2015-07-20 On Bible reading
ACH Study Groups
Ben & Fran Gilmore – Cofounders
7659 Gingerblossom Drive
Citrus Heights, CA 95621
July 20, 2015
This is a mail-merge letter to PAG Participants –
On Bible reading
Reading through the Bible in a year has been Fran’s and my morning practice for several years now. Like taking health supplements – you don’t notice the day-to-day effect, but over the long term you can see the results.
Our friend, Jay Grimstead, mailed a paper on the subject that expresses my thoughts as well (below).
COR UPDATE FOR JULY 2015
P.O. Box 1139, Murphys, CA 95247
READING THROUGH THE BIBLE AS BASIC TO HEARING GOD’S DIRECTIONS
Dear Friend of COR,
Recently in counseling with the 20 year old son of one of my Christian friends, I was again impressed with the Church’s need for all it’s sons and daughters (and its older people)to, year by year, systematically read through the Bible, and to keep reading the Bible over and over throughout one’s life to keep God’s perspective on life about His principles, our ultimate values, and our purpose in life.
I told him these things which he already knew, but needed to hear again at that point in his life.
1. GOD SPEAKS TO US PRIMARILY THROUGH HIS WRITTEN WORD, THE BIBLE
Since the Bible is actually 100% God’s very words (given to us through prophets and apostles acting as co-authors of the Bible), it is very natural for God to use most any sentence we read at any time to speak a personal message to us and give us needed direction, exhortation, encouragement etc. etc., as well as simply informing and reminding us of His absolute truths about all areas of life, past and present. We may expect God to speak to our hearts personal messages as well as inform us of raw facts of living.
The Bible is God’s standard of Truth and Reality to judge all other books, ideas, plans and worldviews.
2. CHRISTIANS SHOULD READ & OBEY THE BIBLE DAILY TO KEEP IN PERSPECTIVE
There is a unanimous agreement by the biblical writers as well as by all the Church History heroes that it is our great wisdom and godly efficiency to saturate our souls and minds in the written Word of God. We are to daily read and study the Word, and to memorize it, think on it and sing it regularly so it seeps into our “cells” and effects our actions, words, thoughts and plans daily and throughout all of life.
Probably nothing we do is as important for setting ourselves up for a life of obedience to His Word.
3. THE BIBLE SHOULD BE READ OVER AND OVER BY CHRISTIANS ALL LIFE LONG
My godly friends and I recommend our daily and yearly personal practice of systematically reading through the Bible, year after year, over and over to help this “Word saturation” process keep percolating.
I tell all serious Christians, young and old, who want to serve God with all their hearts whatever jobs they have, that a good minimum reading goal for the Bible for serious Christians is to read through the New Testament once each year, and to read through the Old Testament every 2 or 3 years. (The Old Testament has about 3 times as many pages as the New Testament.) One’s appetite and hunger and need for the Word seems to grow as we get older. At 80 years old, I now ordinarily read through the New Testament twice each year, and the Old Testament every year, and because of my work as a theologian, I also read through most of the Greek New Testament every three years as well. And my appetite for the Psalms now has me reading through the Psalms 3 or 4 times each year the past 20 years. (NOTE): I tell young people if they read through I and II Chronicles one year, they can leave out II Samuel and I and II Kings that reading period, then read those books alternately, since the same period of history is covered.
4. SYSTEMATICALLY KEEP A RECORD EACH YEAR OF YOUR BIBLE READING
Unless one simply reads the Old or New Testament from the front cover to the back cover(which I never seem to do), I recommend keeping a yearly list in the front of one’s Bible recording which books of which testament is read each year as we go along from book to book. It is easy to lose track if a written record is not kept. The point is to help oneself SYSTEMATICALLY get through all the books of the New Testament and Old Testament according to a schedule you think is right for you at your present stage of Christian growth and your hunger for the Word. And yes, in the earlier stages of one’s Christian life we need to sometimes MAKE ourselves do our daily Bible reading because our mind knows it is so important for our growth as Christians, and for our Biblical worldview perspective on life.
(Please see other side of page.)
5. SOME HELPFUL TOOLS FOR HEARING GOD “SPEAK” AND OBEYING THE BIBLE
A. READ WITH THE ATTITUDE “I WILL OBEY” NOT JUST “I WILL LEARN”.
If Bible-reading ever get’s “boring” for you, start reading it (as we all should anyway) with the attitude of “I will indeed obey everything I believe God is asking me to do in these verses.” At that point, Bible-reading can even get a little scary, but it will probably not be boring!
One key point to remember at this stage is that this Bible is God’s very own words as if
God Himself wrote the Bible’s words with His own hand, which spiritually, He did. The historic
Church’s view of the Bible for the past 2000 years is that the Bible is inerrant; that is, it is accurate not only where it speaks of heaven and the invisible world, but also where it speaks of matters of concern to both history and science in the world of time and space, matter and energy!
B. ACCOUNTABILITY WITH ANOTHER HUMAN HELPS US OVERCOME SIN
Most of us raised in American churches this past 100 years have had close to zero experience
of having some other human or team hold us accountable for certain levels of godly behavior. When we are unsuccessfully trying to overcome some little or big sin (actions contrary to the Bible), or any unwise or unhealthy behavior which may not technically be a sin, when we ask
a trusted friend if we may confess this sin or unwise behavior to them weekly or monthly, it can greatly help our success rate in overcoming such sins or unwise behavior. This is called
“accountability with another Christian” and it has worked well for centuries, but we in most
good American churches have never even heard of this as a healthy, Christian practice. In this
“accountability tool” we see the sad fact that generally we fear other humans more than we fear God.
C. HELPFUL “SPADE & SHOVEL” TOOLS FOR MINING GOLD FROM THE WORD
In my last year of college as a young, eager Christian I ran across this set of “mining tools” for
either an individual study or a group study of the Bible. The mining tools are these questions we
ask of any chapter or portion of scripture we are reading.
a) What command is stated here for me to obey?
b) What good example is stated here for me to follow?
c) What promise is here for me to claim for myself?
d) What sin or error is here for me to avoid or stop?
In closing I want to express this final word. I do hope all the younger Christians I know around the U.S. will take this advice seriously and apply it to their Bible-reading lives if they are not already doing so. And for those older Christians who do not have themselves reading the Bible through in some kind of systematic way year by year, I urge you to work into your life some version of what we are saying in this newsletter.
For the advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth,
Dr. Jay Grimstead JGrim1776
P.S. Please keep in mind that the summer months are the time when non-profit organizations usually receive the least amount of income through donations from their mailing lists.