A Great Disappointment

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Today, as I prepare to preach another sermon and lead another Bible study, I feel a burden that I do not usually bear, although I probably should, given what I intuitively know.

I am beginning to realize what I have sensed for a while, that the Word I have spent a lifetime (43 1/2 years now) sharing is a Word that has less reverence, respect, and authority among people generally and even among the people I serve specifically.

A new survey has come out from Lifeway Research, indicating a trend that is continuing almost unabated and one that pastors like myself have been feeling in our own ministries all along. It points out one reason pastors no longer command respect: people no longer respect the Book pastors represent.

Research Results

Researchers found Americans are split on their views of the Bible. More Americans believe the Bible is completely accurate, however, a growing number say the Bible is not literally true.

In 2018, half of Americans say the Bible is 100 percent accurate in all that it teaches. That’s up from 47 percent in 2016 and 43 percent in 2014.

Fewer than half (47 percent) of Americans agree the Bible contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but isn’t literally true. Forty-three percent disagree. In 2016, 44 percent agreed the Bible isn’t literally true, and 41 percent said the same in 2014.

“The last writing included in the Christian Bible was completed nearly 2,000 years ago,” McConnell said. “Yet Americans’ beliefs around this book are shifting more than most other theological beliefs.” — Scott McConnell, Executive Director of LifeWay Research

As goes our attitude toward the Bible, so goes our spiritual vigor.

That’s why the psalmist in Psalm 119 focuses so much attention on his attitude and affection for the Word. He realizes that this Word is directly linked to the Author. The more he knows the Word, the more he knows the Author. The more he respects and cherishes the Word, the more he does it’s Author. The Word has become “his delight.”

When I see people uninterested and disengaged when hearing the Word read and explained, I long for a day when people, who had pleaded for the Law to be read, stood for hours to hear it read and explained (Nehemiah 8). I long for experiences where people come to me and beg to have a Bible study or class. I long for the excitement I used to feel when I entered a Bible conference or revival services, where people were waiting with an excitement to hear the Word that was electrifying. Those were the days….

As my delight for the Word has been increasing, the delight of many has been decreasing. As it decreases, it brings spiritual drought. We need an authoritative Word, a “Thus says the Lord,” if we are to progress in our spiritual lives. It’s one thing to “feel” spiritual and another entirely to “be” spiritual. If we are to “be” spiritual, we must have a solid foundation on which to build. In the past, that concrete foundation was the Bible. Today, it is constructed on the sands of “I think so” or “that’s just how I feel about it.”

I would encourage any serious-minded seeker of spiritual life to go back to the longest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 119) and spend some time with a seeker who shares the same goal. You will see that his need for spiritual guidance and information, his need for an authoritative Word, and his need for encouragement and comfort came from the Bible (the law of the Lord).

To the degree that we have failed to delight in the Word, we have failed to pursue the spiritual life we desire and God designed.

Psalms 1:1-3 (WEB)

1Blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stand in the way of sinners,

nor sit in the seat of scoffers;

2but his delight is in Yahweh’s law.

On his law he meditates day and night.

3He will be like a tree planted by the streams of water,

that brings forth its fruit in its season,

whose leaf also does not wither.

Whatever he does shall prosper.

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