Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Want to Know God? Read the Bible

Right now, members of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Logan, Ohio, and I are reading the Bible together in a year's time. We're reading it straight through, about three chapters a day, from Genesis to Revelation.

Here are a few thoughts underscoring the importance of constant study of Scripture that I've run across in the past few days.

Rick Warren, the pastor who wrote The Purpose Driven Life, tweeted this five days ago:
We cant watch TV for 3 hrs then read the Bible for 3 min & expect to grow spiritually.
And I just read this from the final chapter of David Platt's fantastic Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (it comes as part of his plea to readers take on an experiment in radical Christian living that, interestingly, includes taking a year to read the Bible in its entirety):
I want to put a particularly strong emphasis on this step of the Radical Experiment [reading the Bible through in a year's time]. The Christian marketplace is filled with books today--some of them healthy, and some of them not so healthy. To be honest, I have been very hesitant to write this book, because I look at our bookstores and think, Do we really need another one? I suppose only time will tell if it was worth it, but time has already spoken on one Book.
God has chosen by his matchless grace to give us revelation of himself in his Word. It is the only Book that he has promised to bless by his Spirit to transform you and me in the image of Jesus Christ. It is the only Book that he has promised to use to bring our hearts, our minds, and our lives in alignment with him. I'm not saying that God has not used or blessed other Christian books throughout Christian history, but there is only one Book that he has perfectly inspired by his Spirit for the accomplishment of his purpose. When you or I open the Bible, we are beholding the very words of God--words that have supernatural power to redeem, renew, refresh, and restore our lives to what he created them to be.
Of course, there are passages of Scripture that trouble us or that we can't explain. But as you read the Bible daily, great themes of faith emerge, themes that will bring your faith and your relationship to God alive. 

Don't be satisfied with a second-hand knowledge of God, a verse here, and a devotional thought there. Such things can be helpful to us. Hearing or reading the perspectives of others on passages of Scripture--like you get a daily devotional--can be a great antidote to our penchant for riding our personal hobby horses as we skim the Bible just for things we like. (And as readers of this blog know, I do read a daily devotional. But I also read and study chapters of the Bible each day, not just in preparation for preaching, but for other reasons.)

The daily reading of Scripture will move your relationship with the God ultimately revealed to the whole world in Jesus Christ to a ever-deepening level of intimacy, dependence, true awe of God, and true confidence in your living.

And, as with any relationship of love, the key is not some chimerical entity people call "quality time," it's quantity time. If we don't spend lots of time with God--in things like daily Bible reading and study, daily prayer, regular service in His Name--along with weekly group Bible studies and weekly worship, our relationship with God can only be superficial.

If you want more than a superficial faith or a superficial understanding of God, you can begin to address that desire by reading the Bible every single day.

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