The relationship has felt strained for some time now. Once it was close, built on trust and acceptance. But in recent years, we’ve allowed doubt to creep in. I’m not referring to a friendship or a marriage. No, I’m deeply concerned about the relationship between American Christians and the Bible. It’s on shaky ground and deteriorating fast. We don’t know God’s Word like we used to. And what we do know, we don’t necessarily buy into. Some of us don’t really believe the Bible is God’s revealed Word. Some believe the culture when it tells us the Bible is an old, intolerant, irrelevant book. And some of us are simply rejecting the Bible because we want to do our own thing our own way.
3 Symptoms We May be Rejecting the Bible
- Biblical Illiteracy – The most obvious symptom of our deteriorating relationship with God’s Word is that we don’t know what it teaches. For example, according to a 2018 survey conducted by the Barna Group, 51% of American churchgoers didn’t recognize Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. Another example: According to a 2017 survey by the Pew Research Center, 52% of American Protestants believe salvation requires faith and good works. Sadly, this shows many of us don’t even know the most fundamental spiritual truths.
- Cultural Compromise – Over the last few decades, our culture has not only accepted but now also applauds certain behavior the Bible calls ungodly. Rather than side with Scripture and take the inevitable persecution from the world, some in the church have sided with the culture, essentially calling God’s Word outdated and irrelevant. We hear it from churches, popular Bible teachers, and from the pew. “The church needs to change with the times to be relevant.” But God does not change and neither does His Word (Malachi 3:6).
- Human-Centered Teaching – The Bible is a book by God and about God. The Bible reveals God’s character, purposes, and His ways. Yet somehow, we make the Bible about us. This me-centered attitude shows up in the list of best-selling “Christian” books, particularly those written for women. These popular books tell us that we “are enough,” that we are “okay just like we are.” Sounds great, but it’s not biblical. This kind of teaching starts with a human, self-centered focus rather than a God-first focus. The Bible tells us that no one is enough. That’s why Jesus came. We cannot carry out God’s purposes for us without His power. And we are not okay like we are, that’s why God works constantly to transform us into the image of Christ.
So, is rejecting the Bible justified? If the Bible is just another ancient book written by a few guys who died a really long time ago, then let’s put it in a display case in a museum. But… what if the Bible isn’t just another ancient book?
4 Things to “Re-Believe” about the Bible
- The Bible is literally the words of God – The all-powerful Creator God has revealed Himself to us. The Bible teaches that it is the inspired Word of God. God breathed out His Word through humans, for humans (2 Peter 1:20-21). If we believe this to be true, then we cannot accept some parts of the Bible and reject others. (Also see “3 Reasons We Can Trust the Bible.”)
- The Bible is relevant today and forever – God’s Word is not bound by time, cultural, language, or geography. It speaks powerfully to today’s human condition. God’s Word guides, comforts, and strengthens. God’s Word is “true” and “founded forever” (Psalm 119:151-152).
- The Bible is a living mirror for our hearts – The Holy Spirit holds up God’s Word like a mirror for our souls. He wields the Word like a sword to pierce our hearts and reveal our sinful thoughts, attitudes, and motivations (Hebrews 4:12-13). This spiritual conviction through the words of Scripture testifies to the power and truth of the Bible.
- The Bible is God’s tool for refinement – Thankfully, God not only reveals our shortcomings through the Bible, He also uses His Word to grow and mature us. God lays it out beside our lives as a measuring rod to teach, correct, and equip us in preparation for His purposes (2 Timothy 3:16-17). (See also “4 Spiritual Benefits from God’s Word.”)
Renew Our Relationship with the Bible
God is not surprised by our strained relationship with His Word. God knew that we would be easily drawn away by “teachers” who say what we want to hear, that give us “permission” to indulge our sinful nature (2 Timothy 4:1-5). But rejecting the Bible is not the answer.
So, what do we do now? How can we renew our relationship with God’s Word? First, let’s acknowledge the truth about the Bible. It is God’s inspired revelation of Himself. It is unchanging and true, relevant for today and every day. Second, let’s commit to learn it and live by it – without compromise, without selectivity. And finally, let’s hold the Bible out to others as God’s unchanging Word.
How would you describe your relationship with the Bible?
Need a little help renewing a good Bible habit? Check out my 40-day devotional through Mark. “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark” provides structure that will help you get in and delight in God’s Word!
Sign up to get Kathy's blog posts by email and get a free Bible study on the book of Titus.
I love to read your e-mails each morning . They lift me up knowing you are teaching God’s Word. Jesus is the Word. The Word became flesh and tabernacle among us. Amen
Thank you Dan! I am so thankful God has revealed Himself to us!
Thanks Have a wonderful and blessed day
I will be sharing this! You have addressed my current concerns about the number of people who try to make God conform to themselves and their desires rather than them trying to live up to being made in His image.
You may have left out the biggest one: We now expect to get a personalized, private, ongoing word from God, and who needs Scripture if each of us is a little prophet with a direct word from the Lord as to which parking space to park in, which checkout lane to enter, whether or not to marry this person, etc.?
Not only has the relationship with God become all about me, but now I can bypass God’s Word entirely, and ignore what it says about wise decision making, because according to today’s Christianity, God will speak to me directly about every detail of my life if only I know how to listen. Even the prophets heard directly from God only occasionally, and only where it was directly related to God’s redemptive plan. But we with the complete Word of God have come to believe that God exists to tell us whether lunch should be a Reuben sandwich on rye or turkey on whole wheat (hold the mayo). If we don’t believe God speaks to us directly (outside His Word), even on such trivial matters, someone out there will tell us that He’s willing to do so, but it’s our connection or our faith that is weak.
Hi Cheryl, thank you for stopping by! You are right that some want to hear a “new word” from God. Sometimes, because they want justification for not following the Word we already have from God. I do believe Scripture teaches God, through His Spirit, will give us wisdom and discernment as we navigate this life. I also believe God gives us freedom to make choices like what we eat, where we park, etc. within the guidelines of His written Word. Thanks for chiming in!
Kathy, this was very good. Yes, the Word of God is being rejected by Christians or by those who call themselves Christians for the reasons you mentioned, and it is largely because of the altering of the gospel message to make it more appealing to the flesh, and the marketing of the church and the turning God’s house into a business, a marketplace, and the blending of truth with lies, and the world with faith, etc. that has been going on within the church, or within the institutional church for quite some time now. And, it isn’t just the Word of God being pushed out, but it is the Holy Spirit being pushed out to make way for humanistic teaching and business marketing schemes. Flesh has taken the place of the Spirit of God in so many churches and books written by mere men are being taught in place of the Bible, and so many sermons are geared toward appealing to human flesh, too, and toward entertaining the masses, and pastors are becoming comedians. It is all so very sad. We need an old fashioned Holy Spirit-driven revival to get people’s hearts turned back to God and away from the flesh of man.
Thank you for sharing such powerful truths. This is indeed what I see today. For those who believe the unchanging Word of God there is peace and comfort. We are living in such unpredictable times, it is good to know that God and His Word are unchanging. The Bible is still true and right.
Yes, amen! Knowing those truths give me peace and security!
Kathy, you have blessed, encouraged and challenged me this morning. I had already decided that I need more Scripture memory in my day. I’m not as sharp as I used to be in remembering passages and their Biblical location. I need to work on my Scripture memory so the verses come easily to my lips when I need to share them. Thank you.
Kay, there are some Scripture memory helps here on my website. Look on the Free Resources page and scroll down! It’s hard for me to, but so, so worth it!
Kathy, bless you for your encouraging us in our Bible studies. It has and is become more important then ever.