Monday, February 22, 2016

Very Few Christians Actually Read the Bible

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 biblically illiterate."

 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!





18 comments:

  1. Monday 22nd,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Well ... I for one, "needed" that timely word today ! Back a while ago, I took it upon myself, to read the Bible through, from Genesis to Revelation. I am currently in Leviticus (and have been for some time now) ! I am not enjoying Leviticus -- MANY details of precise measurements of items being made ... lots of numbers, and, lots of names that mean nothing to me.
    I'm actually debating on 'skipping' over the remainder of Leviticus ... because I'm stuck ! I have read the entire New Testament before, and I guess ... related to that section more. I don't share any of this to boast, nor tear apart the Old Test. I just struggle with "too much information", that I don't personally understand.
    Yes ... we absolutely, "I" absolutely, "need" to get into the Word more daily !!!
    I think with all of the modern technology ... Pastors using power-points, screens already with the Bible verses, etc on them ... we have generally speaking, become lazy/sluggish in searching out the info ourselves. No excuse ... just a fact.
    How does that saying go: "If you don't know what you stand for ... you'll fall for anything" !!! Yes, we need to be diligent ... 'in and out of season' !
    Thanks MaryLu ... for yet again, another timely and crucial word !
    Take care, and, God Bless, In Him, Brenda

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    1. Brenda, you aren't the only one who has trouble with parts of the Old Testament. I know God put all those details in there for a reason, but normally I have no idea why. I just ask Him to reveal to me anything He wants me to know and then read on.... not trying to remember it all. Yes! couldn't agree more that with all our modern technology and ways to read the Bible, we have grown lazy. So sad. Thanks for coming by, my friend!

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    2. MaryLu, I am so thankful for your post. I grew up in the church and, sadly, was not a good Berean. I believed what I heard. It wasn't until about 5 years ago it came to my attention that accepting Jesus was not Biblical. I have since found so many things I believed were wrong. There are so many people who think they are going to heaven because they think they have "accepted Jesus". It is heart breaking. I love what R.C. Sproul said in his book, Everyone is a Theologian, "Theology is unavoidable for every Christian. It is our attempt to understand the truth that God has revealed to us - something every Christian does. So it is not a question of whether we are going to engage in theology; it is a question of whether our theology is sound or unsound" (12). How do have sound theology if we are not reading and studying the Bible. It is heartwarming to see your truthful post. I pray it is a blessing to many and that God blesses you for it.

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    3. Sandra, precisely!! Accepting Jesus into your heart is no where in the Bible! Yet I believed that for so many years. And yes.. so many "Christians" have been deceived. It's beyond sad. Like sheep being led to the slaughter. I've become very very skeptical of anything I hear any one say. I always check the Bible. Thanks for your thoughts!

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    4. Sandra, I have a Life Application Study Bible (they come in all versions--New Living, NIV, etc.) which has explanations for all of the passages of scriptures. It provides the historical information and that is useful to truly understand the scriptures. I not only use it for Leviticus, but for the entire Bible! It is soooooo helpful!! It's the Bible I read regularly, as well as to find out the background or meaning of scriptures I hear quoted other places. I'd highly recommend it. :-)

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  2. You gave me goosebumps, my friend....great post! I am on my 16th time reading through the Bible and I always learn many new things that I had never seen in past readings. God will reveal new truths to us as we read His Word, but only in His time. We can read a passage several times, but until He wants us to learn something from that passage, we will simply read it and move on. We MUST pray before we read even one word....pray for God to bless His Word and to bless us as we read His Word and to reveal to us whatever we need to know at this point and time in our lives.
    Brenda, concerning the "boring" parts of the Old Testament, yes, they can seem quite overwhelming. You should do what I do...if you are not opposed to marking in your Bible...simply grab a colored pencil and as you read, highlight certain words. For example, when you read about the different ceremonies, highlight the ceremony with a pencil and keep reading, highlighting what you think should stand out. By doing this, you are not only reading through these books, but you are storing these passages inside your memory. I simply highlight the important people and ceremonies and skim the rest. The numbers can get daunting, but simply highlight the names of these tribes and it's leaders. Before you know it, you will be through a passage and as you look back over the pages, the highlighted words will stand out and give you more memory of what you just read. Try it, it works. God has something for us to learn in those passages, but if we simply pass over them, we may miss out on something great.
    Bear with me, please: One thing I have noticed from reading about all of the various kings in the Old Testament, is that it waffled back and forth with "good" kings and "bad" kings. It got me to thinking...or God was speaking to my heart...that this has been going on in our Country with the presidents. If we look over our past presidents, we can see that same pattern of "good" and "bad" leaders. The question is, with this new election, which will we get? As Christians, we need to PRAY the vote and not simply follow the crowd. We may get a "bad" leader again this term, but maybe God will raise up a "good" leader at the last moment....which would certainly be a miracle at this point. Either way, we need stay true to our faith and not give up, no matter who leads your country.
    Hugs to you both!

