Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Spiritual Discipline of Reading

We live in a world in which the visual image dominates. Christians, however, are a people of the Book. God has given us His truth in Scripture. We are to take it up and read. As Paul urged Timothy, "Till I come, given attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" (1 Tim 4:13).

Let me take this opportunity to urge our church body to take up the discipline of reading through the Bible over the course of the next twelve months. It is not too late to take up this resolution. Begin reading three chapters a day. Or, read five chapters per day at least five of seven days in a week. Bible intake is essential to our growth in Christ.

If reading the whole Bible seems daunting, make it your personal goal to read at least through the entire New Testament. Begin in Matthew and read through to the end of Revelation. Put a book mark in your Bible and register your progress.

Our first priority in reading is the Word of God. There is no substitute for this. In addition (as a supplement and not a replacement!) begin the discipline of reading good Christian literature. In an 1863 sermon on Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to "bring the books, but especially the parchments" (2 Tim 4:13), famed London preacher Charles Spurgeon urged believers to pursue the discipline of reading:

You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way to be spending your leisure is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, "Bring the books"—join in the cry.

Beware of just picking up any book off the shelf at the Christian bookstore. In general, avoid works on the current Christian bestsellers. We have some good books for sale at JPBC by the side entrance. We have also set up a table with various Christian tracts and booklets in the sanctuary offered at no cost. These include evangelistic tracts, devotional, doctrinal, and family works. Next time you are at church, pick up something to read that will feed and grow you in Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
(Evangel article 1/24/07)

No comments: