There is probably a book in your home about which you know very little. How can I make such a statement? Because you're not at all alone, you have a lot of company. This book which nearly everybody owns is also a book that nearly no one knows. What is this book? It's the Bible. The book which a majority of Americans believe holds the answer to all of life's basic questions yet most adults can't name the first book in the Bible. How about you? What do you know about this book, the Holy Bible? Do you know what it says do you know whether you can trust its words and rely on it as a guide for life? To survive in today's world you need to understand the message this book has for you. Stay with us on Beyond Today as we discover the Bible you don't know.
Let's take a short quiz about Bible knowledge. Can you name the four Gospels of the New Testament? Can you name the first book of the Bible? Which city was Jesus born in? Ok, that's all. How did you do?
If you named more than one of the four Gospels you did better than half of American adults. If you named Genesis as the first book of the Bible then you knew more than most Americans. And if you named Bethlehem as the city in which Jesus was born you are way ahead of most.
Bible literacy is at an all time low in the United States and Canada.
Whether you look at adults, youths or those that describe themselves as born again Evangelicals, America has become a nation where Bible illiteracy is quite common. Biblical illiterates is what one pollster calls us and this is in spite of the fact that virtually every American home has at least one Bible.
Publishers sell about 20 million Bibles annually and Gideon's International gives away a new Bible every second of every day. People say they are reading the Bible at least twice a month but are they reading it with understanding?
Now I don't mean to treat the Bible as a bunch of facts that you need to know just to be literate, that's not the point. The Bible is not that kind of book. It is critical that you understand what is in the book but you have to know the book before you can understand.
Knowledge leads to understanding.
When I was a child I was taught a lot of facts about the Bible and its characters. You were probably taught the same. When I got older though I learned what most of those stories meant. I finally began to understand why the people lived like they did. The Bible began to make sense and it began to come alive.
The questions is do we really appreciate what we have in this book, The Holy Bible?
You see the Bible has a long and passionate history. Its oldest writings stretch back in time more than three thousand years. It is a book written by multiple authors guided however by one mind that wrote its pages over nearly 1400 years. There is a unity that ties the book together from the beginning to the end. It's very plain to an unbiased mind that one mind wrote this book.
Now that's hard for us to grasp but for hundreds of years most people however did not have a Bible. That's right. They did not have the luxury of a bound and printed Bible like you and I take for granted.
You see printing for the masses did not exist until the 16th century. Before then you had to be fabulously wealthy to own even one page of the book, the Bible. It was in England during the 1300's that a man by the name of John Wycliffe began translating parts of the Bible and making copies of his work available for people to read and to hear in their common tongue that is in the English language. It's hard to imagine but up until then it wasn't available even then in English to the common person and John Wycliffe began to make that change.
There is a book that was written a few years ago called Wide is the Waters . The story of the English Bible and the revolution it inspired by Benson Bobrick. In this book he tells the story of the Bible coming into the common language, in the English language, and he focuses a great deal on history and a number of individuals but the story of John Wycliffe is very interesting as I just mentioned.
John Wycliffe made this available to people, the Bible in the English language and years after Wycliffe died even though he met a lot of opposition during his life time he died peacefully but years later after being dead, Wickliffe's bones were pulled up out of the grave by church decree and they burned on a bridge and the ashes were scattered into the waters and floated off to sea. And that's where the title of this book comes, Wide is the Water, because there was a poem that was written about that very act in itself that Wycliffe's ashes would be like dust spread abroad as wide as the waters be, and that did indeed happen.
But in this book he talks about how so many people were ravenous for understanding about the Bible and just to read a little bit out of the Bible as it was made available to them and he says, he talks about how people paid a lot of money just to have that happen. He said that people paid whatever they could for the scriptures in English, "to taste the sweetness of God's Holy Word" and some paid more and some paid less. Some gave a load of hay for a few chapters of the Apostle Paul or of the Apostle James. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands read or went to secret readings of these books while publicly continuing to attend their local church. Just to be able to have a page out of Bible and to read was an amazing feat for people during this period of time.
You see most people at that point including the clergy knew very little about the Bible. In 1408 an English bishop forbade anyone to translate or even to read a version of the Bible in whole or in part without the approval of the minister, hard to believe.
The Bible was translated into the language of the common person in the 1500's and later its spread was resisted by religious and political authorities. The Bible's message you see was a threat to ignorance and superstition and the hold that these institutions had over people's minds.
Years later, after Wycliffe, there was another man named William Tyndale who translated and spread the Bible, in his work and himself he was condemned as a heretic, they captured him, he strangled and burned at the stake for all of his efforts. In fact his last words went down in history as this, he opened his eyes and turned his eyes upward to heaven and said, "Lord open the eyes of the king of England." It took years before that happened.
Translating and publishing God's word in the language of the people was a revolutionary act, that's very hard for us to understand in our modern world. It would take several more years before King James the first of England would authorize the well know translation that is still with us, the King James Bible and answer that prayer of William Tyndale.
In other words, what we have in our home, the book that virtually no one knows came at a huge cost in human life. People gave their lives to put a copy of the book in our laps in our hands today. Doesn't that say to us that we need to read what it says and ask some very hard questions about what our life here is all about?
In the book of Acts 17 there's a story about a group of people called the Berians. They heard the preaching of the Apostles, the Apostle Paul especially, they heard and read from the scriptures and there's an interesting statement made about them in Acts:17:11
Act:17:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
They searched the scriptures daily. It's quite a testimony and it's quite an example for all of us to stop and to ponder ourselves regarding this book, the Bible.
On our program today, we're offering a free booklet that I think will help take you through a study of the Bible in greater detail. It's a booklet entitled, Is the Bible True? This informative booklet will help you have confidence in the Bible as a book of truth and revelation from God. Here are some of the topics that are covered in the book, Is the Bible true, the Bible in the modern world, humanities bias against the supernatural, the Bible and astronomy, the earth's age, does the Bible indicate a time interval between the first and second verses in Genesis, the Bible and archeology, King David's existence verified by inscription. Sections in this book talk about the Bible and science, the Bible and prophecy, and does the Bible contain errors? You can get a free copy of this book and go on line and read this booklet if you like or call toll free 1-888-886-8632 to request your free copy and your subscription that's 1-888-886-8632 or go on line to BeyondToday.tv and also while you're there you can also join our Twitter and Facebook page.
On March 16, 1985, a journalist by the name of Terry Anderson was kidnapped from the streets of Beirut and Lebanon. As a political pawn he was held hostage for almost seven years. During this excruciating ordeal, Mr. Anderson showed remarkable courage although frequently stretched to near his breaking point. On the first day of his confinement his abductors hustled him at gunpoint from his car to theirs and took him to a half built apartment building. There they blind folded him and chained him to a cot. During his first 24 days in chains, bound and restrained like an animal, he struggled to find a way to maintain his sanity. Realizing the need to summon courage and strength from somewhere, he asked his captures for a Bible. Later after his release in his memoirs, Mr. Anderson related the result of that request. He wrote, "the next day late in the afternoon the English speaking guard came in and threw a heavy object on the bed, I reached for it and felt the smooth covers of a book. The guard came around to the head of the bed, "Good", he asked. Yes, very good, thank you. I cautiously pulled the blind fold up a bit until I could see the book, a Bible, the Revised Standard Version. I caressed it gently, I read the title page, the publishing and copy right information, the notes of the editors, slowly carefully, then Genesis. In the beginning…"
It's quite a story, a story that shows how this book can give encouragement and give hope.
This book also holds some surprising facts that you may not know. You see there's the Bible that's on our table and there's the Bible that we read and begin to understand.
Earlier in the program I told you about those who labored to translate the Bible into English and other common languages to make it available to everyone, not just to a small group of leaders. The invention of the printing press facilitated the distribution of the Bible and people began to read the book and to listen to it's readings and the sermons from it's pages. It's an astounding fact that when people began reading the Bible their ideas and preconceptions about what it said began to change.
Do you believe the idea of a Trinity? Read the book, it's not there. Not in the Old Testament or in the New Testament, it just isn't taught in the Bible.
Do you believe the good go to heaven when they die? Read the book very carefully, it's not taught. Rather the truth of a resurrection is clearly and unmistakably taught.
Do you believe the wicked suffer forever in the torment of a hell fire? Read your Bible. You will not find that taught.
I recently did a Beyond Today program on the Sabbath. We showed in that program how God gives us a day of rest each week on the seventh day. Many of you think God's Sabbath is the first day or Sunday. If you do you're wrong. You see, read the book and you will see that it's the seventh day, Saturday. It always has been. It's a fact that when people begin to read the book they start keeping the Sabbath. This was true in the 16th century when the Bible began to be widely spread and read. Sabbath keeping groups began sprouting up throughout Europe.
Read your Bible through a clearer lens and you will discover this and many other truths. When you begin to keep God's Sabbath you will also do more reading in the book.
You see the two go together. It's important that we learn to read the book as source of teaching, as a source of advice and especially instruction on how to live successful, productive and righteous lives. There's a section of the Bible in the book of II Timothy 3:10 that helps us I think to point this out. There's one passage of scripture that I can go to on this program to point this out to you. It is that in II Timothy 3:10 it says from the words of the Apostle Paul this, he writes to Timothy
II Timothy 3:10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
II Timothy 3:11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.
II Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
II Timothy 3:13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
II Timothy 3:14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
II Timothy 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Paul was referring to Timothy at this time and he says the Holy Scripture made you wise for salvation but the scripture he was referring to was what we call the Old Testament. You see the New Testament had not been fully written at that point in time. And Paul was referring to the Old Testament as scriptures that are able to make one wise to salvation through faith. He goes on in verse 16
II Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
II Timothy 3:17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
These areas, doctrine, correction and instruction in righteousness are important sections of scripture for all of us to understand. Sometimes we don't like to get into doctrine and you know correction is not something we really want to get into very much in our life as well. Paul puts into one verse really a summary of all that is within the scripture in terms of doctrinal teaching that shows us who God is and what God is doing with you in life, and the purpose of our life and gives us correction to straighten out the paths in our lives to help us avoid making mistakes which is really again another way of saying instruction in righteousness and how to live a successful, abundant and prosperous life.
That's what the Bible is all about. That's why it's important to read this book and to understand all that it has for every one of us in our lives. The Bible says many things that you might not know. But it is freely available for each of us to study without fear of punishment. Don't you think it's time that you began a study of this most valuable book? I know that if you do it will change your life. It will bring you closer to the God of all creation. The Bible is more than a literary text or a book of wisdom. It is the revealed word of the Creator God. The Bible has a direct challenge to you. A challenge you nor I can ignore.
When we return we are going to talk about that with our Beyond Today panel and see exactly what that challenge is. But first I have a special offer, it's the Good News magazine. This magazine contains important articles on how to make sense of today's confusing world news. It'll help you to understand what the Bible teaches about the most vital questions concerning your life, your marriage and your family, why it's important to have a relationship with your Creator. This magazine will help you comprehend God's amazing plan for man kind and for you personally. That's why you need your free subscription to the Good News . It will help with all the answers that you need in life. Click or toll free 1-888-886-8632 that's 1-888-886-8632. You can also visit us on the web at BeyondToday.tv and watch dozens of Beyond Today programs and our weekly Beyond Today commentary. Online at BeyondToday.tv or call 1-888-886-8632 for your free subscription. The Good News not only examines world events in light of the Bible but it will help you get your everyday life in order. Get your free subscription today and don't forget to follow Beyond Today on Twitter or join our Facebook fan page.
