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Deleting Bible Study from Your Mental Checklist

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This is a guest post by Lydia Brownback and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.


The Checklist

The mental morning checklist—we’ve all got one.

Beds made? Check.
Lunches packed? Check.
Phone charged? Check.

For many of us, that mental rundown includes a daily Bible reading, and checking it off is simply part of a well-organized morning. Yet, while all Bible reading is profitable, there’s something a bit off about placing it on a to-do list—kind of like including “Kiss husband good-bye” or “Drink coffee.”

We don’t need reminders for our cravings—love, affection, caffeine. So where are we with this? Do we crave our time in the Word?

Checking Our Motives

We’re not likely to jump eagerly out of bed to get to it if we see it as yet one more goal (“This time, I’m determined to get through that ‘Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year’ plan.”) or as a way to appear spiritual (“Obadiah? Hmm. I’d better dig in and find out before it comes up in conversation.”) or as a means of guaranteeing God’s blessing on the day (“I can’t miss my quiet time. I’ve got a dicey meeting at 2pm that will definitely require divine intervention.”).

But God actually isn’t concerned that you read through the Bible in year. And appearing spiritual is really just pride. And all our blessings come to us through Christ’s righteousness, not what we do. So with those motivations out of the way, what’s the incentive?

It’s this: enjoying a foretaste of heaven.

We get that foretaste when we understand that God’s Word is literally that—his word! He speaks to us through it. In fact, it’s the only way he speaks to us. When we go to Scripture with a listening heart, the Holy Spirit illuminates its truths to our understanding and enables us to know God more fully. On top of that, he will often apply specific passages to something we’re dealing with or bring to light something he wants us to change.

A Two-Way Conversation

So we listen. But it’s a two-way conversation. God delights in our “discussing” Scripture with him. We can tell him what we see there, and we can tell him what we don’t get and ask for deeper understanding. And when we experience one of those ah-ha moments, we can share with him the joy of our discovery.

We can also pray the actual words of Scripture. Consider the Psalms—how many prayers we find there! There are heartfelt cries of sorrow, confusion, fear, joy, exaltation, gratitude, and need. And we’re invited to turn these heartfelt cries into our own personal prayers.

Think also of the prayers of Paul in the New Testament, such as those in Ephesians 1:16–21 and 3:14–19. Have you turned those words into personal petition? Can you? Will you? One thing’s for sure about those prayers: we know the things mentioned in them are God’s will for us because those prayers are part of God’s inspired Word.

The Way to Spiritual Intimacy

We have a relational God, and meeting with him prayerfully in his Word is the way to spiritual intimacy. The more we practice it, the better we’ll know our Lord, and the better we know him, the more of him we’ll want.

Soon we’ll notice that Bible reading is no longer dependent on the morning checklist. We don’t need reminders for what we value most.


Lydia Brownback (MAR, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the author of several books and a speaker at women’s conferences internationally. She has served as director of editorial for Crossway’s Book Division; writer-in-residence for Reverend Alistair Begg; and broadcast media manager for Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, where she produced The Bible Study Hour radio program with James Montgomery Boice. Some of Lydia’s books include the On-the-Go Devotional series, A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything, and Proverbs: A 12-Week Study.

 


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Help Wanted: Looking for Someone to Make My Kids Love the Bible

WOWM - Tips and Encouragement

This is a guest post by Jessica Thompson and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.


Help Wanted

Help Wanted: Looking for someone to make my children understand and love the Bible. My husband and I have tried everything, from bribery to anger to manipulation and they don’t seemed interested at all. If you can take on three kids, ages 5-10 and instill in them a love for God’s Word. I will pay you $100 per week.

I would never actually put an ad like this on Craigslist, but I have been tempted. It is unbelievably frustrating and hopeless to spend time reading a devotional or the Bible to your children to find out at the end of it that two of the kids were playing rock, scissors, paper under the table and the other one had fallen asleep (that explains why they were so quiet and “attentive”).

As Christian parents, we hope that our children will say with David and with us, “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches . . . my soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times” (Ps. 119:14, 20).

Examining Our Own Hearts

Now stop, read those verses again and ask yourself this question: Do I even do that? I know I personally don’t. There are mornings, weeks, and months when my heart is hard and indifferent to the Bible. There are mornings, weeks, and months when I am distracted and would rather do anything but sit and meditate on the Word of God.

So my question to you is, “Why do we expect our children to be any different than we are?” And yet, we do . . . and then we get angry and depressed when they don’t seem to care. Only a true believer’s heart would want to read or understand the Bible, and, at times, we expect our children—who may not be believer—to act as though they are. Let’s get real honest here: we might even force our children into a charade of sorts, showering them with praise the more they act like they are enjoying their devotional time.

