Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

2 Peter 3:18


A few years ago, the Barna Research Group conducted a national survey on “biblical literacy.”  Some of the results may surprise you…or maybe not.

  • Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels
  • 60 percent of Americans can't name even five of the Ten Commandments
  • 82 percent of Americans assume "God helps those who help themselves," is a Bible verse
  • 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife
  • Over 50 percent of high school seniors thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife
  • A considerable number of respondents to one poll said that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham

Many of the people who gave those responses were undoubtedly intelligent and, on other subjects, well-educated.  But all of those answers are just plain wrong, and also very sad.

It’s sad, not because those respondents will never know the joy of winning a thrilling game of Bible Trivia.  Nor is the point that a person’s relationship with God depends on whether or not he knows who Noah’s wife was, or when the Bible was written.  It doesn’t, of course.  God loves you freely and unconditionally, and Jesus’ suffering on the cross for you has made you infinitely precious and loveable.  God’s love for you has nothing to do with how much or how little you know.

It’s in the Bible, though, that God brings you the message of His love.  There He recounts for you all the great things He’s done for His people from the foundation of the world, through the history of Israel, right down to His greatest deed of all:  the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.  In the Bible, God explains how that great deed of His changed everything about your life and your eternal future.  And as you read, through those very words of His, God is in constant contact with your soul, drawing you closer and closer to Himself.

Of course, a person doesn’t automatically lose out on all those benefits if he doesn’t know who preached the Sermon the Mount.  Deep down that person may still trust in the Lord Jesus and have a basic understanding of what God, in Christ, has done to make him His friend.  In the same way, it’s true that being friends with someone isn’t a matter of knowing all kinds of facts about them, or even their name or phone number.  But if you don’t know their name or their phone number, are you really going to get a lot of enjoyment from your friendship?  And are you likely to stay friends for long?

That’s why the apostle Peter encourages us to continue to grow in our knowledge of the Bible and its message of Jesus and His saving work.  As we open up those Bibles (or that Bible app!), the Holy Spirit will focus our attention on what’s most important:  the forgiveness of sins God gives us in Jesus.  But as we read, we also learn when the books of the Bible were written.  And that the Sermon on the Mount was actually delivered by Jesus.  And that it was actually Algernon Sidney, a 17th century English politician, who first came up with the phrase, “"God helps those who help themselves," in its present form.

Let’s use this unprecedented time of quarantines and social distancing as an opportunity to spend some quality time listening to Jesus speak to us through His Word.  He will calm our fears and ease our sorrows as He once again assures us of His forgiveness and abiding presence.  He will strengthen our confidence in Him, that He is leading us in ways that are best for us.  And, we’ll also be doing our part to help stamp out Biblical illiteracy.