Leading a small group is enjoyable, but filled with many challenges. I’m particularly interested in the fact that many people attending a group have every reason under the sun to not read their Bibles. To many, the Bible seems inaccessible.
“It’s thousands of years old.”
“I haven’t found a translation I like.”
“It’s over my head.”
“It’s irrelevant to my life.”
You get the picture, and you’ve probably heard (or made!) the same excuses.
These arguments are unsettling. They are, in effect, saying that the reason we don’t engage with the Bible is because God was, in some way, incompetent in the way He revealed His truth to us.
So when I recently came across this gem written years ago by James Montgomery Boice, I yelled “YES!” in my office.
In several places in his Institutes of the Christian Religion and other writings, John Calvin, the great reformer and theologian, speaks of God’s revelation of himself to us in the Bible as baby talk, the kind of speech used by a loving mother communicating with an infant child. What Calvin means by this is that any communication to us by God must be in the simplest and most rudimentary language from God’s point of view. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. Consequently, God must condescend to speak to us in babytalk if we are to understand him. If the Scriptures are to be of any use to us, they must be a rudimentary revelation.
Boice’s point is that the problem in understanding Scripture doesn’t lie in God’s inability to communicate, but in our sin, ignorance, and spiritual laziness…or whatever number of excuses we have for not engaging with it.
So the next time you have a group member who questions the Bible’s accessibility, encourage them to stop criticizing the Bible and start repenting and reading. If Calvin and Boice are right, God has done all that needs to be done for us to know what we must know of Him, and He’s done it through His Word.
Rob Tims has been married to Holly for 17 years. They have four children: Trey, Jonathan, Abby, and Luke. He has served in the local church for 20 years as a children’s pastor, student pastor, and senior pastor. He currently serves on a team at Lifeway Christian Resources that develops customized Bible studies for groups and teaches two classes for Liberty University School of Divinity Online. He is the author of the book Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt.