BIBLICAL LITERACY

Why knowing the Bible matters

As teachers in the body of Christ, we see the need for education in the knowledge of the Bible. Our mission is to educate and help believers fall in love with God’s Word.

Knowing the Bible matters to:

  1. Understand the Gospel of Jesus
  2. Distinguish Truth from Error
  3. Resist Unbiblical Mindsets
  4. Become Effective Disciples of Jesus

Let’s look at each one of these reasons closely.

1. Understand the Gospel of Jesus

Jesus only taught one gospel and it is The Gospel of the Kingdom. The entire Bible revolves around it. It is unique. It is exclusive. And stands alone far above all religions ever known. It is a Kingdom. It has a King. It has Laws. A language. A peculiar lifestyle. It demands complete loyalty. Total surrender of our own will to the King. It exists among us, inside us, and is within our reach. This is the Gospel that Jesus preached. Confessing Jesus gets us to the threshold of His Kingdom. Delving deeper into The Bible allows us to know Him.

Throughout the ages, different gospels have been taught, i.e., the gospel of prosperity, the gospel of grace, holiness, generosity, and in the “i” era we live in, the gospel of “me” where the focus revolves around what God will do for me. These gospels are not the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus taught.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is about establishing the will of the King on earth. It demands repentance, obedience, and complete surrender even to the point of death. Jesus’ kingdom message is summarized in one word: repentance

Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Matthew 4:17 NLT

To repent means turning away from sin. In Hebrew, repentance is teshuva. To make teshuva means to leave the sinful ways and turn to God.

2. Distinguish Truth from Error

Stark contrasts between the Biblical text and man-made doctrines are easy to spot. That which looks like the truth, sounds like the truth, and acts like the truth is dangerous territory to engage in.

Jesus only preached one sermon known as the “Sermon on the Mount” found in the book of Matthew chapters 5 through 7. It amplified the meaning of the laws given to the Jewish people commonly referred to as the “Law of Moses” which includes the first five books of the Bible. In a series of “you heard it said… but I say…” statements Jesus expanded the understanding of the Kingdom code to live by. And He did not make it easier!

Jesus got to the heart of humans, as from it flows all issues of life. For example, to avoid adultery, Jesus said to not even look at a woman with lust because doing so is already sinning. To avoid committing murder, He said to not get angry at our brother because anger leads to murder. And don’t even think of calling him a fool because that puts you in danger of burning in hell! (Matt. 5:22)

In His only sermon, Jesus spoke about real issues of life on earth and how to deal with them. He addressed suffering, murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, injustice, hatred, vengeance, charity, prayer, forgiveness, fasting, worry, anxiety, judging, valuing, persistence, trust, how to treat others, do the right thing, avoid false teachers, listen and obey.

Certainly, we cannot live righteously on our own. And that’s the point Jesus made. We can never meet God’s high standards for holy living. We need a Savior, an intermediary that can help us stand right with God. That is Jesus. Thank God for the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin! And thank God that we have Holy Spirit to counsel, guide, and strengthen us to do the will of King Jesus.

Jesus provided the standard to live by as members of the Kingdom of Heaven. How can we differentiate between the Gospel of the Kingdom and false doctrines? The fruit. Jesus said:

You will recognize them by their fruit. (Matthew 7:15-20 CJB)

3. Resist Unbiblical Mindsets

One of the greatest attacks against our faith today is mindsets that oppose the knowledge of God established in His Word. Embracing such mentalities desensitize us to God’s laws. If we give in it’s because we do not know God’s Word.

We may think this is a new challenge but the apostle Paul dealt with it during his time and it’s written for our understanding. Paul addressed this war of mindsets in his letter to the Corinthians.

