Pastoral Perspectives

Bible Reading, Not Bible Study!

God has given us something: something more precious than our daily physical food. What is that something?  You have guessed it!  It is the Word of God, the Bible.  It is the inspired Word of God.  In 2 Pet 1: 19-21 ESV, the Word of God says, “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  Let us pay attention to the reading of the Word of God.  Don’t let this opportunity slip from you and your grasp!  God has given us the most precious gift of all to govern and guide us in our Christian life, our journey of faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Besides, He has also given us the Holy Spirit of God to illuminate our hearts to delight in and comprehend the Word of God.

The powerful Word of God is capable of transforming your life and mine.  So, let us give diligence and discipline in reading it: knowing its contents, loving its truth and encountering its transforming power with the enthusiasm of sharing our great discovery with others.  We have a great God who entrusts to us a great Book to read and to immerse ourselves in it!  I am encouraging us to see the immense values of “reading the Bible for all its worth”!

Is Bible reading similar to Bible study?  The answer is obvious.  Why do many hesitate to read the Bible or to embark on a Bible reading plan or program?  Differentiate between Bible reading and Bible study!  There is a difference between Bible reading and Bible study.  There is a vast difference between these two approaches.  When you read the Bible, let God speak to you through His wonderful Word.  The Word of God reveals the awesome works of God and also the beautiful Will of God.  Yes, let us allow God Himself to speak to us, to teach us and to uncover “unknown” passages to us.  Do not scrutinise it.  Do not put words in God’s mouth.  If God did not speak to you, do not assume that he does.  If God did not say this or that to you, do not tell others that he tells you this or he tells you that.  Bible reading is exciting and fascinating!  It is simply reading the Bible, discovering for yourself what God would desire you to know and learn.  It is to give God the opportunity to reveal His ways, His works and His will to you.  As you read and as you listen, you will see what you previously did not see and discover what you previously did not discover.  As you read, you will develop a love for the Word of God, knowing that it is the eternal Word of Life for you.  I am reminded and encouraged by this verse in John 6: 63 ESV, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”  Remember, the words of Jesus are spirit and life.  Aren’t these encouraging words from our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ?  How I long to know, to love and to meditate on His most wonderful words!

Bible Study is finding the backgrounds of the books of the Bible, looking into its contents and contexts, making good observations, giving your valid interpretations on its relevant texts and deriving appropriate and suitable applications from the Bible passage studied.  Bible reading and Bible study both have their place and position in our Christian journey of faith.  When you embark on a Bible reading program, you want to enjoy reading God’s Word and discovering God’s truth.  You have a specific goal in mind, that is, to complete the whole Bible in a certain time frame such as within 1 year, 2 years or 3 years.  You want to get an overall view of each book of the Bible.  So, you do not approach Bible reading the same way or manner as you approach Bible study.

As often as I can, I will give time to the reading of God’s Word.  I will read the whole chapter of a Bible passage again and again.  I will enjoy the contents of each Bible passage.  Sometimes, I read it in one go, e.g. the whole book of 1 and 2 Thessalonians.  I usually choose books of the Bible which have lesser chapters and can complete in one sitting.  When you complete them, you are fully satisfied.  Whenever I read the Bible, I always pray before I read and then I will listen to what God may be speaking to me through that passage.  I will copy those verses which impress me deeply and will write my thoughts on them.

Recently, I began a simple devotional time with my son based on a devotional book.  It is exciting to spend time with my son in this way.  It is a good time of father and son bonding.  We were reading Psalm 19: 1 ESV, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”  Through the devotional book, I taught my son that God is powerful.  I used this same verse for my personal devotion.  I asked myself this question: “Have I ever wondered what the glory of God really meant?”  This led me to ponder over this phrase “The Glory of God”.  On this side of earth, we will never fully comprehend what the glory of God really meant.  We need to humbly ask God to reveal to us His glory or at least give us a glimpse of His glory.  I believe God has led me to this.  The grace of God is the glory of God.  When I know and understand the grace of God, I begin to know and understand a glimpse of the glory of God.  Amen.

Let us not be too busy with our ministries and our own pursuits that we have no time to read the Word of God and no time to spend with our Lord Jesus!  So, Bible reading opens the way for our exciting journey with God, knowing Him and loving Him.  Let us not delay it but determine to pursue it with all our hearts.

Preacher George Ang

June 23, 2013