Open the Bible

Today’s post features Pastor Colin S. Smith talking about openthebible.org, a free website that can help you share the God of the Bible with others. It is sponsored by Unlocking the Bible.

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Sometimes a single conversation can have a profound influence on your entire life and ministry. That was true for me when I met a missionary by the name of Tony Howarth more than 30 years ago. Tony served with New Tribes Mission and dedicated his life to an unreached tribal group in northern Thailand.

He told me his story of how he first introduced himself to these tribal people, built his own home, learned their language, and began to write it for the very first time.

I was in awe of this man’s work, and asked him, “How do you explain the gospel to people who don’t even know who God is?” To which he answered: “We tell them the Bible story.”

In the past, evangelists in America had the advantage of being able to assume people had some knowledge of the Bible. People had a moral framework built around the Ten Commandments, and even if they did not believe in God, it was the God of the Bible they chose not to believe in.

Today we live in a very different world, and evangelism needs to begin further back. I’m convinced that the approach of pioneer missionaries can teach us how to reach people who don’t know who God is, what sin is, and why they need Christ.

The Bible story gives us the building blocks we need to grasp the gospel. Step by step, the Old Testament builds a worldview that opens our eyes to Jesus, why we need Him, and what He came into the world to accomplish.

In his book called Preaching and Teaching with Imagination, Warren Wiersbe says that for many years he thought of the human mind as a debating chamber. Then he discovered that it is a picture gallery.

The Bible is full of pictures. For example, in Genesis 3 when the man and the woman were evicted from the garden, God set the cherubim with a flaming sword to guard the entrance to the tree of life. A child could draw that and from the picture understand that you can’t just come to God. A way needs to be found around the flaming sword of judgment that would cut you down if you got anywhere near it.

The wonderful theme of being “in Christ” is central to the New Testament. It is not easy to explain, but a child could draw Noah’s ark and understand that those who were “in the ark” were saved, while those outside the ark were lost.

It’s not easy to explain what it means for Christ to bear away our sin. But on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest placed his hands on a live goat, confessed all the sins of God’s people, and put them on the goat’s head (Leviticus 16:21). An act of transfer took place, and then the goat was taken away into the desert, never to be seen again. The message could hardly be clearer.

The whole Bible is one story. It begins in a garden, ends in a city, and all the way through it is about Jesus Christ. Follow the story and it will lead you to Jesus.

The good news is that people are surprisingly open to the Bible. In a survey commissioned by the American Bible Society, 58% of all people surveyed said they “wish they read or listened to the Bible more.” This includes people who self-identify as non-Christians and as skeptics. Think about that. Nearly two out of every three people you meet are open to discovering the Bible.

So, who in your life needs to know the God of the Bible and might be open to taking a journey through the Bible with you if you asked them?

In the church I serve, we have challenged our people with this question, and to help them we have launched a website: openthebible.org.

Open is a free website that takes you through the whole Bible story in 50 sessions. In each of these, you will read a passage from the Bible, listen to a brief teaching, and discuss a few questions.

There’s no training needed. Any Christian can use this to introduce someone who needs to know the God of the Bible to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, who in your life needs to know the God of the Bible?