If the Bible is true then there are some changes you need to make. Here for a discussion of this is Steve Myers and Gary Petty, both fellow presenters on Beyond Today . You know Jesus noted that a sad fact of history in life is that relatively few people have responded and allowed the Bible to really change and shape their lives. Why is that?
You know Darris if you took that book and you really believed that Bible was inspired by the Creator of the universe as an instruction book to life, you would cherish it, you would read it, you would live by it. I mean the bottom line is most people don't believe even the people who have the book, even the people that say they live by the book, they actually don't believe it was inspired by God.
Yeah I think that's an interesting thing when you say that people know the Bible, well a lot of times they know about the Bible but when it comes to really believing it, there's a couple of words in the New Testament when it refers to believing and it equates to obeying. So that if you believe it you have to do it and that's a tough thing, change is difficult. It's hard to change and the Bible tells us we're to put on the mind of Christ and that a tough thing to do and you've got to dedicate your life to doing it, not just believing it.
People look at this like a piece of literature don't they? Just like any other great literary work by any other author.
And it's so much more than that, it is unique. There's nothing else like it in all humanity, in all history, it's a unique book.
Do you remember the old thing, someone once said that it's the ten commandments not the ten suggestions and I think that says a lot.
Yes, people would have to change.
Right and so it's not just interesting writing, it's not just poetry, it's not just those types of literary things. It's a life changing book if we follow Christ and do what He says.
Name one challenge, one challenge that God makes to the individual out of Bible.
Actually it's a book of challenges but I think of Jesus Christ saying, repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. To repent means to accept that you are a flawed image of God and that you need to turn to God, be sorry for what you've done and submit to Him and have your life change. That's the greatest challenge in the Bible and it's what God wants us to do.
People don't like to hear that word, repent today.
What does repent mean?
Well when you get down to admitting that not only have you done wrong things, you are wrong, deep inside us, our human nature's corrupt. We need to repent and that means to be changed. It means we have to turn to God and live by what that book says. It's one thing to read it, it's another thing to live by it and submit to the will of God.
Submit to the will of God, that's an interesting point, to actually take His will over my will. I mean one of the big words today especially in the political realm is change. We've seen whole administrations come and go because of that word and the promise of change. But it's not just a political change that the Bible talks about, it talks about a spiritual change, the real need that society has is not a political change. There's a spiritual problem in the world today and that's the kind of change that the world needs. We as individuals need to change and that's what the Bible talks about, changing ourselves first.
How is the Bible different from other forms of self help literature that are out there by the droves?
You used the word self help.
Well it's not a self help book, it's a God help book. This book contains the laws and the principles, you know we're always looking for those secret laws that will help us change out lives, we're talking about change. This book contains the laws and principles that are given by the Creator of life and it makes life work. So it's not a self help book it's a God help book and it's the only way you can get the help to really make those changes not only for today but to receive the eternal reward that God offers to us.
In fact you talked about some of the challenges that are in the Bible, the Bible challenges us to change our way of thinking. It tells us that we don't really even know how to direct our own steps. We may think we do and we have an idea of what we want but what's best for us? I think we forget sometimes when Christ actually said one of the reasons He came was so that we could have life and have it abundantly. So He wants the best for us, He wants us to have a superbly abundant life which is what that word really means. So He wants the best for us and the best is following Him and that means submitting to His will and changing from our self interest to God's interests, to looking out for others, seeing the need for being more like Christ.
Which is love, what Christianity is all about?
And what the Bible is all about. You know we mentioned that self help literature and there are so many books out there, written by so many different authors coming from different religious perspectives, philosophical points of view, the shelves are full of them and we've read those as well and look at them. And yet one of things I think about is they continue to be printed, new ones, every year by the dozens. And sometimes I wonder, we all need to step back from that and look at a different book of help or inspiration, the Bible and ask ourselves how is all that working for us? All those other books and maybe take a different look at a book that is far better and to the point.
