5 Ways to Read the Bible

Read the Bible daily.

Of course, I don’t want to shortchange you; if you want to read more, than read more. The psalmist rose early in the morning (Psalm 119:147) and stayed up through the night with God (Psalm 119:148). He did it even 7x a day (Psalm 119:164).

Discipline yourself to have a regular time in the Word of God – morning, afternoon or evening. Reading the Bible daily is like eating a meal. You can skip it every now and then, but eventually you will die from starvation if you don’t eat.

Find a time and stick to it.

Read the Bible systematically and comprehensively.

Don’t be a random reader. Don’t be one of those people who just flips open his pages and reads what he sees or reads topically. If you do that with your life, you will take more and more things out of their context.

If you read what you want and not from Genesis to Revelation, book by book, there are commands in the Bible you are going to disobey because you never know they were even there. And ignorance is not bliss when you must stand before God and give account for those portions you neglected.

All Scripture is inspired by Him and so we need to know it all comprehensively.

Read the Bible devotionally.

Reading the Bible is not meant to be an academic exercise. It is worship. It is an act by which he express our love for the Bible and for God. We study the Bible to know God, hear from God, and be changed by God. Steve Lawson has written in his commentary on Psalm 119,

In every generation, those who have most treasured God’s word have been those most mightily used by God. Having a passionate devotion to his Word and being a powerful force for God are inseparably bound together. The former feeds the latter. One is the root, the other the fruit. Loving God’s Word is the cause; being used by the Lord is the effect. The fact is, no one can love God without loving the Word.”

Read the Bible prayerfully.

This is not a difficult concept; it just means that when you read the Bible, you also pray. John Piper has come up with an acronym to use when reading the Bible prayerfully that you might find helpful. He uses the letters “I.O.U.S.”

  • I – Incline. To hear Him rightly in His Word, you have to be desirous – “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness” (Psalm 119:36).
  • O – Open. To hear Him rightly in His Word, you have to ask for God’s assistance to understand the amazing things you read – “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18).
  • U – Unite. To hear Him rightly in His Word, you have to have a unified, single focus on His Word – “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11).
  • S – Satisfy. To hear Him rightly in His word, you have to be ready to produce more fruit – “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” (Psalm 90:14).

Read the Bible reverently.

The Bible is a Holy revelation of God’s will and to read it is to take your sandals off each time because you are on holy ground.Love it, treasure it, learn it, memorize it, meditate on it, believe it, practice it. How you treat the Bible is how you treat God. John Wesley get the last word:

“O give me that book! At any price give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.”

Resources for Reading on the Reformation

This fall during the month of October and early November, I will be preaching a series on the “5 Solas of the Reformation.” As some of you may know, October 31 will be the 500-year anniversary of when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. These 95 Theses were a protest against the corruption of the Gospel and the selling of indulgences that was being propagated by the Roman Catholic Church.

As I have begun my own study in preparation for this preaching series, I wanted to direct you to some resources that you might find helpful if you are looking to educate yourself further on the significance of the Reformation.

Resources on Martin Luther

  • Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Ronald H. Bainton. For many years this has been the “go-to” book for a biography of Martin Luther. I have read the book at least 5x in my life and have always gleaned more appreciation for this Augustinian monk who God used to turn the church inside-out. If there is only one book to read about Luther or the Reformation, it is this one.
  • The Legacy of Luther edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen J. Nichols. While I have not read this book, I have seen it recommended over and over again by many people I respect and trust. Of all the books I will be reading to prepare to preach this series, I am looking forward to this one the most.
  • The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven J. Lawson. I have not read this book yet, but the other biographies I have read from Lawson (e.g., William Tyndale and John Calvin) were very stirring. I expect this one to be as good, if not better than the others.
  • Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha. The focus of this resource is on the union of Martin and Katharina. You will laugh, cry, and scratch your head at these two opposites that God brought together.

Theology

  • Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. I purchased this book for a class in college that I took on the Reformation era. In it, you will find quick bios of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and Menno Simons. You will also get a good overview of their doctrinal emphasis and the need for theological reform during the 16th century.

