Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How Can I Keep My Resolution to Read the Bible Daily?

Part 1 of Resolutions

Text: 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17

You can listen to this sermon here.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). 

New Year, New You

This is the time of year when people make New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, most people don’t keep their resolutions.

A common New Year’s resolution for Christians is to read the Bible more regularly. How can we be more successful in keeping our resolution to read the Bible daily?

Keeping Our Resolution

If we are to keep our resolution to daily read the Bible, we must do two things.

1. We must have a high view of the Bible. 

Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (3:16). The Greek word for “breathed out by God” (“inspired,” NASB) is theopneustos. The word does not occur in any other Greek text (biblical or secular) prior to 2 Timothy. Some people think that Paul might have invented the word.

The apostle Peter states, “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (1 Peter 1:21). The Bible is both a divine book and a human book. It was written by humans but breathed out by God. God used each author’s unique style and experiences, but, at the same time, they were “carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 

Second Timothy 3:16 and 1 Peter 1:21 actually refer to the OT. What about the NT? Peter implies that Paul’s writings are Scripture: “There are some things in [Paul’s letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). And Paul quotes the words of Jesus in Luke 10:7 as Scripture: “The Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’”

The psalmist says, “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word” (Psalm 119:16). The Hebrew word for “forget” (shakach) means to lay aside, to forget, to take for granted, to neglect. If we believe that the words of the Bible are the words of God, we shouldn’t neglect to read the Bible’s words. As Paul writes, the words of the Bible are “profitable” (cf. 1 Tim. 4:8; Titus 3:8).

2. We must have a plan.

Why do so many people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions? They don’t have a good plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Paul tells Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handing the word of truth” (2:15). Paul compares a Christian to a “worker” (i.e., a laborer). To work effectively, a worker needs a plan. Of course, with a plan we also need to have dedication.

We must plan how we will read the Bible. There are many Bible reading plans. We must also plan when and where we will read the Bible.

But we must not read the Bible just to read it—to merely get it done. Reading the Bible is important, but being changed by the Bible is much more important. As James writes, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

Are the Words of the Bible Valuable to You? 

Two men were especially influential in making the Bible available to English readers. John Wycliffe was the first person to translate the Bible into English in 1380. William Tyndale was the first person to print an English Bible in 1526. Wycliffe and Tyndale risked their lives because they saw the great value in English people being able to read the Bible in their own language. Tyndale was strangled to death, and his dead body was burned at the stake. Wycliffe’s body was exhumed and burned.

Think about Wycliffe and Tyndale’s view of the Bible and our frequent neglect of it. Today, we are often guilty of taking the Bible for granted. English Bibles are so easily available in Canada. Most Christians have multiple copies in their home.

Do you believe the words of the Bible are the words of God? Do you believe there is value in reading the Bible? If you do, you need to have a plan to daily read the Bible—a wise plan you can stick to. And as you read it each day, seek to understand it and obey it.

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