A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article titled, “Social Distancing and Bible Reading.” I shared that, “The Barna Group and the American Bible Society have published their State of the Bible 2020 report. For the first time in ten years the percentage of adults who say they read their Bible daily dropped 5 percent, from 14 percent to 9 percent.”
A subsequent poll by LifeWay Research found that, “Protestant churchgoers have difficulty understanding Scripture when they read it on their own…Notably, the study also found that about four in five churchgoers say the Bible can have multiple meanings for different readers.”
The second poll highlights two reasons there is a drop in “Bible engagement” among churchgoers during this pandemic; the idea that studying the Scriptures is difficult when done alone, and there are so many conflicting interpretations that the true meaning of a passage seems elusive.
The first point I wish to make is no one ever reads the Scriptures alone. The Scriptures are “living and active,” Hebrews 4:12, meaning they are attended by the Spirit of the living God who inspired their writing so that even an unbeliever can grasp the basic tenets of the faith and be saved.
While “a natural man [a man unregenerated by the Spirit of God] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised,” 1 Corinthians 2:14, the believer is spiritually alive and has the indwelling aid of the Holy Spirit to help him understand the Scriptures.
There are some mysteries in the Scriptures that no man, however astute his theology, can fully understand and adequately explain, such as, the Trinity and the incarnation of Christ to name two. Beyond such mysteries there is nothing necessary for living a godly life within Holy Writ that is hidden from the believer. We are never alone when we prayerfully read and study the Scriptures.
I was in my early twenties when I began to read and study the Bible in earnest. I took Paul’s admonition seriously, “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God,” Romans 14:12. Since I will personally give an account of myself to God, I determined to do so based on what I think and believe about what the Scriptures teach and not based on what others think or believe.
In the multiplicity of conflicting doctrines and teachings today it would be easy to think there are multiple meanings in Scripture, but that is a fallacy. There is a difference in application and explanation. While there may be a host of applications, for every single verse in Scripture there is only one true explanation.
God is communicating with us, not trying to confuse us. There would be less confusion about what Scripture means in the church today if people read their Bible more and listened less to all that is being preached.