BreakPoint: Where is Your Bible?

Is the Church Ignoring “the Oracles of God”?

The KGB finally got what it wanted—the separation of church and Bible in the West—with disastrous results.

Two majors with the KGB stood over Gavin Ashenden, who was caught smuggling Bibles into the old Soviet Union during the eighties. Who were his contacts, and where were the Bibles going? If Ashenden didn’t cooperate, the KGB officers warned, he’d be convicted of smuggling gold bullion into the country—because of his gold wedding ring! Alas, this trumped up charge was no joke. The sentence was 20 years in a Siberian labor camp.

But Ashenden stood firm, and they finally let him go.

If only Christians in the West would do likewise when it comes to the Bible. Ashenden, who’s an Anglican priest and a contributor to the BBC, was back in Russia this month and got an earful from some of the Russian people, who accused Western Christians of capitulating to secular culture, especially when it comes to the redefinition of marriage. They told him “we have lived under the dead weight of atheist secularism, and we know how empty and dangerous it is to human flourishing.”

In “Anglican Ink” Ashenden notes that when the Marxists took control of Russia a century ago, they first set their sights on Christians and the churches—and they’re doing it again. As before, he adds, “The cultural and political screws are slowly tightening against those who do read the Bible and keep faith with it in the public space.”

Tragically, many Christians—or at least those who identify as Christians—have given up the Bible, which Ashenden calls “the bedrock of the church”—without a whimper of protest. A recent survey says that 60 percent of the members of the Church of England “never” read the Bible—that’s right, never. It’s little wonder that so many churches there are dying. As Ashenden notes, “Only the Bible challenges the claims of secularism.”

According to researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli, biblical illiteracy is running rampant on this side of the Pond, too. Fewer than one in two adults can name the four Gospels. Many Christians cannot name more than two or three of Jesus’s disciples. They say America is “a nation of biblical illiterates.”

No wonder our culture is awash in confusion. What Amos wrote centuries ago is just as true in our day: “ ‘The time is surely coming,’ says the Sovereign LORD, ‘when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the LORD.’ ” That was a word of judgment—to the people of Israel and to us today.

We miss out on so much when we fail to tap the Bible’s power. Charles Spurgeon once said, “If you wish to know God you must know his word; if you wish to perceive his power you must see how he worketh by his word; if you wish to know his purpose before it is actually brought to pass you can only discover it by his word.”

In this, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation—which gave the Word of God back to the people, proclaimed it as the final authority in the Christian life, and unleashed its liberating power in society—it is a scandal that so few Christians read it.

Our worldview is rooted in the Bible. We would not know God, our Savior, or our purposes in this world as beings made in God’s image without it. So let’s get back into it—not with grousing, but with gratitude. Come to BreakPoint.org for some resources to help you better understand and enjoy the Word of God. One is Stan Guthrie’s great book, God’s Story in 66 Verses: Understand the Entire Bible by Focusing on Just One Verse in Each Book. Another is Martin Luther’s Garland Prayer of Four Strands—it’s easy and helpful!

At Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, she was presented with a Bible and told, “Here is Wisdom; this is the Royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.” If we believe that, as the KGB certainly did, let’s tap that lively power—starting today!

 

Where Is Your Bible? Is the Church Ignoring “the Oracles of God”?

Be sure the written Word of God is regularly opened, read, and studied. Check out the links below for resources that can help you better understand and enjoy the Bible.

 

Resources

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
  • Gordon D. Fee, Douglas Stuart | Zondervan Publishing | June 2014
The Church of England will die unless we read the Bible
  • Gavin Ashenden | Anglican Ink | September 15, 2017
The Bible and the British Throne
  • David F. Lloyd | Vision Media | Winter 2004

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • Al

    I agree with a lot of what breakpoint and the Colson center puts out, but there have been several episodes already where Luther is being elevated to the status of “Champion” or “liberator” to the Christian man. I would pause and seriously think if it is helpful to sing praises about a man who broke apart the Church by injecting his interpretation into scripture and rejecting many books of the bible such as Hebrews, James, and even Revelation, with the hopes of eliminating them from the canon. A man whose writings led to rebellion and violence where churches were destroyed, sacred art burned, and profaning of the Eucharist. He later even went against the teaching of marriage and approved of the bigamous marriage of Philip, landgrave of Hesse. He even went as far as writing a treatise “On the Jews and their lies”, where he puts forth an eight point plan to rid Germany of its Jews. Sorry, but this man is no champion of mine; his legacy IS the reason why no one reads the Bible.

    • Stan Guthrie

      I beg to differ. Yes, Luther was a sinner like the rest of us, and yet God used him greatly (especially in getting God’s Word into the hands of the common people in their own language)–but he wasn’t even mentioned in this commentary.

      • Gina Dalfonzo

        Actually, he was mentioned, though briefly (next to last paragraph).

        • Stan Guthrie

          Oy, true enough! You’d think I’d read my own writing!

      • Al

        Stan, you need to put things in historical context. It was not like one could easily go to their local book store at the corner and pick one up. Not to mention the cost of purchasing a book and lack of reading skills. Truth is, even before the reformation there were already a number of Bible translations made in various German dialects. God did not use Luther, it was the Catholic Church, led by the Holy Spirit, that put the canon together and gave us the Bible we have today; thanks be to God! Didn’t you ever wonder why protestants have only 66 of the original 73 books in their bible? Luther and other reformers set out to make the church in their image, not God’s.

        • Stan Guthrie

          Now I know where you’re coming from!

          • rico lebrun

            Exactly

  • Wesley Mack

    A timely message for a docile North American ‘Church’!! – I can only pray that someone is listening!