Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. …
- Matthew 22:29
“Concerning this subject [the title of the post] Mr. Müller says: ‘I fell into the snare, into which so many young believers fall, the reading of religious books in preference to the Scriptures. I could no longer read French and German novels, as I had formerly done, to feed my carnal mind; but still I did not put into the room of those books the best of all books. I read tracts, missionary papers, sermons, and biographies of godly persons. The last kind of books I found more profitable than others, and had they been well selected, or had I not read too much of such writings, or had any of them tended particularly to endear the Scriptures to me, they might have done me much good. I never had been at any time in my life in the habit of reading the Holy Scriptures. When under fifteen years of age, I occasionally read a little of them at school; afterwards God’s precious book was entirely laid aside, so that I never read one single chapter of it, as far as I remember, until it pleased God to begin a work of grace in my heart. Now the Scriptural way of reasoning would have been: God himself has condescended to become an author, and I am ignorant about that precious book, which His Holy Spirit has caused to be written through the instrumentality of His servants, and it contains that which I ought to know, and the knowledge of which will lead me to true happiness; therefore I ought to read again and again this most precious book, the book of books, most earnestly, most prayerfully, and with much meditation; and in the practice I ought to continue all the days of my life.’ …”
- George Müller, Answers to Prayer
The Scripture reference above is Jesus’ challenge to the Sadducees when they talked of the next life, something that they did not believe in, but it fits us all. We all need to learn more.
Can I start with a confession? I have become sloppy. Yes, I read from Scriptures each day, sometimes reading many chapters, in research. I still read the devotions each day. But the last time that I did daily Scripture reading that lasted more than a few days was when I was reading The Message, with the NIV and NASB side-by-side. I followed that with reading the Holman CSB, but I lost my daily discipline. Skipping one day, became skippy two days or even a week, while still keeping up with my daily reading of novels and “religious books,” and the Scripture reading before writing a blog post.
When I read this appendix to Rev. Müller’s book, I was cut to the core. For one, I read novels, where Rev. Müller stopped reading them. Many of those novels were by Christian authors, so not all fed a ‘carnal mind.’ I also read the “religious books.” And my Bible study, of late, had become haphazard. As Rev. Müller says in the title, my Bible reading needed to become “careful” again.
Note that Rev. Müller states that he became compelled to read the Scriptures over and over again. Why? Once you’ve read it once, you’ve read it, right? If you have one of those memories that rarely, or never, forgets what you have read, you will still need to read Scriptures over and over. As you grow as a Christian, the Holy Spirit opens your mind and soul to other truth contained in the Scriptures. I have read the Bible from cover to cover many, many times, and I still find something in my reading that I had missed before. In some cases, I might have read that passage with some distraction a time or two, but not twenty or thirty times. And yet, what I often learn anew is something that relates to the issues that I am trying to resolve in my journey of faith right now. Without systematic and careful reading, you’ll miss those blessings from God.
Since my wife stayed in Tennessee to babysit, my blog posts may have changed a bit, as I am adjusting to being by myself, doing all the things that I used to do and what my wife used to do. But I pray that my blog posts will change from the change of my heart, as I grow closer to God.
I reject the snare that Rev. Müller writes at the beginning of the quote above. So many Christians have that mountaintop moment in their lives when they became born-again… Then they stop growing, because they stop reading. And you can have the computer read it to you these days, but can you fully concentrate? In a way, the new-born Christian suffers from a spiritual form of the malady known in child-caring terms, of a failure to thrive. It is a rare infant that can be effective. To become more effective in our service to God, we need to grow closer to God. To grow closer to God, we need to know who God is. We do that by reading His Holy Word.
I may have been overzealous in trying to instill this in my children. Until they have become born-again, they don’t know what treasures the Bible has in store for them, but they think that they know, having read it many times before accepting Jesus. Again, it is not the intellectual knowledge contained in 66 books of the Bible; it is the spiritual knowledge of who God is and what He has in store for you now, now that you are born-again.
I have said that I can never get enough of reading the Scriptures. I need to live by those words more systematically and establish new disciplines and schedules that cannot be varied due to busyness. As a result, I pray that my posts will improve.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.