Please hear me: it is good and right to read the Bible with your children; it is good and right to share your love for God’s Word. However, we can’t force our kids into the kingdom of God.

Help from Above

There is One who can fill that “help wanted” ad above. It’s actually his job, not ours.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to make your children love Jesus and love the Bible. And it’s his job to do that in your life, too. You can trust Him to do His work.

Practical Tips

But what can we do to make it easier for our kids to love God’s Word, instead of merely forcing it on them?

First and most importantly, pray . . . and not just during devotions. And don’t pray the “guilt prayer” while seated around the table: “God, help these children stop messing around. Help them to sit still because you love kids who listen.” Rather, pray like Paul prayed. Ask God to help your kids come to know his unfathomable love for them and that they would consequently come to love His Word.

Second, don’t make the Bible out to be a book of morality. That isn’t the message of Christianity. The Bible is the story of God’s unrelenting, redeeming love for sinners. Do your children know that? Do you know that? Or have we reduced God’s Word to a bunch rules and regulations?

I know I don’t want to read a list rules. But give me an action-packed story about a good King fighting for his people and I’m hooked.

Last, remember their salvation isn’t up to you. This realization will free you to enjoy them and your devotional time with them, even if they don’t. Their response to the Word doesn’t define you as a parent.

Simply put, trust God when it comes to helping your kids understand and love the Bible. He’s the help you’re looking for.


Jessica Thompson is the author of Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family and the coauthor (with Elyse Fitzpatrick) of Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. She is a wife, a mother of three, and a member of an Acts 29 church.

 

 


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Video: Elyse Fitzpatrick on How She Reads the Bible

WOWM - Personal Story

This video with Elyse Fitzpatrick is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.


In this video, author and speaker Elyse Fitzpatrick explains why she stopped reading through the entire Bible every year and reminds us that God doesn’t get “mad” at us when we miss a day of reading his Word.


Elyse Fitzpatrick on How She Reads the Bible
from Crossway on Vimeo.


Elyse M. Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the head of Counsel from the Cross Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored or coauthored 18 books, including Because He Loves MeGive Them GraceComforts from Romans, Comforts from the Cross, and Found in Him.

 


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Video: Jen Wilkin on Staying Motivated in Bible Study

WOWM - Personal Story

This video with Jen Wilkin is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.


In this video, author and Bible study leader Jen Wilkin offers some advice for staying motivated in our reading of God’s Word and explains the limitations of topical Bible studies.


Jen Wilkin on Staying Motivated in Bible Study
from Crossway on Vimeo.


Jen Wilkin is a speaker, writer, and teacher of women’s Bible studies. During her thirteen years of teaching, she has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts. Jen and her family are members of the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. She is the author of Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds.

 


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Is God’s Word Enough?

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Have you struggled to know what to do with your life, wishing you had some special word from the Lord? Have you ever wanted a more direct, more personal revelation than what you get from slowly reading through the Bible? Secretly wanted to add something to the word of God—you know, just to make things safer? Or to take something away to make it more palatable? Have you ever felt like the Bible just wasn’t enough for living a faithful life in today’s world?

If you answer yes to any of these questions—and we all will at times—then you are struggling with the sufficiency of Scripture.

The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture

This doctrine states that “Scripture is clear enough to make us responsible for carrying out our present responsibilities to God.”1

No one can say God has not revealed enough for us to be saved or to live a life pleasing to him. Scripture makes us competent and “equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). We do not need to add to it to meet today’s challenges or subtract from it to mesh with today’s ideals. The word of God is perfect and complete, giving us all we need to know about Christ, salvation, and godliness.

As evangelicals, we can say all the right things about the Bible and even read it regularly, but when life gets difficult, or just a bit boring, we look for new words, new revelation, and new experiences to bring us closer to God. We feel rather ho-hum about the New Testament’s description of heaven, but we are mesmerized by the accounts of school-age children who claim to have gone there and back. We can easily operate as if the Bible were not enough. If we could only have something more than the Scriptures, then we would be really close to Jesus and know his love for us.

Unless, of course, the finality of Christ’s redemption for us is intimately tied to the finality of his revelation to us.

