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Combatting Biblical Illiteracy in 2020

With biblical illiteracy on the rise, it’s more important than ever to be strategic in studying God’s Word. Not only for those who are in full-time ministry, but for all believers everywhere – of every age, nationality, and denomination.

A shocking amount of Christians have never read the entire Bible and very few are in the Word daily. It’s no wonder many Christians are easily swayed in their beliefs by secular arguments or worse, wolves in sheep’s clothing. We are largely unanchored in the historic doctrines of the Christian faith.

No wonder so many of us are shaken to our core with doubt that sucks the life from our worship. To replace doubt, we must have faith. And how do we get faith? Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17), i.e. reading the Scripture, studying the Scripture, and meditating over the Scriptures.

It is not enough to merely listen to your pastor preach once a week. Being part of a local church is good and necessary for your spiritual health, but it won’t sustain you to nibble on the bread of life once per week. We must eat daily.

If you have bought into the mentality that, “a Proverb a day keeps Satan away,” you need to reconsider. The enemy is actively seeking people to thwart (1 Peter 5:8-9) and even tempted Jesus to doubt God’s Word (Matthew 4:1-11), but Jesus remained steadfast. In part because He knew the Scriptures well from childhood and of course because He is God.

By being well-versed in Scripture, we can increase our faith, resist temptation, and grow closer to Christ. So what do we do to strategically combat biblical illiteracy? Well, here’s the obvious answer: read the Bible. But how and how often and which parts? What if I don’t understand it? Let’s address those one at a time:

1. Read, listen to, pray, or meditate on the Bible at least 4 days per week

Studies show that Christians who do this live transformed lives compared to those Christians who don’t. They are 30% less lonely, 59% less likely to view pornography, and 228% more likely to share their faith.

A key discovery from the CBE research is that the life of someone who engages Scripture 4 or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.

Center for Bible Engagement

I get that reading the Bible through in its entirety may be intimidating, but listening isn’t. If you listen for 20 minutes per day (less than most podcasts) at 1.5x audio playback speed, you can easily listen to the whole Bible in less than a year.

2. Read the whole counsel of Scripture

So many people know verses like John 3:16 and Genesis 1:1, but how many know all the verses and chapters surrounding those? We must seek to understand the entirety of Scripture and its proper context, especially those passages which are difficult to wrestle through. Whether you read the Bible in one year or three, you will come away with a more thorough knowledge of God and the gospel.

Here’s the “Bible In a Year” reading plan and app I used this year: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/11791-bible-in-a-year. It helped me immensely. Don’t fall into the trap of guilt or shame if you fall behind, just listen to large portions at once to catch up while doing laundry or driving and take it as a delightful opportunity to saturate yourself with more of God’s Word.

3. Utilize your resources

If something is confusing to you, ask your pastor! He’s the shepherd of your soul and can help answer your questions. If not, perhaps he can at least point you in the right direction. If you’re a married woman with a Christian husband, ask him first. Not only does this follow the biblical pattern, but it will also bless him to know you care what he thinks and it will challenge him to be a better leader of your household by digging deeper into God’s Word.

Beyond your immediate context, we live in an age of information. There are bountiful resources available to aid you in your studies. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The Bible Project is a phenomenal ministry that makes creative videos about the Bible.
  • Ligonier Ministries, “exists to proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God in all its fullness…”
  • DesiringGod helps Christians find their joy in God through articles, podcasts, and more.

4. Pray for Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth

Perhaps the most important part of studying Scripture is prayer. Holy Spirit’s power is far beyond what many of us even think to tap into, but the Bible tells us that God sent Him in Jesus’s name to help us and teach us all things (John 14:26).

Lastly, remember this: “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

The Songs That Carried Me Through 2019

In high school my pastor challenged our Sunday school class to purify our minds by only consuming Christ-exalting music, books, entertainment, etc. for an entire week, using Philippians 4:8 as a guideline. It wasn’t a legalistic rule, but rather an optional challenge to set our minds on things above. This challenge made a huge impact on my walk with God and has since helped me discern what I want to listen to, watch, and read.

However, I know firsthand how aggravating it can be if the only avenue you’re getting Christian music through is the radio because, like any station, it can be repetitive. So, to encourage you in your pursuit of good Christian music that’s diverse in subject, genre, and musical composition, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite songs I listened to in 2019, many of which you won’t hear at all on Christian radio.

Few of them were released this very year, but I hope you will find some fresh music to add to your playlist. They are from different artists, genres, and places, but they all praise Jesus Christ, our King.

1. “Christ Is Mine Forevermore” – CityAlight

I was introduced to this song early this year at church. In a day when many churchgoers simply listen as an audience instead of joining in worship as a congregation, the depth of this modern hymn has many people singing unto the Lord with heart. It was a really beautiful moment to see God’s people rejoice in Him. That’s the heart of CityAlight, to sing biblically-rich doctrine in a simple way that’s accessible for every congregation, aiding true worship instead of perpetuating the cancer of entertainment guised as worship. From their website:

“The sound of a church singing has preceded almost every great revival in church history. The church is God’s witness and representative on earth. Is there any wonder that a tremendous power comes about when the representative voice of God in the earth is singing.”

