What used to be considered no problem has descended into a know problem.
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. –Psalm 119:97
In days gone by, Americans have loved things like baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. If commercial jingles were re-written, today’s version might include soccer, Starbucks, Macbook Pro, and better pay!
But topping the psalmist’s list of loves isn’t his favorite food or sports team. No, the apple of his eye is the Word of God. It may seem like a strange love, until you begin to unpack the value of knowing the Word. In my last blog, I mentioned just a few of the benefits of knowing God’s Word–priceless intangibles like peace, deliverance, freedom, guidance, purity, salvation, and strength. And although effort is required on our part to study Scripture, the outcome gained far outweighs any output required. Yet given this reward, our society’s lack of Bible knowledge continues to decline. One might go as far as to say Biblical illiteracy has become epidemic, not only outside the church walls, but inside as well.
What used to be considered no problem has descended into a know problem. Why is Biblical illiteracy becoming rampant? What can be done to remedy the situation?
I believe a destructive shift has caught us unaware, and our Biblical illiteracy problem can be traced to the shift from FUNDAMENTALS to SUPPLEMENTALS.
They Devoted Themselves To. . .
The New Testament church began as the Holy Spirit was unleashed. The church grew exponentially as they shared the gospel message. While they continued to add to their numbers daily, a focus on fundamentals became foundational. Acts 2:42 tells us:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (ESV)
From this passage, it’s clear the apostles’ teaching [doctrine] became the cornerstone of the church. Luke, the author of Acts, gives us more insight into the value placed on knowing God’s Word when he commends the Berean Jews for their emphasis on study. He writes, “They were more noble than those in Thessalonica.” His reason? “They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
The apostle Paul chimes in, adding his two-cents worth on the priority of knowing and studying the Word:
- “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV).
- “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” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV).
- “We also have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as a lamp shining in a dismal place. . .” (2 Peter 1:19 NIV).
You get the picture right? Knowing the Word is important.
But somewhere along the line, we shifted. Rather than reading the Bible, we read books about the Bible. Rather than digging in the Word itself and praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit, we listen to sermons and song lyrics hoping we’ll recall the three alliterated points when temptations and trials come our way.
While books and blogs, videos and vlogs can each add dimension to our faith walk, nothing can replace the value of knowing the Word of God for ourselves. But somehow we’ve allowed supplementals to replace fundamentals. Megan, a 20-something church staffer, accurately distills the Biblical illiteracy problem, “Typically we try to fight spiritual battles more with song lyrics and Francis Chan quotes than with the truth and knowledge of Scripture.”
We’ve shifted. . .down-shifted. . .and the American church has lost momentum.
Back to the Basics
In the sports world, if a coach wants to turn his wayward team’s record around, he’ll take them back to the gym or playing field and focus on basic skills of the game. As followers of Christ, we too need a turnaround. We need a reboot. We need to shift back to the basics. If we want to grow spiritually, we cannot neglect the fundamentals!
Let’s take a page from the early church’s playbook. Let’s get back to the basics. Let’s devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching. For God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), it’s truth (John 17:17), and it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
Do you have a know problem? No problem! Shift out of biblical illiteracy by opening the Bible. Read the words of life and fall in love with the Word of Life.
Consider these steps to start shifting away from Biblical Illiteracy:
- Choose a Bible reading plan. There are many options available online. My husband and I have found success using this one. Check into some Bible reading apps as well. Leveraging electronic devices for God’s glory helps shift us out of biblical illiteracy.
- My book Rooted has an entire chapter devoted to cultivating a love for the Word. We dig into Psalm 119 together to learn how the psalmist developed such passion for Scripture.
- Join a Bible study group. Find one that focuses on the Bible. While that may sound odd, it’s not uncommon for groups to talk about the Bible without actually opening its pages.
- Seek out an accountability partner. Ask a friend to hold you accountable in reading and studying Scripture. Knowing you have to report in each week does wonders for following through on the goals you’ve set to build Bible knowledge.
- Memorize the following verse: “. . .for you have exalted above all things, your name and your word” (Psalm 138:2 ESV). If God places such high priority on His Word, shouldn’t we do the same?