BibleGateway.com, which has the Bible on line with multiple translations, has compiled a list of the Top 5 Bible verses that were searched on their site for 2011. The list is not that surprising when you look at it. Here it is:
In descending order of popularity, here are the top five Bible passages of 2011:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
2. John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (ESV)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
don’t rely on your own intelligence.
Know him in all your paths,
and he will keep your ways straight. (CEB)
5. Romans 8:28
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. (HCSB)
They do have a post from the previous year about what is missing from the list. Collin Hansen wrote that the most popular verse that year was John 3:16 and was probably due to Tim Tebow’s use of the verse under his eyes during football games. But what is missing from the Top 25, or almost completely missing are verses about man’s sin. Hansen writes:
Let me mention an omission. Maybe you caught it, too. Knowing the whole Bible and not just the most-searched passages, you realize that the absence is glaring. You won’t learn from this list why God needs to redeem the world he created. You won’t learn why his love is so significant. You won’t find any warning of what’s to come if you don’t believe. In short, you won’t read about our sin and God’s wrath. Actually, you need to follow the list all the way down to #19 and #20 to find sin. At #19, 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And #20 reads, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
If we neglect sin and the Lord’s righteous wrath, then we haven’t understood even the basics of Scripture and God’s true character. D. A. Carson writes in The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism:
The point that cannot be escaped is that God’s wrath is not some minor and easily dismissed peripheral element to the Bible’s plot-line. Theologically, God’s wrath is not inseparable from what it means to be God. Rather, his wrath is a function of his holiness as he confronts sin. But insofar as holiness is an attribute of God, and sin is the endemic condition of this world, this side of the Fall divine wrath cannot be ignored or evaded. It is not going too far to say that the Bible would not have a plot-line at all if there were no wrath.
The danger of popping into Scripture from Google is that we miss the story for the verses. Each one of these top 10 most-searched Bible verses is a beautiful, moving testament to God’s loving faithfulness. We should memorize them, sing them, copy them, and remind one another of them. But without knowing the whole story, we don’t know why we should care that God loved the world enough to give his one and only Son. Unless we know about our sin, we will surely perish in it.
It seems that people are looking for the comfort found in Scripture, without looking for the cause of the discomfort that is in their lives. We will only know true comfort when we face our sin and repent.