Steve Farrar in his book “Point Man” says that reading the Bible is the equivalent of a soldier eating his rations. The Bible is our spiritual food, and without it we become weak and easy prey for the enemy.
This month’s Briefing magazine (www.Matthiasmedia.com/Briefing) contains a series of questions to use when reading the Bible. These come from the Cornerstone church in Kingston, south-west London. Their church uses these questions when reading large slabs of the Bible, and they can be used individually as well. They’re great questions and I hope they can be of use to you in your Bible reading. Not all questions will apply to every passage.
- What strikes you? What questions does this passage raise?
- What dangers/ warnings/ sins are there? (1 Corinthians 10:11)
- What do you learn about God – Father/ Son/ Holy Spirit?
- How is Jesus previewed/ revealed? (Luke 24:27)
- How are you corrected and rebuked? (2 Timothy 3:16)
- How are you encouraged to endure? (Romans 15:4)
- What do you learn about doing works of service and building up the church? (Ephesians 4:11-13)
- What do you learn about loving God?
- What do you learn about loving your neighbour as yourself?
- How do you feel you need to change to live as a man/ woman of God?
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These words, written by John Wycliffe, are as true today as they were when he penned them in the mid 14th century.
“The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God, all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are His marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, receive hold, believe, and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which He nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered!
A church which does not honour the Bible is as useless as a body without life, or a steam engine without fire. A minister who does not honour the Bible is as useless as a soldier without arms, a builder without tools, a pilot without compass, or a messenger without tidings. Stand fast on old principles. Do not forsake the old paths. Let nothing tempt you to believe that multiplication of forms and ceremonies, constant reading of liturgical services, or frequent communions, will ever do so much good to souls as the powerful, fiery, fervent preaching of God’s Word. If men want to do good to the multitude, if they want to reach their hearts and consciences, they must attack them through their ears; they must blow the trumpet of the everlasting Gospel loud and long; they must preach the Word.”
~ John Wycliffe
[For a contemporary take on this theme, listen to John McArthur’s comments by scrolling down in the right-hand column to the HBC Video collection and click on the top image.]
In parts one and two of this series, I have argued that we are utterly sinful and that salvation is of God alone. Although as Christians we are being transformed by the Spirit of God to be more like Jesus, we are still sinful. In fact, my sinful nature is in battle with God’s Spirit within me: “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17).
We must repent of our sin. We must walk by the Spirit and put our sin to death (Romans 8:13). However we will always struggle with sin this side of heaven.
This doctrine of sin has implications then for how I read the Bible as a Christian. When I read the Bible I may come to it with a prior understanding of what it says, and what is right and wrong, but my thinking is affected by my sin. I will need to pray first of all that God would work by his Spirit to give me understanding. Continue reading
The good news of Jesus Christ is that a solution has arrived for my problem of sin. Religion seeks to treat the symptoms of my sins: to help me stop doing bad things. Jesus treats the disease behind the symptoms: my evil heart. He does this by dying on the cross in my place. The punishment I deserve for my sin is placed on Jesus at the cross. The death penalty I deserve is taken by Jesus in my place. I am then forgiven my sins. Can there be any better news than this? Jesus has taken away the punishment my sin deserves.
But Jesus also rose from the dead and poured out the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is now transforming me day by day to become more and more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). Jesus is changing me to be what God wants, to have God’s desires, to hate my sin, to live God’s way to please him (Colossians 1:9). The good news of Jesus Christ is that God is dealing with my very nature: with my evil heart, my sin, and not just my sins. God is dealing with the disease of sin in me, not just the symptoms.
But I am still sinful. I will not be fully changed into perfection until Jesus returns (Philippians 3:12). What then are some of the implications of my still being sinful? Continue reading