“He said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your inward parts with this scroll which I am giving you.’ Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth” (Ezekiel 3:3).
A few days ago I heard a popular outdoor speaker brag on his grandmother’s godliness. Now, I do not doubt for a second his grandmother’s godliness. But, the “proof” the speaker offered the audience of this godliness was that grandma had read the Bible three times.
“Three times” the speaker exclaimed! “Three times . . .the WHOLE Bible!” I guess this was intended to “Wow” us. Maybe some listeners were “wow’d.” I was not.
The emphasis this man placed on her reading the Bible three whole times saddened me. He said it as if that were an unbelievable feat, something only the holiest of saints could ever aspire to. Perhaps it was wrong of me, but I admit this thought crossed my mind:
Maybe if you did not spend 90% of your time chasing deer and traveling the world to hunt you would have more time to read through the Bible yourself.
Now, I am an outdoorsman myself. I have often thought that if duck season were 9 months long I might not ever get anything else accomplished in life! So, I am not against outdoor recreation. And, maybe my assessment of this particular man is dead wrong. Maybe he does not spend an exhorbitant amount of time in treestands.
My real point here is that it should strike us as sad when a grown man who claims to have been a Christian for many years thinks that it is a monumental accomplishment for someone to read the Bible three times over the span of 70-80 years.
I distinctly remember when God convicted my wife and I to begin reading through the Bible each year. It was about five years ago. We have read the Bible through at least 5 times now, and have no plans to stop! God has worked more powerfully in our marriage, our home, our witness, our giving, our repenting, our resting in Christ, through this simple discipline of reading His Word than any other thing we have experienced. The more we have been in the Word, the more hunger we have for it!
For those of you who are doing gospel life together with us at Corydon Baptist Church, begin praying and preparing your hearts now to be in the Word more in 2013 than ever before in your lives. Be ready to be challenged to read through your Bibles together next year. Be ready to ask God to make you willing to teach the Bible in your homes day-by-day. I believe with all my heart there is nothing more valuable we can do together as the family of God in Christ than “Get in the Word and Stay There!” Three to four chapters a day, 20 minutes a day, that’s doable for every one of us!
If God grants us several more years of life, may we ALL be able to say we have read His Word through more than 3 times! And, let’s keep this spiritual discipline in its proper perspective. The speaker mentioned above did not just grieve my heart by his amazement at someone reading the Bible three times. He also disturbed me by his comment insinuating that if grandma – someone who had read the Bible a whole 3 times – could not make it to heaven then surely nobody could.
Well, my outdoor speaker friend, if your grandma made it to heaven it had nothing to do with how many times she read the Bible and everything to do with what Jesus had done for her in His life, death and resurrection. Grandmas and grandkids get to heaven the same way – by the Holy Spirit powerfully birthing them anew and granting them repentance of sin and saving faith in the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.
That said, let’s not forget the means the Spirit uses to bring salvation to us: “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18). And, let’s not forget how He sanctifies us: “Sanctify them by your truth; Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Rom 10:17).
The Spirit has lashed Himself to the Word. We do well to get in the Word and stay there!