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inevitable persecution from the world, some in the church have sided with the culture, essentially calling God’s Word outdated and irrelevant.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!