Read your Bible

Thanks to Todd Bumgarner who pointed me to this long quote by Bishop J.C. Ryle about the importance of reading your Bible. Here is a piece:

You live in a world where your soul is in constant danger. Enemies are round you on every side. Your own heart is deceitful. Bad examples are numerous. Satan is always laboring to lead you astray. Above all false doctrine and false teachers of every kind abound. This is your great danger.

To be safe you must be well armed. You must provide yourself with the weapons which God has given you for your help. You must store your mind with Holy Scripture. This is to be well armed.

Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of the written word of God. Read your Bible regularly. Become familiar with your Bible. . . . Neglect your Bible and nothing that I know of can prevent you from error if a plausible advocate of false teaching shall happen to meet you. Make it a rule to believe nothing except it can be proved from Scripture. The Bible alone is infallible. . . . Do you really use your Bible as much as you ought?

There are many today, who believe the Bible, yet read it very little. Does your conscience tell you that you are one of these persons?

Ephesians 6:10-19 talks about putting on the full armor of God in order to be able to stand against the schemes of the Devil. John MacArthur’s commentary on Ephesians turned me onto something several years ago.

Verse 17 says that we need to “take….the sword of the spirit which is the word of God.” The greek word for sword is “machaira” and the greek word for word is “rhema“. A machaira was a short sword or dagger. It was not the long broadsword that we think of a Roman or ancient Greek soldier carrying. In addition, a rhema is “a word” not “the word” which would have been “logos.”

Paul in Ephesians 6:17 is giving us a picture of scripture as a very specific word used by the Holy Spirit in a precise situation where that scripture would be useful, much like a dagger has to be used at close range and in a very particular manner. Daggers and short swords are both offensive and defensive weapons. They must be used both to thrust at an opponent to harm them, but also to parry the thrust of that opponent.

The only way that the sword/dagger of the Spirit, can be useful to a Christian wearing the full armor of God, is if that Christian has taken the time to prepare for the moment when a particular rhema is needed for either offense or defense.

What Bishop Ryle was stressing over a hundred years ago is the same thing that Paul was telling Timothy. A worker for God must study, be diligent, in order to be ready. It is also what Jesus told His disciples when he sent them out. They needed to be as wise as serpents.

We must read and know the Bible so that when we get in a situation where we can be used by God to speak His word to someone, we have a rhema that is fit to be used ready to go. If we have done our part, then Jesus promised us that the Holy Spirit would do his part and bring the word to our mind.

Of course, the overriding reason why we read the Bible is because we get to read the Bible.  God breathed it out for us to have in order to get to know Him better.  As persons who love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, we want to spend time in His word so that He can speak to us.  A nice side benefit of this passionate pursuit of God’s word is that we have a rhema fit for the occasion ready to go at all times.


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