Biblical Literacy, Part I

David G. Wells said this, “In the intervening years I have watched with growing disbelief as the evangelical Church has cheerfully plunged into astounding theological illiteracy.” Unfortunately, he’s right. The lack of Biblical knowledge among God’s people today is astonishing. The Bible is our instruction book. It reveals what God expects of us. It also reminds us of what God has promised. Without a sound knowledge of the Bible, a Christian is like a carpenter who doesn’t know how to cut wood. I’ve seen three main reasons for this lack of Bible knowledge. There may be more, but I’ll look at these three over the next three days. My point is to encourage us to overcome these reasons. We need to learn and know our Bibles. We can reverse the trend Wells and others have seen. So what are the reasons?

The first is fear. It’s a big book. It is a mix of prose and poetry. Some of the concepts come from an Eastern culture and that may make it hard to understand. So we’re afraid we can’t understand it. But instead of saying that, we simply say, “I can’t.” And then the excuses begin to flow. One excuse is we don’t have time. That could be an excuse or it could be the second main reason. We’re listening to the world and we want it all. Satan has reprogrammed this world where we’ll never be satisfied with what we have. And we buy into that line of thinking. So we’re so busy that we don’t have time to delve into serious study of the Word of God. And then there’s the lie that the Bible isn’t all that relevant to daily life. You’ve got genealogies, histories of nations long since gone, and people whose names are hard to pronounce who’ve not walked among men in thousands of years. I’m sure this is one of Satan’s most prized accomplishments: getting us to believe the Word of God is not relevant to our lives. There are more reasons, I’m sure. But we’ll stick to these three and today we’ll look at fear.

As we grow older, we learn to hate failing at things. Failing at things makes us less likely to try new things. That’s why we stick with what we know. Now there are two ways we might think we will fail when it comes to Bible literacy. The first is we think we can’t do it, period. And the second is we can’t do as well as some other person we know. Let’s deal with the second one first.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man’s territory. But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. – 2 Corinthnians 10:12-18, NIV

It is not good to compare ourselves to others for the sake of boasting or saying, “Look what I can do!” In reality, the only comparison should be to the expectation God has of us. Case in point, I have a Christian brother who can draw really well. I can’t. If I compare myself to him based on drawing and say, “I might as well not try because I can never draw like him,” I’m making a mistake. On the other hand, when it comes to playing flute, I’m a far better player than he is. That might have something to do with the fact that he was a trumpet player and never touched the flute! It is likewise foolish for me to say, “Man, I am simply awesome! Look how much better I can play flute than that guy!” If God calls me to draw, I draw. If God calls me to play flute, then I play flute. It matters not what my Christian brother can or can’t do in comparison to me. And therefore, when it comes to reading and learning God’s Word, it’s not about being compared to someone else. Rather, it’s about doing so at the level God has made us capable of. That’s the point of comparison. How am I doing compared to that?

And that brings us to fear of failure. We already have failed. Remember Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?” We’ve already failed when it came to sin. But that didn’t stop us from accepting Christ’s gift of grace, now did it? Since we have accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, we should seek to understand it and grow in it. How do we do that? By craving the Word. This is what Peter had to say about growing with respect to our salvation:

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. – 1 Peter 2:1-3, NASB

We are to put aside all the squabbles and political battles with one another. We are simply to crave the Word. Crave it like a hungry baby seeking nourishment. If we claim we know salvation, we should want that spiritual milk. We should want to know God’s Word. We should desire it. And if we do, we are reminded that we will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). Who cares about fear? We shouldn’t. Not when it comes to seeking after God’s Word. We will be satisfied. We won’t fail. That’s because God Himself has made a promise on this one. And though we might fail each other, He never will.

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