John Stott has been one of my favorite authors for more than 45 years. Although he is now deceased, I am still instructed and encouraged by reading his books. I recently read a revised edition of one of his books originally published in 1970. And I was struck by the simple and straightforward challenge he gives to Christians about the Bible.
“First, it is not enough to possess a Bible.” You probably have a Bible. I just counted and I have 17! We sometimes are superstitious thinking just having a Bible makes a difference in our homes and our lives. For Christians it’s not about having a Bible, we need to read our Bibles.
Stott goes on, “Next, it is not enough to read the Bible.” Just reading the Bible or hearing it read is not an end in itself. It is great literature, but that is not its purpose. God speaks to us through the Bible and we are introduced to Jesus through the Bible. For Christians it’s not about just reading our Bible, we need to study it.
“Third, it is not enough to study the Bible.” Different people mean different things by this idea of studying the Bible. One aspect of study is considering what was intended by the writer when it was first written. But we cannot stop there. One of the potential dangers of academic study of the Bible is never allowing it to speak to us today. Real Bible study goes on to apply the Bible to life today. For Christians it’s not just about studying the Bible, we need to put it into practice.
“What is required is that we obey the Bible.” God wants us as His people to do what it says. We can never be satisfied by just learning about the Bible and its content. God gave us the Bible so that it would make a difference in our lives. And that happens as we get to know Him and His Son Jesus whom we follow as our Savior and Lord. It’s an old book for sure, but it’s also up to date.
If you currently don’t have a Bible reading plan and want to begin let me suggest you begin with Psalm 119. Set aside a time and place and take a few days to read and consider this longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses) that is a tribute to the Word of God. And while you are doing that look and ask around about Bible reading plans until you find something that works for you.
Let me know (below in comments or by email) if you will join me in reading Psalm 119 these next few days.
(Quotes from Christ and Conflict: Lessons from Jesus and His Controversies by John Stott, IVP, 2013, pp. 95 and 96.)
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