Monday, May 15, 2017

The Rare Jewel of Biblical Observation

Today's post is from my friend Adam Willett. Adam is a husband and father who loves Christ and has a desire to see the gospel advance in our state (Arkansas) and the nation. I am blessed to call Adam a close friend and I know you will be edified by what he has to say. Read and heed! His words below: 

One of the biggest benefits I’ve ever experienced in my Christian life is that of biblical repetition. What I mean is simply reading the Bible over and over again, specifically reading the same passage over and over again. I once heard John MacArthur tell his church of the importance of staying in a specific text and reading it repeatedly. He suggested taking a group of about 5 chapters and reading those everyday for a month. For instance, read the book of Galatians every day for the entire month of May. I was immediately drawn to the idea because of the simplicity of it. I am no biblical scholar and I am certainly no Greek or Hebrew scholar, so I need every help I can get. I started in the book of First John. I read the same five chapters every day for a month. Honestly, I was more engaged with the text that month than I ever had been. The way the Spirit worked through the word was incredible. I continually learned the text and continually found myself asking questions and wanting to know more. There were days when light would shine bright on a text, and I would see things on day 17 that I had not in the previous 16. Repetition helps my weak mind remember and pay attention to the word.
Since I started reading the Bible this way, the Lord has been gracious to reveal more and more of who He is in His word. I’ve since modified how I read the text. Instead of simply reading through a set of chapters daily, now I read through a set of chapters and every day pick one of those chapters to pray through. So, if I were reading through Galatians every day, on Monday I would read all five chapters and then pray chapter 1. On Tuesday I would read all five chapters then pray through chapter 2, and so on. Reading the Bible in this way has been a huge encouragement and has yielded much fruit for meAt one time I would drudge through a passage just trying to get to the end. My goal was quantity and not quality. There is a certain emptiness and despair in reading the Bible that way. It leaves me clinging to self-righteousness – that I had accomplished something by reading the Bible – but left me spiritually wanting more. Reading through the Bible in a year and other ventures of the sort aren’t necessarily bad suggestions, I just believe that repetition is a better, more fruitful way for the Christian who longs to glean from the Holy Scriptures. In fact, I would suggest doing both, but it may take you longer than a year to read the Bible in a year.
This is really not some revolutionary new way to read the Bible. It couldn’t be sold as a new “how to guide.” All it really comes down to is observation. All it really comes down to is spending time in the Word of God and letting the Holy Spirit lead and guide. It is certainly pragmatic. I genuinely believe that a Christian must grow by reading the Bible this way. He has no choice. The Bible is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, right?
     Again, this is not a Bible study program meant to make us scholars. This is simply reading the text and the Spirit showing us things we may normally glance over. I’ve found as I read through several chapters repeatedly, I notice the context of the passage and how each idea fits together. It’s not that I'm looking for context. I haven’t sat down with medical instruments ready to dissect the text. I am just reading and the context shows itself. After several days, the theme of the author is made apparent. I start to understand why Paul said what he said in Galatians 4 and how it relates to his opening chapter. I start seeing his concerns and how the Holy Spirit moved him to use those specific words. I start noticing the same words used often, that tell me of the authors concern and focus. 
     One of the most incredible insights I have gained is seeing the love and concern the author has for the readers. I spent a few months reading through the Thessalonians. After several weeks, it became glaringly obvious that Paul had a deep and caring love for the people of Thessalonica. His words were dripping with love. It wasn’t just one verse that I could pinpoint either, it was chapters and the book as a whole that lead to that conclusion. I don’t think I would have ever really understood that without reading it over and over.  Such knowledge was and is invaluable to me.
     We are not called to be like the teenage pupil in 8am biology class, dozing as the instructor reads through the book. We are called to be paying attention. We are called to see, hear, and obey what is in the text. Read through and notice the imperatives. See how the author focuses on one theme throughout a passage. Don’t just focus on the core verses, like the John 3:16’s, but also read the verses in between. We often scan through passages looking for the verses that would look nice highlighted, but remember that the rest of the text is inspired too. The letters in black are just as inspired and important as those in red. Read both with a thirst for knowing Christ and knowing the God of the Bible.
     And I haven’t even mentioned the benefit of praying through the word. That’s for another article but it is imperative we know and believe that the Holy Spirit of God works through his word. He works both by the reading of His word and by praying through it. 
     Ultimately, if we cherish God's Word, we will want to read it like we would a love letter from our beloved. We would read it over and over and focus on each little word. We would notice how the letters are rounded off a specific way or how they dot their I’s. We would notice the smell and the paper on which it was written. We would fawn over those words like they were more valuable than any precious stone. Well, the scriptures are much more than any love letter and they are more precious that jewels. They tell you of the holy and righteous King of the universe, God Almighty. Dive into those words.

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