And you know that's the challenge for all of Christianity. Christianity needs to look around and say, how is this working for us? Because in many ways it's not working very well and the reason why is we're not living by the book.
Yeah, we're not reading the book you made that point earlier, we're not reading it, and if we don't know what it says, then how can we live by it? And we assume so many times we know what it says or isn't that in the Bible somewhere and we have that assumption but the reality is it may not be there. So is your belief really found in the Bible or is it just something maybe you've been taught your whole life but really haven't checked it out for yourself. And I think that is where it can be a self help. Check it out for yourself, is it in there? Is that worship on Sunday, is the Trinity in there like you mentioned? Are those things in there or maybe I better sit down and read it for myself and see what it says.
What difference does it really make for a person to read the Bible?
Well just on a personal level I mean to realize that the Creator of the universe gives us this information and how to have a relationship with Him and with His Son Jesus Christ. And when you look in the Bible you see that God is the God of human history and God is the God of the future. He tells us the prophecies of what's going to happen and that's a great future. Jesus Christ is coming back, He's going to save us from this mess and to live by that and to know that changes everything in your life. The Gospel really changes everything about who you are and how you live and how you treat other people. It's powerful and to live by that book, we need to be in that book everyday.
The Gospel can be a religious sounding word but it's the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. That God has a plan, there is a plan for each of us, He's got an overall plan for mankind. Jesus Christ is going to return and it's going to affect each and every one of our lives, it's going to affect us, it's going to affect you. And so what do we do about these things? If God has a plan for you and to be aware of it, to know what it is, we've got to get into the book and find out exactly what it says and let it change our lives.
Real quick, what passage, what particular character from the Bible perhaps has made a big difference and impact in your life?
There's a couple of course the writings of Paul, I think of Paul as a writer. I think of King David as a person in ancient Israel that I identify with, I relate to him. Sort of this warrior poet, a man who made some very terrible mistakes because sometimes he let his emotions get out in front of him and yet a man that you can always go back to and be worked with by God and in my life that's what I would strive to be. It's like King David and so I look at him as a great hero.
One of the interesting things about David and one of the hero's I think of is the Apostle Paul who went from a Pharisee who was so adamantly opposed to Christianity I mean he helped participate in the murders of Christians and yet because he submitted to God's will in his life, he had a total change, a total turnabout in his life to where God then could use him from beginning to persecute Christians to becoming one of the greatest Apostles of all time and so what an amazing thing God can do with a person's life when we change and submit our lives to Him. It can be a complete turn around.
What's amazing is there are so many different men and women in the Bible that all of us can relate to somebody. There's somebody in there we can relate to.
And we can learn from each one of them. It's a fascinating book just waiting for you to read and to begin to understand.
Don't forget to order the booklet we are giving away today featuring, Is the Bible True? , as well as the Good News magazine. You can go on line to BeyondToday.tv or call 1-888-886-8632 to get your free subscription and also a copy of Is the Bible True? The Good News magazine, this booklet will help you understand the Bible in the ways that you never knew. So get your free copy and your free subscription today. And don't forget to follow Beyond Today on Twitter or join our Facebook page.
If Christ were to return now what would it mean to the average person? If the judge of all mankind called for an accounting where would you be found? What should you do with the information we discussed on this program? The Bible is indeed the inspired instruction of the Creator of the universe to man kind. Many men and women gave there lives that you in and I might have value in this book. The message is clear. No matter what others may do you have the power and responsibility to take personal action and to seek God. The Bible is a reliable guide to human conduct. It is God's word to a spiritually bankrupt humanity. It is our maker's instruction book telling us how we should live today. Seek God now while He can be found. That's the Bibles real challenge to you. For Beyond Today I'm Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.