Are You Faking Biblical Literacy?

I’ve had a little fascination with the life of George Mueller for about the last 5 years.  His biography written by A.T. Pierson is a treasure.  The snippet below is actually taken from the back of Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer. This is Mueller describing his “discovery of how the true place of the Word of God…was the commencement of a new era in his spiritual life.”

His reasoning went like this: “God Himself has condescended to become an author, and I am ignorant of that precious book which His Holy Spirit has caused to be written through the instrumentality of His servants, and it contains that which I ought to know, and the knowledge of which will lead me to true happiness; therefore I ought to read again and again this most precious book, this book of books, most earnestly, most prayerfully, and with much meditation; and in this practice ought to continue all the days of my life. For I was aware, though I read it but little, that I knew scarcely anything of it.  But instead of acting thus, and being led by my ignorance of the Word of God to study it more, my difficulty in understanding it, and the little enjoyment I had in it, made me careless of reading it (for much prayerful reading of the Word gives not merely more knowledge, but increases the delight we have in reading it); and thus, like many believers,  I practically preferred, for the first four years of my divine life, the works of uninspired men to the oracles of the living God.  The consequence was that I remained a babe, both in knowledge and grace.”

A few weeks ago an article called “Faking Cultural Literacy” was making the rounds.  The author says, “It’s never been so easy to pretend to know so much without actually knowing anything.”  We read what other people think about books, movies, and television shows so that we can discuss even if we haven’t had time to read or watch for ourselves.  We expect someone else to tell us what we need to know.  As I read the article I kept thinking, are we doing the same thing with the Word of God?  Could it be said that there is a whole generation of Christians who are faking biblical literacy?  Do we actually read the Word or do we just expect others to tell us what we need to know?  If so, like Mueller, many are choosing to remain babes, both in knowledge and grace.

Back to Mueller: “As I neglected the Word, I was, for nearly four years, so ignorant that I did not clearly know even the fundamental points of our holy faith.  And this lack of  knowledge most sadly kept me back from walking steadily in the ways of God.  For when it pleased the Lord in August 1829, to bring me really to the Scriptures, my life and walk became very different.  And though ever since I have very much fallen short of what I might and ought to be, yet by the grace of God I have been enabled to live much nearer to Him than before.  If any believers read this who practically prefer other books to the Holy Scriptures, and who enjoy the writings of men much more than the Word of God, may they be warned by my loss.”

I am a lover of books.  I enjoy using  social media.  I appreciate the vast resources that are now available to us through the internet.  But the danger of this tsunami of information is that we can all pretend to know so much without actually knowing anything.  Do you clearly know the fundamental points of our holy faith in such a way that you can give a basis explanation from the Scriptures? Can you go directly to God’s Word to find help in times of trouble or do you turn to what others have written about God’s Word?  Are you fearful of telling others the good news of Jesus because you are afraid you’ll get it wrong?  You should read your bible and stop faking it.  Preachers and writers are great tools for understanding.  But there is no substitute for the pure milk of the Word.

One more testimony from Mueller:  “Before I leave this subject I would only add: If, the reader understands very little of the Word of God, he ought to read it very much; for the Spirit explains it word by word. And if he enjoys the reading of the word little, that is just the reason why he should read it much; for the frequent reading of the Scriptures creates a delight in them, so that the more we read them, the more we desire to do so.  Above all, he should seek to ave it settled in his own mind that God alone by His Spirit can teach him, and that therefore, as God will be inquired of for blessings, it becomes him to seek God’s blessing previous to reading and while reading it.”

Christians who speak in vague terms about the Scriptures will not be able to provide the world with a convincing defense of their faith.  If it’s clear that we don’t really read the Bible how are we going to convince a non-believer to read it?  You don’t have to be smart.  “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Ps. 19:7)  Just come and ask for wisdom because God gives it generously and without reproach. (James 1:5)  Or just pray with the psalmist: “Deal bountifully with You servant that I may live and keep Your Word. Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law.” (Ps. 119:17-18)

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