In this series, we look at some routines, often called Christian Disciplines, that help us in our spiritual journey. In part 1, we look at Bible Reading, and we'll several reasons why Bible Reading should be part of our daily routine.
This message is based on a reading from 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
Last week we looked at some spiritual goals that every believer should be pursuing. And I mentioned that those goals were left intentionally broad, so that there was room for the Holy Spirit to work and guide us in how we might pursue those goals. Our new series here is called The Power of Routine, and we’ll be looking at four spiritual routines, or spiritual disciplines: Bible reading, prayer, fasting, and Christ-centered community, which is fellowship. Many people use these routines or disciplines to help them meet their spiritual goals. As we go through this series, I just ask that you be open to these and see if the Holy Spirit might be leading you to use one or more of them in your spiritual journey.
This morning we’ll be talking about Bible reading, and I suspect as we start, that many of you probably already do some bible reading, whether it’s part of a daily devotion like the Secret Place or Our Daily Bread, or maybe a bible reading plan, the most common will take you through the bible in a year, I have one that I would be willing to share that will take you through the Psalms in 30 days, and Our Daily Bread includes my favorite plan to read through the bible in a year. Some of you may be more random in your approach, a chapter here or there, or working through different books. There’s nothing wrong with that, because what often appears to be random to us really just gives the Spirit room to work.
At the outset here, I want you to know that I believe that the Bible is God’s authoritative Word, and that it shows us who God is, who God has been throughout history, what God desires for us individually, and how we should be living in order to achieve what God desires for us.
And the point that I hope will be clear when all is said and done, is that we need to be reading the Bible regularly in order to know what it says – In order to know who God is, who God’s been, and what God desires for us. Let’s dig into our reading this morning. Essentially, Paul is telling Timothy to continue on, to continue in what you’ve learned, and remain strong in your faith.
He’s got an interesting phrase in verse 14, “because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures.” What do we know about Timothy? Paul met him on his 2nd missionary journey while in Lystra. His father was Greek, and most likely not a believer, but his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, were both very strong believers. And Timothy knew the Scriptures from infancy, meaning his mother and grandmother brought him up in the faith, and he learned the Scriptures from them.
When Paul met him, he thought so much of him that he took him along with him. Acts 16 tells us that Timothy finished the 2nd missionary journey with Paul and Silas. And I’m sure Paul taught him a great deal and become a mentor to him.
Which brings me to a question for you. Who taught you the faith? Many of us grew up in the faith. We first heard of it through our parents, we’ve been coming to church all our lives. And since infancy we’ve been hearing the bible stories. Timothy was like that. Some of us came to faith later, some as adults. The apostle Paul was like that. Where have you learned the faith? Do you have one who is like a mentor to you? Most do. Remember them, stay connected to them. And if you don’t, I encourage you to find someone who can teach you, who can hang out with you, who can share the bible and the stories that influence them the most. That’s how we learn.
Paul wrote this letter to Timothy to encourage Him to remain strong. And one of the ways you remain strong is to remain in the Scripture. So the bible not only helps us to come to the faith, and to learn about the faith, but it also helps us remain strong in the faith. So we never outgrow our need to be in the bible.
Why? Because as Paul told Timothy, the bible is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” What does that mean? First, it implies inerrancy. It means it’s true. Both historically and doctrinally. In a book titled Basic Theology, Charles Ryrie says that, “God carried men along so that they wrote His message in the Bible.” You could say that God provided the inspiration for the author to write, while still allowing the author to use his own personality, and style, and vocabulary.
One of the reasons we know we can trust the bible is just how it all came together. It’s almost a miracle. If you look at the structure and the subject matter, and consider the unity of each book one with another, it really suggests some kind of supernatural power was at work here. And I believe it was. God breathed it!
Considering that we have a book written by forty different authors, originally written in three languages over 1500 years, 66 different books, 1189 chapters covering 2930 different characters in over 1550 different places – yet there is perfect unity throughout – all pointing to Jesus Christ as the central figure.
To bring all this together is nothing short of a miracle. And to keep complete unity through all the pages is amazing. It certainly suggests that God himself was behind it.
And then there is archeology and how archeology supports what the bible says. The Bible is very particular in describing people and places – real people and real places. Things can be verified. And in the last 60-70 years, since Israel was formed again as a nation, archeologist have had a field day in a land rich with history, but wasn’t available to them until now. And more and more things are found all the time.
For example, the ancient Hittites were thought to be legend; no one really thought they existed outside the pages of the Bible. But the remains of the Hittite empire were discovered, and it was just as the Bible described it! In fact, from archeological discoveries it seems the Hittites were more powerful than Egypt in their day. Remains from the Babylonian Empire were found, including the house of Nebuchadnezzar, just as it was described in Daniel.
