Monthly News Roundup (06.24.21)

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | RSS

Plain Bible Teaching Podcast

This is the last episode for the month of June – time for our monthly news roundup. In this episode, we’ll be talking about the number of Americans who are reading the Bible, the Department of Education and transgender students, and the effects of the pandemic on our emotional well-being.

STORY #1 –More Americans Are Reading the Bible

“The latest State of the Bible report from the American Bible Society finds that 181 million Americans opened a Bible in the past year—up 7.1% from the previous year.

“When thinking about their own usage, 24% of Americans say their Bible reading has increased this year compared to last. Around 2 in 3 (63%) say it has stayed the same, while 9% say it has decreased.

“In January 2020, 48% of Americans were considered Bible users by the American Bible Society—the lowest percentage in the 10 years of the study. That number rebounded, however, in January 2021 as 50% or 128 million Americans are Bible users this year—the highest percentage in four years and the most in raw numbers since 2014.”

[…]

“Even as fewer Americans are avoiding the Bible completely, not enough are reading it on a regular basis. Around 1 in 10 (11%) say they read it daily, and another 5% say they read it four to six days a week.

“That combined 1 in 6 Americans who read Scripture at least four times a week is an important number. Extensive research of the impact of Bible reading shows that is the amount necessary to see significant life change. People who engage with Scripture one to three days a week demonstrate the same effect on the personal lives as those who don’t engage with it at all. Those who read the Bible four days a week or more, however, see radical, life-altering effects.

“Unfortunately, even among churchgoers regular Bible reading is not common enough. Close to a third (32%) of U.S. Protestant churchgoers say they read the Bible every day, according to a 2019 Lifeway Research study. Including the 27% who say they read it a few times a week, fewer than 3 in 5 churchgoers read the Bible more than once a week. A full 12% say they rarely or never read the Bible.” (Lifeway Research)

Related material:

STORY #2 – Department of Education Says Sports, Bathrooms Must Be Open to Transgender Students

“On Wednesday, the Department of Education said public schools cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity under a new Biden administration policy that will impact such contentious issues as sports and the usage of bathrooms and locker rooms.”

“The Department of Education’s decision impacts multiple hot-button issues, including the use of bathrooms and locker rooms by students who identify with the opposite gender. It also affects athletics and the controversy over biological boys competing in girls’ events. In its new policy, the Department of Education says it will ‘fully enforce Title IX’ to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity ‘in education programs and activities.’ The latter term includes sports.” (Christian Headlines)

Related material:

STORY #3 – 44% of Americans Hit ‘Lowest Emotional Point’ of Their Lives During Pandemic

“If there was a growing mental health crisis before 2020, a new study finds the coronavirus pandemic may have sent it spiraling out of control. Half of Americans feel they lost complete control of their lives during the last year.

“A survey of 2,000 people reveals 47 percent feel helpless, while 44 percent say they hit their lowest emotional point within the last year. Since last March, Americans report struggling more with anxiety (42%), depression (37%), and loneliness (31%) than ever before.” (Study Finds)

Related material:

***

Thanks for listening!

If you found this episode to be helpful, please share it with others. Thanks.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | RSS

I.B. Grubbs’ Six Rules of Biblical Hermeneutics

I.B. Grubbs, rejecting legalism

When it comes to studying the Bible, it is common for people to come away with their own understanding of the word of God. Many see nothing wrong with this, despite the varied and sometimes conflicting interpretations people have of the Scriptures. However, when Paul wrote to the brethren in Ephesus, he said, “By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4). He did not expect each of them to have their interpretation of the epistle he wrote by inspiration. Instead, he expected them to have the same understanding as he did. The only way this could happen is for each one to follow a common set of principles as they try to determine the meaning of a particular passage under consideration.