For although we do live in the world, we do not wage war in a worldly way; because the weapons we use to wage war are not worldly. On the contrary, they have God’s power for demolishing strongholds. We demolish arguments and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 CJB)

Looking at this text closely, the apostle Paul clarifies that:

  1. We are certainly in a spiritual war
  2. We don’t fight in a “worldly way” but instead use weapons that have God’s power
  3. Our weapons are so powerful that they crush “strongholds”
  4. The strongholds are “arguments and arrogance”, that is every mindset that opposes the divine counsel established in God’s Word
  5. We resist those strongholds (mindsets, arguments) by confronting them in light of the truth of God’s Word

Any thought or mindset about anything in life that presents a perspective contrary to the Word of God is a stronghold, an argument founded in pride and arrogance against what God has established. It is satan’s old trick of deception with a few modern tweaks customized for today’s culture. It is professional. Polished. Knowledgeable. Sounds good. Smells good. And by golly, the arguments are convincing! But it is deception nonetheless.

Satan’s method has not changed. It worked wonders for him in the Garden of Eden and it still does today. “That’s not what God said! (The opposition). He knows that the day you eat of the tree that He said not to eat, you will be like Him knowing good and evil! (The deception).” (Genesis 3:1-7). Deception camouflaged with truth is still deception.

For EVERY law, commandment, and instruction written in the Bible for our benefit and protection, the devil has an argument against it. He makes the argument so convincing that we’ve all fallen into his trap that the grass is greener on the other side. Once we’re on the other side, we realize that there’s not even any grass! We find ourselves feeling full of shame. Naked. Stupid. Accused. Stripped of our voice.

Today’s mindsets (strongholds, arguments) that oppose God’s Word are affecting individuals, families, congregations, entire cities, and nations.

The Problem: Biblical illiteracy

We don’t know God’s Word. Therefore, we fall easily into the lies of the enemy by embracing arguments that oppose God’s counsel. The tool the devil is using to keep us away from studying God’s Word is BUSYNESS. We are too busy with information saturation, bombarded with all kinds of teachings, books and blogs that crave our attention, and filled with activities galore that keep us entertained away from the true study of God’s Word on a daily consistent basis.

The Result: spiritual apathy

Being empty of God’s Word in our hearts, we easily drink the Kool-Aid of modern-day arguments that desensitize us from the principles established in the Word of God. These arguments cover all issues pertaining to everything in life, from family to marriage to the sanctity of human life. Biblical precepts are seen as old, archaic, and done away with. Yet it is these age-old foundations that hold the secret to truth and abundant living. We live in the most brilliant age of information, yet we’re spiritually dumb. Thank God this is fixable!

The Solution: return

Make Teshuva. Turn away from sin. Return to God wholeheartedly. Stop being in love with the world and fall in love with God’s Word again. We cannot say we love God if we’re not in love with His Word. His Word is our instruction book, our safeguard, counselor, and guide. Being cut off from His Word cuts us off from the knowledge of God. And being cut off from the knowledge of God leaves us vulnerable to embrace all kinds of mentalities and philosophies that rise up against the counsel of God.

4. Become Effective Disciples of Jesus

The Gospel of the Kingdom is one of discipleship. We can be fond of Jesus and be a convert; or we can love Him and be His disciple. Being a disciple of the King means obeying what He says. As in a teacher-student, father-son, master-slave relationship. 

Being a disciple of Jesus is not easy. It requires being different. Unpopular. Any teaching that makes the Gospel of the Kingdom seem like an easy-peasy ride in life is not the Gospel of Jesus.

Jesus said to those wanting to be His disciples:

If anyone wants to come after me, let him say ‘No’ to himself, take up his execution-stake, and keep following me. (Matthew 16:24 CJB)

“Say ‘No’ to self. Be willing to die for my sake. And keep following me.” Woah!

There’s more…

If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else [meaning He comes first]—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-27 NLT)

The King must be first. And if we are not completely loyal to the point of being willing to die for Him, then we cannot be His disciples.

And let’s not forget the yoke…

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 NKJV)

Deny yourself, be willing to die for the King, take His yoke, and keep following Him. 

You’re probably thinking, “That’s not what I signed up for!” No wonder Jesus said:

But don’t begin until you count the cost. (Luke 14:28 NLT)

Being a disciple of Jesus is living a life of complete surrender to His will. You’re probably wondering… “If I’m willing to give up my life for King Jesus, then what’s in it for me?” Life in Him!

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. (Matthew 16:25-27 NLT)

To be disciples of Jesus and live as citizens of God’s Kingdom we must become avid students of the Bible. And to interpret the Bible correctly, we must understand it in its first-century context.