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                         "BIBLICAL ILLITERACY"


INTRODUCTION

1. A growing problem is one of "Biblical Illiteracy"...
   a. Not just by those in the world
   b. Also in the church
   -- "Americans revere the Bible - but, by and large, they don't read
      it. And because they don't read  it, they have become a nation of
      biblical illiterates." - George Gallup and Jim Castelli

2. How bad is it?  Consider these results from various surveys...
   a. Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels
   b. Many professing Christians cannot identify more than two or three
      of the disciples
   c. 60 percent of Americans can't name even five of the Ten
      Commandments
   d. 82 percent of Americans believe "God helps those who help
      themselves" is a Bible verse
   e. 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife
   f. A survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50
      percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife
   g. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that
      the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham
   -- "Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate." - George Barna

["Biblical Illiteracy" is like a poison, wreaking havoc in the lives of
individuals, in our churches, and in our communities.  To understand
how, consider...]

I. THE POISON OF BIBLICAL ILLITERACY

   A. ITS EFFECT ON INDIVIDUALS...
      1. God's people have always been destroyed by lack of knowledge
         - Hos 4:1,6
      2. Where there is lack of God's Word, the people faint - cf. Amo
         8:11-13
         a. In ignorance they make the wrong choices
         b. When they stumble, they do not know where to turn
      3. Without a knowledge of God's Word, a person has...
         a. No real direction or guidance in life - Ps 119:105
         b. No true joy or peace in life - Ps 119:111,165
      -- How many lives are being destroyed, how many people are
         stumbling through life, because they do not have the light of
         God's Word guiding them...?

   B. ITS EFFECT ON CHURCHES...
      1. Churches languish for lack of teachers; teachers are few for
         lack of knowledge - He 5:12
      2. Churches are led astray by false teachers and false doctrine,
         for how can the ignorant know what is false? - cf. 2Pe 2:1-3
      -- How many churches are "dying on the vine", or into wholesale
         apostasy because their members cannot discern between truth and
         error...?

   C. ITS EFFECT ON COMMUNITIES...
      1. Our standards of morality are skewed, where good is evil and
         evil is good - cf. Isa 5:20
         a. We slaughter the innocent (abortion), sparing the guilty (no
            capital punishment)
         b. We reward the wicked (movie stars, entertainers), depriving
            the good (teachers, etc.)
         c. Divorce is made easy, adultery looked upon lightly,
            fornication "an affair, a relationship", homosexuality an
            alternative lifestyle
      2. The effect of such things destroy our families and communities
         a. Evil (pornography, promiscuity) is allowed to spread in the
            name of "freedom", ripping families apart
         b. Children are deprived the kind of parenting that is their
            God-given right
         c. Leading to juvenile delinquency and greater evils
      -- Consider how the moral fabric of our nation and others in the
         world are becoming unraveled when "everyone does what is right
         in his own eyes" - cf. Judg 21:25

[The poison of "Biblical Illiteracy" has infected and sickened our
people, our churches, and our communities.  Is there an antidote to this
poison?  Indeed there is, but it requires individual effort...]

II. THE ANTIDOTE TO BIBLICAL ILLITERACY

   A. DAILY DEVOTIONAL BIBLE READING IN PRIVATE...
      1. The truly blessed person feeds upon the Word of God daily - Psa
         1:1-3; 119:97-98
      2. A systematic practice of prayerful Bible reading as part of a
         daily devotional...
         a. Will bring a person closer to God
         b. Will gradually increase one's understanding of the Word of
            God
         c. Will offer strength, comfort and hope that only the
            Scriptures provide
      -- Are you willing to do your part, everyday, in stamping out
         "Biblical Illiteracy"...?

   B. FREQUENT IN-DEPTH BIBLE STUDY WITH OTHERS...
      1. The faithful Christian realizes the value of mutual edification
         - He 3:12-14; 10:24-25
      2. Churches often provide the opportunity for Christians to study
         together
         a. In their Bible classes on the Lord's day, during the week,
            and in their homes
         b. Where they can benefit from the knowledge of other Bible
            students
      -- Are you willing to participate in such activities to stamp out
         "Biblical Illiteracy"...?

   C. PARENTS ACCEPTING THEIR GOD-GIVEN RESPONSIBILITY...
      1. God gave the responsibility of spiritual training to the
         parents - cf. Deut 6:6-7; Ep 6:4
      2. Church may provide assistance with their children's classes,
         and yet...
         a. Parents should not abdicate their responsibility to the
            church
         b. Parents should be very much involved in the teaching
            programs of any church
      -- Are you willing to accept your parental duties to stamp out
         "Biblical Illiteracy"...?

   D. PREACHERS FULFILLING THEIR DUTY TO THE WORD...
      1. Preachers are to give heed to the Word, and to preach the Word
         - 1Ti 4:16; 2Ti 4:1-5
      2. We should expect preachers to be "men of the Book"
         a. Preaching and teaching the Word of God, providing exposition
            of the Scriptures
         b. Not entertaining us with "pop theology" and "pop psychology"
      -- Are you willing to require that preachers proclaim the Word to
         stamp out "Biblical Illiteracy"...?

CONCLUSION

1. I was encouraged to prepare this study reading an article by Albert
   Mohler (The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It's Our Problem)

2. I thought his concluding paragraphs to be especially on the mark...
   a. "Churches must recover the centrality and urgency of biblical
      teaching and preaching, and refuse to sideline the teaching
      ministry of the preacher. Pastors and churches too busy--or too
      distracted--to make biblical knowledge a central aim of ministry
      will produce believers who simply do not know enough to be
      faithful disciples."
   b. "We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live
      higher than our beliefs. The many fronts of Christian compromise
      in this generation can be directly traced to biblical illiteracy
      in the pews and the absence of biblical preaching and teaching in
      our homes and churches."
   c. "This generation must get deadly serious about the problem of
      biblical illiteracy, or a frighteningly large number of Americans
      --Christians included--will go on thinking that Sodom and Gomorrah
      lived happily ever after."

Are we willing to get "deadly serious about the problem of biblical
illiteracy"?  If so...

   "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness,
   and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to
   save your souls." - Jm 1:21
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