By: Terry Fischer
“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).
January of 2017 marks the fifteenth year I have been a pastor. I have ministered in the same church all these years. Without much thinking, I can tell you the one thing I have stressed more over the pulpit than anything, and that is the need for the saints to read the word of God. I believe I have preached and taught every main fundamental truth of the Bible numerous times, yet there is nothing I have mentioned more than the need for every believer to read the WHOLE word of God for themselves and read it regularly. Let me add, there is one more thing I probably mentioned as much and that is the need for the saints to have a real quality prayer life.
The third verse of the whole Bible has these two words, “God said.” That dear saint of God, is where discipleship must start for us all. If you have been a believer for awhile and you have not started with what God has said, then you can just delete what you have learned and start from the beginning. The reason there is such a lack of like-mindedness today amongst God’s people is because when people get saved they are taught more of what man says than what God says. They are taught man’s version instead of the Spirit of Truth’s version of what God says. Imagine what a powerhouse the church could and would be today if she lived by what God said.
The Holy Bible is what God said. It is a record of the words that God has said. You can be certain that He is still saying those words and that they still speaks into the life of the believer today. There is one very disappointing thing that I have discovered through the years and that is the infrequency that professing Christians read their Bible. There are numerous, probably more than fifty percent of Christians, who have not read the whole Bible all the way through. Not that they would have to read it in chronological order, but that over a few years would have managed to read all the books of the Bible. There are Christians who have given little, if any, attention to the Old Testament. Paul, in referring to the Old Testament said, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Corinthians 10:11). If you believe what Paul said, you should be eager to read the Old Testament, in which are the very books Paul was referring to,that has so many examples for us to learn by.
The lack of Bible reading leads to a lack of spiritual knowledge and wisdom. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6). David craved for the word of God and believed every godly man delighted in the word of God, even when it seemed to be more of the law than anything else. “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
Christian, you are fooling and depriving yourself if you think that it is not that important to be in the word of God daily. It should not be something you have to be legalistic about, it should be something you desire to do. If you don’t, then you need to make a commitment to discipline yourself to have a determined time that you will read the word every day. You may miss a few days here and there. You may get a little behind, but nonetheless, you are reading your Bible. I hate legalism in the church, but I do see the need and value for a disciplined life. After all, doesn’t everything we do in life require some discipline? Some more, some less?
Reading the word of God is not sufficient in itself. You must believe that which you read. You must believe it truly is the word of God. Even then, that still is not enough. You have to read it with the desire or at least the willingness to be changed by it. One of my favorite quotes is from a Chinese man, Brother Yun, who was put in prison for his faith. He said, “No one can ever really understand the scriptures until they are willing to be changed by them.” How true it is. If a person is not willing to be changed by the word, then he has to be reading the word with a hard stubborn heart. He has to refuse to open his heart to let the Spirit of Truth work in his heart to change him from a carnal to a godly man.
It is amazing to me, in a bad way, when I hear of people who have been Christians for many years and they tell me they have not yet read the Old Testament. A man, who was a deacon at one time, told me that he was reading the Old Testament for the first time in his life. Don’t get me wrong, I was so glad that he was determined to read it, but it made me wonder how does someone become a deacon and they haven’t even read their whole Bible?
Saint of God, I can’t say it enough. YOU NEED TO READ YOUR WORD; YOU NEED TO EMBRACE THE WORD; YOU NEED TO EAT THE WORD. And then let it do the work it does. Fools reject and doubt the word of God. But for believers, THE WORD IS LIFE. If you don’t read the word for yourself, then you will fall prey to believing what people tell you it says. Even worse, they will tell you what they think it means. If you read the word for yourself, the Spirit of Truth won’t tell you what He thinks it means, He will tell you what it does mean. If all Christians would submit to the truth of the word of God as the Spirit of Truth reveals it, denominationalism would collapse overnight. There would come an unbelievable unity to the body of Christ as we would all come to “speak the same thing.” Denominationalism is accepted as the norm in the Christian church today. Denominationalism is not a biblical principle. It is accepted, not because saints read and believe their Bibles, but because Christians don’t! For the most part, when someone gets saved, they are brought into the denomination of the person who led them to the Lord, and there they stay for the rest of their lives. Never questioning what the church believes. Never honestly checking it out to see if everything the church believes lines up with the word of God.