When we look around at our world today, there is a terrible ignorance of the Bible. As our society seems to be getting more secular, we should find that the general knowledge of the Bible will be getting worse. Once upon a time, knowing the Bible was considered to be an important part of a person’s education. If you didn’t know the Bible, you simply could not claim to be an educated person. Times have changed quite a bit.
Many Christians have a knowledge of the Bible that may be lacking. They may know what they believe, but not why they believe it. They may be something like the country preacher who was being interviewed for a preaching position. The elders asked the young man what his favorite parable was. He replied, “The parable of the Good Samaritan.” They asked if he would mind explaining it to them. With a beaming smile he answered:
Once there was this man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. And he fell among the thorns. And the thorns sprung up and choked him.
And as he went on, he didn’t have any money and he met the queen of Shiva. She gave him a thousand talents of gold and a thousand changes of raiment. Then he got onto a chariot and drove furiously. When he was driving under a big juniper tree, his hair caught on the limb of that tree and he hung there many days. And the ravens brought him food to eat and water to drink. And he ate 5,000 loaves of bread and 2 fishes.
One night, as he was hanging there asleep, his wife Delilah came along and cut off his hair. And he dropped and fell on a stony ground. But, he got up and went on and it began to rain for 40 days and 40 nights. So, he hid himself in a cave and lived on locusts and honey.
Then he went on and met a servant who said, ‘come, let’s have a supper together.’ But, he made an excuse saying, ‘no I won’t, I married a wife and I can’t go.’ And the servant went out to the high ways and hedges and compelled him to come in.
After supper, he went down to Jericho. And when he got there, he looked up and saw that old queen Jezebel sitting down, high up on that window. She laughed at him and he said, ‘throw her down out there.’ And they threw her down. And then he said throw her down again. And they threw her down 70 times 7.
And of the fragments that remained, they picked up 12 baskets full, besides women and children. And they said, ‘blessed are the piece-makers. Now who’s wife do you think she will be in that judgment day?’
If this were a real story, we could be certain that our poor, confused preacher wouldn’t have gotten the job. It is just as unlikely that with such a gross misunderstanding of Scripture he would have been able to do much good in a congregation anyway. But an understanding of the Bible is not just the sole concern of elders, deacons, and ministers. It is the concern of every Christian.
What if Christianity suddenly were run like a business and gross ignorance of God’s Word were a fireable offense? How many Christians would keep their jobs more than a month? More than a week? Not as many as claim to be faithful believers. We have gotten used to living in a Christian nation, being part of a Christian society, and having Christian friends. But times have changed. We are now in a post-Christian society. And that means knowing God’s Word is more important than ever – not just to defend and promote the gospel, but also to help others understand it, and correct them when they misunderstand it.
Misunderstanding the Bible can lead to disastrous consequences. Some think that they can work their way to heaven. Others think that baptism is not important. Still others think you can make a profession of faith, secure your place in eternity, then go and live however you want. I dread what eternity holds for those who believe these things. The Bible makes it clear that Christ secured the offer of salvation for all of us at the cross. Through baptism we can access the power and forgiveness freely offered through his sacrifice. The question is not just do we know what the Bible says, but are we going to accept it as truth and put it into practice in our lives?