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6 Reasons to Pursue Biblical Literacy

Pop Quiz! Are you ready?

  1. Who was the first king of Israel?

  2. How many brothers did Joseph have?

  3. What nation took Judah into captivity and in what year?

  4. Which prophet is known as the ‘weeping prophet’?

  5. What were the names of the two spies who were full of faith?

  6. Where do you find the Abrahamic Covenant in the Bible?

  7. Who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes?

  8. Where did God give Moses the Ten Commandments?

  9. Who was Jesus’ most famous cousin?

  10. How many lepers did Jesus heal?

  11. What is the significance of Genesis 3:15?

  12. What was the final plague that convinced Pharaoh to let the slaves go?

  13. Who were the two people who recognized the Messiah when Jesus was brought into the temple as an infant?

  14. Where did Jesus walk on water?

  15. Why did Jesus weep in John 11:35?

How did you do?

If you knew the answers to all 15 questions, congratulations! You are a Bible scholar! You have my permission to stop reading now.

But my guess is that most of us would struggle a little to answer at least some of the questions above. Some of you may even wonder why it matters. Is knowing random Bible trivia important in our relationship with God?

I would argue, YES! What we are talking about is biblical literacy, and biblical literacy is critical for spiritual growth.

The reality is biblical literacy is declining our day. The church has swung from an emphasis on learning environments (traditional Sunday school) to community environments (small groups). While biblical community and fellowship are essential in the life of the church, so is the capacity and confidence to accurately handle the biblical text. And this happens through active learning environments.

As adults who are actively following Christ, we must become active learners. After all, a disciple of Jesus is, by definition, a learner. Biblical literacy brings far greater benefit than simply impressing your friends at the next social gathering. Again, it is central to spiritual growth. Here are 6 reasons to pursue biblical literacy:


1) Understand the storyline of Scripture.

The Bible is one story. It tells the story of God’s kingdom and His relentless pursuit of His people. Each one of the 66 books fits into the larger storyline and contributes to the overall narrative arc of Scripture. Understanding how each piece fits into the storyline of Scripture opens our eyes to God’s plan of redemption.

2) Know what the Bible doesn’t say.

If we merely consume second-hand Bible content, we are in danger of error. There are teachings that may sound right, but actually have no biblical basis. Knowing what the Bible doesn’t say is as important as knowing what it does say. Biblical literacy helps with this.

3) Grow in wisdom.

We need massive amounts of wisdom to navigate this life, and our own wisdom often falls short. God’s wisdom is infinitely higher than man’s wisdom. To receive the wisdom from above, we must immerse ourselves in the Bible. As we increase in biblical literacy we grow in wisdom as well.

4) Rightly apply Scripture.

Understanding first what the Bible says and then how to interpret the content is vital to accurate application. So often we jump quickly to how the text makes us feel or invites us to respond, and we risk doing so in error because of improper observation and interpretation. We can only rightly apply Scripture when we have properly understood what it says and what it means.

5) Find our story in God’s story.

The Bible is not a book about us. From beginning to end it is a book about God. But when we understand God’s story, we discover our place in it. Our eyes are opened to how He is writing His story on the pages of our lives. We find meaning and purpose, as we are invited into this kingdom narrative.

6) Know God better.

This is the greatest reason to pursue biblical literacy. We grow in our understanding of the Scriptures not to accumulate knowledge, but to know the Author. A conversational, intimate relationship with God is the goal. He has chosen to reveal Himself most clearly through His Word, so it’s the best place to go to understand His character and ways. A love for God’s Word is a love for God Himself. This is our ambition.

Biblical literacy is not dry and unimportant. It is the foundation of our understanding of who God is and what He is up to in the world. So press through the tension of the learning process. Be diligent to study and find answers to your questions. Develop discipline and diligence in your interaction with the Bible. And in the process, your love for God will multiply.

For those of you who are curious about the answers to the pop quiz:

  1. Saul

  2. 11

  3. Babylon in 605BC, 597BC and 586BC

  4. Jeremiah

  5. Joshua and Caleb

  6. Genesis 12:1-3

  7. Solomon

  8. Mount Sinai

  9. John the Baptist

  10. 10

  11. Protoevangelim – first mention of the gospel in Scripture.

  12. Death of the firstborn

  13. Simeon and Anna

  14. Sea of Galilee

  15. His friend Lazarus had died


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