September 8 is observed as World Literacy Day. How many of us appreciate the fact that the Bible Translation works have indeed accelerated the literacy levels in many a place across the globe?
The translation of Bible into English by the likes of John Wycliffe (1328-1384) and William Tyndale (1494-1536) in the 14th century and 15th century paved way for even shopkeepers in England to become 95% literate. Bob Creson writes, “Literacy in England is directly attributable to the Bible” (The Washington Post, December 11, 2014). This phenomenon was repeated in India. Here is a report: ‘Teaching people to read was one of the responsibilities the evangelists undertook so that by the time they left a village there were Christians who could read. Conversion and literacy were adopted together. Among the Khasis in Northeast India missionaries taught that “You cannot be a Christian without reading the Bible!” So, people were taught to read in Schools.’ (Darrell L. Whiteman’s essay in the Philip C. Stine-edited book, ‘Bible Translation and the Spread of the Church: The Last 200 Years,’ page 138).
Unfortunately Christians who brought in literacy initiatives so that people could read the Bible, are fast becoming Bible illiterates. ‘Sodom and Gomorrah? Are they sisters?’ – this Biblically illiterate generation asks!
Let me use the word ‘THEOLOGY’ as an outline to underline the need for Biblical Literacy among God’s people.
T-Titus Being Called To Pick Bible-Strong Elders!
Paul fondly called Titus his ‘son’ (Titus 1:4). He told Titus about what kind of elders he had to appoint for providing Christian Leadership in every town: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9, ESV).
H-Head-nodders, the Bereans Weren’t!
The people of Berea were not head-nodders. They were more noble than those in Thessalonica because they not only “received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see” if the things Paul and Silas taught were in line with Scriptures.
E-phesian Elders Called To Commit Themselves To The Word of Grace!
Paul never stayed continuously in one place to minister as much as he did in Ephesus. And when he wanted to move, he made a gripping farewell speech to this church’s elders. What did he say? He said after he left, ‘fierce wolves will come in not sparing the flock’ (Acts 20:29). What was the antidote for this wolf-attack? A commitment to the ‘Word of His Grace!’ (Acts 20:32).
O-One Hundred Twenty Thousand People, That God Talked About!
God’s last question to Jonah still rings in my ears: “Then shouldn’t I show concern for the great city of Nineveh, which has more than one hundred twenty thousand people who do not know right from wrong, and many animals too?” (Jonah 4:11, NCV). The big number of people in Nineveh who were morally confused as they had no knowledge of Yahweh’s life-giving laws which in-turn left none in any doubt about right and wrong – from that big number comes a missionary call to teach the Bible to those who know nothing about it! India’s population is approximately 10,000 times more than Nineveh and that means we have a bigger motivation to reach the Word of God to the ignorant millions and teach it to them!
L-Lack of Knowledge Which Hosea Writes About!
One of the most painful cries from God in the whole Bible is recorded in the book of Hosea. God says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. ‘Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also with ignore your children!” (Hosea 4:6 NIV).
O-Online Millions and the Opportunity For Evangelism They Present!
Sandhya Keelery wrote on July 7, 2020 that there are 550 million internet users in India (Statista.com). This huge number beckons Bible Teachers to dedicate their lives to teach people by modern media such as Zoom. And there are fully online Bible Training programs by reputed Bible Colleges like South Asian Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS), Southern Asia Bible College (SABC), etc., which trains those who feel called to be Word preachers.
G-Going On Circle!
Apostle Paul talked about an ever-increasing circle of Bible Teachers when he wrote to Timothy: “And the things that you have heard me say among many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be qualified to teach others as well…” (2 Tim. 2:2).
Yahweh’s prediction about a famine of hearing God’s Word is mentioned in the book of Amos (8:12). So, in the short time available now, let us become Bible Literates! Let us learn to handle the Word of Truth and teach it to our generation!
You may be a lay-person. But you can equip yourself by a self-study of the Word of God. Pick up a good Systematic Theology book. Wayne Grudem, Millard J. Erickson and others have written excellent systematic theology text books. I picked up my first theology book, not after I landed in Bible College, but long before that. As a student of Technology (B. Tech) in Allahabad, I was studying volume 1 of Renewal Theology by Rodman Williams! And I led Bible Studies on the Doctrine of God for a small group in the men’s hostel! That was the training ground for a nation-wide Bible Teaching ministry for me! God has grand and glorious plans for you! And as you shun and shake-off biblical illiteracy and take time to study His Word systematically, you will become a blessing!
Duke Jeyaraj wrote this aritcle of Aim magazine of Evangelical Fellowship of India. This article appeared in the magazine’s Septemeber 2020 edition.
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is a trained Agricultural Engineer [B. Tech from SHIATS, Allahabad, India], who did not pursue a career in the line of his education but nevertheless enjoys growing cacti in the balcony of his flat, during his spare time! He could have been a cricket commentator but prefers to wrap Bible Truth around cricket magic moments and other interesting-to-Google Genners contemporary events. God’s call upon him made him utterly restless and he obeyed that call to by founding the Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission (G4 Mission) to finally find serenity after having served as a International Bank Customer Service Executive/Youth Pastor/Bible College Teacher/Missionary/Youth Mag Editor. G4 Mission is not a church but an inter-denominational ministry to present-day people, a ministry which Duke works full time for, as an itinerant presenter/preacher since 2008 putting to use the formal theological training he received from Southern Asia Bible College in Bangalore [M. Div & Doctor of Ministry]. Duke is called ‘dad’ by Dale (16) and Datasha (12) and ‘hubby’ by Evangelin and calls Hyderabad, India, his adopted home. Duke has preached by invitation beyond his national borders (we are talking about nations such as Bangladesh, Singapore, Germany, Nepal and the United Arab Emirates). In case your curiosity is triggered by hearing all this, you may checkout www.dukewords.com [if you are the reading plain text type], www.soundcloud.com/shoutaloud [if you are part of the audio-listening tribe] and www.youtube.com/visitduke [if you group yourself with the video-steaming generation]).