5 Solas

  • The Five Solas Series pack, edited by Thomas Schreiner. There are 5 books in this series, 1 for each sola: Christ Alone by Stephen Wellum, Faith Alone by Thomas Schreiner, God’s Glory Alone by David VanDrunen, God’s Word Alone by Matthew Barrett, and Grace Alone by Carl Trueman.
  • Why We Are Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation by Nate Pickowicz. I know the young man who designed this cover and he said, “Buy this book.” So, I did! Haven’t read it just yet!
  • The Courage to Be Protestant: Reformation Faith in Today’s World by David F. Wells. Looking forward to reading again from one of the most important thinkers of our day.
  • Echoes of the Reformation. This is a DVD set (6 lessons) hosted by Trevin Wax, as he interviews both Kevin DeYoung and R. Albert Mohler Jr. This resource is mostly helpful for those looking for help on the implications of the Reformation and the 5 solas and why they still matter today. There is a study guide edited by Brandon D. Smith that accompanies this DVD set.

 

Some Resources to Help You Think Through the Events in Charlottesville, VA

Image result for charlottesvilleDisturbed. Saddened. Outraged. These words describe most of our thoughts about the racist uprising in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend.

The elevating of one man’s race over another is an affront of the very design of man – that we are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). It also offends the very group of people Jesus died for – all peoples of all nations (Galatians 3:28; Revelation 5). It also is murder (Matthew 5:21-26; I John 3:15).

Most Christians I know of believe racism is a sin, but many of us don’t know how to think through events like we have seen in our country in recent years in regards to the sin of racism.

Below are 4 articles I have read the last few days that have helped me deal with the issues in my heart and reminded me of my role as a spokesman of God for all peoples.

10 Reasons Racism is Offensive to God” by Kevin DeYoung (The Gospel Coalition)

The FAQS: Violence and Death at a White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville” by Joe Carter (The Gospel Coalition)

Letters from Berlin: The Lessons of History and the Heresy of Racial Superiority” by Albert Mohler

My Sunday Morning Comments About Charlottesville” by David Gundersen

Phillips Brooks, On Sermon Preparation

Image result for phillips brooks“The preacher’s life must be a life of large accumulation. He must not be always trying to make sermons, but always seeking truth, and out of the truth which he has won the sermons will make themselves. … Here is the need of broad and generous culture. Learn to study for the sake of truth, learn to think for the profit and the joy of thinking. Then your sermons shall be like the leaping of a fountain, and not like the pumping of a pump.” (Phillips Brooks)

 

Just In Case You Missed It – August 5-12, 2017

  1. 3 Ways to Help Your Worship Leader” by Matthew Westerholm (Desiring God).
  2. A Theology of Vacationing” by Mark Johnston (The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals). I am always encouraged to see instruction from the Word on the importance of rest.
  3. Giving May Be the Most Neglected and Least Modeled Spiritual Gift in the Western Church” by Randy Alcorn (Eternal Perspective Ministries). Yes, we should provide means and information to the congregation how they can serve the body by giving more!
  4. The Book Glutton” by Tim Challies. I need to take some of his advice and replacing bad books with good books.

 

Q/A Friday: Please Explain I John 3:8

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (I John 3:8)

John says that “the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” The question is simply, “The beginning of what?”

I personally think this little phrase gives us some help on the biggest obstacle to Christianity: the problem of evil and where it comes from.

  • Option #1 – The devil sinned from the beginning of His own creation. There are some who teach that the devil has always been evil, but we can reject this option quickly because the Bible tells us he fell, which implies he was sinless before he was expelled from heaven (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28). Also, if God created the devil with sin, it makes God the author of evil.
  • Option #2 – The devil sinned at the time God created the heavens and the earth. Because we do not have a “date” for the account of Genesis 1 and the devil’s fall, we don’t know if they happened right after each other or what. This could be the case, but we cannot be for sure.
  • Option #3 – The devil sinned when man sinned. Some argue this because John refers to the Devil as the serpent in Eden (Revelation 19-20), but the serpent showed up in the Garden with evil intentions – before Adam and Eve sinned – implies he had already been sinning.
  • Option #4 – The devil sinned between His creation and when he was kicked out of heaven. When this sinless Lucifer conceived an evil thought and tried to unseat God and was kicked out of heaven, that was the beginning of evil.

Now, I know this is not a complete answer to the problem of evil, but I believe it does give us a little help. Sin came into the world when Satan brought it with His own fall. God did not make evil.

Those that are of Him who brought sin into the world with his own fall are those who are practicing sin.

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please email it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.