A while back, in The Next Generation, we considered the importance of teaching the word of God to our children. While it may seem that this is becoming more difficult, we actually live in a day that offers us amazing benefits. This generation has the opportunity to be the most Bible literate and Bible knowledgeable generation to ever walk the earth.
Hardly. Five hundred years ago, the idea that every member of a local congregation might own their own copy of scripture was only a dream. That every member of every family could have one (or several) personal copies of scripture, was almost unimaginable. Yet today in the United States, every single person can afford their own copy of scripture. Even the poorest poor. (Remember that virtually all of those living under “poverty level” in the U.S. have a TV, and 80% have a DVR). A copy of scripture can be purchased for as little as $1 at your local dollar store. In fact, thanks to modern technology, it is no longer necessary to even own a copy of scripture. One can read it absolutely free online.
In addition, our breadth and depth of understanding of scripture has the opportunity to go beyond what anybody prior could possibly have achieved. Thanks to modern technology, we can use computer programs to search the scriptures in ways that were nearly impossible with only memorization and familiarity, or even with an exhaustive concordance. What would have amounted to decades of study can be accomplished in a matter of days or hours.
It is thus amusing when people attempt to make an argument for their particular set of doctrines based on their supposed age. “This is what the church taught in the first century.” Never mind that the New Testament is filled with admonition about false apostles and teachers and doctrines within the early church. The first century church didn’t even have the entire Bible yet—not until John received the Revelation was the canon complete.
So think about it: even the apostles did not have all of scripture. Paul and Peter never saw the whole Bible. They were never able to study or expound it. Only John would have had that opportunity, and that was brief.
It is thus possible for us to understand the Bible today in a way that even the apostles could not. Every time you pick up a Bible, you pick up a treasure that even prophets and apostles could only hope for, but to whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which were revealed.
This doesn’t mean that we should expect to find new major doctrines never before understood. But it does mean that our breadth and depth of understanding of those things can, and should, excel beyond those who came before us. The main design of the tapestry has always been plain to those who would look; but today we see also the delicate beauty of every thread, so intricately woven together to produce that larger picture.
Today we have the added benefits of both technology and 2000 years of Bible study on the part of great men. We stand on the shoulders of giants, with an opportunity to see further even than those who have gone before us.
But will we take it?
Given advances in technology, will we use it to enlarge our understanding of scripture, or only to dabble in the culture’s perverseness?
Given unlimited access to scripture, will we still fail to bring our children up in the word of the LORD?
Will be just be lukewarm?
Or will we be, the Bible generation?