I've been doing research on Medieval times and the church, in particular, and something has stood out to me. Common people were not permitted to read the Bible. Only priests had copies of the Bible and it was written in Latin and Greek, so even if the ordinary man had a copy, he or she would not be able to read it without extensive education. The church advised people to get their knowledge of the Scriptures from priests. It was actually considered heresy for the common man to read the Bible.
We may not be aware that many many people died to translate the Bible into English (and other languages) and to make it available for everyone to read. The foremost and one of the first martyrs was William Tyndale (1492-1536) Of translating the Bible, Tyndale said "I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth a plow shall know more of the Scripture than thou." Tyndale went off to live in secrecy while he translated the Bible, constantly on the run from the church. Once completed, English editions of the New Testament were shipped to England hidden among other merchandise consigned to Tyndale's friends. Consequently, the church denounced Tyndale and his new translations and ordered all copies burned. Before he could complete his translation of the Old Testament, Tyndale was arrested and burned at the stake.
The church's position is stated as follows. "The New Testament translated into the vernacular is the food of death, the fuel of sin, the veil of malice, the pretext of false liberty, the protection of disobedience, the corruption of discipline, the depravity of morals, the termination of concord, the death of honesty, the well-being of vices, the instigation of rebellion, the milk of pride, the nourishment of contempt, the death of peace, the destruction of charity, the enemy of unity, the murderer of truth." (taken from Martyrs of the English Bible by Clyde Webber Votaw)
In 1539 5 Scotsmen were burned at the stake in Edinburg for studying, memorizing and preaching from the Bible. Several more martyrs followed him. Men and women who died horrible deaths to make it possible for us to have the Bible we have today.
YET.. so few Christians actually read their Bibles.
LifeWay Research surveyed more than 2,900 Protestant churchgoers and
found that while 90 percent "desire to please and honor Jesus in all I
do," only 19 percent personally read the Bible every day.
Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: "Americans revere the Bible--but, by and large, they don't read it. And because they don't read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates."
Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians
cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to
data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can't name
even five of the Ten Commandments. "No wonder people break the Ten
Commandments all the time. They don't know what they are," said George
Barna, president of the firm. The bottom line? "Increasingly, America is
Priests back in medieval times were telling people things that
weren't anywhere in the Bible. Things like purgatory and paying
indulgences to get your loved one out of hell, the Eucharist is the real
body and blood of Jesus, confessing every sin to a priest in order to
save your soul, etc...etc... And the people believed them because they had no way to discover the truth for themselves.
Which makes me wonder....
How would the average Christian know today whether the pastor or preacher is telling them the truth? Yes, the pastor may point to a Scripture here or there in the Bible to prove his point, but if I've learned one thing from reading the Bible, you must take the book as a WHOLE to really understand what it is saying. Anyone, even an atheist, can pull a few verses and prove the Bible is false, or the Bible isn't the word of God, or homosexuality is not a sin.
Are we making the same mistake as the people in the middle ages? Are we relying on our pastors and preachers for our Bible study? Do we believe everything they say, because, well, they are preachers, after all! I'm not accusing any preacher of purposely thwarting Scripture, but what I am saying is beliefs and traditions can get passed down through generations and end up being treated as actual Scripture. How can we tell the difference if we are not reading the Bible on our own. I don't mean a verse here and there. I mean the whole Bible!
Two things I've noticed in reading through the Bible multiple times
There is a whole LOT of stuff in the Bible that never makes it to the pulpit. Why?
There are many things said from the pulpit that are NOT in the Bible. (For example. Asking Jesus into your heart, God wants you to be happy, Decide what you want to do in life and God will bless it, spiritual gifts died with the apostles...etc..)
We Christians need to WAKE UP and read the Bible. Read it from cover to cover and then start all over again. Study it... Look up words, Talk with God about what it means. DO NOT rely on anyone else for your information. Why? Because a great deception is coming upon the world, and I believe it will start or at least be propagated through the church. Only those people who know God and know His Word will be protected. Besides, how dare we not read what so many died to give us!