“ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16).
It is my concern that the vast majority of Christians will soon completely eliminate carrying a physical Bible to worship services. Technological advancements are culpable of aiding and abetting, the expedition of this reality coming to fruition. One look around at worship services today and you will see many Christians utilizing their phones [or other electronic devices], in place of Bibles in book form to access God’s Word. Sadly, Christians have become deeply entrenched in this “hi-tech” age, where Bible apps are the predominant method chosen to reference Holy Writ. In fact, I have heard believers revel in the countless biblical tools available digitally. In defense of their exuberance, they contend that it’s beneficial to be able to instantly access numerous Bible resources–to conveniently swipe to a verse, tap on it to locate cross-reference(s), and tap on a word to view original language. One hi-tech proponent asked me: “If a physical Bible is cumbersome to lug around, out-dated, and lacking all the Bible tools designed to make my Christian life easier; why then should I abandon those modern helps?” Then added, “We need to move forward with the times and not straggle behind.”
Before I address that position, I want to make a personal observation and also express a growing concern that I have. In the recent past, the Lord’s day gathering was a beautiful sight to behold, because all my fellow brothers and sisters were carrying Bibles. I felt a strong sense of unity and oneness with them, because I could see they possessed God’s Word. It’s disappointing to witness so many professing Christians entering the house of God without carrying Bibles. I am often left wondering if they have “electronic Bibles” buried in their pockets or purses. it is further disillusioning not knowing if the person sitting beside me, even possesses God’s Word. The Christian faith is not a private faith as some erroneously practice, Jesus said: “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” (Matt. 10:27, cf Matt. 5:14, 16).
The Apostle Paul who was in perfect harmony with the teaching of the Lord, wrote: “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). There are some professing Christians who make it a point to appear indistinguishable from those of the world. They do their best to fit in with the culture by appearing as inconspicuous Christians, making very little effort to “come out from among them [unbelievers] and be separate” (2 Cor. 6:17). We snicker at the Amish people and deem them a peculiar cult, but it’s obvious that they are manifestly different from the rest of the world. I am not agreeing with their religious beliefs, for they are erroneous, but only commenting that they are markedly different from the rest of society.
Furthermore, if Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8), would it be unreasonable to assume that God requires His children to be different from those of the world? God “set apart” the nation of Israel from the pagan nations surrounding them, in virtually every aspect–they were to be uniquely identified as His people, belonging to Him. Dr. J.D. Watson Asserts: “Israel…was unique and was to remain so in God’s plan. She was to be unique in every possible way a nation could be: land, language, government, religion, morality, and all else. She was ever to be a ‘holy nation’ (Exod. 19:6), to keep herself separate and pure from all other nations, who would be judged for their abominations and idolatry (Deut. 9:4, 5; 18:9; 2 Chron. 33:2; 2 Kings 17:29; Ps. 9:8, 10:16).” 1 Should we the church audaciously assume distinction from the world in any capacity, is no longer applicable for Christians? The New Testament affirms that Christians are to be uniquely and overtly distinct from those of the world (Jn. 17:14-16, 2 Cor. 6:14-17, 1 Pet. 4:13-14, 1 Jn. 2:15-17, cf. 1 Pet. 4:4).
It must be noted, there are Christians who make considerable effort to limit cultural adaptation in order to comply with, “come out from among them and be separate.” (2 Cor. 6:17). But unfortunately, the majority of Christians find such an effort at distinctiveness unnecessary and anti-social. In fact, Christians who strive to be separate from the world [especially digitally], are usually frowned upon by fellow believers.
That said, should Christians adopt every technological advancement that is of personal benefit to them? Are not some personal comforts and conveniences worth sacrificing for a greater cause? “What greater cause?” Someone may ask. I respond by asking the question: “What greater cause can there be than to give a powerful Christian testimony and evangelize the lost?” Scripture instructs that the Christian life is never about oneself and his or her personal gains, but rather for sacrificially serving others (Rom. 13:10-13, Phil. 2:3-4). Jesus declared: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, cf. Matt. 20:28, Luke 22:27).
Consider the following testimony from a long-time missionary I know:
“Think what might have been the outcome if in the two
instances, I had been reading from an iphone or iPod, instead of a physical Bible in my hand: 1) I was traveling to Mexico city for a Wycliffe
conference when…[a man]…got on the bus and sat next to me. He and I may have been the only English speakers on the bus. As we traveled, I pulled out my Bible and began to read. Eventually, he said, “I notice you’re reading from a Bible. Do you mind if I ask you a question?” I said, “Sure, ask away.” A long discussion ensued, during which he told me he had been confused by a false doctrine, and didn’t know the biblical truth. When I turned to passages that clarified the issue, he acknowledged the clarification, and wound up praying to receive Christ. He had been running away from his wife and was planning on a divorce. After his prayer, he shared with me that he was going to return home on the next bus from Saltillo, Mexico and seek reconciliation with his wife. 2) A woman sat next to me on a plane, and noticed I was reading from my Bible. She asked if I could help her understand how a loving God could allow a tragedy such had recently occurred in her daughter’s life. I turned to the Word, and described to her the issue of the free will of man, and the sovereignty of God: that man is responsible for his own actions, and God’s desire is that we all live godly lives in this present age. After a much longer discussion, we prayed together, and she left the plane comforted that God is a God of love and healing. If I had been using an electronic device in either of these instances, it is unlikely that the conversations would have occurred.” 1
It is apparent from the above examples that a strong testimony for Christ is made, when a Christian is observed with a Bible. Interestingly, in both situations, the evangelistic encounters occurred outside a worship service gathering. Furthermore, the missionary did not initiate the contact, but unbelievers saw him with a Bible, which prompted the life-changing dialogue. In other words, in God’s providence He may use a physical Bible to initiate a saving encounter between a believer and unbeliever in any venue.
That said, for the first time in America, there will be a price to pay for openly carrying a Bible and it may come in the form of persecution. This evil culture is ramping up its efforts to completely eradicate “God” from society, by systematically removing all Christian identifiers and influence upon the nation. Furthermore, the government, the very institution God ordained to protect the good people from the evil ones (Rom. 13:1,4), is passing laws restricting the rights and freedoms of Christians, while promulgating and protecting the perverse lifestyles of the wicked. Additionally, to this culture’s reprobate mindset, the Bible is fallaciously deemed a “hate book” and declared as such from many public platforms. Therefore, it’s just a matter of time before a law is passed, making it illegal for Christians to openly carry Bibles, even when gathering to worship. To add to the Christians plight, God calls for absolute submission to the government and all its authority (Rom. 13:1, 1 Pet. 2:13-14). However, this is the believers calling, God’s glory is displayed when Christians maintain a peacemaking attitude, especially amidst hostility and persecution: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:9-10).
Incidentally, hatred of Christ followers is not something new, nearly two thousand years ago Jesus warned His disciples what to expect from the hostile world: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” (Jn. 15:17-19). Nothing has changed since Jesus declared those words.
Since antipathy towards Christians is on the rise in America and the season of peace [which has been enjoyed for many years] is rapidly eroding, believers should be encouraged to be seen with Bibles. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7). For those who are evil in this nation, desireforChristians to feel ashamed of Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the precious truth they affirm. Nothing would please them more, than for Christianity to become extinct in America–in the world for that matter (cf. 1 Pet. 5:9). Rather than Christians succumbing to the pressures and threats from the culture, evangelism and revival ought to boastfully be their priority (Acts 4:29). Jesus commanded: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”. (Matt. 5:16, cf. 10:27–NKJ). The Bible is a form of shining “your light” before men–God’s truth should be seen as well as heard.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul exhorts the church: “The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Rom. 13:12–emphasis added). In his letter to the Ephesians Paul also employs the “armor” metaphor when he instructs: “put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11-17). However, he utilized a different Greek word for “armor” in the two passages. In Romans 13:12 Paul used the word hόplon (weapons to wage war) and in Ephesians 6:11, 6:13, he employed the word panoplίa (a complete set of offensive and defensive weapons). The armor encompasses the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph. 6:17–emphasis added). Therefore, brandishing God’s “sword”, “His Word”; an observable Bible ready to be utilized, is the light and truth for all men: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting believers completely divorce themselves from using electronic devices, for such a drastic move would be unnecessary. The solution to the issue is relatively simple, utilize both. Carry a physical Bible while having Bible apps on a phone–such a complete arsenal could prove to be a wealth of truth for the lost.
In summary, there are many cogent reasons why a believer should carry a Bible, especially to worship services. By doing so helps to promote Christian unity while being an encouraging reminder to fellow believers–that displaying and utilizing God’s Word has always been an important part of the historic Christians walk. Another powerful reason to carry a Bible is for the sake of evangelism–for those dying without the knowledge of the Savior. A physical paper Bible alerts unbelievers to just who is a Christian. Christianity is a public faith, for God never intended believers to follow Christ privately (Matt. 10:27). One never knows when God will providentially orchestrate a divine appointment, as the testimony from the missionary [previously cited] illustrates this point. The life-changing impact he had on two souls [if not many more], most likely would not have occurred had he not been observed with a Bible. Let us pray that numerous such encounters are occurring all over the globe! Therefore, I appeal to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to seriously consider carrying Bibles for the sake of those perishing. A Christian possessing a physical Bible not only demonstrates a powerful testimony for Jesus Christ, for He is the “Word” (Jn. 1:1), but represents the only spiritual truth this godless world desperately needs: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Amen!
1 J.D. Watson, A Hebrew Word for the Day, AMG Publishers, 2010, pg. 207
2 Digital Bible; Digital Problems [article], on engedisgate.com, May, 24 2015–comment by “Curtis”