Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wasting the Breath of God

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 competent, equipped for every good work.
(2Ti 3:16-17 ESV)

Can you think of a time in your life when you did not have a Bible in your home somewhere?  I’m not saying that you actually read it…but you had one, right?  At least one, probably a whole shelf full of them!  Can you imagine NOT owning even one Bible?  Would your life be different in any significant way?

I’m sorry to admit that for years, my life would have been exactly the same whether or not I owned a Bible.  Oh, I still went to church and all, but I rarely opened a Bible.   I just came across an Internet question from a girl who just became a Christian.  She says she’s heard that we don’t really need our Bibles, they’ll just confuse us and the Spirit will guide us in the way we should go and she wonders if that’s true.  Hmmm.  What do you think?

Lots and lots of people in other parts of the world don’t have Bibles.  According to one Bible distribution web site, “People all over the world live and worship God without even one page of the Bible to read and grow on.”  In fact, the Wycliffe Bible translating people have done the math
There are 6,500 “living” languages in the world.
2,212 (or 35%) of these languages have some Scripture:
      366 have the whole Bible
      928 have the New Testament only
      918 have some smaller portion of the Bible
4,288 languages have no Scripture at all.

Do those statistics surprise you?  They certainly did me!  Meanwhile, the average American has, according to one survey three Bibles and another says as many as nine.  We’re not talking just Christian Americans here, but Americans…Christian, atheist, agnostic, whatever. 
No matter whose numbers you use though, we may have them, but we’re not studying them!  As primarily English speakers, we have more than 450 different versions and translations to choose from. 

According to an article from the 2006-2007American Family News Network by a Michael J. Vlach:
92% of American households own at least one Bible.
59% report they read their Bibles at least occasionally (down from 73% in the 80’s)
37% say they read their Bible at least once a week (down from 40% in 1990)
Those who say they read their Bible regularly admit to spending about 52 minutes per week.  If we make a difference between actually studying and just reading the Bible, the numbers really drop, which may explain the following:
50% of adults interviewed nationwide could name any of the four Gospels of the New Testament
37% could name all four Gospels
42% were able to name as many as five of the Ten Commandments correctly
70% were able to name the town where Jesus was born
42% could identify him as the person who delivered the Sermon on the Mount
34% believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and should be read literally
25% believe that man was created, in his (or her) present form, 10,000 years ago
38% of Americans believe the entire Bible was written several decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection
12% believe that Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc
49% believe that the Bible teaches that money is the root of all evil
75% believe that the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves.
Are you thoroughly depressed yet? Isn’t it ironic that in some parts of the world, people will do with out food for several days to get even a part of the Bible, and we are using our 3 to 9 per household as coffee table decorations and dust collectors.  Remember when your mom used to try to get you to eat by saying there were starving children who would gladly eat what you didn’t want?  There are people starving for scripture while we let our Bibles decay on bookshelves.

We are so blessed to have unlimited access to the Word of God.  I love the way the English Standard Version says:  “All Scripture is breathed out by God…”  So, if people are able to come to a saving knowledge of Christ without the Bible, why did God give us this incredible gift?   Ellen White says,
“But that which above all other considerations should lead us to prize the Bible is that in it is revealed to men the will of God. Here we learn the object of our creation and the means by which that object may be attained. We learn how to improve wisely the present life and how to secure the future life. No other book can satisfy the questionings of the mind or the cravings of the heart. By obtaining a knowledge of God's Word and giving heed thereto, men may rise from the lowest depths of degradation to become the sons of God, the associates of sinless angels.”--CT 53, 54 (1913). {1MCP 90.4}
Wow!  That’s power!  But if we never open our Bibles and learn what God has to tell us, are our stacks of Bibles doing us any good?  One of the articles I read this week talks about the lack of Bible Literacy in America.  That author feels that that is THE problem in the Christian church today.  He (or she) says that today’s Christian cannot explain to someone else why he (or she) believes that what he believes is true.  Even people who come to church every single week, for the most part, are not studying their Bibles at home.  This author feels that Bible illiteracy is the main reason that we don’t share our faith, and why, when pressed, many of us can’t defend it.  According to him, it’s “no wonder that 50 to 80 percent of Christian youth abandon their faith within the first years of college.”

What a tragedy!  What a waste of God’s gift to us.  What will make us take advantage of this resource?  Do we need a more modern version of the Bible?  I came across an Australian Slang Bible that the author was convinced was going to get more people involved in reading the Bible.  If we could have somebody read it to us would that help?  There are MP3 Bibles, cassette Bibles, CD Bibles.  You know you can even buy little bits of the Bible on CD at the Dollar Store.  And then, on the Internet there are so many places to use the Bible.  We really have no more excuses for not reading.

What about an organized plan of study?  Do you have one?  Other than the Sabbath School lesson, that is?  I have a schedule for reading through the Bible in one year, but really no actual study plan.  Do we need one or is the Sabbath School Lesson enough?  Is there such a thing as too much Bible study?  Or do we stop to soon?  Read this:
“There are many mysteries in the Word of God that we do not comprehend, and many of us are content to stop our investigation when we have just begun to receive a little knowledge concerning Christ. When there begins to be a little unfolding of the divine purposes to the mind, and we begin to obtain a slight knowledge of the character of God, we become satisfied and think that we have received about all the light that there is for us in the Word of God. But the truth of God is infinite. With painstaking effort we should work in the mines of truth, discovering the precious jewels that have been hidden. . . . Jesus meant just what He said when He directed His disciples to "search the Scriptures" (John 5:39). Searching means to compare scripture with scripture, and spiritual things with spiritual. We should not be satisfied with a superficial knowledge.  “We do not half realize what the Lord is willing to do for His people. . . . Our petitions, mingled with faith and contrition, should go up to God for an understanding of the mysteries that God would make known to His saints. . . . An angel's pen could not portray all the glory of the revealed plan of redemption. The Bible tells how Christ bore our sins and carried our sorrows. Here is revealed how mercy and truth have met together at the cross of Calvary, how righteousness and peace have kissed each other, how the righteousness of Christ may be imparted to fallen man. There infinite wisdom, infinite justice, infinite mercy, and infinite love were displayed. Depths, heights, lengths, and breadths of love and wisdom, all passing knowledge, are made known in the plan of salvation.  “He who desires the truth in his heart, who longs for the working of its powers upon the life and character, will be sure to have it. Says the Saviour, ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled’” (Matt. 5:6).
That I May Know Him,

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