The coded communication read: “Expecting so many people that we have arranged 21 teacups and cooked 18 bowls of rice.”
This message which came to Chinese Christians in 1981 alerted them that on November 18 (18 bowls of rice) at 2100 hours (21 teacups) a shipment of 1 million Chinese language Bibles would be smuggled into their country. The recipients of “Project Pearl” as it was called were awed by the privilege of owning their very own copy of the Word of God.
Their reaction was probably not unlike the believers featured on the video here that circulated on social media and youtube recently. The footage shows a current day group of Asian Christians receiving thier own copy of the Scriptures for the very first time. Though you might not be able to understand their words, you can easily be moved by their reverence and emotion for the preciousness of God’s Word.
Contrast the reaction of those in the video with the attitude of many, even believing, people in our country. While a majority in this country own a Bible (88%) (and over 50% of those have more than three copies), the lack of basic knowledge and understanding of the scriptures reveals a disturbing apathy toward its place in their lives.
Check out a few of these alarming statistics from several surveys of modern day Americans.
- Less than half could name all four Gospel writers
- Only 52% were clear about the names of even two of Christ’s disciples
- Six of ten reject the idea that Satan exists.
- 82% believe “God helps those who help themselves” to be a Bible verse (It is really from Aesop’s fables!)
- A majority of Americans identify “taking care of one’s family” as the predominant theme of the entire Bible
Perhaps most disturbing is that only 37% say that the scriptures make any difference in the way they live! And with only 14% of people belonging to a Bible study group of any kind, it doesn’t appear this trend will reverse itself any time soon!
So how do believers recapture an attitude of awe of the Word of God? I think it begins by understanding the purpose God gave us His Holy words. While most people might agree that Bible is important, I don’t really think many people know why they need to read it.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Second Timothy 3:16-17
God’s Word teaches us – Every day we are bombarded with staggering amounts of information. Cell phones, television, radio, social media and other outlets blast us with opinions, facts and suppositions of all kinds. With so much coming at us all the time, it’s essential to have a firm foundation on which to access the validity of what we hear. Yet, most go through life interpreting the truth of the messages that come to them based on nothing more concrete than if it “sounds” plausible. Scripture gives us unchanging principles upon which to base our convictions. I remember having a conversation with someone about politics not too long ago. After discussing the particulars, he said, “Well, I think…” When we start our reasoning process from that standpoint then we’re already off track. Really, our opinions are no more valid than anyone else’s. The only thing that solidifies our position is when it rests on the foundation of God’s unchanging principles.
God’s Word rebukes us – Everyday, we battle three enemies: the world, the flesh and the devil. With those forces working against us, there are times when we’re going to get off track and blow it. When we do, we need to be rebuked, or in more common language, ‘reprimanded.’ God uses His Word as His primary way to show us our errors and guide us back to the right path. James 1:21 advises us to “get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” This verse exhorts us to pay attention to what’s going on around us so we don’t get caught up in the moral filth and evil that’s so prevalent in the world. When we accept (or live out of) the Word planted in us, it’s effective to “save” us. Now, that isn’t the “die and go to heaven” kind of salvation. Instead, it means “preserve.” Part of the reason God gave us this book is not just to save our souls in the eternal sense, but to save us in the here and now.
That is, when we apply what we know about biblical finances, His word will save our finances. When two people commit to apply what God’s Word says about relationships, it will save the relationship, and when we apply what God’s Word says about morality, it will save your morals.
God’s Word corrects us. – ‘Correction’ may sound like the same thing as ‘rebuke’, but there’s a difference. ‘Rebuke’ means to bring sin to your awareness. ‘Correction’ identifies what you are to do about it. If you want to walk in godliness, it’s not enough to identify wrong behavior, we also have to replace it with righteousness. Scripture helps us know how to leave our failures behind and move forward in obedience.
God’s Word trains us in righteousness. – God changes our nature the moment we accept Christ as Savior. But since that day, have you been able to live completely righteously? Ok, stop laughing. Of course you haven’t. None of us have. Self-centered desires pull hard on us, and our old ways can still dominate our thinking. So before we can “do” right, we first need to be retrained to know what “right” really is. The Holy Spirit, who lives inside believers, uses scripture to guide us not to follow a rigid set of rules, but to follow Him. And when we learn to do that, our behavior will altered in the process.
God’s Word equips us for good work. – Most people read the Word of God looking for something for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that attitude. We need to go to the word of God to work out problems and seek guidance, but we also must to stretch our focus beyond our own personal needs. God has gifted every believer with special talents and abilities so whether it’s within the walls of a church, in the confines of your family or at your place of business, your call from the Lord is to serve Him. And really the only way to serve God is by serving others. Second Corinthians 5 tells us that our job as believers is to be “ambassadors” with the “ministry of reconciliation.” God isn’t shouting the Gospel at people from heaven. Instead, He speaks His truth to hurting people through His children. If you are a believer, God intends to make His appeal to the world through you. That’s your job. So part of what scripture does is equip us to know what to say, when to say it and how to best deliver God’s message of grace and mercy through our words and through our lives.
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.