Disciplines for Fruitful Christian Living: Bible Reading:
This is the third blog post in a series on Disciplines for Fruitful Christian Living. For context on this series and it’s purpose, go here. If you have any questions based on this, please get in contact with us via our Contact page.
Two things ring true for most Christians. We know we should read our Bibles regularly, and it’s really hard to read our Bibles regularly. It’s easy for us to find ourselves distracted by other things, even good and important things that we forget the importance of reading our Bibles. We need to read our Bibles like we need to drink water. It’s also really easy to fall into a trap of guilt around Bible reading, and yet we don’t want to simply read our Bibles out of guilt, or to tick off a box so that we can say we are “good Christians”. We want to read our Bibles out of hearts that want to read our Bibles.
Why read our Bible?
Because the Bible tells us to read the Bible
(Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Joshua 1:8, Colossians 3:16)
Throughout the Bible God’s people are commanded to, and reminded of the importance of knowing, remembering and meditating on God’s Words so that they may live according to God’s plan. God’s words for His people then are still God’s words today and ring just as true for us.
Because Jesus Read His Bible
(Matthew 4:1-11,Luke 4:16-21)
As Christians we are called to imitate Jesus. It then goes to stand that if reading the Bible was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us too. We are without any excuse to not read our Bibles. In the Matthew passage we see Jesus being tempted by Satan, I’m sure Jesus could have dissuaded Satan in a number of ways, but the approach He uses is to quote portions of the Old Testament to Him, if that isn’t a clear example of why we should pay attention to studying our Bibles (and an endorsement for that being the whole of our Bibles and not just skipping over the Old Testament), then I don’t know what is!
Because it’s really useful for living as a Christian!
(2 Timothy 3:12-17, Acts 17:11, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Psalm 119:1-16)
God’s words reveal to us the truth of the Gospel which lead to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. God’s Words give us clear instruction on how to live as God’s people, to discern what is true and Godly. The Bible equips us to be confident in what we believe and why in order that we can grow in Godliness and share that truth with others also.
Because it is how God speaks to us today!
(Hebrews 1:1-4, Hebrews 3:1-11, Hebrews 4:12)
Throughout Biblical History God spoke to people in all sorts of ways – burning bushes, donkeys, angels, dreams, prophets, judges, kings, and now in these last days (the days which we are still living in today) God has spoken through His son Jesus, by revealing His very self to us since Jesus is God in the flesh. The whole of the Bible points to Jesus, the Old Testament all points forward to Him, and everything after is written in light of Him. God speaking through Jesus is superior to every other way God has spoken previously and through the Holy Spirit, God still speaks today through the revelation of Jesus in His Words in the Bible as the Bible is the living, active, Word of God.
When and how should we read our Bible?
As Christians we have freedom in Christ. This means that there is no prescribed format for how or when we must read our Bibles. However since reading our Bibles is so important we should look at making space in our daily lives for Bible reading. Ultimately, each person has different routines, schedules and commitments and so you need to look at your own life, personality and capacities to find space where you know you can commit to reading your Bible.
Pick a length of time that is manageable, sure it would be wonderful if we could all commit a solid hour or more to Bible study daily but this might not be achievable for you – especially if this is new. Rather than be discouraged by something that you are unable to maintain, start smaller and build up, to help this become a helpful and sustainable habit!
There are so many different approaches to personal Bible reading, each with different purposes. Some will resonate more with you than others, be encouraged to try a bunch of different approaches out as there is a richness exploring a variety of ways of approaching Bible reading. Sometimes one approach will be really helpful for a season of our life, we might look at what other Biblical input we are getting in our life at the time and pick something to contrast or compliment that, sometimes having a couple of different approaches on the go at once can be helpful too so that we are getting a variety.
If you’d like some help in working out what might be a helpful approach for you in your personal Bible reading have a chat with a staff worker or your church pastor and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction, but there are two helpful questions to ask when thinking about this:
- What will you read (what reading plan? Chronological, book by book, Bible in a Year…check out some good plans here https://www.ligonier.org/posts/bible-reading-plans )
- How will you understand and apply this? (what framework/questions will you use? COMA, Swedish Method, Scripture Journaling, Inductive bible study)
Thinking through these two questions is a good place to get started!
Other Tools You May Find Helpful
There are also other tools we can use that can be helpful in studying the bible like maps, commentaries, and concordances- and if you have any questions about what each of these is and how they can be used for bible study, ask a staff worker! But some books that are a good starting point to help you understand the bible and individual books are these:
How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth by Gordon D Fee, and Douglas Stuart
How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour by Gordon D Fee and Douglas Stuart
God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts
Over time regular Bible reading will likely become easier and even more desirable to you, but you may find that this is something that is always a struggle and that is okay too, God is still growing you and speaking to you whether you feel it in the moment or not. Often the fruit of reading God’s word comes out not in the moment of reading it, but as we go about our days and the Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s words that we have read.
Based on a workshop series presented in 2021 called ‘Disciplines for Fruitful Christian Living’. By Esther Z.