We often hear preachers refer to the fact that the Bible is the most printed, most translated, most distributed, most sold book in history. They talk about the powerful effect the Bible has had on the world and how it's everywhere with millions of copies. What we don't hear, however, is that the Bible is the most read book or the book that the majority of the world's population use to guide their lives. You don't hear too many people saying that.
Perhaps this is because the majority of the people who own Bibles or have access to one, still refuse to read it. They sit on the shelf and collect dust. As a minister, I ask myself why does this happen? We have such access to the word of God and yet not many people read it. I've heard a lot of excuses about why people don't read the Bible, as well as why they reject the Bible. I'd like to share some of these with you.
3 Reasons People Reject the Bible
In Romans 10:17 Paul tells us that the only way people will ever come to salvation is by hearing and believing the message contained in the Bible. Many people "hear" the gospel message on TV, radio, from friends on social media, and sermons in church but they reject the message as coming from God and thus having authority. Here are some of the reasons why they do this:
1. It depends on your interpretation
The argument here is that since so many groups use the Bible to teach different things and all claim to be true, something must be wrong with the Bible. People reject the Bible in this case because they feel that if you can interpret it in any way you want, it must be too subjective. Now, there are reasons why they think this:
- They've never studied it for themselves. They use their Bibles as shelf or table ornaments.
- The only Bible teaching they've received is from different sects or TV evangelists or the doctrine of some church, but they've never learned to study it for themselves.
What can we say in response to this idea that it depends on your interpretation? Can we come to firm conclusions about certain things based in the Bible?
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
- Ephesians 4:4-6
This was written by Paul in the 1st century. Note that he is saying that already in the 1st century there existed a specific body of teaching about every significant aspect of the Christian religion. In other words, the Bible teaches only one thing about the person of Jesus, His resurrection, etc. This is true for all subjects in the Bible. It is consistent in its teaching about individual matters from beginning to end.
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
- Jude 3
Again, from the very beginning, the Bible writers taught that we must preserve the body of teaching contained in the Bible. There may be a lot of interpretations about what the Bible teaches, but there is only one correct interpretation. Our job as Christians is fourfold:
- To understand what that correct teaching is
- To preserve that teaching
- To teach it accurately to others
- To encourage the next generation to do the same
2. It's not understandable
This argument says that the Bible is too complex for the ordinary man to understand. This is thinking that belonged to the Middle Ages where the Roman Catholic church did not permit the masses access to the Bible for this reason. This idea exists to this day. For example:
- In my own family, I was told I would go crazy when I began reading the Bible.
- There was a headline in the "Journal de Montreal" (a high-circulation daily newspaper in Montreal, Quebec) that read, "Man kills wife and self after reading Bible." A headline devised to reinforce a major false stereotype that people of that time and place had about reading the Bible.
It is also the argument for the modern agnostic who says that if you can't understand it then you should reject it. Again, there are reasons why people think this:
- They have never tried to study the Bible seriously for themselves. They just believe the myths and trust their religious leaders without checking for themselves.
- Most of the religious instruction comes from people who promote this idea. They make the Bible out to be a mysterious object instead of light and truth.
But what does the Bible say about itself? Does it claim to be a mystery, too complex, beyond man's understanding?
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
- II Timothy 2:15
In this passage Paul says that we must study it diligently and when we do, we can understand and use it properly.
And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
- II Timothy 3:15
Paul tells Timothy that as he studied the Bible, his wisdom grew!
It doesn't say that you have to begin smart in order to read the Bible. It says that you begin dumb (worship rocks and trees) and as you read the Bible you become wise (worship the living God). This doesn't mean that the Bible is always easy to understand. There are rules for study, methods to follow in our thinking and analyzing process that need to be learned in order to arrive at proper conclusions, points of view. But if a person can be trained as a pilot, computer operator, doctor, lawyer, carpenter, and other skills - a person can learn how to properly study and understand what the Bible teaches as well.
3. The Bible was written by men
The argument that this is just another religious book written by pious and well meaning people - but only people, and so doesn't have the authority to tell us what to do. Again, reasons why people think this:
- They have never studied the Bible or any other religious book for that matter.
- They love sin and don't want to come to the truth.
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
- John 3:19-20
- They just want to be left alone and this is a convenient excuse to achieve this end.
There are many arguments that refute this claim:
- The Bible itself says that it is a work of God and not man.
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
- II Peter 1:20-21
- There are over 300 prophecies regarding Jesus, made centuries before His appearance, and completely fulfilled by Him recorded in the Bible. These point to a divine author.
- The Bible has unequalled depth of philosophical, psychological, and theological information not found in any other text - ever.
- It is accurate historically and archeologically.
- It has a complexity of material recorded over a vast amount of time without contradiction. If it is only men, then:
- How do more than 40 authors who live over a period of 1,500 years write 66 books that fit together perfectly and tell one seamless story without divine help?
- In this day and age you can't even get two contemporary reporters to write the same report to match in the news.
- All of this in addition to the eyewitness accounts of Jesus' miracles, resurrection, and teachings where He says that the Bible is inspired.
When we weigh all of these facts together, we cannot easily reject the Bible as just another book. If God didn't write it, who did and why haven't we been able to duplicate it (not even come close) in 2,000 years?
From the very beginning, people have rejected God's word and they've used all kinds of excuses to do so:
- Too personal
- Too complicated
- Too human
People can find all the reasons in the world to deny and reject the Bible, but in the end they will have to deal with the fact that God will judge us according to the Bible - regardless of our opinion of it.
He who rejects Me and does not receive my sayings has one who judges him; the word I spoke will judge him at the last day.
- John 12:48
We need to realize that ignorance of God's word is no excuse at judgment. If this be so, how do we respond to the fact that the Bible is God's word. How do we … "receive the sayings of Jesus?"
- Read your Bible. Whatever method you use is not important so long as you read it. Your goal as a maturing Christian is that you read it each day.
- Obey your Bible. The purpose of reading is knowledge, but that knowledge has no power to change you, mature you, if you don't respond to it. When the Bible tells you to do something or stop doing something - obey it. Each time you do it is a step towards maturity, and maturity leads to greater understanding.
- Share your Bible. Either by teaching someone, sharing your faith, or witnessing for Christ through your service or lifestyle - you need to get the Bible that is inside of you to others. The mature Christian is the Christian who is maturing others.
Oh yes, and one last reason people ignore God's word - NO TIME.
Which reminds me of my sister-in-law, Françoise. My wife, Lise, and I shared our witness with her for 25 years. She had family problems so we prayed for her and sent her a Bible Correspondence Course to get her into the word. She said she appreciated the prayers and received the course but was too busy with a new job and family matters to start a course and read the Bible. "Later," she said, "when things settle down." We agreed to have brunch on a Friday to discuss things - she had a stroke on Thursday afternoon and died that night - 59 years old, and the Bible Correspondence Course sat unused on the table next to her bed.
Sometimes too busy becomes too late.
Don't let "too busy" or any other excuse keep you from reading and, most importantly, obeying God's word.