CityAlight

2. “Closer Than a Brother” – Josh Garrels

I would describe Garrels’ style as a lovely pairing of historic doctrine with new indie/folk sound. He is hands-down my favorite artist on this list, though his songs aren’t meant for congregational singing. This particular song tells of the intimate friendship Christians can have with Jesus, inspired by Proverbs 18:24. This year Christ has indeed been closer to me than anyone.

3. “God Is” – Kanye West

I had to put at least one song from Kanye’s “Jesus Is King” album on here because as someone who’s had many gospel conversations and seen little fruit, I found this entire album radically encouraging. God is still in the business of saving sinners – Hallelujah! The quality of music isn’t phenomenal, but the testimony certainly is.

4. “My Worth Is Not In What I Own” – Keith & Kristyn Getty

The depth and breadth of this modern hymn far surpass that of any contemporary self-help song slyly cloaked as “Christian.” On the contrary, this song takes a biblically balanced approach to identity, acknowledging the true nature of our worth:

“Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed – my ransom paid
At the cross”

Keith and Kristyn Getty are passionate about the Church singing in spirit and truth, not only with musical excellence but with hearts on fire for God. They wrote a book about it and I highly recommend it!

5. “Where Were You?” – Ghost Ship

This song is one of the rawest on the list. It’s based on Job 38-42 and stays close to the text. It begs the age-old question, “Where were you, God, when bad things happened?” Well, God answers by rebuking Job for questioning His authority, while reminding Job of God’s might and power. In the end, Job responds in humility, “Although I had no right to ask, my God knelt and answered me.”

6. “Psalm 34 (Taste and See)” – Shane & Shane

From a young age, my parents have had my siblings and I learn psalms and Scripture songs. It’s a wonderful way to commit God’s word to memory and bless Him with our worship. While this song isn’t an exact recitation, it puts the psalm to music beautifully and compellingly. “Let us bless the LORD every day and night; never-ending praise. May our incense rise!”

7. “O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer” – Sovereign Grace Music

This is one of those songs that leaves you struck by just how lovely our God is. The lyrics are as poetic as they are tangible, anchored with doctrine we cling to through the storms of life. It tells of the beauty of Christ, our sure foundation, and the gospel – His death, burial, and resurrection.

“O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer
Greatest treasure of my longing soul
My God, like You there is no other
True delight is found in You alone
Your grace, a well too deep to fathom
Your love exceeds the heavens’ reach
Your truth, a fount of perfect wisdom
My highest good and my unending need”

8. “O Church Arise” – Keith & Kristyn Getty

This song is the triumphant battle cry the Church needs for a time such as this. Written with the full armor of God from Ephesians 6 in mind, it’s sung with the heart of an Irish battle song. It’s wonderful as a Sunday morning congregational hymn and reminds the saints of the war we’re in.

9. “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery” – Matt Boswell

Our church’s song leader introduced this modern hymn to our congregation after attending the 2019 Sing! conference. It discusses the wonder of Jesus and the gospel, from the incarnation to the resurrection. Give it a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P_QFZ8eRMs

10. “His Mercy is More” – Shane and Shane

The LORD saved my father this year after a lifetime of sitting under sound gospel preaching, while secretly enslaved to sin. This song brings tears to his 65-year old eyes, as it does most of our family. Though he was dead in his trespasses and sins, God, who is rich in mercy, made him alive together with Christ so that in the coming ages God might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2). As the song declares, so do we: “Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more!”

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

Bonus: “All Glory Be To Christ” – Kings Kaleidoscope

This song has come to mind over and over again with the approach of 2020. Simple, Christ-centered lyrics set to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” it’s the perfect song to ring in the new year, and especially the new decade. This is my hope for my life: that all of it bring glory to Christ.

Why I Write

Lord willing, this post will be the first of many on this blog. Subscribe so you don’t miss what’s next.

When the Lord saved me eight years ago, He not only gave me a new heart, but also a zeal for truth and knowing God through the Bible. As someone who loves to debate, I know how essential good arguments are. They’re thorough, backed by evidence, and able to stand against criticism. While I believe the Christian faith is rock solid in these areas, it is sadly evident that many Christians today are ill-equipped to defend their beliefs and are easily persuaded to question the authority of Scripture, which is the inerrant Word of God.

I thank God for the mentors, pastors, teachers, and resources He’s placed along my path to guide me to a better understanding of who He truly is and how I can be assured of my faith in Him. It is my aim to use this blog to not only share doctrinal truths rooted in Scripture, but to do so in such a way that points to God’s marvelous, magnificent, sovereign grace. In a nutshell, I want to encourage the Christian and non-Christian alike to dig deeper into God’s Word.

Here are some topics you can expect to find here:

  • Why sound doctrine matters for the everyday believer
  • Feature stories of Christians living out their faith
  • Sexual sin and God’s will for sexuality
  • Spiritual warfare, prayer, and revival
  • Social justice issues addressed from a biblical perspective

I’m grateful for the opportunity the digital age affords me to share in this way about what God has laid on my heart. I pray that you will come away from this blog thinking of Christ a little more lovely and His Word a little more sweet. I’m glad you’re here and I hope you take a look around my website before you go.

In Christian love,

Taylor N. B. Walding