It’s Now or Never
Indisputably, the most influential document in our world has been the Bible. This is the theme of a recent book by Vishal Mangalwadi entitled, The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of the Western World. Since the time that the average person has been given the opportunity to read and study the Bible for themselves the world has experienced radical change.
Nearly 700 hundred years ago, men like John Wycliffe and John Hus stood up against the religious hierarchy of their day at the cost of their lives in order to give the Holy Scriptures to the common man. With the invention of the Guttenberg Printing Press and thus the printing of the first Bibles around 1440, wide distribution of the Scriptures began. The rest, as they say, is history.
The availability of the Bible gave a reason for individuals to be educated (to read and understand the Sciptures). Quickly this led to an understanding that many practices of the dominant church such as indulgences for the dead and the primacy of the priesthood were shown to be blatantly unbiblical. Soon there followed a Protestant Reformation where the mantra became “sola scriptura.” Shortly afterward, peace loving pilgrims came to this country’s shore in search of religious freedom. Their fervor fueled by their understanding of Scripture.
One hundred years later when the Colonies were struggling politically and morally, Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield preached the Bible in the new world and a Great Awakening followed. This set the stage for the American Revolution. Across the ocean in England a parliamentarian named William Wilberforce was beginning a nearly 50 year struggle to see slavery abolished because of his belief in the Scriptures. Time and space will not let us detail the Second Great Awakening before the Civil War which caused the end of slavery and birthed the modern missions movement, or the effect the Bible had on the industrial revolution. Neither will time and space let us wax eloquent on the Bible and the Fulton Street Revival in New York City that prepared us for two Word Wars or the Bible’s affect on Evangelist Billy Grahm who in turn has ministered to every President our nation has had since Harry Truman. Suffice it to say the Bible has dramatically shaped the world we live in.
Tragically, Biblical illiteracy among professing Christians is now at an all time high. That’s right, the book that shaped our world is now the book that occupies most book shelves but is largely unread and misunderstood by those who claim it as their authority for life and practice. The average Christian is more familiar with the primetime TV schedule than they are with their Bible. We may know John 3:16 and Psalm 23 or other familiar passages by heart, but that’s about the extent of our saturation with Scripture. The product of this is that we are no longer the salt and light to our culture that we are called by God to be.
Regrettably, we now live in a post-Christian culture and world. The Bible was once required reading in every classroom in our country. But now, because we have “evolved and are more pluralistic and tolerant” you’d be hard pressed to find a Bible anywhere in a public school except in the dark corner of a library shelf. As result, the influence of the Scriptures has waned, and the values that are critical to our nation’s prosperity and survival are no longer supported because our spiritual foundation has deteriorated. We have climbed far out on a limb and cut the branch behind us and now we wonder why we find ourselves in freefall in a less civil, less moral, less stable, less peaceful culture.
Undoubtedly, it is time for a change. It is, in fact, past time for a change. It is time that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, once again fully embrace the Scriptures– God’s love letters to us. It is time we know what the Bible says about our obligations to each other and to our neighbor. It is time for us to once again experience the Bible’s life changing work. It is time for a change. For if we don’t change things now there will be no turning back from the abyss of secularism that we find our culture hurtling toward.
I would like to suggest five simple things that can and must be done by each of us in order to change the current trend lines.
1. As a practicing believer, determine to read the Bible every day. If you are unsure where to start, go to my new blog www.nycshepherd.com and sign up by placing your email address in the box to follow me or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a free 40 Day Devotional on the book of James, one of the most practical books in the New Testament.
2. As a Bible student determine to take a class on the Bible from a trustworthy source. Either find something online or attend our New York Institute for Biblical Studies (go to www.nyibs.net for more information). Don’t be content to continue in Biblical illiteracy.
3. As a Christian parent determine that in your home the Bible will be read and taught. Read the Bible as a family and talk about it as a family. Buy a simple devotion book for your family and get your family into the Word. Let’s make sure the next generation is not Biblically illiterate. Check out this book by Josh McDowell for family devotions
4. As a concerned citizen, determine that you will be relentless about keeping the Scriptures in our culture. The values that made us great as a nation, the values that have helped us overcome our many flaws as a people are Biblical values. Get informed at the Revelation Movement http://www.revelationmovement.com/
5. As a Lay Church member determine to not sit idly by and hope for the best. Volunteer to help your church family teach the Bible to its members and the next generation. Host a small group Bible Study or teach or assist in Christian Education in some way. You can make a difference. Check out the free spiritual gift analysis to see where you best fit in at http://www.churchgrowth.org/cgi-cg/gifts.cgi?intro=1 .
I implore to you to take all of these steps. The time for change is now. It’s now or never.
In His Service,