For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is Your Bible Reading Profitable?

Many of us have embarked once again this year on the journey of reading through the entirety of Scripture between now and the December 31.  For several years now we’ve encouraged this “through-the-Bible-in-a-year” approach, hoping to get folks into God’s Word more consistently.

But the question is, even if we are plugging our way through the given schedule of readings, are we profiting from our time?  Is this a meaningful, helpful, practical exercise; or is it merely a ritualistic duty, a check off on our to do list?

Arthur Pink wrote a wonderful little book about Profiting from the Word.  He begins saying:

 The Word of God may be taken up from various motives. Some read it to satisfy their literary pride. In certain circles it has become both the respectable and popular thing to obtain a general acquaintance with the contents of the Bible simply because it is regarded as an educational defect to be ignorant of them. Some read it to satisfy their sense of curiosity, as they might any other book of note. Others read it to satisfy their sectarian pride. They consider it a duty to be well versed in the particular tenets of their own denomination and so search eagerly for proof-texts in support of "our doctrines." Yet others read it for the purpose of being able to argue successfully with those who differ from them. But in all this there is no thought of God, no yearning for spiritual edification, and therefore no real benefit to the soul.

Pink then asks, “Of what, then, does a true profiting from the Word consist?”  He then embarks on an outline of various evidences of the working of the Word in our lives in relationship to sin.  He mentions:

1. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word convicts him of sin.
2. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word makes him sorrow over sin.
3. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word leads to confession of sin.
4. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word produces in him a deeper hatred of sin.
5. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word causes a forsaking of sin.
6. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word fortifies against sin.
7. An individual is spiritually profited when the Word causes him to practice the opposite of sin.

Pink amplifies each of those seven thoughts, and I’d encourage you to read through his complete work.  Of course, it’s not just our relationship to sin that gives evidence as to how God’s Word is working in us.  Pink goes on to talk about our understanding of God, the nature of prayer, our obedience, love and joy, etc.  Chapel Library has a nice little study based on this book which would be helpful as well.

The point is simply this.  We need to evaluate our time spent reading God’s Word.  What is our motivation for reading it?  What is the fruit of our labors?  What is God doing in and through us as we read, study, and meditate on His Word?

Here is Pink’s conclusion to that opening chapter:

Let both writer and reader honestly and diligently measure himself, as in the presence of God, by the seven things here enumerated. Has your study of the Bible made you more humble, or more proud of the knowledge you have acquired? Has it raised you in the esteem of your fellow men, or has it led you to take a lower place before God? Has it produced in you a deeper abhorrence and loathing of self, or has it made you more complacent? Has it caused those you mingle with, or perhaps teach, to say, I wish I had your knowledge of the Bible; or does it cause you to pray, Lord give me the faith, the grace, the holiness Thou hast granted my friend, or teacher? Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear unto all (1 Tim. 6:15)

Here’s to spending some profitable time in God’s Word in 2014.


Gregg Metcalf said...

I abandoned reading plans years ago. I love Pink. Great post Brother.

Scott said...

I still use them for two reasons:
1. It helps me be more systematic in my reading; less hit and miss.
2. We encourage it as a church so we're all reading together, then I use a text from that week's readings for the Sunday PM service.