International (MNN) — How important is God’s Word to those who follow Christ?
“It’s the fundamental place where we understand the basics of the Christian life,” says Biblica’s Glenn Paauw. “We get our answers to the questions: Who is God? What did Jesus do? Why did He do it? What’s the whole story of the Bible about?
“If we didn’t have the Bible, we would just be left to make up answers to those questions.”
However, there’s a paradox in the U.S. and other Western nations regarding Scripture.
“The Bible’s the best-selling but least-understood book in America,” says Paauw. “The connection’s just not being made.”
He says the dots can be connected by answering two simple questions: What is the Bible? and What are we supposed to do with it?
“Those two questions really lie at the heart of daily Christian practice,” Paauw states. “We think a lot of people have been somewhat mislead about the answers.”
One of the biggest “challenges” to understanding God’s Word today, he says, is the way most Bibles are formatted.
“Chapter numbers, verse numbers, section headings, footnotes, cross references, anything like that, kind of clutters up the text and makes it look like a reference book,” says Paauw.
“When people see a Bible that looks like a reference book, they end up answering the second question differently. The answer to the question, ‘What are we supposed to do with the Bible?’ ends up being, ‘Using it like a reference book’.”
Biblica’s leaders were disheartened by this reality, but not defeated.
“We decided we should propose new answers to those questions,” Paauw says. “What is the Bible? It’s actually whole books.
“The biblical writers were inspired to write whole books, so we’re inviting people to read them as whole books.”
Enter Biblica’s Community Bible Experience. It combines three different approaches to reading the Bible that work together to transform the lives of Christ-followers.
“It’s really taken off around the globe,” Paauw states. “We’re in Europe now, Africa; we’ve done an edition in Chinese. The biggest engagement with this has been in Latin America.”
Reading God’s Word in community and formatted in its original style seems to be sparking a new level of engagement in the Body of Christ.
“The simplicity and yet the structure of this seems to really be helping people kind of get into the Bible for the first time,” Paauw says. “On the big level, churches are finding that getting your whole church into the Bible like this, in-depth, really changes the game for them.”
How would you answer those two questions we mentioned at the beginning of this article?
“I think those are fundamental things that people often don’t think about,” says Paauw. “Without the Scripture, we’re left to just really make up the Christian life on our own, by ourselves. I think it’s just not what God intended.
“We have this fantastic gift, and we need to start taking better advantage of it.”
Pray more people see the importance of God’s Word.
“It’s hard to understand how someone can be a well-functioning, healthy, believer and follower of Jesus without being deeply immersed in the Bible,” Paauw states.