This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.
In the opening pages of chapter two, Don Whitney writes, “No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word.” Perhaps all of the other spiritual disciplines rest upon this strong foundation of Bible intake. What does it mean to take in the Bible? Why is Bible intake important?
Hearing God’s Word
The apostle Paul writes these words in 1 Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” Paul encouraged Timothy to be devoted to the practice of public Scripture reading. Not only is it necessary for people to hear the Word in order to be saved (Rom. 10:17), but it’s likewise essential for the child of God to have a steady diet of hearing the Word of God.
Consider your church service, does it contain a good diet of public Scripture reading? One mark of a healthy church service is based on the focus and intentionality of the public reading of Scripture. Do you place a priority upon this part of your worship service?
What about beyond the Lord’s day worship service? How do you place emphasis upon Bible intake? With the extravagant wealth of resources available to us on smart phones, tablets, and other devices – we can hear the Bible read at the push of a button. Gone are the days where we must insert cassette tapes or CDs to hear the Bible read aloud. As we grow in the knowledge of God, it’s essential to spend time hearing the Word of God read aloud.
Reading God’s Word
Our culture today is filled with mysticism. When I say “our culture” I’m referencing our evangelical church culture. It’s a common thing to hear people using words such as, “God told me.” That phrase indicates direct revelation from God that comes outside of God’s Word. Such language is common in today’s books, sermons, and often showcased at major conferences. There is a fundamental problem with that language. The use of such language is a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture. If we desire to hear the voice of God today, we must hear Him speak through the pages of His inerrant and authoritative Word.
If we desire to grow in grace and in the knowledge of God, we must spend time reading the Bible. How will we come to understand the full revelation of God’s redemptive plan and His deep love for us if we aren’t spending time in His Word? Consider establishing a time that works best for you. It’s essential to know you, your body, when you’re alert, and your personal schedule / routine in planning the most appropriate time for you to read the Word.
Studying God’s Word
Don Whitney compares the reading of God’s Word to a motorboat moving quickly across an open lake. He then compares the studying of God’s Word to crossing that same body of water slowly on a glass bottom boat. The use of a good study Bible will aid in this area of Bible intake. I personally recommend The John MacArthur Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible.
In this chapter, Don Whitney tells the story of a man in Kansas City who had been involved in a catastrophic accident involving an explosion. The accident took both of his hands, disfigured his face, and left him totally blind. Only a short time prior to the accident did this man become a Christian. Now, he was faced with the sobering realty that he would be unable to read the Bible. He heard about a woman who had similar problems and had learned to read Braille with her lips. After gaining a copy of the biblical text in Braille, he discovered that the nerve endings in his lips were so damaged that he couldn’t discern the characters. In his attempt to read with his lips, he touched his tongue to the text by accident. Suddenly, he realized that he could read the text with his tongue. Immediately he was off to reading and studying the Bible by the use of the tip of his tongue.
We will do what is important to us, and it’s essential that we place a high value upon Bible intake. Consider the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 119. All 176 verses are devoted to bringing people closer to God through His Word.
May the Lord bless us and challenge us to develop healthy disciplines in the area of Bible hearing, reading, and study.
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Questions to Consider:
- Why is hearing the Word of God important?
- Why must the church continue to hear the Word of God read publicly?
- Why is the reading and studying of God’s Word so neglected?
- What can a person learn from Psalm 119?
- If the Bible is sufficient, shouldn’t we spend time in God’s Word?
Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 3 and look at the subject of Bible intake again, with a different set of considerations and observations. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.
Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.