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EHR 7: Clean Fighting 

19-11-2017

Introduction…

Is reading the Bible important? Do you believe it is important for Christians to actually read the Bible themselves? Has reading the Bible had an impact on your own spiritual life? Have you been drawn closer to God through reading his word?

Did you know that for a long time most Christians did not and could not read the Bible for themselves? For centuries in Europe, the Bible was only available in Latin and, even if it had been available in a local language, most people couldn’t read anyway!

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. In 1517, Martin Luther nailed is 95 theological debate points to the local bulletin board which happened to be the door of the local church! This is traditionally held to mark the beginning of the Reformation.

One of the major emphases of the Reformation was that it was important for people to read the Bible for themselves. Martin Luther partnered with John Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, to publish Bibles in German for the first time! In other countries, there was a huge push to publish the Bible in the local language so people could access scripture themselves. Luther believed that by reading God’s word for themselves, people would be drawn closer to God. I think he was right. Most of us, I suspect, would agree that reading the Bible for ourselves is an important part of Christian growth.

But it wasn’t enough to just publish Bibles in the local language! Most people in those days were illiterate. So literacy became a huge emphasis for the day, throughout much of Europe and certainly everywhere the Reformation was taking hold. Many families didn’t have anybody who could read. So, for example, in England, pastors would connect families together in the church and these families would meet together to read the Bible together. They would also pray and sing and have family worship times together!

A big push in Protestant countries became literacy programs. This wasn’t just an educational emphasis. This was a Christian mission. Why? Because if people were taught to read, they could read the Bible, God’s word, for themselves. They would be drawn closer to God, become Christians if they weren’t already, and grow as Christians once they were converted. It also allowed for the publication and distribution of other theological education material, like commentaries, catechisms and guides for family worship.

The goal was not just education for education’s sake, even though education has a huge positive impact on people. The goal was spreading the good news of Jesus to as many people as possible and helping them grow in the Spirit. The goal was for people to know the gospel personally.

Today, literacy is not a big issue in the West. What is the big issue facing this generation? Our biggest issue is isolation, loneliness, depression and suicide, especially amongst younger generations. Do you think the gospel has any good news for these people? Of course it does! The gospel is about relationships. The good news is that we have a loving God who is eager to restore our relationship with him and, as a result, our relationships with one another. This is powerful stuff for a hurting generation!

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