Most Neglected Resource: God’s Word

Study Bible and Morning Coffee

Sometimes we get into a spiritual rut. We feel like our walk with Christ has slowed or we find that we have drifted from our relationship. There may be many causes, but I usually find that when I’m feeling this way, that I am not spending enough time in the Bible. I’m not alone in this assessment, according to Morrow, exposure to God’s Word is the first essential resource for spiritual development. Through the Word our thinking is renewed, allowing believers to “break free from the anti-Christian mold the world seeks to press us into.”[1] However, many Christians are not spending time in the Bible which is why I believe God’s Word is the most neglected resource.

Biblical Illiteracy

Biblical illiteracy in America has been noted as a problem by concerned scholars over the last three decades. Many people (including myself at one time) do not read the Bible regularly, yet profess that it is God’s Word. This leads to disturbing trends such as a 2008 study that found over half of the respondents identifying as “Bible-believing Christians” deny what the Bible teaches about God’s truth and His plan for salvation.[2] How can you profess that the Bible is God’s Word if you have never read the Bible?

Most do not read the Bible because of a lack of time or other responsibilities.[3] I would offer that many younger Americans have also lost faith in the Bible’s integrity. A 2019 survey found that 49% of self-identified Christians born from 1995-2002 (Gen Z) do not believe the Bible is valuable for guidance.[4] They would disagree with the Psalmist that stated, “Your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness is for all generations; You established the earth, and it stands firm” (Psalm 119:89–90, HCSB). This is concerning for the body of Christ in the U.S., as the Psalmist continued, “Salvation is far from the wicked because they do not seek Your statutes” (Psalm 119:155, HCSB).

Impact

A faith that is not being built upon the Word is dangerous as people may fall prey to their personal opinions or ideas of who Jesus is.[5] The first time I read the Gospels, they radically changed the image of Christ in my mind. Second, Biblical illiteracy allows for false teaching to spread in the church. If a believer has not read God’s Word for themselves, it would be easy to lead them down the wrong path. They would be taking everything on trust. Paul addressed this with Timothy, “Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13, HCSB). Paul instructs Timothy to continue in what he has learned and that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, HCSB).

Time in God’s Word

It would be wise for us as Christians in the 21st century to heed the Psalmist and Paul’s advice. More so, we should follow the example of Jesus. Based on the Gospels, we observe that Jesus learned, mastered, and was submissive to Scripture.[6] Just as Jesus’s disciples were likewise serious students of Scripture, time with God’s Word is one of the best ways to foster our relationship with the Lord. It provides many benefits to spiritual formation that include stability, in-sight, guidance, and spiritual maturity.[7] It is a “lamp for our feet and a light on our path” (Psalm 119:105, HCSB).

Notes


[1] Johnathan Morrow, “Introducing Spiritual Formation” in Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ, ed. Paul Petitt (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2018), 44.

[2] Pew Forum, “U.S. religious landscape report II.” (2008), cited in Kenneth H. Gourlay, “An Assessment of Bible Knowledge Among Adult Southern Baptist Sunday School Participants,” Christian Education Journal, no. 1 (2013): 12.

[3] Barna Group, The Bible in America: The Changing Landscape of Bible Perceptions and Engagement (Ventura: Barna Group, 2019), 108.

[4] Joseph Austin, “The Role of Biblical Literacy in Discipling Believers in the Local Church.” D.Min thesis., Liberty University, 2019. 107.

[5] Walter A. Elwell and Robert W. Yarbrough, Encountering Biblical Studies: Encountering the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 13.

[6] Ibid., 15.

[7] Morrow, “Introducing Spiritual Formation,” 44.

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