The Standard September 15, 2022
Followers of Christ are not just readers or hearers of Scripture, but doers of God’s word. By taking time alone to read and contemplate the Bible and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, we get to know God more fully. How many times have you and I rushed through a passage or not focused intently on one we have read or heard?
In his Bible Study entitled “Jesus’s Farewell Message,” Francis Chan urges us to take adequate time alone to study the profound truths of John 14-17, the one section of the Bible he wants to know really well before he dies. Memorizing these four chapters would be a remarkable feat, but this is exactly what Chan did as a teenager, in his first experience with Bible memorization. Chan regrets that back then he did not know or experience these words of Scripture more deeply, but hopes that now as a man in his fifties he will.
Bible memorization as well as copying portions of Scripture are helpful tools for the growing Christian. An older gal in the Greenville Thursday morning class of Community Bible Study is a very fast reader who does not tend to retain much. About 15 months ago she heard a sermon where the minister described being that same way. He challenged his congregation to read the Book of Romans and to write the entire epistle out by hand. This woman ended up copying Romans twice. She went on to hand-write Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 150 of the Psalms, Isaiah and Joshua. A committed student of the Bible for decades, this practice has helped her developed a stronger relationship with God over the past 15 months than in the past 45 years.
Our daughter’s pastor mentioned in a recent sermon that he and a small group of men were reading through the Bible, 15 chapters per day. Again, it is possible to read Scripture yet fail to put the words into practice. Our goal in reading or memorizing should not be to impress others or to make ourselves acceptable to God. The motivation for whatever amount of Bible study we choose is to know God more fully and to become like him, living as Jesus did.
For those who started in January reading five chapters of the New Testament per week, we are at the end of Ephesians. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)
The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, is truth. Jesus showed us the power of this truth, frequently quoting the Old Testament by using 49 different verses on multiple occasions. In fact, over one-tenth of the recorded words of Christ are taken from the Old Testament. Let us be like the wise builder who built the house on the rock, not just hearing God’s words but doing what they say.
“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.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)