Reading the Bible
If you are a Christian, reading the Bible should be a habit. This article isn’t about whether or not you are reading the Bible or how often you’re reading it. Hopefully, you’re picking it up regularly – if not daily. This article is about what you’re reading when you pick it up. It also applies or extends to what you might be fed from God’s word when you attend worship.
All of God’s Word
The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind – to me, and to you. It is not simply “a book”. In fact, it’s not “a book” at all, but rather a collection of books written by over forty different men. Most of them didn’t know each other. They lived over a period of 1,500 years, came from different backgrounds and cultures, and had wildly different life experiences. Yet, there’s perfect harmony from the very beginning to the very end. These are facts that give us confidence that God is the ultimate author. Yet, there are Christians today that are 25%’ers….or worse.
Enabling the 25%
All of us are challenged with doing what we know we ought to do! Life gets in the way for everyone, and finding time to read your Bible can be a challenge. Then there’s Satan, tempting us and distracting us with things to take us away from God. These are challenges that all Christians share. But there are a few other, more practical things that might be enablers to a “25% mindset,” whether it’s intentional or not:
- The addition of chapter/verse divisions – When Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah in the temple, we are told that “He unrolled the scroll”. (Luke 4:17) Indeed, chapter divisions were not introduced into our Bibles until the early second century. It was another 350 years before verses came along (Wikipedia). This may do more harm than anything else in terms of facilitating one’s ability to cut away parts of God’s word. And, here might be a good place to also mention those nefarious ‘red letter edition’ Bibles, introduced around the turn of the third century.
- Technology and the ‘reading plan’ – I don’t know about you, but my Bible app shows me a “verse of the day” every day. It’s great. It also gives me lots of different reading plans that focus on all types of topics or interests. Technology provides all kinds of variety in serving up something that’s less than all of God’s word.
- The ‘Old Testament vs New Testament‘ – You’ve probably heard or maybe say yourself, “That’s the ‘old’ stuff; it doesn’t apply to us now.” Or maybe, “Jesus is all I need.” You can reference our linked post for at least three Bible reasons why these excuses don’t hold water when we approach the Bible in our reading and study.
The dark side of 25%
Basic mathematics tells us that if someone only pays attention to 25% of God’s message, they are missing most of it. That’s a frightening proposition. Are you really interested in ignoring 75% of what the Creator of the universe wants to tell you? Of course not! But there’s actually an even darker reality to that proposition.
If “the sum of [God’s] word is truth” (Psalms 119:160), and we are focused on no more than 25% of it, then we are not getting to God’s truth on any matter or topic. Inevitability, we are left with questions; a nagging gap or void in our understanding.
So where do we turn to fill the gap? Sadly, more and more, we are conditioned to turn to man’s word(s), rather than the other 75% of God’s word. We cast the net of context beyond the pages of God’s word into the realms of men. Whether it’s a commentary, or this “really great” Christian author, or the well-credentialed “Bible expert”, more and more we are looking for the ‘Cliff notes version’. We want the fast answer.
We cast the net of context beyond the pages of God’s word into the realms of men.
Or, maybe we turn to secular history. We convince ourselves that understanding “the culture of the day” is the key to understanding this difficult passage. We ignore the fact that in so doing, we are rejecting God’s warnings against such action. Of course, this also condemns hundreds of years of Christians to a reality of hopelessness, since before the relatively recent archeological discoveries, this man-made requirement for extra-biblical context would have rendered their ability to understand the same difficult passage impossible.
Don’t be a 25%’er!
I don’t know about you, but the Psalmist tells me that nothing less than 100% of God’s word is going to equal “truth.” If you are reading your Bible, be intentional about reading all of it. Or, if you’re attending a church that only teaches from the New Testament, encourage them to teach all of God’s word…or, find another church!
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