“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)
These foundational verses are a great encouragement to seriously read and study the Bible. It is God’s Word—therefore it is holy and without error and very profitable. It is God’s special revelation, giving us knowledge of God Him-self as well as a right understanding of ourselves that we would not get any other way. And it is one unified story, although made up of sixty-six books, God’s Word being written down by ap-pointed human authors over a long span of time. God reveals His glory, power, wisdom and holiness, and graciously shows us the way of salvation.
Now if the Bible is so necessary for our faith and life, why do we find it so easy to set aside? We understand the value and necessity of applying our-selves to the study of many other subjects, and there are certain interests we each have that seem to take no effort at all for us to learn. Surely we must con-fess that our sin causes much of this troubled. However, some inaccurate assumptions may play a part too. Could it be that we have only learned the Bible piecemeal? Have we focused on the most exciting parts and failed to grasp the big picture and how even the “boring” parts fit? Do we unconsciously believe (having breathed-in our cultural fog for so long) that the written word is passé and if God really expects us to learn about Him, He either needs to put what He wants us to know in a 30 second video or just upload it while we were in sleep mode?
Starr Meade, a Christian author and teacher, writes this: “What do we do with a book? We read it—from be-ginning to end, straight through, more than once if it’s good and has a lot to say. But few people read their Bibles that way. If a teacher assigned Moby Dick for you to read, you would be foolish to open at random to a page and read it, then find another page two hundred pages later and read it, then close the book, confident that you had under-stood Moby Dick. Although we all recognize the foolishness of that approach with any other book, we fail to see that this is how most of us read the Bible—a passage here, and a passage there, confident that we have understood the meaning. We need to read the whole Bible, each book straight through and all of them together, to see God’s overall message in it.” (The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study: A Survey of the Bible, 12.)
Many of us make New Year’s resolutions; let me urge you to commit to a daily devotional time that focuses on Scripture. I am pleased that we have offered the entire congregation a guide to reading through the Bible for 2014 from Crown and Covenant Publications. I hope and pray that you take the time and make the effort (especially if you have never read the Bible in its entirety) to read God’s Word every day. And as you read, pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in understanding both the section you are reading and how it fits into the larger scope of God’s revelation.
To help us all understand the Bible as a whole, we will spend the next 15 weeks (Lord willing) studying The Bible Overview which will provide a memorable framework of the Bible. If you or someone you know finds the Bible overwhelming or confusing, this study will help you grasp the big picture and equip you to understand how the various parts fit together. For those of you in the Adult Elective class studying Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, you are already looking at the connection between God’s good creation at the beginning and how it relates to God’s New Creation at the end. I want to invite all of us to come and investigate the different stages of God’s promises made and fulfilled in Christ that lead from Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden to the coming of Jesus, his death and resurrection and final re-turn. And as we embark on this journey together, be praying about who you can invite to come along with you! Be looking for windows of opportunity that God will open during these next several months for you to introduce others to the flow of the Bible.
May God richly bless you and us together as we read and study His Holy Word in 2014,
Happy New Year!