by Tom Ascol
An inerrant Bible that remains unread & unheeded is no better than one that is filled with errors. In other words, what difference does it make if we have an inerrant, infallible Bible if we are unwilling to give ourselves to its study and cultivate a submissive obedience to it’s precepts and doctrines? I fear that the blessing of having God’s Word so readily accessible to us brings with it the great danger of taking it for granted. In fact, it seems that in much of the English speaking world, as the Bible has become more available it has also become increasingly neglected.
My fear is that we too often assume that we value the Bible primarily because we can consult it in a variety of ways with the click of a touch pad, launching of an app or by pulling a copy off of a shelf. But if our esteem for Scripture is measured by how much time and energy we invest in learning it, thinking about it, memorizing it and implementing its teachings in our lives then I wonder what the evidence would reveal about our true estimation of its worth.
As a new year dawns thoughts inevitably turn toward developing new patterns for our lives. If you have never read the Bible or have grow accustomed to neglecting it day in and day out, then the most important and eternally beneficial resolution that you could make in the new year it to commit to spending time regularly reading and learning it.
Here are 3 encouragements to help you read God’s Word this year.
1. Justin Taylor has provided a wonderful compilation of Bible reading plans and aids for reading the Bible in completion in 2014.
2. In the 19th century, Bishop J.C. Ryle wrote a tract in which he encourages the reading of God’s Word. His exhortation remains as relevant today as when he first wrote it.
You live in a world where your soul is in constant danger. Enemies are round you on every side. Your own heart is deceitful. Bad examples are numerous. Satan is always labouring to lead you astray. Above all false doctrine and false teachers of every kind abound. This is your great danger.
To be safe you must be well armed. You must provide yourself with the weapons which God has given you for your help. You must store your mind with Holy Scripture. This is to be well armed.
Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of the written word of God. Read your Bible regularly. Become familiar with your Bible…. Neglect your Bible and nothing that I know of can prevent you from error if a plausible advocate of false teaching shall happen to meet you. Make it a rule to believe nothing except it can be proved from Scripture. The Bible alone is infallible….Do you really use your Bible as much as you ought?
There are many today, who believe the Bible, yet read it very little. Does your conscience tell you that you are one of these persons?
If so, you are the man that is likely to get little help from the Bible in time of need. Trial is a sifting experience…. Your store of Bible consolations may one day run very low.
If so, you are the man that is unlikely to become established in the truth. I shall not be surprised to hear that you are troubled with doubts and questions about assurance, grace, faith, perseverance, etc. The devil is an old and cunning enemy. He can quote Scripture readily enough when he pleases. Now you are not sufficiently ready with your weapons to fight a good fight with him…. Your sword is held loosely in your hand.
If so, you are the man that is likely to make mistakes in life. I shall not wonder if I am told that you have problems in your marriage, problems with your children, problems about the conduct of your family and about the company you keep. The world you steer through is full of rocks, shoals and sandbanks. You are not sufficiently familiar either with lighthouses or charts.
If so, you are the man who is likely to be carried away by some false teacher for a time. It will not surprise me if I hear that one of these clever eloquent men who can make a convincing presentation is leading you into error. You are in need of ballast (truth); no wonder if you are tossed to and fro like a cork on the waves.
All these are uncomfortable situations. I want you to escape them all. Take the advice I offer you today. Do not merely read your Bible a little—but read it a great deal…. Remember your many enemies. Be armed!
3. Finally, the following video documents the reaction of the Kimyal Tribe in Papua, Indonesia when God’s Word is finally translated into their heart language. May their love for Scripture help rekindle our own.
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Founders Ministries exists to work for the recovery of the gospel and the biblical re-formation of local churches. They have a myriad of ministries that are given to that two-pronged effort, including a church planting network, an online study center, a publishing house, a quarterly journal, regional conferences and events, minister search list, friends list, and church list. In addition to this their website is populated with loads of resources for pastors, students, church leaders and serious Christians.
Contributers to the blog:
Dr. Tom Ascol, Senior Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, FL
Dr. Tom Hicks, Pastor of Discipleship, Morningview Baptist Church, Montgomery, AL (Tom is the team leader of the blog).
Dr. Fred Malone, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Clinton, LA
Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
Dr. Phil Newton, Pastor, South Woods Baptist Church, Memphis, TN
Dr. Kenneth Puls, Director of Publications and the Study Center for Founders Ministries, Cape Coral, FL
Dr. Jeff Robinson, Pastor, Philadelphia Baptist Church, Birmingham, AL
Jon English Lee, Ph.D. Student, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY