Dr. Willard ends Chapter 7 with a very surprising recommendation for reading the Bible. He states “the eager use of the Bible leads naturally and tangibly to the mind of God and the person of Christ.”
But what gets in the way of Bible reading?
Why don’t more Christians read the Bible regularly?
Part of the answer is found in attitude. We think it is so big and written in a way that makes it hard to understand. Well, it is a big book compared to a short, easy to read magazine article. It is often written in a way that is hard to understand until you get a good version that is easier to read but even then, the context of the Bible is tough. Our culture does not understand the culture of the Middle East and add to that the writing is from a time thousands of years ago for the Old Testament and two thousand years ago for the New Testament.
Yet Dr. Willard says that Bible reading leads to the mind of God.
We should read it.
I like his easy going method of reading. We should not read the Bible to impress others. What is your goal? Do you want to be a scholar of the Bible? Do you want to show off your Bible knowledge to others? Some fall into the trap of trying to read the Bible in one year? Why do that? Is that to feel pride about your accomplishment?
Dr. Willard clears all that away, the obsessive compulsive attitude of the legalist, the individual who wants to work themselves to heaven.
What is our goal for our reading?
He said it above, I have paraphrased it once and here it is again—to lead us to the mind of God.
1.Start with the passages that we are most familiar with and pray that God’s desire for His will for us will be revealed in those passages. This is very different from many Bible teachers who say start with Romans or read passages in the Old Testament and alternate passages of the New Testament. “Your aim must be only to nourish your soul on God’s Word for you” [Willard, 162].
2.Do not read a great deal at once. It is better to think deeply about a few scriptures than skim over hundreds. Again the idea is to meet God in the pages; not brag about how fast you tackled “God’s Book.” Dr. Willard cites 2 Corinthians 3:6 “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
3.Recognize that your chosen passage is where you will have a “holy meeting with God”. Prayer is needed. Pray that the spirit of God will bring you fully into the reality expressed in the Scriptures. Dr. Willard recommends two questions that all readers need to ask: “What is my life like since this is true and how shall I speak and act because of this?”
These questions lead to what Dr. Willard calls invocation and appropriation. Invocation means what you think it means; we invoke God to make the passage a part of our lives. We know the passage is true but now we ask Him to make it true for us. Appropriation means that the statement that we have been reading becomes “a statement of fact about you.”
This reading of the Bible cannot be forced and it cannot be faked. You want to find God in the Bible and you want God to move in your life.
This is an approach to Bible reading that is more about prayer over God’s Word than reading a certain number of pages, chapters or books of the Bible.
I was having a discussion about Christian faith the other day with a family member and I was shocked by what she said. A man who was from another denomination visited her church and he kept coming back. My family member expressed irritation by the habit the visitor had of always bringing his Bible with him.
I wondered why she was irritated.
Why would someone feel irritation about a man carrying around a Bible in church?
Then I thought, maybe that is where we are today in our relationship with the Bible. We revere it but we don’t actually read it. We may take it to church but maybe people would wonder why?
We need help.
We need to read our Bibles.
We need to remember that those pages lead us to the mind of God.