In the early 1900’s, members of the “church of Christ” in this country had a reputation for being “walking Bibles.” In fact, it was sometimes (half seriously) suggested that if no Bible was available in the courtroom for a witness to put his hand on while being “sworn in,” he could simply place his hand on the head of a member of the “church of Christ” - that would be as good as having a Bible! The point is: members of the Lord’s church used to be well known for their Bible knowledge. Few people in denominational churches wanted to “tangle” with any member of the “church of Christ” in a Bible discussion, because members of the Lord’s church simply knew their Bibles too well to be “tangled” with.
To our shame and embarrassment, the average member of the “church of Christ” today cannot live up to that old positive reputation. Our world has created so many distractions for us that the average member no longer devotes much time at all to a study of the Bible. For too many in the church, the only Bible study that gets done takes place during church services! Beyond that, a lot of us just don’t study! And because our knowledge of scripture has fallen way off, we are no longer able to defend the truth against error - like those in earlier generations could. The fact is that many of us in the “church of Christ” today would be hard pressed to give “book, chapter, and verse” in answer to even a simple question like, “What must I do to be saved?” Could you… really?
But it’s not just our inability to defend truth against error that concerns me. Our lack of Bible knowledge is producing serious spiritual problems among us. We make bad spiritual choices in our daily lives, because we do not know enough about God’s word to help us choose wisely and rightly. And it’s not uncommon to hear Christians trying to defend sinful (or at least dangerous) practices by saying; “I don’t see anything wrong with it!” Maybe the reason you “don’t see anything wrong with it” is because you are deficient in “real knowledge” and don’t have your spiritual “senses trained to discern good and evil” (Phil. 1:9-11; Heb. 5:11-14). Whether or not you “see anything wrong with it” is irrelevant! What matters is what God says about it - and you won’t know what that is without a careful study of His word.
If our future (as individual Christians or as the church) is going to bring glory to God, then we need desperately to start learning now how to be good Bible students. Knowing God’s word is critical to any real progress for the future. Any “workman” who wants to be approved by God must know how to handle “accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). We cannot know God, either now or in the future, if we do not know His word.
Lamenting over Old Testament Israel, God once said: “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). Is that God’s opinion of us today? Will our lack of knowledge ultimately lead to our own destruction? It will, if we don’t do something about it! We cannot afford to wait another minute; we need to start studying the Bible today.
I know of an old preacher who was once told by a young admirer: “Sir, I’d give half my life to know the Bible like you do!” To this, the old preacher replied: “Well, son, that’s about what it’s taken - about half my life.”
Knowing the Bible well requires a lifetime of study… beginning right now! If you care about the future of the Lord’s church - if you have a vision for the future - start studying your Bible today!
- Think On These Things, Oct.-Dec. 2003