Why Is it a Privilege to Own a Bible?

I think that we can easily take the Bible for granted. However, if we consider people in other parts of the world who do not have access to God’s Word or even a proper translation in their language, we are reminded that owning the Bible is a privilege.

Contributing Writer
Published Mar 15, 2023
Plus
Why Is it a Privilege to Own a Bible?

In America, many people have multiple copies of the Bible in their homes. I grew up seeing a stack of large leather Bibles on a table in my family’s living room. In addition to those, I also received a children’s Bible from my grandparents and now own multiple copies of God’s Word.

Americans and other people in the Western part of the world have easy access to Scripture in print and online, with a large variety of translations to choose from. We can even pick out the color of the cover, engrave our names on the front, or choose creative formats, such as a study or journaling Bible.

Although people in America have access to the Bible, research studies show that only some people regularly read the Bible. The Barna Group found that in 2021, only 11% of U.S. adults read their Bible daily, and nine percent read it once a week. Is it any wonder, then, that people today lack knowledge about God’s Word?

I think that we can easily take the Bible for granted and treat Scripture reading as a chore. However, if we consider people in other parts of the world who do not have access to God’s Word or even a proper translation in their language, we are reminded that owning the Bible is a privilege.

In the following points, I hope to show you why we should cherish God’s Word and see it as an awesome privilege to read, memorize, and engage with the Bible.

Many Christians Around the World Do Not Have Access to the Bible

If I wanted to purchase a Bible, I could drive to a bookstore and buy a copy of God’s Word, or I could go online and order a Bible to be shipped and delivered to my door.

In addition to having the freedom to purchase God’s Word and read it without fear of confiscation, I can access Scripture online, such as through Bible Study Tools or Bible Gateway.

Other people around the world do not have the same freedom. Certain areas of the world are closed or hostile to Christianity.

For instance, in places like China, India, Sudan, Maldives, Vietnam, North Korea, and Afghanistan, people have little to no access to the Bible.

Even if the Bible is sold, people might have to travel long distances to find one but may not be able to afford a copy because of the high prices.

Accessing the Bible online in these areas can also be difficult. Dr. Eugene Bach of Back to Jerusalem noted in his article “Crisis: Extreme Bible Shortage in China” that in 2018, “the online gateway for digital Bibles [in China] was shut down.”

Other countries, in addition to China, monitor and control what people can find on the internet, including a person’s access to the Bible. Lack of access to God’s Word impacts people in these areas, both for evangelism and discipleship of new believers.

In Other Countries, Christians Are Arrested for Owning a Bible

Not only is there the problem of having little to no access to Scripture, but Christians in these closed and restricted areas could be arrested (or worse) for owning a Bible. People face severe consequences in places like North Korea if they are caught with a Bible.

In addition to being arrested and imprisoned, people could also be physically hurt or killed for owning a copy of God’s Word.

Oftentimes, believers in these areas prefer accessing Scripture online to avoid the risk of attack or arrest. However, as I noted in the previous section, access to the Bible online can be restricted.

Believers who own a Bible in countries that are hostile to Christianity take a major risk in reading God’s Word and sharing it with others.

In contrast to believers who face the risk of persecution for owning a Bible, Christians in America and other Western countries can read and share Scripture without fear of attack.

Currently, believers can read God’s Word whenever and wherever they want. Sadly, so many people do not take advantage of this freedom.

Numerous People Groups Do Not Have God’s Word in Their Native Language

In addition to those places that have restricted access to the Bible and the possibility of persecution for owning a copy of Scripture, there are numerous people groups in the world who do not have God’s Word in their native language.

Translation work is ongoing by various Christian organizations, but there is still a need for more Bibles in native languages.

According to a 2022 study by Wycliffe Global Alliance, “1.45 billion people, using 5,509 languages, do not have a full Bible in their first language.” That is a large majority of the world’s languages, around 75%, according to the study.

Jesus commanded His followers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Most English translations render the Greek word “ethne” as “nations” in this verse.

However, many modern scholars emphasize that the word refers to tribes, peoples, or ethnic groups. Jesus wants us to make disciples of all people.

We can understand this meaning practically when we consider that a country or “nation” has many different people groups. These ethnic or people groups have their own languages, which differ from other people groups even if they live in the same nation.

To obey Christ and “make disciples of all nations,” all people groups need a translation of God’s Word in their native tongue. Through reading and listening to the Bible, new believers in these people groups can grow as disciples of Jesus. We all need God’s Word to mature spiritually.

The Word of God Is Nourishment for Our Souls

In light of the reality of Christians around the world, we have the great privilege and freedom to read and own a copy of the Bible. When we look at what God tells us in the Bible, we can also see why having access to God’s Word is significant.

This is not merely a helpful or motivating book; it is the inspired and inerrant Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).

During Jesus’ temptation in the desert, He quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3: “‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). His words are a powerful reminder that we do not only live by the sustenance of food but also by God’s Word.

When we read the Bible, meditate, and memorize it, we are nourishing our souls. Without the sustenance of the Bible, we will become spiritually starved and stunted.

Reading the Bible enables us to listen to God, which in turn changes our perspective. The Holy Spirit can use a verse to guide us or to prod us in an area of our life that needs His work.

We are wise to listen to and obey God’s Word, which is a firm foundation for life (Matthew 7:24). May we recognize the truth that Scripture is sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103).

How Does This Affect My Life?

Christians in America have the freedom to read and study the Bible, which believers in other countries do not have.

In places that are closed or hostile to Christianity, people do not have easy access to the Bible and can be arrested or attacked for owning a Bible. Numerous people groups around the world do not have a translation of God’s Word in their language.

God’s Word is vital to our Christian walk, spiritual health, and maturity. We should treasure Scripture and utilize our freedom to read, memorize, and share the teaching of the Bible with others.

As we grow to cherish God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will help us mature and may even move us to start finding ways to provide Bibles to believers around the world.

For further reading:

What Is the Biblical View of Mission Work?

Why Is Christianity Perceived to Be a ‘White Man’s Religion’?

What Is Evangelism and Should We All Be Evangelists?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/WANAN YOSSINGKUM


Sophia Bricker is a writer. Her mission is to help others grow in their relationship with Jesus through thoughtful articles, devotionals, and stories. She completed a BA and MA in Christian ministry, which included extensive study of the Bible and theology, and an MFA in creative writing. You can follow her blog about her story, faith, and creativity at The Cross, a Pen, and a Page.

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