A survey of 2,900 protestant churchgoers called “Bible Engagement of Churchgoers” was conducted in 2012 by LifeWay Research.* This study brought to light some interesting statistics. Of those surveyed, 90 percent stated, “I desire to please and honor Jesus in all that I do.” In this, I was encouraged. In the same study, I read that only 19 percent of those surveyed read their Bible every day, and that happy feeling started to fade. The question arose in my heart, How could one desire to “please and honor Jesus” if you don’t know Him on a daily basis? It seems to me that in order to please those you profess to love, you must study them and know them well enough to know their likes and dislikes. By knowing them better, you can go on and “please and honor” them with your actions and words.
It is one thing to profess to know of Jesus, maybe, from word of mouth or in observing others’ actions. It is quite another to know Jesus and who He is by studying Him, learning of Him, seeing Him in the reading of His Word. The professed Christian should be praying that the Holy Spirit will continue to reveal His love and mercy to him or her as he or she reads and meditates on Scripture. The reader will then learn how to “please and honor Jesus” as revealed in Scripture and convicted by the Holy Spirit.
In the same survey, it was noted that the desires of the Christians differed between those who read the Bible and those who did not, and reveals six actions that positively impact the Bible engagement scores of individuals: (1) the desire to pray and ask forgiveness of sin was increased; (2) the need of a Savior was increased; (3) 61 percent read a book about increasing their spiritual growth, in the past year and were able to notice an increase in their faith in Jesus; (4) there was an increased desire to make decisions to follow and obey God, even with the knowledge that it might be costly; (5) those who read daily had a prayer life that included prayers for their friends who did not profess Christianity; (6) the belief that Jesus was the only way to heaven was elevated. Among those who had the habit of daily study, almost half revealed that they had been discipled and encouraged by other sincere believers.
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17, KJV). Without daily communing with Jesus by reading the Bible, we will remain an unsanctified people. With the trans-forming power of the Holy Spirit and the sanctifying influence of God’s truth contained in His Word, we become more and more like Him. Our choices, our desires, become ennobled; our will aligns with His will, and we fall endlessly in love with Him. The desire to “please and honor” becomes a true reality, woven into the fabric of our character and mind. The very inner-most desire of our soul then yearns to please, honor, and love Jesus.
I remember hearing the testimony of a man who lost his wife; she was his very best friend. They did everything together. They would prayerfully study the Bible together every day, regardless of what was going on in their lives.
When she passed away, he fell into a deep depression. During that time, he faithfully continued his devotional life, the habitual daily study of God’s Word. The depression lasted over a year, but he remained true to his time in the Bible every day. When he finally broke free from the depression that had enshrouded him those many months, he proclaimed that it was his devotional life that kept him alive. “I would have died if I would not have had my daily time with Jesus and the Bible!”
The old hymn “Give Me the Bible” should be the cry of this generation of Christians. If 90 percent of Christians want to learn to “please and honor Jesus” as they go about their lives, then they should make it a reality. We as a people need to prayerfully spend time in God’s Word, inviting the Holy Spirit to transform us into a people who would love from our hearts to “please and honor Jesus” in everything we do. I believe that the world would be a much better place to live in if we Christians would study our Bibles; then, we really would know Jesus and how to love Him.
—Brian Cowin pastors the Central Louisiana and Marthaville Seventh-day Adventist Churches, Louisiana, United States.
* Russ Rankin, “Study: Bible Engagement in Churchgoers’ Hearts, Not Always Practiced,” LifeWay, January 1, 2014, lifeway.com/en/articles /research-survey-bible-engagement-churchgoers.