…we have no book that is so much bought, and then so speedily laid aside, and so little used, as the Bible.”— Charles Spurgeon
This week I borrowed an article from my good friend, Lori Colbo. She has a spiritual mind that goes beyond the “normal” and expresses it very well. Here’s a link for you to check out.
The Alarming News
Charles Spurgeon once said, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” A Bible that is falling apart is well-used. But it is a distressing fact that Bible illiteracy has become a pervasive problem in the American Church. Although 25 million Bibles are sold in the U.S. each year, apparently many are simply décor for the coffee table, props for the church, or for the occasional chance to look religious when company calls. Spurgeon said it was the same in his day – “…we have no book that is so much bought, and then so speedily laid aside, and so little used, as the Bible.” Bible illiteracy has led to spiritual malnutrition resulting in a distorted, unbiblical worldview, bad theology or outright false teaching, and a compromised or carnal life.
If you are a statistical kind of person take a look a the startling realities of Bible illiteracy, determined by a study by LifeWay Research:
- Nine out of 10 homes in the U.S. have a Bible. Yet…
- Only 16 percent of churchgoers read the Bible daily. And…
- Twenty-five percent don’t read it at all.
- Thirty-seven percent of those who attend church regularly say that reading and studying the Bible has made a significant difference in the way they live their lives.
There is no reason for believers in the United States of America to be Bible illiterate. Bibles of every size, shape, translation (although there are some terrible translations out there), and form are available. Modern technology affords people special apps with the Bible, and there is Kindle. There are Bible web sources listed at the end of this article that have more tools for studying the Bible than one can count. Check them out at the end of this article.
Read on for more examinations.
The Bible is an Enduring Book
All flesh is as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers and its flower falls away, but the word of the LORD endures forever. Now, this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you (1 Peter 24-25).
Centuries have come and gone. Many times tyrannical countries, kings, and people groups with power have tried to obliterate the Bible with no lasting success. David Guzik (Enduring Word Bible Commentary) eloquently puts it like this: “The word of the LORD certainly has endured. It has survived centuries of manual transcription, persecution, ever-changing philosophies, all kinds of critics, and neglect both in the pulpit and in the pew, of doubt and disbelief – and still, the word of the LORD endures forever!”
The Bible will endure through whatever comes our way, even through the seven years of tribulation and on into eternity. God has protected His word because it is so vital to us, and He won’t quit because of human efforts to annihilate it.
Bernard Rumm had an interesting way of communicating the endurance of the bible despite human efforts to rid the earth of it: “A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put.”
“A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put.”— Bernard Ramm, Protestant Christian Evidences
Reasons Some Christians Don’t Read Their Bibles
This all begs the question, why do so many Christians in America today decline to read their Bibles regularly? Here are just a few reasons, many are interconnected:
The Bible is boring:
Some believers find the Bible boring. This could be because they have wrong motives for reading it; have grown lukewarm in their faith and love for Jesus; may have hard hearts, or Bible reading has become a duty.
The Bible makes no sense: The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible must be spiritually discerned, and it is the Holy Spirit who teaches and enlightens us (1 Corinthians 2:9-13). The nominal Christian does not spiritually discern the Word because He is likely not walking in or seeking the Spirit. Or perhaps he thinks he’s a Christian but is not. He looks at the world and the Word of God through the lens of his own understanding.
John MacArthur explains it well: “God must open the eyes of our understanding before we can truly know and rightly interpret His truth. His truth is available only to those with a regenerate spirit and in whom His Spirit dwells, for only the Spirit can illumine Scripture. Just as the physically blind cannot see the sun, the spiritually blind cannot see the Son. Both lack proper illumination.”
They don’t understand the importance of it: Here again, there seems to be a problem with understanding what the Bible is, why it was sent to us, and how it can be useful in our lives. Indifference could play a part. The world calls and distracts them. Indifference is a dangerous, and foolish attitude. CS Lewis said, “The opposite of love is not to hate, it is indifference.” Indifference to the word is indifference toward God. And this is heartbreaking.
They take it for granted: I cherish my Bible a great deal, I read it often (but I could stand to read it much more), and I cling to it as God’s word of truth, but if I am to be completely honest, I felt convicted when I saw a video of Chinese underground brothers and sisters weeping and kissing the Bibles they received for the first time. In contrast, most Christians in the U.S. have at least two, and likely three or four in a variety of translations, sizes, colors, and prints. Many have notes, cross-references, and concordances. I would be a bit embarrassed to have a Chinese brother or sister who had never laid hands on a Bible come to America and see us lazy Christians whiling away the hours watching Youtube music videos, fiddling on our phones, watching TV or our phones, and computers, while our three dusty, like new Bibles, sit on a drawer someplace being neglected.
People no longer like to read:
People, especially young people, find reading tedious and burdensome. Social media posts are short and sweet and that’s all the reading people want to do. Reading takes time and concentration and Americans like everything short and sweet. In this savvy technological age, everyone is distracted by devices. Of course, now you can read on a device, or even listen to the Bible being read, but again, it’s not attractive anymore. There is too much fun to be had.
“God must open the eyes of our understanding before we can truly know and rightly interpret His truth. His truth is available only to those with a regenerate spirit and in whom His Spirit dwells, for only the Spirit can illumine Scripture. Just as the physically blind cannot see the sun, the spiritually blind cannot see the Son. Both lack proper illumination.”— John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church
Why Is It Important for Believers to Read the Bible Regularly?
