Sunday, 17 June 2018

Christian Fundamentals: The Bible, Why Aren’t We Reading It?

Bible and marker

The Evangelical Alliance recently (2018) published the results of a survey of people’s attitudes to the Bible. Among Christians it was discovered:

  • 57% believe the Bible should shape their daily lives "a great deal"
  • 35% said they read the Bible everyday
  • 73% said the Bible actively challenges them to live in a way which runs counter to the present culture in Britain
  • 60% believe the Bible provides moral guidance, sets out God's rescue plan for humanity and shows God's priorities
  • 78% believe the Bible is divinely inspired and 34% believe that it is free from error
  • 68% say the Bible is regularly taught at their church

Stop and think about that second statistic; 35% said they read the Bible daily. Perhaps because 73% said the Bible actively challenges them to live in a way which runs counter to the present culture in Britain? It is true that taking the Bible seriously today can seriously make you stand out from the crowd. But it has always been God’s purpose that his people should be holy (set apart, dedicated or devoted to the service of God). Bible reading is integral to that service.

The experience of the Israelites during the captivity in Babylon shows how important God’s Word is; when they were to return to the land we find in Ezra and Nehemiah that the study of (Ezra 7:10); reading of (Nehemiah 8:1 8); and obedience to the word of God (Nehemiah 13:1-3) was vital.

The Book of Chronicles is often a seesaw story of good king, bad king, good king. Jehoshophat was one of those who sought to walk with the Lord. We find in 2 Chronicles 17:9 that one of the first things he did was to send out his officials to teach the people the Law of the Lord.

They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went round to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.”

In the New Testament, in 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul reminds Timothy that he has known the sacred writings since his youth and that these lead to wisdom and salvation. They are vital because they are for teaching, correction and training. When we move away from the Bible as our basis we miss God’s teaching, correction and training, and so errors must come in.

Bible falling apartDo not allow the enemy to tell us that it does not matter, learn from the story of the wise man and the foolish man in Matthew 7:24-27. Unless we hear the word of God and act upon it we are simply building on sand. The building will survive in the calm weather but the moment the storm tests it the building will be no more. We may appear to be fine when things are well with us, but there is nothing like a fierce storm to test the reality of our faith.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

This parable in Matthew also explains why there are some people who have heard the word of God for years but who are still not growing or able to stand; our calling is not just to be hearers only but also doers of the word. We can hear God speaking but, as the parable of the sower shows, we can allow other things to take the place of God’s word. If we are to be strong in God then we need reality.

The asdvantage of reading the Bible for ourselves is we come to know for ourselves. We will not just believe what someone else has said but we will have experienced the reality of that word. From our lips will come not the third hand information about Jesus whom Paul preaches, but the reality of Jesus within our lives.

Learn from the example of the experts in the law in Luke 11:52.

‘Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.’

The problem was that the lawyers had theology but had not entered into the reality of the Word, “the key to knowledge”, and they were hindering those who wanted to enter.

Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-17:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.’

Are you convinced of what you have learned of Christ? Are you allowing the Holy Scriptures to make you wise? As you seek answers from God, are you turning to Scripture so that you will be thoroughly equipped and trained in righteousness, for every good work?

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