Summary: We know we should read the Bible, but we have LOTS of excuses -- but do these excuses really hold water?
The Mark of Discipleship: Reading the Bible
Delivered on March 21, 2003
The Rev. Dr. W. Maynard Pittendreigh
This is one of 14 sermons in a series delivered by Dr. Pittendreigh and Rev. Dietrich on The Marks of Discipleship. The elders of our church have identified seven marks our that our members should embrace:
1. Spiritual Friendships
2. Serve Others in and beyond the congregation.
3. Pray Daily.
4. Generosity with time, talents and money.
5. Read the Bible.
6. Worship weekly.
Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me. How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.
This morning we ordain and install new elders. Part of the requirement for this service is that we ask specific questions. These are important questions and you heard our elders respond to them just a few moments ago.
Whenever we do this service, I always like to have the questions printed in the bulletin so that you can fully digest and understand what our elders are being asked.
Every question is important, but I want to highlight the second one in particular:
Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word to you?
The Bible is central to everything the elders do in their ministry. The Word of God is important to our faith. So much so that when the elders recently identified seven marks of discipleship that every member of our church should embrace and demonstrate in daily living, one of these marks was “Read and study the Bible.”
Psalm 119 is a long passage, and we read just a brief portion of it a few moments ago.
Verse 16 says, “I will not neglect your word.” But let’s be honest. We often neglect the Word of God.
Now why is that? We know we should read and study the Word of God, but we also know this does not always happen in our daily living.
But our spiritual lives are often like our physical lives.
In the same way that we know we are supposed to read and study the Bible, we also know we are supposed to eat right, get plenty of exercise, and floss our teeth.
We have lots of good reasons not to do the things we are supposed to do.
And when it comes to reading the Bible, we have lots of reasons to put it off until later – or never.
Reason number 1: The Bible is too big!
How many times have we heard that or thought that?
One reason we don’t read the Bible is because we are intimidated by it. It’s such a big, big book. How could anyone ever hope to read through it?
We think of it as being like War and Peace. Now that is a big book – 1,462 pages!
(place a copy of War and Peace on the pulpit)
And admittedly, lots of people do not read War and Peace because it is such a big book.
But is the Bible really such a large book that we ought to be afraid of opening it up?
(Place a copy of the Bible next to the War and Peace copy – do this with a couple of other best sellers)
You know, the Bible is not such an overwhelming large book. It is sort of average size. Why then should we be afraid of opening it up?