Reading the New Testament together in 2013

1 01 2013

The following is a letter I wrote to our Sunday School classes at First Baptist Church of Oppelo to encourage them to read through the New Testament together in 2013. The plan is for everyone to keep up with their daily readings throughout the week and have a few minutes for discussion, encouragement, and accountability at the beginning of each Sunday School lesson.



Several Sunday School classes at FBC Oppelo are planning to use this plan to read through the New Testament together for the 1st 6 months of 2013. Here’s a few thoughts on why you should be reading your bible daily, and some practical tips on how to accomplish this.

  • First, remember, this is God’s Word.  It is the Word of God.  Jesus repeats the words of Moses (Deut. 8:3) in Matt. 4:4 “But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” So, Christians believe the Bible is composed of 66 individual books, written by men who were divinely inspired by God, meaning that the Bible is “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16) or in other words, it is the Word of God.
  • Secondly, God uses His Word to transform us into the likeness of Christ (see again 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Two things to remember here: 1st we don’t read the bible just for information but for transformation. 2nd if we want to be transformed into the likeness of Christ then we must read the Bible!  If God uses His own precious Word to transform you isn’t it to our great detriment to waste so much of our year on Facebook, Twitter, television, movies, etc., while our Bibles remain unread?
  • Thirdly, it is through God’s Word that we come to know Him more.  If you want to know God in a deeper way, then you must get into His Word.  Sadly, too many Christians (and “christians”) are satisfied with how well they know (or think they know) God.  Don’t be that person.  May Christ be your treasure! Your satisfaction! And if He is, you will want to know Him more, do this through reading, studying, meditating, and memorizing His Word. Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
    Jer. 9:23-24

Practical Tips:

  1. Don’t find time, make time.  Personally, I like to read in the morning but that may not work for everyone.  If you do the morning try setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier than normal. It’s just 15 minutes.  The important thing here is make a plan and stick to it.
  2. If you miss a day don’t get discouraged. I promise you, inevitably you will miss a day, or at least miss reading as much as the plan suggests.  On those days, don’t get discouraged. Carve out some extra time to catch up, or resolve that you will give up a TV show or something else to have the time to catch up.  In some cases it could take you some time to catch up but keep at it and you’ll get there!
  3. Accountability. Each Sunday morning have a discussion with your class about what you’ve been reading. This could be as little time as just a few minutes, but sharpen one another’s understanding of the Word and challenge one another to continue with the plan.
  4. Pray. Pray that God will transform you through His Word. Use the Scriptures you read to voice your prayers to God. For example, if you’re reading Matthew 4, part of your prayer could be “God, give me a hunger for your Word. May I desire it more than food. I repent of not cherishing your precious Word as I ought, give me grace to discipline myself to read your Word daily…” etc. from v.4

Bible Reading 2013

28 12 2012

Bible on table
I certainly don’t think proof of your conversion can be based on whether or not you’ve read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  With that out of the way however, I’d like to encourage you to set a goal of reading through the Bible in 2013.  While I don’t think you are an apostate if you haven’t read through the Bible, I do think it should be every Christian’s desire to read God’s Word.  We believe Jesus’ words spoken to the Evil One in the wilderness right?: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  And this sentence, God’s very words, had already been recorded in the book of Deuteronomy, God’s very Word.

So, if you believe that we don’t just need cheeseburgers to live but the Word of God, why not commit yourself to actually read every word of God recorded for us in the 66 canonical books we call the Bible?  If you can’t get through it in one year, try two, or if necessary three.  The point is the Bible isn’t just for you to get information but it was written for our transformation (I’m sure I should cite someone here but I’m not sure who said something similar to this!). If God uses His own precious Word to transform you isn’t it to our great detriment to waste so much of our year on Facebook, Twitter, television, movies, etc., while our Bibles remain unread? Won’t you commit to being a student of the Word in 2013?

There are already tons of great plans out there.  Here’s a post by Justin Taylor that has several plansHere’s a plan from Denny BurkHere’s a plan from Grace For Sinners that will have you go through the whole Bible twice and the NT Epistles four times.

And here’s what I’m doing: The OT twice using this planAnd the NT twice using this plan.

So there you go.  Get a plan and stick with it! Print it out, keep it in your bible, post it on your fridge, set reminders in your phone, whatever you need to do!  Here’s a helpful reminder from John Piper on why you should “Read the Bible More and More.”

Attributes of Scripture from Psalm 19

9 07 2012

I’ve had the opportunity recently to preach from Psalm 19:7-14, which happens to be one of the few places in the Bible that touches on all four of the major attributes of Scripture: Necessity, Authority, Sufficiency, and Clarity (or you can use the acronymn SCAN, which I “borrowed” from Kevin DeYoung, to help you remember these four attributes). Anyway, I thought I’d briefly outline some of what Psalm 19 (specifically v.7-9) has to say about Scripture.  Much, much more could be said, but here is a brief outline for your edification:

1. Necessity Psalm 19 begins with the truth that Creation itself testifies that there is a Creator.  However, our default state as human beings is to reject God (Rom. 3:10-11, cf. Rom. 1:19-20) and therefore we cannot know God, gain a proper prospective of Him, ourselves, or the world without Scripture.  In other words, although a beautiful sunset may make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, it can’t point you to Christ, and explain to you the Gospel.  Only Scripture can revive the soul (v.7).

2. Authority In v.7-14 David is specifically referring to the Torah and he says that the precepts, testimony, rules, commandments, and Law that he is speaking about is “of the LORD” (this is repeated 6 times!). In other words, even though Moses wrote the Torah, David doesn’t emphasize Moses’ authorship- he emphsizes God’s.  The infinite, triune, self-sufficient, God of the universe moved in and through human authors to preserve exactly the words that He wanted to convey to mankind. Therefore, to disbelieve or disobey Scripture is to disbeleive and disobey God Himself.

3. Clarity Scripture is refered to as “pure” in the 2nd half of v.8.  It is “clean”, without any darkness in it.  God is not speaking in “Bible Code” or ready to hold us accountable for something He did not reveal to us in Scripture.  No one will be able to stand before God and say “Your Word wasn’t clear enough as to what I was supposed to know and do.”

4. Sufficiency In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem says “The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God He intended His people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting Him perfectly, and for obeying Him perfectly.

Think of what the Psalm affirms about Scripture- It is perfect, sure, right, pure, and true. Scripture is whole, complete and it is not lacking. It’s trustworthy and convincing. The Spirit uses it to take a simple undiscerning mind and makes it skilled in the vital issues of life. It points us to the One way, Christ,  who is the only source of eternal life. Scripture is undefiled, inerrant, infallible, and does not pass away. It is this Book that is the standard for judging the life and eternal destiny of every person. The Word is reliable.  It gives us the very will of God for our lives!  All of these things testify to the Sufficiency of Scripture, which a “practical” denial of I believe, is one of the biggest problems in many churches today.

Application: So what do we do with this information?  Are we a people who tremble at God’s Word (Is. 66:2)?  Is it in our minds and hearts?  Do we look to the Word as the means by which God saves us, keeps us, and sanctifies us?  If our prayer is like David’s in v.14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” then we must be in His Word…

I believe as a society we have more access to the Bible than any other people in history.  We’ve been given much, yet many people who claim to be Christians know very little about, and give very little attention to God’s Word- what about you? You could start with some personal reflection on Psalm 19 😉