Summary: Emphasixes the value of God’s Word -- The Bible -- and the need for serious Bible reading and understanding. The Bible is the most purchased but least read of all books.
Charles W. Holt
Community of Grace
"An Assemblies of God Fellowship"
September 28, 2008
SOWER + SEED + SOIL
Text: Matthew 13:3-23 (NKJV)
It is a well-known fact that the Bible is probably the best-selling book in America. Just how many are sold each year is almost impossible to tell. “A conservative estimate is that in 2005 Americans purchased some twenty-five million Bibles and the amount spent annually on Bibles has been put at more than half a billion dollars” (Daniel Radosh, Why Publishers Love the Bible. The New Yorker Magazine, September 23, 2008). World-wide sales of the Bible are more than 100-million every year.
25-Million Bibles are sold each year! That’s impressive until you dig a little deeper and find the results of research done by such reliable sources as Barna and Lifeway show that the majority of all born-again Christians read the Bible only once or twice a week, or not at all.
Obviously Bible ownership does not translate into Bible readership. One survey found that only 18% of all Christians said they read the Bible every day. Although there may be a proverbial Bible on every proverbial coffee table in America it doesn’t mean it is read. Research has found that among non-Christians, 70% do not read the Bible.
The fact is that 93% of Americans own at least one Bible, and most own more than one. Despite these impressive numbers we are Biblically illiterate!
I can’t help but recall when as a youngster attending the Church of Christ in my small east-Texas hometown I first heard and often afterward sang the hymn Wonderful Words of Life. It was a seed planted deep inside my heart that has born the fruit of a love for God’s Word.
The hymn-writer wrote and we sang:
Sing them over again to me, Wonderful words of Life;
Let me more of their beauty see, Wonderful words of Life.
Words of life and beauty, Teach me faith and duty:
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life (repeat the refrain).
Sweetly echo the gospel call, Wonderful words of Life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, Wonderful words of Life.
Jesus, only Savior, Sanctify forever:
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life (repeat the refrain)
Some talk of going through the Bible X-number of times. The real issue is, how many times has the Bible gone through them?
So many Bibles. So few readers. Even while we Christians confess absolute faith and confidence in God’s Word, that it is indeed “Wonderful Words of Life,” something keeps us from genuinely being “people of the Book.” This results in what I have called Bible illiteracy. We own the book but we know little about it.
Let me illustrate:
The story is told of a man who was applying for membership in a church. The church membership committee was interviewing him. He was asked, “What part of the Bible do you like best?” He said, “I like the New Testament best.” Then he was asked, “What Book in the New Testament is your favorite?” He answered, “The Book of Parables, Sir.” They then asked him to relate one of the parables to the membership committee. He hesitated just a bit then began.
“Once upon a time a man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves; and the thorns grew up and choked the man. And he went on and met the Queen of Sheba, and she gave that man, Sir, a thousand talents of silver, and a hundred changes of raiment. And he got in his chariot and drove furiously, and as he was driving along under a big tree, his hair got caught in a limb and left him hanging there? And he hung there many days and many nights. The ravens brought him food to eat and water to drink. And one night while he was hanging there asleep, his wife Delilah came along and cut off his hair, and he fell on stony ground. And it began to rain, and rained forty days and forty nights. And he hid himself in a cave. Later he went on and met a man who said, ‘Come in and take supper with me.’ But he said, ‘I can’t come in, for I have married a wife.’ And the man went out into the highways and hedges and compelled him to come in! He then came to Jerusalem, and saw Queen Jezebel sitting high and lifted up in a window of the wall. When she saw him she laughed, and he said, ‘Throw her down out of there,’ and they threw her down. And he said, ‘Throw her down again,’ and they threw her down seventy-times-seven. And the fragments, which they picked up, filled twelve baskets full! NOW, whose wife will she be in the day of Judgment?’ Upon hearing this the membership committee agreed that this was indeed a knowledgeable and worthy candidate for membership!” (Source unknown)