The Christian church today (as it always has been) is buffeted by false doctrines. This is no surprise, since the New Testament repeatedly warned us this would happen. But when I look at the problem and try to discern the root causes I can think of a few. One of the roots I see is the astonishing level of biblical illiteracy even among those who identify as Christians.
Barna researchers found in 2014 that only 37 percent of Americans said they read the Bible once a week or more. Of those who had read it within that week, only a slight majority (57 percent) said they gave a lot of thought to how it might apply to their life. Culturally, we’ve see serious consequences in increasing levels of moral depravity on display. It is also evident in the lives of those who call themselves Christian and in the proliferation of false teaching tolerated and even embraced in supposedly Christian churches.
Biblical literacy is necessary, perhaps more than ever. So I came up with a list of 10 really good reasons to be biblically literate:
1. Because the Bible is how God chose to reveal himself to us. 1 Peter 2:20-21 “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
2. Because it is true and unchanging and equips believers. John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth.” 1 Peter 1:25 “But the word of the Lord remains forever.” 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
3. God commands us to desire his word and to study it. 1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
4. Because you can’t be transformed by it if you’re not reading it. Psalm 19:7-11 “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.”
5. So it can show you your sin, bring you to repentance and either salvation (if you are an unbeliever) or for your ongoing sanctification in Christ. 2 Corinthians 7:8-10, “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
And Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
6. You can’t rebut or refute vicious and deceptive attacks on the Scriptures if you don’t know the Bible for yourself. These kind of attacks come all the time. Sadly, sometimes they come from the pulpit and other times they come from the culture and the news media.
7. So that you do not become deceived by the wolves (false teachers) that abound as it says in Acts 20:28-30, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
8. Because the world is growing increasingly hostile to the truth in its pages. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”
9. So that you understand the gospel well enough to share it and make disciples. Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
10. So you can spot the spreading problem of narcigesis like this when you see. Narcissitic eisegesis is reading yourself into every text even though they aren’t about you. The Bible is about Jesus as he tells the men on the Emmaus road in Luke 24.
Bonus 11: Not a biblical reason … but so you can prove Andy Stanley wrong.