There is a very serious problem in most churches in America – even conservative, evangelical, so-called Bible-believing churches. The problem is biblical illiteracy. To be illiterate means being unable to read or write, but the dictionary also defines illiteracy as “displaying a marked lack of knowledge in a particular field.” And that is the problem facing most churches – a marked lack of knowledge of the Word of God.
Some Christian leaders go so far as to describe it as a “famine” – a famine of knowing the Bible. During a famine, people waste away for lack of sustenance. Some people die. Those who remain need nourishment; they need to be revived. Well, Christians used to be known as “people of one book.” Sure, they read, studied and shared other books. But the book they cared about more than all others combined was the Bible. They memorized it, meditated on it, talked about it, and taught it to others. We don’t do that anymore, and in a very real sense we’re starving ourselves to death.
According to the 2014 STATE OF THE BIBLE report by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, a majority of adults in the USA (81%) said they consider themselves highly, moderately or somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible. Yet less than half (43%) were able to name the first five books of the Bible. The 2014 study also found that, although most people own a Bible, just over 1/3 (37%) of Americans read their Bible once or more per week. 26% of Americans never read the Bible.
We need a revival of love for God and for His Word! Reading and learning the Bible must again become a fundamental priority in our lives. Our basic values and choices may need to change. Biblical Christian living does not flow from obligation and compulsion. God cares about our hearts. Our hearts are not changed by the commands of the Law. Our hearts are changed when they overflow with love for the Savior. As we experience the grace of what God has done for us in Christ, our hearts are free to worship and obey. We need to recapture the perspective of the psalmist:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).
We need to make God’s instruction to Joshua our instruction as well:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:8).
This is why I am enthusiastic about GOSPEL PROJECT beginning in our Sunday School classes in September. Having a strong foundation in the Word of God is vital for our own lives, and the lives of our children. We want our children to know not only the Bible, but also the God who has revealed Himself to us in its pages. The prayer of our hearts should be that, through the work of the Holy Spirit, God would use his Word to introduce our kids to Jesus. It is a message that we must give them at home, as well as in church. As a Grace Chapel family, we are committed to learn and live by the Word of God. We want our delight – and our children’s delight – to be in the law of the Lord. Through the GOSPEL PROJECT, we will systematically survey the entire Bible – learning the whole scope of God’s revelation to us, how it applies to our everyday lives, and most of all how the Bible points us to Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. I look forward to reporting how the Lord leads us – and what the Spirit teaches us – as a church family on this exciting journey!