This past Sunday I had the privilege of preaching from Isaiah 55. We observed God’s invitation to feast on his word, so that our soul may live. In verses 10-11 God declares that just as the rain provides life and nourishment to the natural world, the Bible provides life and health to believers.
ORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE
Most of the time rain is something that is somewhat ordinary. But it accomplishes things that are essential for our well being. The same is true of the Bible. It is one of a number of what we call the “Means of Grace”. Just as we become Christians by grace alone through faith alone, we remain and grow as Christians by grace through faith alone.
God gives us means that we do not deserve or create for ourselves. And we by faith avail ourselves to them because we believe God’s words about their great benefit to our souls. These means of grace are the stuff that ordinary church life is made up of.
Wayne Grudem describes the means of grace like this.
Any activities within the fellowship of the church that God uses to give more grace to Christians. Systematic Theology, p. 950
Andy Davis, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Durham, N.C.. has this to say about the role of the Bible in the lives of believers.
The most significant means of grace is the ministry of the Word of God. It is the way that God keeps the fire of faith burning in our hearts more significantly and directly than any other way.
THE ADVANTAGE OF KNOWING THE BIBLE
The Bible itself claims it will change your life.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Unfortunately the evidence is that the number of believers is increasing who do not know what the Bible says or have mistaken unbiblical ideas about God, the church and life.
Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological seminary makes this observation.
Choose whichever statistic or survey you like, the general pattern is the same. America’s Christians know less and less about the Bible. It shows.
Read the rest of his article, The Scandal of Biblical Literacy here http://www.albertmohler.com/2004/06/29/the-scandal-of-biblical-illiteracy-its-our-problem-2/
Here are two other articles that speak to the need for Biblical literacy and provide thoughts about how to grow in ones understanding of the Bible. Click on the title for the whole article.
Thom Rainer, Biblical Literacy in the Church: Three Benefits http://thomrainer.com/2014/04/biblical-literacy-church-three-benefits/
Ken Birding, The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy http://magazine.biola.edu/article/14-spring/the-crisis-of-biblical-illiteracy/
GROWING BIBLICAL LITERACY IS A TEAM SPORT
God has always expected his people to take in the Bible in “one another” settings. We see this in biblical history and 2000 years of church history. All the above articles put forth group instruction in the Bible as vital to lifelong growth in Biblical understanding.
John G. Stackhouse writes about this in his book Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World.
In a wide-ranging study… the Search Institute of Minneapolis determined that the most important factor in producing a mature well balanced, and well-integrated Christian faith was not excellent preaching, worship, small-group fellowship, or anything else but adult Christian education. And yet, I dare say there is no element in contemporary church life that is more poorly undertaken in most churches. A sermon and a home Bible study each week cannot possibly suffice. (p.315)
Ed Stetzer, in Dumb and Dumber: How Biblical Illiteracy is Killing Our Nation offers this remedy for low Bible knowledge and application to life.
Engaging the Bible impacts one’s spiritual maturity more than any other discipleship attribute… It’s critical for church leadership to challenge believers to be in the Word of God, consistently growing in their knowledge of the scriptures… Teach the Bible. Teaching through books of the Bible at church models for the hearers how to read the Bible on its own terms.
Read the rest of the article Here http://www.charismamag.com/life/culture/21076-dumb-and-dumber-how-biblical-illiteracy-is-killing-our-nation
Thankfully Adult Education is alive and well at East Cooper Baptist Church. We offer a variety of classes on Sunday Morning that will help you grow in your understanding of the Bible. Check out our offerings on the ECBC website here https://www.eastcooperbaptist.com/ministries/get-involved/sunday-morning-bible-classes/
Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live… Isaiah 55:3