A Man (or Woman) of God will live a life Marked By Bible Reading and Study. Be sure and understand, knowledge about God is not the same as knowing God. This is an important distinction to make because far too many people think that because they can quote volumes of Scripture or name all 66 books of the Bible or discuss theology like a . . . well, a theologian, that they know God.
But you could just as easily read all of Genghis Khan’s biographies, become an expert in the history of Mongolia, explore all the archeological digs, and become the world’s foremost authority on Genghis Khan, and you would still never know the man. After all, he is dead and gone, and all we can know is about him. You can never look into his eyes, share a meal together, talk over the day’s events, or know him by experience. In the same way, there are theologians who know much about God, but do not know Him. Be careful in reading and studying the Bible that you do not become like them.
Even an infant knows his mother or daddy, though he cannot even speak their names. That is why we talked about prayer before Bible study. It is more important that you know the Creator than it is to know about Him. And He made this possible by revealing Himself through Jesus, the Christ, or Anointed One. He that comes to God “must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) All it takes to know Him is to “call on His name.” (Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21) And we will address later His name, but for now, just call on Him as you understand Him to be, Father, Creator, God, Jesus, Lord.
A man or woman who wishes to be a man or woman of God must read and study the Bible. One who does not read and study the Bible will be like a baby that never gets out of his crib nor learns to eat solid food. How sad when we see an adult, who because of mental disability remains an infant, always dependent on a caretaker to feed, bathe, clothe, and nurse him.
In John 4:32 Jesus told His disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Paul later lamented about the Corinthians (I Corinthians 3:1-2), as did the writer of Hebrews, that when they should be eating solid food, he had to feed them with milk like babies (Hebrews 5:12-13). This leads us to recognize that milk is predigested food. This is what you are receiving when you attend a church where a pastor/teacher “feeds” you; he has fed on God’s word, eaten it, digested it, and now gives you milk. It is what you are receiving when you read this blog, or any other Bible scholar’s work; or when you attend conferences to learn from teachers.
Then what was Paul wishing he could give the Galatians as “solid food?” He wanted to give them assignments to do to expand God’s kingdom on earth. The author of Hebrews wanted them to be teachers instead of just hearers. Jesus “food” in John was that He was doing His Father’s will, accomplishing the things He was sent to do.
We begin to grow in grace and knowledge as we read the Bible (II Peter 3:16). It is God’s written word. His “markings” left for us to follow so that we can understand as much about Him as we are capable.
The Bible is NOT one book. It is a collection of books, most of which can be read aloud in less than four hours, more quickly if you read silently, some of which might take only a few minutes. This means that with good planning you could read the entire library we call the Bible in 66 days, reading just one book per day. In any case, if you plan your day for your job, your family, your responsibilities, your recreation, why not include some time to read the Bible? A few minutes a day will take you through the library in a year. Whether you read it aloud or silently, and whatever version or language you read, simply set aside some time so that a year from now, you will have read the entire Bible.
There is no particular order for reading. I recommend the “easier” books first, such as New Testament books about Jesus and letters to disciples. Then skip back to history books of the Old Testament (Joshua to Ester), and then the Wisdom Literature (Psalms to Ecclesiastes) and the Prophets. Finally, you can approach the books of the Law, Genesis through Deuteronomy as some of the more difficult passages. We will talk more in future blogs about times, methods and order of reading the books of the Bible.
Bible Study is another matter. There are many guides available in bookstores or online that can guide you in methods of study (of which there are several), and details of cultural and historical accuracy that will enhance your understanding. You may wish to study alone or with a group, but your activities should change with Bible study. If you only study for knowledge you run the risk of becoming “a blind guide for the blind” (Matthew 23:24), knowing more and more about Father, but knowing Him less and less.
Study should be to develop a taste for the meat of the word, the assignments He will give you to share His word with unbelievers, with “new-born” disciples, and to serve others. Like newborn babies, desire the spiritual milk of the word so that you may grow up, and someday teach others (II Peter 2:2). Look for Bible reading and study to reveal more about Father to you, but more importantly, allow it to get into your spirit so you know Him better.
See April 6, 2015 for Part 2.