The Word for today:
As a Bible teacher, slogging my way through blogs and promotions and class preparations while battling the forces of evil on one hand and the misplaced priorities of the Christian church on the other, I've often wondered if there were a way--a magic formula, a strategy, a scheme--to dramatically increase Bible literacy. I mean something that would bring enhanced Bible understanding to millions upon millions overnight.
Because if I could find that button, I'd push it. If I could locate that lever, I'd pull it.
If such a formula, scheme, or stratagem exists, it would probably be found right here in Revelation 1:1, the first verse of the last book in the Bible:
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.
Can you find the magic Bible-teaching formula embedded within that verse? If you can't, let me show you:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
There it is. There's the button and the lever.
If I could do one little thing to bring--voila!--exponentially increased biblical understanding to billions by this time tomorrow, I would gather all the Bibles--all of the old ones, new ones, loved ones, and neglected ones--and I would change the title to this:
Because I've decided, after years out there in the Bible teaching fields, that the most effective way to get them to understand what's inside is to re-label the outside. Our retailers would call it a matter of re-packaging.
And why not? Some of you, I am sure--out of deference to tradition--were uneasy, maybe incensed, with the graphic above. To think of the temerity, the shameless audacity of some hayseed blogger defacing the holiest of books…
Well, get over it. There's been many a Bible already packaged without the familiar "Bible" or "Holy Bible" appearing anywhere on the outside or the inside. The first Bible I ever happened to read was called "Good News for Modern Man." Bibles have been packaged as "The Way" and as "The Source." A currently popular edition is called "The Message."
All are legitimate re-packagings, because the Holy Spirit never really designated a title. The name we've given it is the most generic of words--'Bible' means "book"--so generic, in fact, that it renders the title virtually meaningless. (I can see that it's a book, for heaven's sake!)
But a book about what? About, precisely, this:
~~The Revelation of Jesus Christ~~
The Bible has one purpose--to reveal Jesus Christ. So why not say so, right there on the cover. Because if the title on the outside means nothing, then one might more easily argue that what's on the inside could mean just about anything.
I don't know where you live, so my elves probably won't break into your house tonight to affect an extreme makeover of your Bible. So you'll have to do it yourself. I recommend "White-Out," both for crossing out "Holy Bible" and for writing the new, improved title. White Out (or nail polish, if White-Out isn't handy) are forever.
While you're at it, you can go to the inside and cross out some other man-made titles that the Holy Spirit never gave us. Go to the beginning of your book and cross out "Old Testament." (For this purpose, a black Sharpie works best.) Then go to the page after the book of Malachi and cross out "New Testament." These man-made designations have caused more biblical misunderstanding than any other single inanity we have foisted upon scripture.
There, now you've got the book as its author wrote it. But--believe me--when your Mother finds out what you just did, she's going to be mighty angry.
But that's o.k. Because--believe me even more--when Satan finds out what you did, he's going to be mighty angry as well. He wants confusion about "The Bible." Calling it "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" cuts through all the misdirection and pettifoggery that he's managed to enshroud the Book in, over his long and successful un-teaching career.