“Today I learned that it’s important to be in the Word,
but it’s more important to have the Word in you.” – S. Dean Pinney
“Read the Bible.” That phrase seems laced into any discussion about Christian growth. You want to grow in your relationship with Christ? Read the Bible. You want to be a better Christian? Read the Bible. Want spiritual victory, want to know more about God and how He operates? Read the Bible.
I don’t mean to be nit-picky but yes, in and of itself, reading the Bible will not make us more holy or acceptable in God’s sight. There is more to it than just picking up this wonderful book and reading it. The saying, “you get out of it what you put into it” is certainly true in our approach to becoming more familiar with the Bible.
I’ve admitted before that I don’t do well with one-year bible reading plans. I’m guilty of doing my three chapter sprint, slapping the book shut and diving into my day, barely remembering what I read. To remember what I’ve read takes intentionality and effort.
In my last post, I told about the Memorize The Word course that helped me make the connection between the Bible and daily life. One of the lessons covered Five Ways to Know the Bible. I’d like to share those with you.
Study: Ezra 7:10
Memorize: Psalm 119:11, Deuteronomy 6:6
Meditate: Deuteronomy 6:7, Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2,3
The course material provided Scriptures for each way. To tell you the truth, in my humble opinion, the verses for the first two were so vague and lame, I’m not even going to mention them. I think I can figure out two reasons why Scripture is fairly silent on these first two methods of becoming familiar with the Bible. First, hearing and reading are so obvious, they almost don’t bear mentioning. There are plenty of examples of people reading and listening to the word of God. Ezra and Nehemiah read the Word to the people who listened and responded. Paul tells Timothy to attend to the public reading of the Word. So, while there are examples, there are no verses that actually say – “Read the Bible.” It’s a given.
The second reason is found in how many Scriptures talk about the next three ways to know the Bible. You can’t stop with just hearing and reading. It’s not enough. If you want to be “in the Word” and have the Word be “in you,” you need to put some muscle into it. You need to take more time than a once through read. Like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, you need to ask questions and compare Scripture with Scripture. As I mentioned in my last post, you need to put it in your memory banks so the Holy Spirit has something to work with when you encounter real life. And finally, you need to mull over it, think about it, pray about it long after you close the book – that’s the essence behind meditation.
You see, in Eastern religions, meditation means to empty one’s mind. In Christianity, mediation means to fill your mind with the Words of God.
With all due respect to the producers of the Memorize the Word course, I believe Scripture tells us two more ways to know and internalize God’s Word.
Check out the rest of Ezra 7:10, also James 1:22. James specifically says DON”T merely listen – do what it says.
I was in 4-H for many years, a fantastic hands-on program that teaches kids life skills. The 4-H motto is “learn by doing.” That applies to God’s Word as well. You will get the most out of the Bible when you actually do it. As you take the plunge and act in a way that shows you trust God by the way you are obedient to what His Word tells you to do,then in response, God shows himself faithful, the next time you are challenged to choose between right and wrong, both God’s Word and your experience from the last time will guide you into making the right choice. It gets easier every time because you know His way as outlined in the Bible is best.
Look at Psalm 145. (I call this the Teacher’s Psalm.)
“One generation will commend your works to another.
They will tell of your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty.
And I will meditate on your wonderful works
They will tell of the power of your awesome works.
And I will proclaim your great deeds.
They will celebrate your abundant goodness
And joyfully sing of your righteousness.” (v. 4-7)
Many teachers, including myself, are convinced that we learn more than our students do. Telling others about my faith and what I see God doing helps me articulate and process what I read and study. I understand God’s Word best when I talk about it to other people.
If you really want to know more about God, yes, reading the Bible is a good starting point. Don’t stop there though. Study it, memorize it, internalize it, practice it, and share it. Only then will God’s Word become real to you and change your life.