Have You Read Your Bible?

This past week I had the opportunity to teach on 1&2 Kings in a combined young adult (20s-30s) and high school class at our church. At some point not too far into the lesson, I asked for a show of hands of those that had even read 1&2 Kings. I got about 6 hands out of 30 – most from the young adult crowd.Now, this in and of itself doesn’t really surprise me that much. The bulk of the 30 were high school students and just to level my own head – I wouldn’t even had been able to find 1&2 Kings when I was in high school (okay…I wouldn’t have even been able to find a Sunday school class). But for some reason it caught me off guard and got me thinking.When will these young men and women read 1&2 Kings? Will they? In what type of setting? How will they process it? Will they fall asleep when they read it and consider it boring and confusing? What other books of the Bible haven’t they read? Why not? Which ones have they read? Why? Ought we expect that a 15 or 18 year old “Christian” has read their Bible? Why or why not? Do I expect that my girls will have read 1&2 Kings by the time they are a freshman or sophomore in high school? Should I? (because I do – right or wrong). Do I expect that they will have read the entire Bible? What am I doing or what can I do to foster a love of God’s Word in my kiddos? What can I do better? What am I not doing?

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 competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)

(Side note: I have “comfy Christians” in mind who have been in the church for, lets say, five years or more – if your congregation is by some miraculous reason made up of a majority of new converts – kudos to you and quit reading this blog – you’ve got work to do). In a larger sample of “comfy Christians” from all ages, how many hands would I have seen should I have posed the same question? If you walked into your church auditorium (or sanctuary or whatever your jargon is) on a typical Sunday morning and asked for a show of hands in response to “who has read this whole thing?”, how many hands would you see? What does that tell us? Ought we expect that the majority of “comfy Christians” have read their entire Bible? What about all of the “so-called-Christians” in the world? Have they read it? How do we explain our lackadaisical attitude to God’s Word?

I wonder what William Tyndale thinks of all of this. Tyndale was a Bible translator in the early 16th century (in the throws of the Reformation). Much of his work made its way into the King James Version of the Bible originally published in 1611 and many of his translations exist word-for-word even in many of our more modern versions of the Bible. Tyndale’s reward for all of the laborious work he poured into translating God’s word? In August of 1536, he was formally condemned as a heretic and degraded from the priesthood. Then in early October, he was tied to the stake, strangled by the executioner, then afterward consumed in the fire. Foxe reports that his last words were, “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes!” He was forty-two years old, never married and never buried.

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (Proverbs 30:5 ESV)

You can read more about the life of William Tyndale here.

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~ by toddbumgarner on February 27, 2008 6:37 am.

4 Responses to “Have You Read Your Bible?”

  1. Todd,

    I grew up in a Bible believing, Bible teaching church. I began teaching young adult sunday school when I was 25 or so and taught classes in two churches for the next ten years. I am ashamed to admit, that even then, I had never read the Bible through from cover to cover.

    Finally in 2004 when I was 36 years old, I undertook on February 1, to read the Bible through. I was a month behind on my preacher’s reading schedule so I had to read more to catch up. I soon realized it wouldn’t take a full year to read it through. I made a goal to do it in six months. I then realized this was too long as well and I decided I would do it in a month. My competitive juices were flowing at that point and I finished the whole thing in 21 days.

    Of course, to read the Bible through in 21 days that had to be all that I did. I read nothing else and I watched no T.V. I ate a sandwich at my desk at lunch with my Bible in the other hand.

    It was a life changing experience. I saw the whole picture in a way that I had never seen before. I haven’t gotten over it.

    In 2006, I read it again in four months, and I did it again from 8/14/07 to 2/14/08.

    I love, Love, LOVE the Bible. I love the God of the Bible and spending time with scripture allows me the opportunity to experience communion and fellowship with God.

    I say all this to say that I know this topic from both sides and I am so grateful to the Holy Spirit for convicting me of my need to read the whole thing through.

    Keith

  2. I’ve always LOVED reading the OT histories–even from a young age. I remember checking out of the sermon at church as a young boy (OK, sometimes today too) and having no other recourse for entertainment but to read the Bible. GASP! I gravitated to Judges (Ehud, hehe), and the stories of succession of kings and the stories of Elijah and Elisha, my absolute favorites. But, I think I’m the exception, as most of my compatriots at church (I’m 28) and elsewhere mostly seem interested in reading the epistles first and foremost, the gospels secondarily. I suspect most OT reading is dabbling in the poetry, mostly Psalms and Job.

    I have no accounting for this. It’s a mystery to me–I suppose many of my colleagues see themselves as relatively new Christians, still trying to understand their salvation. Or the other cliched account for this, if you’ll allow me to be unoriginal, is that people don’t know how to read Jewish history and perceive that it connects to their faith today much less how.

    Anyway, I suppose in response to your suggestion that it’s a lackadaisical attitude to Scripture, I would modify that to say it’s an attitude that 1 Kings, Exodus, Judges, Leviticus, what-have-you is not as applicable. The serious-minded Christian would go for epistles, where one gets the most bang for his/her buck. If Judges, for example, shows us God’s sovereign in salvation, why not just read that in a couple chapters of, say, Romans, rather than a whole book of obscure, violent, disturbing history. Epistles are straight up theology, whereas history takes a bit of literary/historical/theological acrobatics to “turn it into” the theology they’d rather be reading. I disagree completely, of course, but I suspect that’s part of the problem.

  3. I’m in the middle of blogging through the book of Kings right now. It’s interesting – I reflected that Bishop Ulfilas, in the fourth century, undertook the task of translating the Bible into the Gothic language with a curious omission: he left out the book of Kings. The Goths, in his opinion, were already too fond of fighting, and “needed in that matter the bit, rather than the spur.” Wrestling myself with all the gruesomeness of the book, I can’t say that I blame him.

    Scripture is hard work, and reading – really reading and engaging – some of the more difficult parts is nothing to take lightly. But there is a blessing to be found by grasping hold of it.

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