God’s Superior Son

The big idea in the first verses of Hebrews is the big idea for the whole book of Hebrews. God has spoken by his Son, and this Son is superior to all persons, heavenly beings, institutions, rituals, and previous means of revelation and redemption. Christ is superior to:

  • Angels (chs. 1–2)
  • Moses (ch. 3)
  • Joshua (chs. 3–4)
  • Aaron (ch. 5)
  • Abraham (ch. 6)
  • Melchizedek (ch. 7)
  • The old covenant (ch. 8)
  • The tabernacle (ch. 9)
  • The high priest (ch. 10)
  • The treasures of this world (ch. 11)
  • Mount Sinai (ch. 12)
  • The city we have here on earth (ch. 13)

The Son is our Great Superlative, surpassing all others because in him we have the fullness and finality of God’s redemption and revelation.

Sufficiency in the Son and in the Scriptures

So what does any of this have to do with the sufficiency of Scripture? Look more closely at the conclusion just stated above: the Son is superior to all others because in him we have the fullness and finality of God’s redemption and revelation.

God has definitively made himself known. Christ has once for all paid for our sins. He came to earth, lived among us, died on the cross, and cried out in his dying moments, “It is finished!” We are awaiting no other king to rule over us. We need no other prophet like Muhammad. There can be no further priest to atone for our sins. The work of redemption has been completed. And we must not separate redemption from revelation. Both were finished and fulfilled in the Son.

The word of God versus the Word of God? The Bible versus Jesus?

Hebrews gives no room for these diabolical antitheses. True, the Bible is not Jesus; the Scripture is not the Son. The words of the Bible and the Word made flesh are distinct, but they are also inseparable. Every act of redemption—from the exodus, to the return from exile, to the cross itself—is also a revelation. They tell us something about the nature of sin, the way of salvation, and the character of God. Likewise, the point of revelation is always to redeem. The words of the prophets and the apostles are not meant to make us smart, but to get us saved. Redemption reveals. Revelation redeems.

And Christ is both. He is God’s full and final act of redemption and God’s full and final revelation of himself. Even the later teachings of the apostles were simply the remembrances of what Christ said (John 14:26) and the further Spirit-wrought explanation of all that he was and all that he accomplished (John 16:13–15).

So are we saying that God no longer speaks?

Not at all. But we must think carefully about how he speaks in these last days. God now speaks through his Son. Think about the three offices of Christ—prophet, priest, and king. In a very real sense, Christ has finished his work in each of these three offices. And yet he continues to work through that finished work:

  • As a king, Christ is already seated on the throne and already reigns from heaven, but the inauguration of his kingdom is not the same as the consummation of it. There are still enemies to subdue under his feet (Heb. 2:8).
  • As a priest, Christ has fully paid for all our sins with his precious blood, once for all, never to be repeated again. And yet, this great salvation must still be freely offered, and Christ must keep us in it (Heb. 2:3).
  • Finally, as a prophet, God has decisively spoken in his Son. He has shown us all we need to know, believe, and do. There is nothing more to say. And yet, God keeps speaking through what he has already said. “The word of God is living and active” (Heb. 4:12); and when the Scriptures are read, the Holy Spirit still speaks (3:7).

So, yes, God still speaks. He is not silent. He communicates with us personally and directly. But this ongoing speech is not ongoing revelation. In these last days, God speaks to us not by many and various ways, but in one way, through his Son. And he speaks through his Son by the revelation of the Son’s redeeming work that we find first predicted and prefigured in the Old Testament, then recorded in the Gospels, and finally unpacked by the Spirit through the apostles in the rest of the New Testament.

Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough. They stand or fall together. The Son’s redemption and the Son’s revelation must both be sufficient. And as such, there is nothing more to be done and nothing more to be known for our salvation and for our Christian walk than what we see and know about Christ and through Christ in his Spirit’s book.

And why does any of this matter?

What difference does the sufficiency of Scripture make for your Christian life?

One reason is that since the Bible is sufficient, we can expect the word of God to be relevant to all of life. God has given us all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3); Scripture is enough to make us wise for salvation and holy unto the Lord (2 Tim. 3:14–17). If we learn to read the Bible down (into our hearts), across (the plotline of Scripture), out (to the end of the story), and up (to the glory of God in the face of Christ), we will find that every bit of the Bible is profitable for us. Scripture does not give exhaustive information on every subject, but in every subject on which it speaks, it says only what is true. And in its truth we have enough knowledge to turn from sin, find a Savior, make good decisions, please God, and get to the root of our deepest problems.

The word of God is more than enough for the people of God to live their lives to the glory of God. The Father will speak by means of all that the Spirit has spoken through the Son. The question is whether we will open our Bibles and bother to listen.

1 John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God (Philipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2010), 226.

This post was adapted from Taking God At His Word by Kevin DeYoung.


DeYoung Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at The Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous well-known books such as Just Do Something and The Hole in Our Holiness, as well as the award-winning books Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church (with Ted Kluck).

July 17, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life & Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:33 am | (3) Comments »