Summary: According to surveys 78% of Americans are Christians but only 9% of Americans read the bible every day. Perhaps this is because one must go beyond reading the bible merely for the sake of reading the bible; we must truly consume the bible.
Consuming the Gospel
Remember the vision of glory that Ezekiel had. The Lord spoke to Ezekiel saying: “Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.” Then Ezekiel looked, and behold, a hand was extended to him; and lo, a scroll was in it. When the Lord spread it out before Ezekiel, he saw that it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe. Then the Lord said to Ezekiel: “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So Ezekiel opened his mouth, and the Lord fed him the scroll. The Lord said to Ezekiel: “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then Ezekiel ate the scroll, and it was sweet as honey in his mouth. Ezekiel was told to eat, to consume, the Word of God. This kind of makes you think: when was the last time I consumed the bible rather than just read it?
When one goes beyond reading the bible merely for the sake of reading the bible, then one will truly consume the bible.
Reading Beyond the Words
According to a study, “The Bible in American Life," conducted by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, only 9% of Americans say they read the Bible daily. That is most interesting when you consider that a recent Pew Research Center survey reveals around 78% of Americans claim to be Christians. It is not our purpose, however, to discuss why most people fail to study God’s Word. It goes without saying that some people who call themselves a Christian believe and some do not; some are mature Christian and some are not; some are morally receptive and some are not; some have faith and some have not; some yield to the Holy Spirit and some do not. Thus, it is only to those chosen few, that band of brother and sisters who love the Word of God, that this letter is directed. To you it is written, beware of falling into the habit of reading the bible because we think it is our duty to read the bible. When we read out of a sense of duty we become nothing more than gleaners … we get just enough to survive. On the other hand, when the bible is our wheat field, and we are the harvester instead of a gleaner, we get more than enough to make us healthy and for us to grow in the strength of the Lord, and for us to share with others. (Leviticus 23:22) There is a major difference between just reading words and digesting a message from the Holy Spirit. That is why when we take so little as one bible sentence into our spiritual belly it is far more profitable to us than a thousand sentences taken into our mortal mind.
For example, let us examine the Jerusalem Letter provoked by Paul and Barnabas. When Paul and Barnabas arrived at Antioch, after their first missionary journey, they gathered the church together and they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Their message was well received by all but those men who had come down from Judea and began teaching that unless a man is circumcised, according to the custom of Moses, they cannot be saved. Paul and Barnabas had great dissension with those teaching circumcision and they debate with them before the brethren of the church at Antioch. After much deliberation, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and elders, and get this issue resolved.
When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the Apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. Most seemed to agree with Paul and Barnabas, but some of the sect of the Pharisees, who had become believers, disagreed. They stood up and said: “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” Still, after much deliberation the Apostles and the elders, with the whole church, decided to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; and they sent this letter with them.
“The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”