I believe one of the biggest things handicapping the individual Christian is a lack of interest in reading and studying the Bible. Staying in the Word of God daily is a vital facet of our fellowship with God. We glean from His instruction, and our faith is encouraged when reading the pages of Scripture, testifying of our precious Savior.
Such a deficit in the life of a believer in Christ results in biblical illiteracy and spiritual malnourishment to where any wind of doctrine could blow one in the wrong direction and away from God. Being a disciple of Christ means abiding in His Word, and when we do, the truth will set us free (John 8:31,32).
Why Read the Bible?
Did you know there are numerous types and shadows all throughout the Old Testament pointing to Jesus Christ? From the first prophecy in Genesis 3 concerning the One who would crush the serpent’s head to the feasts, the Passover lamb, the tabernacle, the high priest, the prophets, and the kings, we can find Christ all throughout the pages of Scripture.
If we study the Word, we will be captivated to find Him being referenced prophetically in the Book of Psalms. We will see Him in the type and shadow of David and Goliath, a Seed of David coming to defeat the giant, which is sin.
We see Christ in the fire with Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. We see Him in Moses as he interceded for the Israelites who were sinful and unfaithful to trust God or to hear His instruction themselves. We see Joshua’s name is the Hebrew name for Jesus, which is fascinating when you think about it.
Joshua took the people into the Promised Land. It is another picture of the promise to come, the promise of a Messiah who would make a way for His people to have eternal life, the ultimate Promised Land.
We could go on with looking at the words of the major and minor prophets. We could search the pages of Scripture probably our entire lives and never fully plumb the written Word of God in seeing Christ revealed and God’s instruction written by men who were carried along by the Holy Spirit to pen such divine inspiration.
The Old Testament testifies of Christ, and the New Testament reveals what the Old Testament proclaimed concerning Christ. Reading the Word of God is a necessity in the life of every believer in Christ. Without it, we would never have heard the gospel, and we would not know the heart of God in what He loves and what He hates.
Studying the Word of God is equally important. Without it, we would not be more firmly rooted in truth while developing authentic fellowship and relationship with God through this Word that is profitable for instruction, correction, and for training in the way of righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
What Is the Issue of Biblical Illiteracy?
Yes, the Bible is valuable in our lives. Yet, when looking at statistics in the Christian church, the importance of reading the Word of God is not evident. What is evident is the awareness for each of us to get back to our Bibles that lay sitting on our nightstands and coffee tables.
For example, in a 2015 article by this author, it was found that “only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Over 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible — essentially the same number who read it every day.” This was six years ago. Surely things have improved, we would think. Sadly, we would be wrong.
In fact, an article released last year pointed to a study done by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, revealing that daily Bible reading had dropped five percentage points in a year from 14% to 9%. The higher percentage had been noted consistently for almost a decade. The highest percentage noted in these surveys is that of never reading the Bible, which is 34%.
If that were not enough, these studies have shown that out of the lack of biblical reading and study comes biblical illiteracy, which results in confusing beliefs and conflicting doctrine. There were those who could not successfully recall specific Bible stories. Other statistics were more troubling.
The survey in 2015 revealed that one in five evangelical Christians believes in multiple ways to heaven. Fifty-nine percent of evangelicals believe the Holy Spirit is a force rather than the Third Person of the Trinity. Many hold beliefs that are contrary to Scripture concerning sin, salvation, and hell.
A study done by Ligonier and Lifeway in 2014 and 2016 showed that 78% of Americans with “evangelical beliefs” stated Jesus was the first and greatest created being as opposed to being the Son of God and the Second Person of the Trinity.
No matter if it was six years or last year, these beliefs and findings should be eye-opening for us as believers in Christ. These studies were conducted with participants who were professing Christians.
This is a passionate subject for me because I was spiritually malnourished in my reading of Scripture for years. The environment I was once affiliated focused more on experiences than on the Word of God, and because of this, I was biblically illiterate.
When the sheep are not fed properly, there is no lasting sustenance. When I realized what had happened to me, I realized my responsibility in being spiritually starved and the necessity of feasting on His Word daily.
Why Does This Matter?
Being biblically illiterate also creates prey for false teachers, and this is one of the greatest concerns. Theology matters. Correct doctrine matters. Like sheep, we need solid Bible teachers and pastors.
We need to understand the Word properly, and that comes in the corporate gathering under trusted leaders. It also comes in small Bible studies and in our private time while reading and studying the Word with a desire to know God more fully and truthfully.
It is interesting to note that 26 of the 27 books of the New Testament at some point warn of false teachers or false prophets. The fact that we can take note of this encourages us to stay in the Word consistently.
Jesus said in John 8:31,32 ESV, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Other translations refer to the Word as His teachings.
We have been given a great treasure through saving faith in our precious Savior, Jesus Christ. God has provided His instruction and teachings through His Word. May we not forsake the Word of God, and may we be found biblically literate for His glory.
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Dawn Hill is a Christian blogger known as The Lovesick Scribe and the host of The Lovesick Scribe Podcast. She is passionate about sharing the truth and pointing others back to Jesus Christ through the written Word as the standard of authority for Christian living and instruction while being led by the Holy Spirit into maturity. She is the author of NonProphet Woke: The Reformation of a Modern-Day Disciple. She is a wife to Nicholas and a mother to Anabel and Ephraim. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.