Ligonier Ministries recently released the findings of their State of Theology study for 2016. What they discovered was unsurprisingly abysmal. The bulk of the 3000 participants displayed conflicting beliefs….apparently unaware of the problem of holding such diametrically opposed views. Overall, the findings reflect an astonishing ignorance of Biblical truth. I do not find this information discouraging so much as I simply believe it reveals that the visible church is swollen with false converts (with the assumption that none of these people were babes in the faith). It reflects the false Christianity that is being touted which is made up of focusing on self, rather than orthodox Christianity which is focused on God. The Bible is so intrinsic to the Christian faith that it cannot be separated from it. One cannot be a Christian without diligently studying, knowing and applying God’s Word, which is found in the Bible. I am not saying that you do this in order to be a believer. What I am saying is that the Bible says that true believers will do this because they are believers. If that seems like a shockingly bold assertion to you, I give this life application example: Jesus says in John 14:23 that “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” Well, if one doesn’t read and know their Bible, how will they know the commands they are to keep? You see the problem.
So when we read of these results from the Ligonier study, we can see the contradiction of claiming to be a Christian, yet having no Biblical knowledge. It is a pretty big contradiction because we are talking about professing believers in America, where Bibles are readily accessible and found in most homes. It is a willful ignorance, not an ignorance born from a lack of access to the Word.
The findings on biblical ignorance/illiteracy got me mulling about how Christianity is a thinking faith, exercised by knowing and believing God’s Word, the Bible.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. (Matthew 22:36-38)
Christianity is a religion of the mind; an intellectual faith. It is not mindless, blind faith, but faith that entails worshiping with our minds engaged and active. Christians are commanded to love the Lord our God with our minds. It is part of what Jesus declared was the greatest, or foremost commandment. If Jesus said it was the foremost, then it is deeply profound and we would do well to pay close attention. What does it mean to worship with our minds? The MacArthur New Testament Commentary explains it this way: “Mind is used here in the sense of intellectual, willful vigor and determination, carrying both the meaning of mental endeavor and of strength.” (p. 339)
Intellectual, willful vigor and determination; mental endeavor. Those words create a mental picture of an individual who is engaged in the study of God’s Word, the Bible, to know Him more. Actively searching out His truth and commandments and contemplating them so as to apply them properly. The Bible is our sole authority for faith and practice:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
2 Peter 1:20-21 says ” “Know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God”
We are blessed to live in a time where technology blows open wide the doors of access to God’s Word. And those of us who live in countries like America, where the Bible is readily available and corporate worship is allowed by law, are even more blessed. Let us not take for granted what other dear brothers and sisters around the world die for. I plead with you, Christian, to regularly read the Word. Cherish it, love it, uphold it, stand on it, obey it and thank God for it. Don’t ignore it. It is the only source of truth and the only means by which to know our God.
Soli Deo Gloria!