There’s a terrible tragedy taking place across America – but it isn’t a new one. It’s probably not what you think it is, either, given all that’s happening in our nation these days. The meltdown of America is a symptom of a deeper problem, a weakness that’s been present for several decades in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” I think that weakness has reached its full effect.
Despite our God-given, Constitution-recognized freedoms, we Christians don’t exercise them very well at all – and we haven’t been for years. The tragedy that’s been taking place across America is that while we have every conceivable translation of the Bible available to just about anyone, while we have more Bible-teaching Seminaries, Bible Colleges and Bible-preaching churches than any other nation on earth, we just can’t seem to get past reading the Bible primarily for informational, educational purposes. The purpose of all Bible reading, however, is for application and transformation. Understanding this difference will revolutionize your Bible reading. It will revolutionize your LIFE. If this understanding were to gain traction, we’d see a revival – a real revival – in the United States of America. It would begin with you and me.
Which bible translation is best?
“Which Bible translation is the best?” This is one of the most frequent questions people ask me, and it’s a good one. My answer is always this: The best version of the Bible is the one you read and apply. Merely reading the Bible – even studying it – will have little effect on your life unless you are bent on applying it with fervor. If you’re not so inclined, you will be well on your way to becoming a Pharisee or scribe. Remember those guys? Not one of them was chosen by Jesus to be an Apostle, and they passionately insisted Jesus be crucified. Chilling thought if you really marinate in it – because those guys were Bible scholars. They had the modern equivalent of PhDs in the Bible of their day, and in messianic theology – but they missed the Messiah when he was standing right in front of them. The same can happen to you and me.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
If you want to think about something that has the potential of making you question your faith, in a good way, here it is: in the final analysis, it may not make much practical difference that most evangelical Christians believe that the Bible is the word of God, the first and final authority in all matters of faith and lifestyle; most believe it is “every word inspired” and adhere to “plenary, verbal inspiration” of the original Bible manuscripts. (I believe these, too, and so does the church where I shepherd). People have parted ways over differences in these important doctrinal bedrocks, understandably so. In the end, however, such parting may have been all for naught.
The inspiration of the Bible, whether one believes it or not, is a huge deal. If we are honest with ourselves and honest with God, however, after all the hub-bub – after all the smoke clears from our hot debates defending the inerrancy of Scripture, for the most part it really doesn’t make much practical difference for the average evangelical. It absolutely should, but in practice it really doesn’t.
Why? Because there is practically not point in believing that the Bible is the word of God, the first and final authority in all matters of faith and lifestyle, that it is “every word inspired” if you aren’t diligently looking for ways to put it into action.
The problem in America is that while it’s easier than any place on earth to find a Bible, we don’t look for ways to apply the Bibles we have right underneath our noses. Perhaps our familiarity has bred contempt. Maybe we don’t love God, and His Guidebook, as much as we say we do and know we should. Maybe, just maybe, for all our talk about the importance of the Bible, we have missed the most important aspect about it: it’s the Book of books, a gift from God for the primary purpose of knowing Him, understanding life, and applying what we learn through it.
The purpose of all Bible reading and study is not for merely educational and informational purposes, but for application and life-change. If you have missed this truth, it really doesn’t matter if you believe the Bible is the word of God or not. You’ll end up living just like someone who is merely a moralist, without the power of God and the fullness therein. We need a shift in our thinking in the American church in regard to how we use our Bibles. It is God’s tool for transformation, and brother we need a lot of that these days, don’t you think?