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CHRISTIAN LIFE: My Necessary Food

It’s vital to read the Bible! …..

SKYWORD 050

 

One of the elementary lessons in the Christian life concerns two vital habits that must be cultivated. When someone is led to trust Christ as Saviour, it is very likely that they will be given some advice. They may well be told, “In order to make progress in your new life you must develop the habit of reading the Bible and praying to God daily.” This advice is certainly good. Preachers sometimes stress the need to “get back to basics” — meaning that it is vital to have a time of fellowship with the Lord every day. It is a fact that progress cannot be expected if someone fails to commune with the Lord. But why should we read the Bible?

 

There are a number of reasons why a time of reading the Bible regularly is important. In this article we shall look at four of them — though others could be considered.

 

 

1. MEETING THE LORD

We shall begin with what is perhaps the most important reason. Reading the Bible is vital because this is where we meet the Lord. Someone might respond by saying, “I can meet the Lord anywhere. As I walk in the country and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, He speaks to me, and I enjoy His presence.” While such a statement cannot be disputed, there is more that needs to be considered. All believers should enjoy the wonders of creation. In Psalm 19 David marvelled at the glory of God displayed in the heavens by night. A “voice” can certainly be heard as we pause silently and gaze at the vastness of space. But the message we take in only conveys to us something of the greatness and majesty of God. From the heavens and creation around us we learn nothing of God’s character, His love, and His purposes in redemption. To understand these, we need something else.

 

In past ages God declared His message through His prophets who spoke with His authority.  Malachi was the last Old Testament prophet, and with his book the Old Testament was completed. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us, however, that since those days God has “spoken” by His Son. The New Testament concerns the Lord Jesus Christ. Every New Testament book mentions Him. The final book is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev.1:1 KJV). It concludes with a serious warning. Nothing must be added to the book, and nothing must be taken from it (Rev.22:18-19). Scripture is complete: God has nothing to add to it.

 

There is a very close connection between the written Word and the Living Word. The Lord Jesus Christ is “the Word” (Jn.1:1) who lives for ever. The written Word speaks of Him. Just as we speak to Him in prayer, so He speaks to us through His Word. We must be cautious when people tell us that they have heard the voice of God speaking to them audibly. While it is wrong to be dismissive of such claims, it is equally possible to be deluded and to imagine that we have heard a voice and that it is the voice of God. God has revealed Himself to us through His Word. The revelation He has given is perfect and is adequate for every circumstance of our lives on earth. The fact that His message is in print assures us that we have not been mistaken. If we are tempted to doubt, we can always return to the Word and see what He has written there! In order to know the Lord, we must prayerfully read His Word.

 

 

2. FED AND STRENGTHENED

Just as our bodies need good food in order to give us the necessary physical strength, so our souls need to be nourished by the Lord. Only those who “wait upon the Lord” renew their strength (Isa.40:31), and the nourishment that will produce strength is spiritual and comes from the Word of God. In the trials of life, Job declared, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Job knew that food for the body is “necessary” — but more important than this was food for the soul! He knew its value and longed to receive that which would strengthen him in his weakness. Jeremiah expressed something similar. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart,” he said (Jer.15:16).

 

Without this spiritual food, we will become weak and ineffective. An unfed body is feeble and prone to sickness, and the mind is affected too when wholesome food is not consumed. The parallel in the spiritual realm is obvious. To be useful in the work of God we must feed upon His Word daily. Just as we tend not to restrict our eating to one or two meals a week, so it is not enough to read the Bible on an occasional basis. While listening to good ministry from a preacher is valuable, this does not render our own times with the Lord unnecessary. To maintain a healthy spiritual life we must feed our souls upon His Word daily.

 

 

3. LED AND GUIDED

The psalmist declared, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps.119:105). As we travel from one place to another we often need directions — especially if the route is unfamiliar. A map may be consulted, or the traveller may be able to make use of satellite navigation. With such help, or with some carefully-given instructions from one who knows the route, the traveller is enabled to reach his destination. In the very same way we need spiritual help and direction as we journey through life. Our “map” is God’s precious Word which helps us to see the way that we should take.

 

When we do not understand a route, it is helpful to have the support of someone with greater experience. Our Heavenly Father has far more knowledge than we do. His Word contains “precepts” that can help us follow the right course. In fact, the theme of Psalm 119 is the Word of God. Its first verse refers to “the way” that lies before us. Other verses mention “the way of Thy precepts” (v.27), “the way of truth” (v.30), and “the way of Thy commandments” (v.32). The writer had a strong desire to follow that way.

 

God’s Word contains warnings so that we might be aware of dangers that exist and avoid them. It also contains positive instruction and tells us of things that we ought to do. Principles can be found in it to help us when we have choices to make in life. Our prayer ought to be, “Teach me Thy way, O LORD” (Ps.86:11). In order to discover the way that is right we need to read the Bible regularly.

 

 

4. MADE AND KEPT CLEAN

Another important reason why we should read God’s Word concerns our holiness. The Lord Jesus spoke of the Father’s purpose that His followers should be sanctified [made holy] by the Word of truth (Jn.17:17). He told His disciples, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (Jn.15:3). They could hear the words that fell from His lips because He was physically present with them. We can hear Him speak today from the pages of Holy Scripture. We also read of the cleansing power of the Word in Ephesians 5:26.

 

Not only does the Word have a cleansing effect upon our souls as we read it; it also is the means of keeping us clean. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” asked the psalmist. The answer is, “By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word” (Ps.119:9). Knowing this, the writer declared, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Ps.119:11). Someone once said, “Sin will keep you from this Book, but this Book can keep you from sin.” How true this is! If we walk the sinful paths of pleasure we will have no desire to be challenged by the correcting power of the Word. However, if we take time to read God’s Word regularly we will learn how to avoid the many snares of sin.

 

 

DESIRE IT!

We need the green pastures of the Word (Ps.23:2). The Lord has given them to us, and He wants us to enjoy them daily under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Reading is important — but so is meditating. We need to take time to think about what we have read in the Scriptures. The psalmist declared, “I will meditate in Thy precepts, and have respect unto Thy ways” (Ps.119:15). We must meditate, as he did, and “respect” His ways that are right.

 

The New Testament complements the Old Testament and provides us with the whole Word of God. Peter writes of the need to earnestly “desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet.2:2) — and this immediately raises a question. If we are to grow spiritually we must have a genuine desire for the Word of God, but do we have that desire? If we do not, like Job, value it more than our necessary food, there is something drastically wrong. A believer with no desire for the Bible is in an extremely unhealthy condition.  The Lord Jesus stressed the importance of abiding in Him and of His Word abiding in us (Jn.15:4,7). To remain spiritually healthy, we must feed upon His Word daily and store its teaching within our hearts and minds.

 

Much more could be said about the importance of reading God’s Word each day. Through the Scriptures we can be fed, guided, and cleansed. What a complete resource God has given to us! If we are believers and understand that we can meet the Lord in the pages of His Word, we will want to set aside time each day with an open Bible before us. Prayerful reading will enable us know its Author better.