Critics used to think that King David was never really the King of a united Israel, they couldn’t find any proof outside the bible. But now they’ve found coins and other inscriptions. Multiple inscriptions have been found. According to Biblical Archeology Magazine, they even found an inscription to the “House of David” on a wall at the city of Dan at the foot of Mount Hermon. If you remember, Dan was one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
They’ve found the remains of Gath. According to the Bible, the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant and took it to Gath. King David later brought it back to Jerusalem. But what they found in Gath are just as the Bible described, and they’ve found numerous inscriptions and other things that support what the bible says about Gath.
They’ve found the remains of Jericho, and found how the walls in a direction that couldn’t have happened if an enemy had attacked from the outside. They also found one small section of the wall intact, one home, with one window. The scarlet cord was gone, the fabric didn’t survive thousands of years, but the description of Rehab’s house in the bible was just as they discovered in the evidence unearthed in Jericho.
Dr. Nelson Glueck, an archeologist in Israel, said, “no archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm a clear outline or an exactly detailed historical statement in the Bible.” They’re digging almost everywhere in Israel, and they’ve never found a single bit of evidence that contradicts a statement in the Bible, but they’ve found thousands of sites that confirm the Bible. The history given in Scripture is solid.
So we can believe the bible because it is historically accurate. We can believe the wisdom and doctrine it contains partly by these historical facts, and partly by our own experience. But the holiness of the bible – that we have to believe that by faith. And when we do, we find confirmation in the witness of the Holy Spirit. As we believe in the message of the bible, as we read the bible and become familiar with it, we grow in our faith. And conversely, as soon as someone rejects the authority of the Bible, they begin to wander from the true message of the gospel, and their faith becomes weaker and weaker. In other words, the more you read, the more you believe. When you stop reading, your faith starts slipping. History has proven this time and time again.
So I guess you could say the bible is like a compass in that it shows us the way we should go, it shows us true north. Now if I were to ask you which way is true north, what would you say? Which way is true north? I’ve got a compass here, and according to the compass, true north is this way.
A ship uses a compass to find the next port. When it leaves a port, the captain or navigator uses the compass to know which heading to use. As it gets tossed by the waves and wind, you have to keep looking to the compass to make sure you’re still heading in the right direction. A hiker might use a compass to point him in the right direction, but as he makes his way around trees and hills and ravines, he has to continue checking the compass to make sure he’s still going the right way.
No matter how much we want to do good, we can still lose our bearings. The world around us influences us, people may inadvertently lead us astray. Sickness and struggles combine to affect our course. We need to continually and regularly be reminded of what God’s Word says about God and about us in order to live the life God desires for us.
A commitment to read and reread the bible is a commitment to stay on course. So I really want to encourage you make bible reading a part of your daily routine, if it’s not already there. Now there are quite a few ways you can do this. I’ve mentioned the reading plan found in Our Daily Bread, it’s a pretty straightforward plan that starts in Genesis and Matthew in January and ends in Malachi and Revelation in December. It usually includes two chapters in the Old Testament and one in the New, sometimes a little more or less, depending on the chapter, but it gets you through in a year.
If you don’t currently read the bible daily, and you want to start from scratch, there’s a great New Testament reading plan that will get you through the entire New Testament in just 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I’ve got some of those on the back table, and on the literature rack by the café. There’s a reading plan that has an Old Testament reading, a Psalm or Proverb reading, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel reading – four shorter readings each day. That’s what I do.
There is a chronological reading plan that gives you daily readings in the order they were written, that might help you understand things a little better. If you are interested in getting a copy of any of these, let me know, I can get you a copy. The important thing isn’t in what reading plan you follow each day, it’s just spending time in God’s word each day. A reading plan helps you receive all of God’s word, so you don’t keep coming back to your favorites.
As we close this morning, I want to share the testimony of someone that might help you understand how important reading the bible is. He is my son’s boss, Peter, and he lives in Alfred. In school, Peter really struggled. He discovered drugs, and in school, started fixing bicycles to get money to buy drugs. He was high most of the time, and in short order, flunked out, but in the process, he had become pretty good at fixing bikes. People had tried to witness to him, and he wrote them off. But he admits he was a little curious so he started reading the bible just to see if there was anything to it. He accepted what he read, and became a believer, started going to church, and today has an incredibly solid faith. And God has blessed him with a bicycle shop that sells millions of dollars of bikes each year in Alfred Station, a town of only 1,000 people.
So I encourage you to make Bible Reading a part of your daily routine, if you don’t already do it. God will reveal Himself to you, and your faith will grow so much stronger.