Spiritual Disciplines – Scripture Intake
Most of us were required to take at least a year or two of a foreign language in school. Do you remember that? Some went on to study a foreign language for years, become fluent, and even major in the language in college. However, for most of us, we endured the requirement and stumbled our way through the class with no desire to linger or look back! For those of us that had that kind of experience, what would your reaction be if someone told you that you must use that experience to then teach others the language you studied? I think it’s safe to say the outcome wouldn’t be good. Yet, this kind of scenario plays out in parts of the world where Bibles in native languages are scarce. Well-meaning Christian teachers and preachers try to share God’s truths but have very little knowledge and understanding to share.
“I know a little”
It is sad, but somewhat understandable for areas where Christian influence and the Bible are just beginning to spread or where it is suppressed by those in power. Many missions are working to change those scenarios. Even more sad is the fact that in our own society, in many Christian homes containing multiple copies of the Bible, many professing Christians know relatively little about the Scriptures. Yes, the general overview of a few common stories are known, although some of the details may be fuzzy. We, as Christians, shouldn’t allow this to happen to ourselves. Donald Whitney says,
“No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture.” p.22
“Thanks, but I’m on a diet”
Have you ever felt like your Christian life was starving? How’s your diet? If your Christian diet consists mainly of Sunday morning preaching, a few social media verse posts during the week, and the occasional 30 second famous preacher quote than my friend, I think you are spiritually famished.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 ESV
There are many reasons scripture intake is necessary. They are how God tells us about himself; the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Scriptures are how we see and understand our need of a savior. The Scriptures are where we see God’s redemptive plan unfold and Jesus’ sacrifice and substitution made on our behalf. It’s were we learn that we can be saved by grace through faith. The Scriptures contain the instructions for how God intends for us to live, the way that will bring the most peace and joy and satisfaction in this life. The Scriptures are where we can learn the will of God.
There are many ways to increase our intake of Scripture. Arguably the easiest is hearing God’s word. (Luke 11:28) Never forsake the hearing of preaching and teaching of God’s Word. The next, and possibility most obvious, is reading the Word. Many people aren’t professed “readers”. However, we can all discipline ourselves to read what God went to such great lengths to record for us and so many before us paid such high prices to guarantee our access to. Next, studying the Bible. Where reading is like a general overview, studying takes time to linger, “dig in”, and examine what is said. Author Jerry Bridges said, “Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” Memorization and meditation are a couple more ways to increase and deepen our intake of Scripture.
Donald Whitney says,
“Regardless of how busy we become with all things Christian, we must remember that the most transforming practice available to us is the disciplined intake of Scripture.” p.23
For further study, get a copy of “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald S. Whitney.