by Don Schiemann
In my seminary days I spent a fortune on books—at least it felt like a fortune. The twelve-volume set of Lenski’s commentary on the New Testament cost me $45! Every academic term, required textbooks steadily ate away at the savings I had accumulated at my summer jobs. Most of those books continue to serve me well and I don’t begrudge what they cost me back then or even now, as I still buy the occasional volume to enhance my library.
Things have changed since I graduated from seminary. Some say that the advances in technology over the last forty years have been as significant as the changes that occurred when Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450. As much as I value the books which occupy the shelves of my library, one can purchase an entire theological library in digital form on a laptop computer. Hours of searching through books on a particular topic can be reduced to minutes and even seconds using the search engines which accompany the digital library.
My most valuable book is the Bible. St. Paul writes to Timothy: “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Throughout the ages, the Bible has been made available in numerous formats. Whether it was painstakingly copied by hand on parchment, mass-produced on a printing press or digitally produced on a computer, its message has been constant. It is the account of God intervening in the sinful history of mankind to redeem a fallen world through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. God Himself is the primary author so we call the Bible “God’s Word.”
Sadly, one of the great challenges we face in our church is biblical illiteracy. It’s hard to imagine that people who call themselves Christians are hard-pressed to find the Gospel of John in the Bible, let alone quote even the most basic of Biblical truths like the one found in John 3:16. Yet many copies of the Bible are basically “coffee table books, ” intended only for show and not for consumption.
One of the great challenges we face in our church is biblical illiteracy. It’s hard to imagine that people who call themselves Christians are hard-pressed to find the Gospel of John in the Bible.
I liken it to an eating disorder. People deprive themselves of food for whatever reason and may ultimately starve themselves to death. What will happen when God’s people deprive themselves of the life-giving Word of God? What if we do not feed on the living bread or drink from the living water of God’s Word and promises?
The technology of today makes God’s Word more available than ever. Bible study aids abound. Take the time to read through the Scriptures. The written Word of God introduces us to the incarnate Word of God —Jesus, the world’s only Saviour. It is in God’s Word where you will learn of what Jesus did on your behalf to remove all guilt and condemnation from you so that you can stand before God as His holy and redeemed child.
And that’s the good Word for yesterday, today and forever!
Rev. Don Schiemann is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada.