~ by Randy Bushey
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty (Jeremiah 15:16).
My personal observation of our generation of the Church of Christ: we possess the highest standards of education, but that is asymmetrically matched with failing grades when it comes to biblical literacy.
Some eras of history have had legitimate excuse to know the Bible only superficially.
John Wycliffe was the first to translate the entire Bible into English, the so-called Middle English of the 14th century. This was a period of widespread illiteracy.
Up to that point in history, copies of the Word of God were predominantly Latin, a language inaccessible to most. Each town in England might have a single copy of the Latin Bible, chained to the pulpit at the local Roman Catholic church.
But that’s far from a legitimate excuse today.
Ours is an embarrassing wealth of accessibility.
We have hardcover and paperback Bibles; storybook Bibles for kids; journaling Bibles; Bibles with study notes for almost every conceivable demographic: teens and tweens, women, athletes, military personnel, young moms, etc.
The American Bible Society has estimated that in English alone, over 900 translations and paraphrases exist in whole or part.
Additionally available: a multiplicity of Bible apps on phones or devices that access Scripture text, study notes and cross-references, maps and charts. Your phone can now read the text to you audibly.
So why on earth don’t 21st century Christians know the Bible well?
Do you? Do I?
After all, the God of the Cosmos has chosen to reveal His self-existent identity, His holy character, His demands and expectations, and His eternal salvation in a book.
The written Word proclaims the Gospel of the Living Word.
And, to live as Christ commanded, believers must know well the content of the Word. As Bible teacher Don Kistler reminds us, “Scripture holds a place of absolute authority in the life of the believer”.
That book – His book – should be something we constantly ingest and digest, nurturing our spiritual health and getting into our DNA.
Jeremiah’s words and unusual response (above) are instructive for us:
When your words came, I ate them – this is total commitment to internalizing the Word of God. And it is wonderful experientially to more deeply know God as we read. The Psalmist said, How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103).
…they were my joy and my heart’s delight – the Christ-follower knows that the indwelling Spirit of God uses the Word of God to transform us to reflect the Son of God.
…for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty – of all people, we are most privileged to be Christ’s physical manifestation – His Body – on the earth. To represent Him as we are called to do, our worldview must be informed more than anything else, by the Scripture. He is my primary identity marker.
Takeaway: At Bethel, we promote as a core piece of our Vision, having a DIET of God’s Word.
And that means much more than having a passing acquaintance with the Bible.
Those serious about their faith are those who love expositional preaching and Bible study (alone and in groups). They memorize and meditate on the text of God’s Word.
And they read the entire Bible.
Over and over and over.
It’s a “dog-with-a-bone kind of reading” according to Eugene Peterson. He goes on to exhort, “Eat this book. Not merely Read your Bible, but Eat this book.”
And you ready to ramp up your diet?
What is your Bible reading objective for 2022?
~ graphic by Stephen J. Sullivan, freeimages.com