|Vol. 14 No. 3 March 2012||
Robert D. Rawson
Church growth must be measured in a couple of ways: (1) Physical Growth is the number of people, upward or downward trends. The physical is just what we see with our eyes. (2) Spiritual Growth is just as important and is the ability to see with the eye of faith. When God told Abraham, “You will have children as the sands of the sea,” could Abraham with the physical eye see such a sight (Genesis 22:17)? However, with the eye of faith, we see God is still blessing him. Paul wrote, “We [baptized believers] are Abraham’s [seed] children and heirs of the Promise” (Galatians 3:24-28). Shouldn’t we see with both sets of eyes?
I am an advocate of daily Bible reading. I am a big advocate for daily Bible reading. Spending time in Scripture daily is a key element to successful Christian living. How can we know God’s will for us if we do not spend regular time in His Word? How can our consciences be shaped if the Word of God is not there to offer input, leaving the voices of the world unfettered access to our thoughts, our hearts? How can we distinguish between right and wrong if the standard of right and wrong is not within us? No wonder the psalmist wrote, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
There are various ways to store God’s Word in your heart. You can read a specific book of the Bible. You can read it from a devotional point of view. You can read it, studying specific topics, such as salvation, love, mercy, sanctification, etc. These are all valid ways of committing God’s Word to one’s heart and mind, of it helping to impact one’s life.
However, I am also an advocate of reading the Bible through each year, from Genesis to Revelation. Why? Because in doing so, we are reading all of God’s Word, which forces us to consider all of what God has said. You read the Old Testament, because it was written for our instruction, offering us hope (Romans 15:4). You read the Gospel accounts, which reveal Christ to us. You read Acts, which reminds us of our mission in seeking the lost, of the importance of the church. You read the letters, which addresses so many aspects of doctrine and Christian living, individually and collectively. You read Revelation, which reminds us that no matter how difficult the pressures against Christian living may be, in Christ we are victors.
Paul reminds us it takes all of Scripture to be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If one picks and chooses what to read, it can become a temptation to neglect some parts of Scripture, perhaps unintentionally, perhaps not. To read all of Scripture reminds me God not only is a God of love, but a God who hates sin. I am reminded that life in the world is to be lived spiritually. I am called to remember I am not only a child of God, but also His slave, called to a life of submission. By reading all of Scripture regularly, in addition to the other avenues available, I am called to be a whole Christian, not a Christian of my own choosing.
As big of a temptation as it is not to read the Bible daily, regularly, anything else is only reading the Bible partially. Reading only those parts that confirm what one wants to believe, that are familiar, leaves one incomplete at best, and at worst, can be used to justify one’s desires, to be what one wants, not necessarily what God wants. Spend time in all God’s Word, and be all you can be, all God wants you to be. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).