“There can be no true Christian spiritual formation
without taking the Scriptures seriously and personally.”
Richard E. Averbeck
Twenty years ago, I invited a church member to share in a Bible Study I was leading. Her response surprised me; “I took a Bible course in college so I don’t need your study.” Only a few years ago, in my former church in Pennsylvania, I invited someone to a Bible Study. Their response was equally surprising; “I already do a lot around the church. I don’t have time to read the Bible.” Both of these persons demonstrate little understanding of the role of the Bible in our growth as Christians. Richard Averbeck is absolutely correct, there simply can be no true Christian spiritual formation (Christian growth) without taking the Scriptures seriously and personally.
Neil Cole puts it this way, “Most of us would be ashamed if we compared the amount of books, magazines and newspaper articles we have poured into our minds with the amount of God’s Word we have invested into our souls. Doesn’t that tell us that we really value the world’s philosophies more than God’s? This must change if we are ever to become a living example of the people of God! We can start by investing approximately half-an-hour each day to hearing from God!”
Last year, during a week of personal study, I read that the average person in this country views twenty-seven and one-half hours of television each week. That is the equivalent of more than one entire day per week! This author went on to write, quite persuasively, that those who hear the Bible read only on Sunday mornings, followed by a twenty-minute sermon, are in serious trouble. There is simply no way one reading from the Bible and a twenty-minute sermon can compete with twenty-seven plus hours of television. God’s Word is outmatched in sheer quantity of time. The values taught by television programming will trump the values of God in the lives of the believer.
I am confident of this: the local church only has power when the majority of its membership chooses to read the Scriptures in large amounts, in whole context (not a chapter here and a verse there) and regularly, even daily. Jesus has called this church to an uncommon work in Palm Beach Countyand the Presbytery of Tropical Florida. This will require an uncommon source of power: the power that is released in the lives of those who take the reading of the Bible seriously and personally.
Jesus said, “People won’t live only by bread, but by every Word spoken by God\” (Matt. 4:4 CEB). What is required first is a hunger for God’s Word born out of a desire to be useful to God.