Isaiah Boone Grubbs (1833-1912) was a preacher and also a professor at the College of the Bible in Lexington, KY at the end of the nineteenth century and into the early part of the twentieth century. In the introduction to his material on the epistles of First and Second Corinthians and Galatians,* he outlined six hermeneutical rules that would allow students of the Bible to properly interpret the text. (Hermeneutics simply means “the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible).”**) These principles are not unique to Bible study; rather, they are the same principles that can be used to correctly identify the meaning behind any body of instruction or teaching.

So let us briefly consider these six rules for Biblical hermeneutics.Continue Reading

Thankful (Part 1): Thankful for God’s Word

Thankful

Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous ordinances” (Psalm 119:164).

We have many different reasons to praise God and give thanks to Him. In the passage above, the psalmist mentioned God’s “righteous ordinances” as a reason to praise Him. He was referring to the word that God revealed to man (the entire psalm is dedicated to His word). Not only is this something for which we should be thankful, but it also reveals to us many other reasons for us to give thanks to God. So we will consider it in the first part of this series.Continue Reading

Taking Personal Responsibility

Pointing at ManIn a time of lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing, we are more cut off from others than we had been previously. Obviously, there are challenges to this type of social arrangement – including spiritual challenges. One such challenge is that it is increasingly important for each of us to take personal responsibility for our faith and our standing before God. Paul mentioned this idea in his letter to the brethren in Philippi:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Paul wanted these brethren to maintain their faithfulness even when he was absent from them and could not encourage them in person. The reason for the lack of in-person interaction is different today. And, of course, Paul was only speaking of himself as being absent from them; the brethren in Philippi were still together. However, the challenge described by Paul is the same. We must maintain our faithfulness, even without the in-person encouragement we are used to receiving from other Christians.

In this article, we are going to notice why personal responsibility is important, some ways in which we are to take personal responsibility, and also why taking personal responsibility should never cause us to think that isolation from fellow Christians is to be preferred.Continue Reading

Tolbert Fanning’s Seven Rules for Studying the Bible

Tolbert Fanning: Study upon the Proper Plan

Most religiously-minded people will affirm that reading the Bible is vital. Many of these would also say that studying the Scriptures is important. Yet among those who read and study the Bible, there is usually a wide range of beliefs and practices that often conflict with and contradict one another. Is this to be expected and accepted? Or is that a sign that we should re-evaluate our approach in studying the Bible?

Tolbert Fanning (1810-1874) was a preacher from Tennessee who had a strong influence among brethren in the South. In his book The True Method of Searching the Scriptures, he outlined seven rules for studying the Bible. As we consider these rules, we will see that these are not just one man’s opinion; instead, these are some basic principles we need to apply if we are to understand God’s word in the way He intended us to understand it.

So let us briefly consider these seven rules for studying the Bible.Continue Reading

Why It Is Important to Study the Bible

Bible Study

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

The verses above affirm that the Bible contains the truth and reveals to us the mind of God. Yet it is important to understand that it is not a private diary of God’s thoughts that mankind just happened to discover. The Bible contains revelation. God has not revealed all that He knows, but He has revealed everything He wants us to know. Moses said, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Since God revealed His word for us, what are we to do with it? Paul reminded Timothy of the importance of studying God’s word: “Be diligent [study, KJV] to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). This is one of the things we must do with the word of God. In this article, we are going to consider seven reasons why studying the Bible is important.Continue Reading

Remembering Jesus’ Words

Pointing at Bible

On the first day of the week following Jesus’ crucifixion, a group of women came to the tomb and discovered it to be empty (Luke 23:55-24:3). Instead of finding the body of Jesus, they saw two angels who explained why Jesus was not there:

Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:5-7).

At this point, Luke indicated that they “remembered His words” (Luke 24:8). After that, they went and told others (Luke 24:9). In other words, remembering what Jesus had said led them to action.

In this article, we are going to discuss why we are to remember Jesus’ words, how to do this, and what we should do with His words once we get to the point of remembering them.Continue Reading