The Bible is losing its once-held prominence in the Western world, and forces hostile to Christianity are growing ever stronger. Evidence of these trends is reflected in the fact that the proportion of adults who read from the Bible on a weekly basis has declined dramatically since the early '90s.
Pollster George Gallup and Michael Lindsay documented this shift in the United States: ‘About 93 percent of Americans have a Bible or portion of the Bible (the New Testament) in their homes. However, the number of Americans who view the Bible as infallible and having authority over their lives is decreasing sharply...This … is one of the most dramatic shifts in religious beliefs since the 1960s. As recently as 1963, two persons in three viewed the Bible as the actual word of God....Today, only one person in three still holds to that interpretation" (George Gallup Jr. and D. Michael Lindsay, Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs, 1999, pp. 34-36, 50).
This apathy toward the Bible is taking place, not only in America, but also in other western countries. Northern Europe has long been known as the "North German Plain of Irreligion," and similar trends have been noted in Australia and Great Britain. Several factors can be pinpointed as fueling this decline in respect for and readership of the Bible:
Firstly, our human nature tends towards self-centeredness and behaving as if we were independent of God's authority, resulting in a constant distancing from God's law and way of life (Romans 8:7).
Secondly, we are influenced by an increasingly secular society promoting the perception the Bible is irrelevant, which is craftily encouraged by Satan the devil who "deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).
Thirdly, when people prosper they tend to forget God and His purpose for mankind. God warned the Israelites that once they entered the Promised Land they would be inclined to forget God, lest "you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth'" (Deuteronomy 8:11-18).
Jesus tells us: "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For … they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:37-39). The conditions Christ predicted were that many people would live rather comfortably, with no apparent sense of alarm, or desire to search the Scriptures until only a short time before He would suddenly intervene.
We also know that in the days of Noah "the wickedness of man was great in the earth" (Genesis 6:5). So Christ was also warning the way of life of many in the end time would be wicked as well, and they would be contemptuous of the Word of God. Jesus asked, "When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8). His question implies that doubt will outweigh faith, with relatively few exceptions.
Paul also describes people's focus in the last days: ".... For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, .... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God ...." (2 Timothy 3:1-4). Verse 5 tells us many will have "a form of godliness but denying its power."
In contrast to modern trends and attitudes toward the Bible and its teachings Paul's and Silas's audience in Berea had the ideal attitude and approach: "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
God's Word is our chief weapon against the forces of evil. It serves as the foundation for all knowledge, understanding and wisdom, and is God's great gift of divine revelation to mankind. It is His handbook for life and Christ admonished us, "...'Man shall not live by bread [material things] alone, but by every word of God'" (Luke 4:4).
The Good News Magazine