“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ” (Matt. 5:16).
A few years back I wrote an article expressing my concern that the vast majority of Christians will soon completely eliminate carrying a Bible in book form.1 Technological advancements are culpable of aiding and abetting, the expedition of that reality coming to fruition. One look around at many worship services today and you will see most of the congregation utilizing their phones [or other electronic devices], in place of physical Bibles 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 look-up Scripture. Moreover, I have heard believers glory in all the biblical tools available at their fingertips. In defense of their praise, they contend that it’s beneficial to have numerous Bible resources readily accessible indicating the capability to conveniently swipe to a verse, tap on that verse to locate its cross-references, or tap on a word to view the original language; all in mere seconds. One proponent of hi-tech asked me: “If a physical Bible is cumbersome for me to lug around, inconvenient to use, and lacking all the Bible tools designed to make my Christian life easier, why then should I abandon those modern helps?”
Before I answer those questions, I want to make a personal observations. In the recent past, my typical Lord’s day gathering was a glorious experience, when I observed my fellow brothers and sisters all carrying Bibles. Because of that shared commonality, I felt a strong sense of unity and oneness with my fellow believers in Christ. I was encouraged when I witnessed them with physical Bibles, because I could see that they possessed a copy of God’s Word. Unlike today, it is disappointing to witness so many Christians entering the house of God without observable Bibles, I am left to wondering if they have “electronic Bibles” buried in their pockets. Moreover, it’s disillusioning not knowing if a person sitting beside me, even has the Word of God in his or her possession.
Furthermore, interruptions, distractions, and temptations are likely to occur during the worship service. The “iphone” does not only contain a Bible app, it is a live medium to the internet and literally one “swipe” away from engaging the evil world–the very Satanic system Christians should be escaping from on the Lord’s day! On more than one occasion I observed people responding to “text messages” or “surfing the internet” during the worship service. In fact, on one Lord’s day the person next to me was engaged in a phone call, the entire length of the pastors sermon, including his closing prayer. Sadly, Parents preoccupy their children with obnoxious, mind-numbing video games, rather than exposing them to the truth of God’s Word spoken from a faithful pastor. We are called to not let Satan have an opportunity to cause us to sin (Eph. 4:27). Having a phone allows him easy accessibility to tempt us during the [once-a-week] sacred time of worshipping the Lord. A paper Bible, on the other hand, allows no such opportunities for distractions, temptations, and windows into darkness, which threaten to adulterate worship.
Additionally, Being observed with a physical Bible is one of the few identifiers of today’s Christian. Many Christians appear indistinguishable from those of the world. It appears as if we do our best to fit in with the secular culture–very little effort is made to “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Cor. 6:17). We snicker at the Amish people and declare them to be a peculiar sect, but it is obvious to everyone that they are manifestly different from the rest of the world. If Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8); would it be unreasonable for today’s believers to presume that God requires His children to behave and look differently, than those of the pagan world? God had done so with the nation of Israel?
However, all of these previous observations, fall far short of the real reason, Christians ought to carry a Bible. So, at this point I will answer the questions posed in the opening paragraph, by asking these questions: should Christians adopt every technological advancement that enhances personal Bible study? Are not some personal comforts and conveniences worth giving up for a greater cause? “What greater cause?” Someone may interject. Again, I answer by asking the question: “What greater cause can there be then to give a strong Christian testimony and evangelizing the lost?” The Christian life is never about oneself and his or her personal comforts, but rather for serving others. 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).
Consider the following testimonies of a missionary:
Think what might have been the outcome if in the two [following] 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 [missionary] 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. 2
It is apparent from the above examples that a strong testimony for Christ can be made, when a Christian is observed with a physical Bible. In both cases the missionary, did not intentionally provoke those engagements, but was observed with a Bible, thus prompting the glory of God.
However, there may be a price to pay for being seen carrying a Bible in America and it may come in the form of persecution. This evil culture is increasingly raging against Christianity, and unfortunately the government is capitulating to their perverse cries, by passing laws restricting the rights and freedoms of Christians, while granting liberty to lifestyles of the wicked. Moreover, to the culture’s reprobate mind, the Bible is a “hate book”–I believe it’s just a matter of time before it will be illegal for Christians to carry one. When Jesus was instructing His disciples on what to expect from the hostile world, He said: 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).
Therefore, since antipathy towards Christians is rapidly increasing in America, we should be compelled to carry a Bible, thus making a strong statement of faith and allegiance to Jesus Christ: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me [Paul] His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” (2 Tim. 1:8–brackets added).
“…But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” (1 Pet. 2:20b-21).
A Christian possessing Beatitude characteristics, especially from suffering persecution, should not be daunted in his testimony in the world, for: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of this world…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-14a, 16). The Bible is a form of shining “light” before men–it’s God’s Word, His truth–it must be seen and heard. (cf. Matt. 5:16, Mk. 4:21, Luke. 8:16, Phil. 2:15). Therefore, we ought to consider the fate of those dying without a Savior and our responsibility to proclaim the Gospel: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20, cf. Matt. 28:19-20, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8).
But, someone may remain unconvinced and object, saying: “The benefits of technology are too great to give up, in order to reinstate what is impractical and outdated [the Bible in book form]”. To be realistic, I am not suggesting a complete banishment of all electronic devices, for such a drastic move would be unnecessary and ridiculous. I believe the solution is relatively simple, utilize both, carry a physical Bible and also have a phone with Bible apps.
I conclude by appealing to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to consider carrying a physical Bible. I do so at the risk of sounding legalistic, because I cannot quote specific Scripture supporting my appeal. Moreover, the Bible we currently possess, was not available in printed book-form, for nearly 1,500 years 3 after the Holy Spirit inspired authors wrote down what they received by divine transmission. However, we must realize the unique situation the church has today and that there are eternal reasons for my appeal. Jesus declared the “greatest” commandment, second only to supremely loving God, is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22;39, Luke 10:27, cf. Lev. 19:18). What greater way to illustrate love for your neighbor, then to care for his soul–by letting him observe that you are a Christian by being armed with a Bible. In many ways Christendom has been blessed by technological advancements, doors have been swung the door wide open in unprecedented ways, for personal bible enlightenment. However, such benefits pale in comparison, to potentially witnessing to lost souls by carrying a Bible! The former is typically unexposed and remains stowed away in ones pocket until needed, while the latter is perspicuous, and the Christian with one is always on call, because the entire unbelieving world can see the truth .
1 Digital Bible; Digital Problems [article], on engedisgate.com, May, 24 2015
2 Digital Bible; Digital Problems [article], on engedisgate.com, May, 24 2015–comment by “Curtis”
3 William Tyndale’s English printed translation of the Bible, 1535