Spirit & Truth # 278
“Writing and Reading”
By Greg Smith
Recently, I read a story about a new pastor who was asked to teach the boys’ Sunday school class. Wanting to test their biblical knowledge he asked them, “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?” Every one of them flatly denied having done it. The pastor was so upset about the boys’ biblical illiteracy that he brought it up at the next deacons’ meeting. After a moment of stunned silence, one older deacon said, “Pastor, I’ve known those boys all their lives. They’re good boys, and if they say they didn’t do it, then they didn’t do it! So why don’t we just pay for the repairs from the maintenance fund and forget about it?”[i]
There’s a deplorable lack of biblical knowledge among American Christians today. This is tragic, because, as the psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”[ii] In a world of darkness, hopelessness, and moral ambiguity, God’s written word, The Bible, sheds light by which we can see the truth.
2 Timothy 3:16 (NCV) tells us the origin and purpose of the Bible: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right.” 2 Peter 1:21 (ESV) confirms the Bible’s divine authorship through human ghost-writers, saying, “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
But while the Bible is God’s perfect written word, we have to keep it in perspective. We don’t worship the Bible. Rather, the Bible points us to Christ. 2 Peter 1:19 (ESV) says, “We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” The Bible is the lamp that lights our way until the day dawns, and Jesus brings His true light to our lives. It’s Jesus that we worship, and it’s the Bible that points to Him.
Not only was the Bible written by divinely inspired people, but we must also understand that our reading of scripture needs to be inspired by God. You can own a thousand copies of the Bible, yet still not believe. You can read the Bible a hundred times, yet never invite Jesus to be your Savior. Divine inspiration of the Bible’s writing is only half the story. Divine inspiration of your reading is the other half. Before you sit down to read God’s written word, the Bible, I hope you’ll pray that Jesus, the Living Word, will illuminate your heart. If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask Jesus. It’s His book, and by His Holy Spirit, He can interpret those things that are difficult for you.
Hebrews 1:1-2 (NIV) says, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” The Bible, written by apostles and prophets, is good—but only until it directs you to God’s Living Word, Jesus Christ. I pray that as you read God’s word that you’ll find God’s Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us.[iii]