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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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BIBLE READING

Bible StudyJ.C. Ryle:

“Next to praying there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible reading. By reading that book we may learn what to believe, what to be, and what to do; how to live with comfort, and how to die in peace.”

Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it, but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice!”

 

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THE BIBLE

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

We are warned by the Word both of our duty, our danger, and our remedy. On the sea of life there would be many more wrecks if it were not for the divine storm-signals which give to the watchful a timely warning. The Bible should be our Mentor, our Monitor, our Memento Mori, our Remembrancer, and the Keeper of our Conscience.

 

 

“All Scripture is Profitable”

J. C. Ryle writes:

Read all of the Bible — and read it in an orderly way. I fear there are many parts of the Word which some people never read at all. This is to say at the least, a very presumptuous habit. “All Scripture is profitable.” [2 Timothy 3:16]. To this habit may be traced that lack of well-proportioned views of truth, which is so common in this day. Some people’s Bible-reading is a system of perpetual ‘dipping and picking’. They do not seem to have an idea of regularly going through the whole book.

How Best to Read the Bible

From the pen of J. C. Ryle:

Read the Bible in a spirit of obedience and self-application. Sit down to the study it with a daily determination that you will live by its rules, rest on its statements, and act on its commands. Consider, as you travel through every chapter, “How does this affect my thinking and daily conduct? What does this teach me?” It is poor work to read the Bible from mere curiosity, and for speculative purposes — in order to fill your head and store your mind with mere opinions; while you do not allow the book to influence your heart and life. That Bible is read best — which is practiced most!

Don’t Dictate – Just Listen!

Quoting Bishop J. C. Ryle:

Read the Bible with child-like faith and humility. Open your heart — as you open God’s book, and say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!” Resolve to believe implicitly whatever you find there, however much it may run counter to your own desires and prejudices. Resolve to receive heartily every statement of truth — whether you like it or not. Beware of that miserable habit into which some readers of the Bible fall — they receive some doctrines because they like them; and they reject others because they are condemning to themselves, or to some relation, or friend. At this rate, the Bible is useless! Are we to be judges of what ought to be in God’s Word? Do we know better than God? Settle it down in your mind — that you will receive all and believe all, and that what you cannot understand — you will take on trust. Remember, when you pray — that you are speaking to God, and God hears you. But, remember, when you read Scripture — that God is speaking to you, and you are not to “dictate,” but to listen!

A Bible Not Understood

Quoting Bishop J. C. Ryle:

Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it. Do not think for a moment, that the great object is to turn over a certain quantity of printed paper, and that it matters nothing whether you understand it or not. Some ignorant people seem to imagine, that all is done if they advance so many chapters every day, though they may not have a notion what they are all about, and only know that they have pushed on their bookmark ahead so many pages. This is turning Bible reading into a mere ritual form. Settle it down in your mind as a general principle, that a Bible not understood — is a Bible that does no good! Say to yourself often as you read, “What is this all about?” Dig for the meaning like a man digging for gold.

Christians Have a Reading Problem

George Gallop once said, “Americans revere the Bible – but, by and large, they don’t read it.” People in the church or in the world typically do not read the Bible.

For instance: Can you name the four Gospels? Can you name four of the 12 disciples? Can you tell us what five of the Ten Commandments are? Is “God helps those who help themselves” a Bible verse? The majority of people today cannot answer these questions correctly. (George Barna) America seems to be growing into a nation of Bible illiterates.

Don’t misunderstand me – because I do not think you have to be a Bible trivia expert to be a Christian, but I do believe that Bible illiteracy is a breeding ground for heresy in the church and a toxin to individuals and families.

“Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.” (Hosea 4:1-2 ESV) “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6 ESV)

How many lives are being destroyed, because Churches lack true Bible teachers? How often are churches led astray by false teachers and false doctrines because those in the church do not read the Bible? How many people who because they cannot determine what is true Bible preaching fall prey to false teachers who promise “you can become a better you”?

To counteract these continuing trends, Christians must spend more time in the Scriptures. To end Bible illiteracy and to move with a discerning spirit through this world, one would do well to set up a daily time for personal Bible reading and reading together with the family.

Attend church on a regular basis: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. . . .” (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV) Consider Sunday School or Bible studies because in a smaller group you have a chance to discuss and ask questions.

Parents should not simply allow the church to take responsibility for all the spiritual training children receive. For God’s Word says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV) Parents and other adults should also be keen to minister by helping with the children’s program at church.

Pastors, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16 ESV) “ I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

Therefore, cling hard to the Word of Truth. “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9 ESV) What a great blessing it is to share the light of the gospel with people in dark places! (Luke 1:79) My friends, read the Bible and the Holy Spirit will help you to read, understand, and remember. Then, by the grace of God, you will become a literate Christian who will not be deceived for lack of wisdom and Truth.

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