Reading the Bible
June 10, 2019
In my prized possession is a letter from John Stott. He was replying to say that he supported me, as the new president of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, in my desire to revitalize the daily Bible reading and prayer life of the Union. Hardly radical stuff. Or is it?
Then, and again now, I sense that there is a renewed need for us to emphasize the basic daily habit of reading the Bible. My observation is that it is becoming more common for us to be so distracted by other “spiritual content” that we focus less on the actual Bible and more on devotionals.
The reason for this is not just because we are living a more fast-paced lifestyle than in yesteryear (a complaint that you can read about each year, going back hundreds of years), but more because we are experiencing a reality predicted by the late great preacher of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. The coming generation, Jim Boice suggested, would not be faced so much by the challenge of the authority of the Bible as the sufficiency of the Bible.
Is the Bible really enough for me to hear from God? Can God actually speak to me, directly, personally, radically, thrillingly, demonstrably, compellingly, through… reading the Bible? And should I do it, even when I don’t “feel” excited by it?
The answer to all these questions is an unadulterated yes. Consider the great promise of Joshua 1:8-9:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
Consider that promise—the one-to-one correlation (all other things being equal) between the practice of at least daily reading of the Bible with attention to its commands and the blessing of God now forever—and act upon it. There are many online tools to help you read the Bible. There are books to help you know how to read The Book. Make it your practice to read the Bible each day.
Here’s how to do it. Pick a book of the Bible. Don’t start with Chronicles. All Scripture is God-breathed, but some of it is harder to chew than other parts. Read something like Philippians or Ephesians. Read the section of the Bible that is marked out as one paragraph in a modern translation. Ask yourself first what does it say, then what does it mean, and then only finally what does it mean for you. Then pray in what you have heard, asking God to help you love him more, obey him in this area of your life, tell your friends about Jesus, or whatever it is that God has just spoken to you about from his Word. And make a commitment, a regular daily commitment, to read the Bible this year.
I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I can guarantee you this: you will not regret it.
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