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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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By Danny Saavedra
This article is part of a series of articles on spiritual disciplines that help us grow spiritually, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, become more like Him, and live in such a way that please Him and draws others to Him!
Today, we’re looking at one of four key, essential practices all centered around the Word of God . . . the Bible. Today, we’re going to begin learning how to base and build our lives on the Word of life!
Why Did God Give Us the Bible?
The Bible is the primary way God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. It’s the chief vehicle He uses to tell us who He is and to explain His heart, mind, character, nature, and will. I’ve heard it said before that when you engage with Scripture, not only are you reading the Bible, but the Bible is reading you! That’s why Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) tells us, "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Ephesians 5:26 tells us that we are sanctified and washed by the Word.
Over and over, Jesus tells us if we know Him then we know God and have seen God. And the primary way we get to know Jesus is through the Bible. It’s His powerful, authoritative, enlightening, and life-changing self-expression. It’s the very breath of God on each page! 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (NIV, emphasis added) declares, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In the same way that time spent and communication with my wife are essential for me to know her, the same is true with the Bible as it pertains to knowing the Lord! My friends, without true devotion to the Bible, we will quickly lose sight of the genuine gospel and the real Jesus! Without hiding His Word in our hearts, we won’t be able to recognize His voice when He speaks!
It’s truly a remarkable thing, an incomprehensible gift from the Lord, that we even have a Bible we can read whenever we want! It’s a blessing beyond my ability to express it to you.
For almost all of human history, dating back to the Old Testament and through most of church history up until a few centuries ago, and even today in many places around the world, Christians have not had their own personal copies of the Bible. They had to gather to hear someone read it to them. Some didn’t have a copy to read, but had to recite it from their memories—rabbis, scholars, priests, and Pharisees would literally memorize the Torah, the first five books of the Bible! It really puts Paul’s instruction in 1 Timothy 4:13 (NIV) to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” into perspective, doesn’t it? Because the public reading of Scripture was all most believers had since the dawn of the Church!
But now, we have printed Bibles and Bible apps at our disposal. In fact, many of us have various Bibles in our homes and maybe even one or two different Bible apps on our phones and tablets. We have priceless access to God’s living Word and, sadly, we so frequently neglect it.
I pray that during this unique season where many of us find we have more free time available, that we would invest this time into our relationship with Jesus, into a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with Him; that we would soak our lives in the voice of God that is revealed to us through the Word of God by the Spirit of God.
So, what does this look like practically? Well, there’s a few time-tested, foundational practices that have helped strengthen many believers relationship with the Lord, but today we’re going to discuss where everyone should start:
Read the Bible
I bet you were expecting some other grand revelation or profound piece of advice. It sounds too simple, right? Here’s the thing: It is simple . . . and it should be! It’s simple but significant, and it needs to be said. Read your Bible!
Reading vs. Studying the Bible
First, let me explain there’s a difference between reading and studying the Bible. The goal of studying the Bible is to dig in deep, examine context, mine for jewels of revelation, identify what the Lord is specifically saying to you, and find distinct personal application. It should go without saying just how important this is as we seek to understand and apply God’s will to our lives and grow more and more like Jesus. (We’ll uncover more on studying the Bible in our next article.)
The goal behind reading the Bible is to consume big chunks of the Bible, a few chapters at a time—for practicality, let’s say three chapters per day—in order to ingest the entirety of the Bible a few times in your life. It’s something I recommend every Christ-follower accomplishes a few times in their life, if not more. Why? Because when we do this, we are allowing the entirety of God’s work of redemption to pass before our eyes in all its fullness.
Consider Luke 24:27 (NIV), which tells us, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Jesus claimed, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56 NIV). He said Moses “wrote about me” (John 5:46 NIV) and that “everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44–45 NIV).
Did you see that? Jesus opened the hearts and minds of His disciples so they could truly understand His Word and in turn understand who He was, His work, and their purpose—and He did it through the consumption and revelation of all of Scripture.
Now, here’s the coolest part: At that time, only the Old Testament spoke of Him, pointed to Him, and foreshadowed Him. Now, we have the Gospels, Acts, and the letters of the apostles. Today, we can see how all of the Old Testament points to the work of Christ, and we can see how the rest of the New Testament points back to the work of Christ, all of which is outlined in the very center in the Gospels. By reading the entirety of the Bible a few times in our Christian walk, we can see how ALL OF HISTORY, HUMANITY, AND THE WORLD point to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior and King!
When we consume the fullness of God’s Word, allowing His entire love letter to pass through our hearts, minds, and eyes, then we’ll experience a new level of appreciation, gratitude, devotion, and a deeper, richer love for Him. And do you want to know a secret? Reading the entire Bible is very, very doable!
Check this out: It only takes the average person around 70 hours to read through the entirety of the Bible. That works out to about 15 minutes per day. Think about that: By dedicating only a quarter of an hour per day, you can read through the entire Bible in less than a year!
Sure, during that time you can apparently save 15 percent or more on car insurance, you can scroll mindlessly through social media, you can watch a few YouTube videos on random things, or you can watch part of a TV show that may be entertaining but ultimately does nothing to enrich your life. But before you choose to do any of those things, I pray you’ll instead choose to immerse yourself in God’s fully revealed work so you can understand His character and nature on a deeper level!
In the next part of this series, we’ll cover studying the Bible for depth.
Spiritual Disciplines Overview Study the Bible Meditate on the Bible
Memorize the Bible Reading Plan on Prayer
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.