The Bible is the bestselling book of all time. If the number of copies of a book sold were the criteria for being the most influential book, the Bible would have to be counted as the most influential book in the world. But to note that the Bible is a best seller is not to say that it is being read, meditated on, studied, and applied. People buy Bibles for several different reasons: decorative item in homes, good luck charm, part of a collection of great books, a treasure from the past, and to read. Please note that God did not give us His word (the Bible) for most of the reasons just enumerated. God gave us His word to communicate His man (John 20:30-31), His plan (Ephesians 3:3-5), and how His people are supposed to conduct themselves (1 Timothy 3:14-15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Surveys (Gallup, Barna, or any other) continue to show that Biblical ignorance is at an all-time high in this country and continues to grow. This problem does not seem to be limited to the secular American culture alone, but the Lord’s church as well. We used to be known as people who knew the Bible. Jerry Rushford (church historian at Pepperdine) tells of a time in Tennessee when the court could not find a Bible for witnesses to put their hands on and take the “truth oath.” Members of the church of Christ were present, and they called one of the men up and had the witnesses put their hands on his head because it was just like having a Bible. That cannot be said of many members of the Lord’s church today (to our shame).
At a time when many have elevated their feelings to the position of primary authority, please remember that since the time of Moses, God has spoken to His people concretely in written revelation. Having given us His sacred word, He expects us to follow it thoroughly. To fully follow it, we must know it. We are people who possess a handbook for living. It is to guide our thoughts, our perceptions of the world, our beliefs, our plans, and our actions. Its authority is God’s authority over our lives. Our feelings and emotions are not the ultimate authority for Christian faith and practice.
If we do not know the Bible, our minds cannot be transformed into the mind of Christ, and the world will conform us to its image (Romans 12:2). In the twenty-five years that I have been a follower of Jesus, I have seen the respect for God’s word deteriorate. We are not as concerned with what the Bible says. When the Bible makes statements we do like, we brush it aside with worldly comments like, “that is just your interpretation” and “we cannot all understand the Bible alike.” We have stopped talking about things being sinful and re-imaged the conversation into “that’s not a salvation issue.” We do not know how to make a defense of the faith (1 Pet. 3:15). Instead, we lightly tell people, “I know it is in the Bible somewhere.”
Brethren, we must be people of the book. The Bible is God’s revealed will (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible is alive and relevant (Hebrews 4:12-13). The Bible applies to our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). God has entrusted His precious word to us; what are we doing with it? Do we hunger for God’s word? Are we convinced that it is still light for our path? Jesus is Lord, we need to “listen to him.” Give me the Bible!