|The castle was musty, and deserted. On the floor lay a pile
of swords, rusty from disuse.
It was just a dream, I kept telling myself. But I awoke from my sleep alarmed and concerned for the condition of the church. Seldom do I remember a dream so vividly. The impression it made upon me remains to this day.
I stood in the entrance of a very old and musty fortress. It could have been an ancient castle. The air was damp, like a basement kept closed for many years.
To the right, a staircase wound around the wall, leading downstairs. No one was in sight, so I proceeded about halfway down the steps. The wall was cold, clammy.
In the lower level was a huge pile of swords, of all shapes and sizes. All were rusty from the dampness. None had been used in some time.
Where is everyone? I wondered, aloud.
"Away at war," the answer came. My heart skipped a beat.
They can't be doing very well, I thought. They left without their weapons!
I awoke, determined more than ever to convey the importance of the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" -- our only offensive piece of armor in battle against the enemy of our souls (Ephesians 6).
It was this dream that inspired me to conduct a survey regarding Christians, the media and the Word of God. Following are the results of that effort.
Christians, the Media & the Word of God
| The Survey
Christians in this decade spend more time following the news, utilizing the electronic media, and escaping into Christian fiction, than reading the Bible or praying; and two traditionally basic elements of the Christian walk -- Bible reading and prayer -- are being substituted with Christian fiction and religious broadcasting, according to a survey of 238 church-going, Bible-believing Christians. Respondents, who represented various denominations, provided answers on a mail-in questionnaire form.
Virtually 100 percent said they believed the Bible to be "the inspired Word of God." Almost 95 percent attended church "regularly, at least once a month." Respondents had been in the church an average of 19 years. However, only half said their family prayed together.
Although all said they believed the Bible is "the inspired Word of God," the amount of time spent reading it averaged less than 10 minutes per day. Twelve percent admitted total neglect of Scripture; 8 percent read it an hour or more daily. Only 24 percent had witnessed to a stranger in the past 30 days.
Believers listen to Christian radio almost twice as much as they watch Christian television, the survey indicated. Forty-four percent said they watch from two to five hours of Christian television programming per week; 28 percent watch 10 or more hours per week. Another 28 percent watch less than an hour per week.
Respondents listened to Christian radio an average 7.8 hours per week. Fifty percent said it was on in their home two or more hours per day.
Since 86 percent of those who have children either send their children to private schools or teach them at home, schools may have become their primary source of spiritual training.
Over 76 percent of those who responded to our survey said they had seen "a specific answer to prayer" in the past 30 days.
More respondents (80 percent) took time to write their legislator -- usually about abortion or other "family-related" issues -- than prayed with their family (50 percent), or witnessed (24 percent).
What Christian read
Participants in the survey read an average of nine books per year. Prophecy accounted for the highest percentage (22 percent), followed by Christian fiction (17.7 percent), self-help and biographies.
"Christian fiction has increased in popularity and continues to increase in popularity," said the manager of one Christian bookstore. "It's a popular item, and accounts for a third of our book sales."
"We sell 500 books a week," the buyer at another bookstore said. "Of these, at least 25 percent are Christian fiction. About 20 percent are self-help."
The end of all things
"All things are lawful," Paul writes, "but not all things are expedient." In other words, just because an activity or form of entertainment won't "send us to hell" doesn't mean it is God's best for our lives. We can reap 30-fold, 60-fold, or 100-fold.
God wants to teach us by His Spirit, to impart to us revelation from the Scripture. "Thy Word is Truth." Scripture is filled with real adventure and romance. Why read fiction?
and the Believer
Scripture plays a significant role in the spiritual development of the believer.
A. It guides and directs. Psa 119:105; Prov 6:20-23
B. It instructs in righteousness (tells us how to live). 2 Ki 23:3; Psa 19;11; 119:9, 11; Prov 1:4; Jn 2:1; Acts 18:24, 25; Rom 15:4; 2 Tim 3:15, 16
1. It convicts of sin. 2 Ki 22:8-13; Jn 5:22; Acts 2:37; 5:33; 7:54; Rom 3:19-20; Gal 3:22; 2 Tim 3:16; Heb 4:12
2. It purifies the heart. Psa 119:9; Jn 15;3; 17:17; Acts 20:32; Eph 5:26; Heb 4:12, 13
3. As a discerner of the thoughts and motives of the heart (Heb 4:12), it judges (Jn 12:48; Rev 20:12-15), reproves and corrects (2 Tim 3:16).
C. The Word edifies ("builds up," Acts 20:32) and brings us to spiritual maturity (2 Tim 3:17).
1. It nourishes and causes growth. Jer 15:16
a. As food. Job 23:12
2. It comforts. Psa 119:46, 50, 52, 81-82; Jn 16:1-4; Rom 15:4; I Thes 4:18
3. It encourages. Psa 119:43, 49-50, 74, 81, 114; Rom 15:4
D. It is our measuring line for truth. Isa 8:20; Acts 17:2, 11; Gal 4:30; 6:16; Phil 3:16; 2 Tim 3:16
1. The Scriptures are useful for teaching and instruction. Psa 19:7; 119:9; Jn 17:17; Acts 20:32; Rom 15:4; 16:26; 2 Tim 3:16
2. They provide us with discernment. Heb 4:12
3. Ignorance of the Scriptures leads to error. Mat 22:29; Mk 1224
E. The Word of God is our only offensive piece of armor. Eph 6:17
F. It gives understanding and light. Psa 19:7-8; 119:11, 98-100, 104, 130; 2 Pet 1:19
G. It assures us of salvation (I Jn 5:13) and is uesful in leading others to the Lord. Jn 20:31; Acts 8:35; 17:2, 11-12; 28:23, 24; Rom 1:2; 2 Tim 3:15; Jas 1:21; 2 Pet 1:19
H. The Scriptures testify of Jesus (Jn 5:39; Acts 10:43; 18:28; I Cor 15:5) and are valuable in proving Him as the Christ. (Lu 24:27, 32; Jn 20:31; Acts 8:30-38; 17:2-4; 18:28; 28:23)
Diane S. Dew © 1976, 1977, 1981, 1998
"... desire the pure milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby."
"... that ye be no more children, tossed to and fro by every wind
of doctrine ... but ... grow up..."
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