January 1 is a day like any other day. Except for the calendar and football, there is really nothing special about it to set it apart from any other day of the year. However, it does provide a great reminder for us to evaluate our lives and resolve to make beneficial changes. One area of life comes to mind in which most of us are in desperate need of change. I am amazed at the illiteracy problem I see all around me. I speak of a specific type of illiteracy. Based on what I observe all around me, in and out of the church, and based on what I read about in the news, it seems to me that we suffer from a terrifying case of biblical illiteracy. Lifestyles, election results, conversations, crimes, entertainment choices, etc. indicate to me that people have no idea what the Bible actually says. Even vocal advocates of the authority and truthfulness of the Bible seem to have little interest in actually reading the Bible. Perhaps 2018 would be a good year to commit to reading completely through the Bible. Ready-made reading schedules abound and can be easily obtained free of charge. The blessings will be immeasurable and many benefits will be obvious.
These blessings will not be limited to your own life but will spill over into the lives of those around you. Reading the Bible will help you to become more like Jesus which will certainly bring peace within your own heart though it might do exactly the opposite in your relationships. Reading the Bible will bring peace to some of your relationships but it will likely bring conflict in other relationships. Reading the Bible will change your habits, your reasoning, your entertainment choices, your church attendance, your giving, etc. Really it will change everything about your life because it is the living Word of God given as a great gift for both salvation and sanctification.
Ezra 7:9-10 states, “The good hand of his God was upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” (NASU) Ezra was on a mission. He traveled from Babylon to Jerusalem to restore proper worship in the newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. Ezra made three extremely important commitments. Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord. Ezra set his heart to personally practice the law of the Lord. Ezra set his heart to teach the law of the Lord (statutes and ordinances). Setting one’s heart to study, practice, and teach the Bible is a marvelous description of what is needed to erase biblical illiteracy. What would happen in your life, your family, your church, your neighborhood, and your workplace if you resolved to set your heart to study the Bible, practice the Bible, and teach the Bible? Do you want the good hand of God upon you?
Acts 17:11-12 provides us with another great example, “Now these [Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed.” (NASU) The Bereans received the Scripture with eagerness. The Bereans examined the Scripture daily to see if it was true. Because of their eager examination of the Scripture, many people believed, coming to saving faith in Christ. What would happen in your life, your family, your church, your neighborhood, and your workplace if you resolved to receive and examine the Bible daily with eagerness? Do you want many others to believe?
STEVE ELLISON is director of Ouachita Baptist Camp in Arkansas. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.