About seven years ago I was blessed to serve as the Associate Pastor at a church where the Senior Pastor believed in the absolute Sovereignty of God and the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, (two traits which are becoming more and more scarce amongst teaching pastors). He and I were/are theologically on the same page even though we attended different seminaries. Almost every day we would have great theological discussions about God, His Word and why it is that so many people are willing to go to the local “Christian” bookstore, where they will spend a lot of money, to buy and read someone else’s opinion about all things theological instead of simply reading their own Bibles. This is a most puzzling practice among modern-day churchgoers.
One of the other topics that we would discuss is the high level of Biblical illiteracy that is found among so many of those who attend a church of any denomination. When asked to open their Bibles to the book of Hosea, most either have never heard of it or have no idea where to find it. There was a time when memorizing the books of the Bible and where to find them was a common practice among professing believers. Sadly, that is no longer the case.
At the same time, ask them about some of the most popular televangelists (male or female) and their latest books, and they will joyfully tell you how good it makes them “feel” to have read it in their “Bible study” group. Seems a little peculiar to attend a “Bible study” group and not study the Bible, doesn’t it?
In Jesus’ high priestly prayer for His disciples He prays, “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth,” (NASB John 17:17). What is it about that declaration from Jesus that causes people to seek spiritual “truth” from other writers? Is it a function of poor exegesis and teaching from the pulpit? Is it a function of laziness on the part of those who attend church? Is it a manifestation of lukewarmness? Is it because too many people are looking for a self-centered “experience” instead diligently studying their Bibles to find out the truth about themselves and how much they need Jesus? Maybe it’s a combination of all those things and the direct influence of our culture and its false teachers.
Reading books written by other authors is not necessarily bad. There are some outstanding, godly authors out there. But one must be wise and discerning. The filter through which all other writings must pass is God’s Word. If, for any reason, the words of other authors disagrees with the Scriptures, then it’s the authors who are wrong, not God’s Word. Currently, there is a movement in the other direction, that is, man is right and “God wasn’t clear enough in His Word, so we need to help Him.”
A major part of the problem relates back to the lack of Biblical literacy, which only makes it more difficult for people to be wise and discerning when evaluating what has been written by other authors.
The verses below clearly lay out why reading and studying the Bible is so important. It’s a practice that ALL true believers need to either return to or improve upon.
This first verse is Peter’s response to Jesus as He asks His disciples if they, too, want to stop following Him,
“Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. ‘And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’” (NASB: John 6:68-69).
The next verse is the great apostle Paul encouraging his spiritual son, Timothy, to,
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth,” (NASB 2 Tim. 2:15).
We should all pay close attention to Paul’s instruction to Timothy and do what Paul tells Timothy to do.
May the Lord bless you as you diligently read and study His Word.
By His Grace,
Dr. Gary T. Dromi