Why is it important for believers to read the Bible? Why should we take it so seriously and what can it do for us? The reasons are endless. First and foremost, it is God’s revelation to us telling us who He is, who we are as His creation, His plan for our redemption, and the purpose for our lives. We can’t know Him unless we have a source to inform us of who He is and that we can know Him. But there is so much more.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Rom. 15:4).
Here we see once again the Bible is for our instruction, but it goes on to mention endurance, encouragement, and hope. Have you ever gone to the word and come away encouraged and hopeful by some promise or instruction? I have. Were you ever directed to make a change because you read instructions?
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your Word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:9-11 ).
God’s word is so precious to this psalmist that he has stored it in his heart so he will remain pure and not sin against God. This person is fully devoted and surrendered to God which has given him an insatiable hunger to know God’s word and God’s heart.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10).
David Guzik says this about this passage, “The rain and snow eventually do return to heaven, but not before accomplishing their purpose on earth. Even so, God’s word, when He sends it down from heaven, does not return to Him void. Instead, it always fulfills His purpose on earth.” God says what He means and means what He says and always has a purpose for what He says.
God’s word is a sword. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible is living. Its truth never changes or fades, as we read above. It never becomes irrelevant and is not subject to the whims and fancies of cultures and philosophies. The Bible is powerful. God’s power is endless and mind-boggling. The Holy Spirit speaks to us and empowers us through the Word.
The two-edged sword in this verse reminds me of a scalpel. It pierces and with precision divides the soul and spirit, of joints and marrow. It discerns our thoughts and intentions. The Bible cuts to the quick. It reveals things that no one on earth can do so thoroughly. God knows everything about us, how we think, and how we act before we even think or do them. Through the Holy Spirit, the Bible convicts us of sin and reveals things to us that we otherwise wouldn’t know.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
God sent His word to us so we will bear fruit, thus accomplishing his purposes. He didn’t send it just so we could read it and go our merry way. His word is meant to accomplish something in our lives if we apply it.
What the Bible Says About the Bible
There are hundreds if not thousands of Scriptures that tell us the purpose and benefits of the Bible. Some have already been mentioned. Here are a few more:
- The Bible is inspired by God and is useful in the life of the Christian.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17.
- The Bible is an offensive weapon against Satan and evil principalities.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…(Ephesians 6:13-17).
Jesus used the Word of God to combat Satan and to set the Pharisees in their place.
- The Bible is absolute truth. It sets us free and makes us holy.
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”(John 17:17).
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
- The Bible is pure and…
Ps. 19:7 the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
- Meditating on and applying the word of God will make us do God’s will with success.
Josh. 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
The House Built Upon the Rock
Therefore, everyone who hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock (Matt. 7:24-25).
Believers in Jesus Christ who regularly read their Bible and apply it to their lives will stay strong in their walk even when the winds of life buffet them.
The House Built Upon the Sand
But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell. And great was its fall (Matt. 7:26-27).
A sandy foundation in this context would be a foundation built on anything but the Bible. A spiritual house built on something other than the Bible will fall to pieces when testing comes.
A Word of Encouragement
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. (Acts 17:10-11).
I so appreciate those diligent Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily. They are a great example to Christians everywhere. Paul went to the Jewish synagogue there, so the men read Torah all the time. They were noble and fair-minded because they were open. These new things Paul was teaching them seemed foreign, perhaps too good to be true, or maybe they doubted what Paul was saying. So they went to the Scriptures to see if the things Paul said were true. As a result, many Jews and even some Greeks were saved. And it’s likely after Paul left, those new believers kept their habit of studying the Scriptures.
Look at the great work of God done for Bereans because they searched the Scriptures. Anytime we open the Book we are blessed, even if it’s a correction or recognition of sin. To be corrected and recognize sin is a blessing because we can repent and be forgiven if we humbly seek it. It’s a blessing to be rid of sin and on the right path with God.
We must pray for the Church in America to get into the word to know the will of God; to be empowered to do His will; to know the Lord more and more, and to have a firm grasp on the truth. The next thing to pray for is that the American Church will open itself up to the Holy Spirit. To hunger for God and His word, and the desire to apply it to their lives to the glory of God.
Online Bible Study Tools
Bible.org – The Bible book by book, or verse by verse in a variety of versions in text or audio. I love this site for its articles on Bible verses, people, books, and topics, as well as who’s who in the Bible, wonderful maps, and the Bible in Greek.
Bible Gateway – Passage and keyword searches, various versions, audio Bibles, devotionals, topical index, reading plans, and many other resources.
Bible History Online – historical information like you wouldn’t believe. Ancient civilizations, cities, manners and customs, prophecies and people in the Bible, from the Bible, archaeology, maps, illustrated history, images and art, and the list goes on.
Bible Study Tools – This is a very comprehensive website with versions of the Bible, reading plans, audio Bible, dictionaries, commentaries, concordances, encyclopedias, Lexicons, and much, much more.
Enduring Word – My favorite Bible Commentary. It goes line by line, verse by verse, precept upon precept but the commentary is not lengthy and is simply worded. David Guzik (the commentator of the site), also quotes other commentators from the past to explain a passage. There are also sermons and other resources available.
Got Questions.org – 550,929 Bible Questions Answered! Put your question in the search feature.
One thought on “Reasons Christians Don’t Read the Bible”
A dusty Bible is a very sad picture. Becuase the person who owns it then has a dusty soul too!