Item: The Bible has been translated into 3,200 different languages, an all-time high. Global literacy is at 86%, also an all-time high. That means that more people than ever can read the Bible.
Item: According to a 1994 Barna Research Group survey, among those identifying themselves as born-again, only half knew John 3:16, and only a quarter could define the Great Commission.
Item: According to a 2014 congregational survey of Grace Redeemer Church, 85% of responders indicated that biblical truth was the highest core value of the church.
Item: According to that same survey, only 47% said they read their Bible more than twice a week.
Item: John Bunyan said of the Bible, “This Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book.”
I’m sure you caught the discordancy in those news items. Why is it that, when we have more access than ever in the history of the world to the Bible, we seem to be reading it less? Does its very ease of access cause us to devalue its importance? Have we bought into the postmodern stance that there is no place for absolute truth? Or is the problem deeper?
Author David Wells suggests that we do not take God seriously enough: “The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace is too ordinary, his judgment is too benign, his gospel is too easy, and his Christ is too common.” The obvious antidote to this problem is to take God seriously, and we can do that by taking his Word seriously.
The great reformer John Calvin certainly did. He called the Scriptures a “gift of singular value” in which God “opens his own sacred mouth”, and encouraged us to view the Scriptures “as directly as if God had been heard giving utterance to them.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism instructs us to attend to the Word “with diligence, preparation, and prayer, receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.”
The Session encourages you to read the Word daily. You wouldn’t think of going a day without physical food; why would you go a day without spiritual food? We also encourage you to take your Bible to worship services, and follow as the Word is read and preached. We further encourage you to teach your children how and why to read the Bible; the best (indeed, the only lasting) inheritance you can give your children is faith in the God who speaks through his written Word and his incarnate Word, Jesus.
One final item: The French humanist Voltaire predicted that within a hundred years no one would read the Bible. After his death, his home was auctioned off, and purchased by . . . the French Bible Society. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8).