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    1. I knew you were an avid Bible reader, Chappy. That's GREAT advice about reading those difficult passages! I'm going to try that. And I couldn't agree more about the good and bad leaders. I pray with all my heart that God puts a honorable, Godly man in charge of the US in this election. But if the people want a bad leader.. He will allow it. That's what I fear the most. Hugs!

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    2. Chappy, I did that one time by underlining every mention of the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God in red through the entire New Testament. It changed my life!! It makes the connections throughout scripture so clear--and so powerful. I can only do so much marking in my Bible, though, or it distracts me from the passages...some people can really utilize that method effectively. I agree with you that God wants to reveal truths to us from His Word at various times and open our eyes to new spiritual truths. It astounds me that after reading & memorizing scripture since I was two (I memorized whole chapters!)--I'm turning 52 this year, so for fifty years, I'm discovering new things I NEVER saw before! It's truly astounding...God still speaks through His Word which is alive, since He is alive.

      Yes, I completely agree with you on these elections & leaders. I'm afraid our country has become so hardened & wicked that we may be at the point of God turning us over to the evil desires of the majority. I'm begging Him for the sake of the few faithful lovers & followers of Jesus that He would rescue us & place a wise, Godly leader at the head of our country. But it would have to be God doing a miracle at this point. Regardless, like Joseph & Daniel & Jeremiah & Elijah & many others who were true to God in the midst of godless, wicked nations, God will protect His faithful ones.

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  3. What a great word. We take God's word for granted so often. Thanks for reminding me of the sacrifices that Tyndale and others made for my behalf.

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  4. MaryLu, yes--thank you for the reminder that many died to give us the precious spiritual freedom we have today. Like you, I never take anyone's word on anything spiritual. I look it up in the scriptures, and if it's not there, I don't follow it. I check EVERYTHING out that I hear because I want to know exactly what God said, not man's interpretation. Also, when I'm explaining my beliefs to someone, I read the verses to them so that I'm truly lining up with God's Word.

    As far as asking Jesus into our hearts, it isn't too far off. Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." What door is Jesus referring to and where is He coming in to? It's not a physical door or a physical building. He comes into our inner being, or what we refer to as our "heart"--the very core of who we are.

    My personal testimony is this: I knew the Bible, Jesus dying for my sins & my need for salvation, all kinds of spiritual truth since I was a tiny girl...growing up in a very strong church & being taught personally by parents who were mature in the Lord. However, I didn't have a personal encounter with Jesus until I was seven. It was night, I was laying wide awake in bed in the dark, everyone was sleeping, and the doorbell rang. I waited for my parents to jump up & get it, but they didn't. Then the doorbell rang again. Everyone slept. I was so astounded & realized only I could hear it. I immediately and earnestly said, "Jesus, if that's You ringing the doorbell of my heart, please come in and be the Lord of my life!" And He did! I told my mom excitedly the next morning that Jesus came in my heart, then we sat and talked in a language only we could understand, and I knew for sure He lived in my heart now. As my parents can testify, Jesus transformed my life completely from that moment on. I had invited Him into my heart--the only place as a child I understood was my "inner person." Jesus gladly came in...after ringing the doorbell a couple of times. ;-)

    There has to be a point where we don't keep Jesus on the outside or in our minds as head knowledge, but to come inside of our inner beings and be the LORD of who we are. In scriptures our "heart" is a precious place that we are to guard with all diligence...also out of the abundance of our hearts we speak--and act. I believe that everyone needs to ask Jesus to be LORD of our hearts and give Him full access...opening our hearts completely to Him so He can come in and truly be Lord of our lives.

