have read almost all of the Bible, while 15 percent have read at least half.
About half of Americans (53 percent) have read relatively little of the Bible. One in 10 has read none of it, while 13 percent have read a few sentences. Thirty percent say they have read several passages or stories”
Further research shows that some believe:
• That Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife (Barna)
• That Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife
• God helps those who help themselves is a Bible verse
• That “we are all God’s children”
• That “we all worship the same God”
• That God wouldn’t judge anybody
George Barna correctly stated that “the Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy.”
Here’s a portion of a more comprehensive study with over 14,000 interviews over six years done by Barna Research Institute.
Mohler chimes in and rightly states that we (local church) own the biblical illiteracy problem in America. He states that according to Barna’s research many (60%) Americans cannot quote five of the commandment and yet others who cannot name the four Gospels or list more than three of the disciples. Note: Not sure about the size of the pool used in the poll most likely between 1,000 – 2,000.
We can finger point at the government, education, liberal churches (they’re not without blame for sure) this group and that as being the cause of all the problems we are facing, but when viewing the stats regarding “Christians” and their Bibles we can see where the problem lies. You can laugh, cry, get angry and go on a rant about the state of affairs morally and spiritually here in America if you want, but it won’t change where the responsibility lies. You can blame Trump, the Democrats or whoever, if Bibles remains unopened and unstudied then we should look no further than ourselves and the local church.
So now what? Where do we go from here? I believe we need to take ownership of this pandemic and encourage a revival of reading, learning, and preaching of the Bible. Seek God’s help in not only understanding the Scriptures but the application of them as well. Individuals need to evaluate the amount of time they give to the reading and study of their bibles and make the changes necessary in order to spend time in God’s word. Redeem the time!
The fruit from this will be seen in a multitude of ways, stronger walk with the Lord, deeper prayer life, consistency in all phases of ministry, renewed hatred towards sin and wickedness, a growing love for God and Christ and lastly a passion for the word of God.
Everyone benefits from this, you, family, friends, coworkers, fellow believers, church, communities, and local, state and yes even those at the federal level, will reap the benefits from YOUR daily reading and studying of the Bible. Henry Halley said it best, “The strength and vigor our spiritual life will be in direct proportion to the place that the scriptures have in our life and thoughts.”
One final consideration is this, what place does the Bible have in ministry? I’ve heard testimony from church folks who have gone to churches on vacation claiming to be Bible-based only to hear the preacher read from a devotional during the preaching hour. The Bible was never opened!. This is a travesty! Bible pre-eminence in ALL phases of ministry cannot be stressed enough. This includes the pulpit ministry, teaching ministries, and outreach. Less time should be spent on telling folks what’s wrong with it and more time spent telling what is great about it!
The building blocks to all we know about God, Christ, ministry, our walk with him, etc, are cultivated through solid and consistent biblically-based preaching and teaching in the local church and our study and application in our personal lives. It’s a wonderful book divine – SECOND TO NONE! Carpe Diem!