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  5. MaryLu, I am so impressed with this post! I have read the Bible through, and hubby and I decided to read the New Testament aloud together in 30 days. Our church reads and discusses the Bible on Wednesdays...from Genesis to Revelation, and then starts all over again. I firmly believe that reading my Bible and knowing the scriptures has helped me to not become deceived. I'm not a Biblical scholar by any means, but the Holy Spirit checks me when something isn't right -- often by bringing scriptures to my mind. So it's so important for everyone to know the Word. The Bible likens the Word of God as a sword. It's a very valuable and needed weapon to fight the enemy.

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    1. Thank you, Diana..... a much needed weapon that most Christians have no clue how to use.

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  6. Another amazing post, Marylu! We owe so much to these godly people that gave their lives so that the Word become available to common believers. We cannot emphasize enough the need to be like the Berean Christians, checking everything we hear and learn in the Bible. I know what you mean about an illiterate biblical generation, I too noticed it in my discussions on Youtube that MANY people who claim to be Christians actually have no idea what the Bible says about one thing or another. I have recently had a LONG debate with someone who claims that unbelievers can get saved even after death by quoting random verses that talk about God's goodness amd mercy.He totaly took these out of their proper context and used them to build his own personal theology. I was stunned, to put it mildly. No matter how much I explained those verses to him, no matter how much I brought biblical evidence of why such a thing is not possible, he keeps on saying that he's still praying for his dear departed ones that they may be saved at the Judgement throne.What's the worst thing is that his claims might lead others astray because let's face it, the idea of a second chance after death is very apealling to those who want to lives their lives the way they see fit, have no relationship with Christ and afterwards, still expect to get to heaven. I believe this is the way people are going to get deceived during these end times and it has already begun.

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    1. Rose, I also have a friend who believes the same thing.. that people get another chance to accept Jesus after death. It's NOT in the Bible anywhere, but she believes it for her unsaved children and it brings her comfort. I wonder if this heresy is spreading through the church and where it started! I agree that it is extremely dangerous. Satan must be thrilled.

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    2. I think it started with the Catholic tradition of purgatory or something like that ( where souls can atone for their sins and then pass on to heaven) and it seems to have infiltrated itself in the Protestant churches too.However it started, one thing is certain: it's becoming very popular.:(
      Oh and the latest thing that threw me off, I recently got a reply on Youtube to a comment where I highlighted the importance of the need for evidence in a new Christian's life and someone replied by calling me boastful for supposedly endorsing the gospel of works. In other words, you simply receive Jesus and you don't need to live a righteous life afterwards.God's grace is being twisted into cheap living now.

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    3. Again I'm not surprised at your FB friend's reaction. This purely Grace gospel with no works has been propagated through the Western church for years, and when you challenge the belief with Scriptures, all the people who want a free ticket to heaven but who don't want to give up their sinful lifestyles get really upset. I've been blasted by several over the years.

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  7. You have presented Truth. The church "back then - obviously" AND as we know it today, is so perverse and fuilled with the traditions of men --which Jesus Himself (or Yahshuah as I prefer) said, make void the Word of God.

    "So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders…”
    He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
    And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! …Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down…" (Mark 7:5-13 NIV)

    So many become have become dumb and blind to God's Word, and many are deceived. Blasphemies flow from pulpits across America! But be of good cheer. it's all a part of God's eternal plan. He's known all along what would be happening THIS day in THIS hour! Hallelujah!

    Great post Mary Lu! :)

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    1. Yes, Caryl, I couldn't agree more. Jesus warned us there would be many false prophets in the last days who would mislead many. I just don't think that most people expected it from within the church.. and from the pulpit. Which means we should never follow a man or a woman or anyone... but Jesus and His Word. :-) Thanks for coming by

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