It is important that new Christians develop new habits that will help them grow in spiritual maturity. In this section we shall discuss the first new habit: Bible Intake.
A Holy Habit
We must hear, read, study, and meditate on the Bible regularly because it is God’s Holy Word. It is divinely inspired, divine instruction that is true and trustworthy.
A common objection to the Bible is that it cannot be the “Word of God” because it was written by men. Christians respond by saying: “While it is true that men wrote the Bible, they wrote only what God led them to write.” In other words, while it is true that men wrote the Bible, no man can claim to be its author because the Bible’s author is God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says “all Scripture is inspired by God”. The Baptist Faith and Message (BFM) states this truth in this way:
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man…It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.
Not only is the Bible divinely inspired; it is divine instruction. The BFM says, “It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction.” Where do we go to learn what is right and wrong? Where do we go to discover what God has said we should do and not do? The BFM says the Bible is “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.” We do not base our values on what we think or what the culture tells us, rather we turn to the Bible because it is the only book that is authoritatively from God.
True and Trustworthy
Not only is the Bible divinely inspired divine instruction, it is true and trustworthy. The BFM clearly states: “All Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.” The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy says, “Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.”
A Healthy Habit
Biblical intake is not just commanded by God, it is a blessing. Hearing, reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible is good for you; namely, your head, heart, hands, and home.
Good for Your Head
The Bible tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). If you keep up with the news you will quickly see the evil and depravity of man. God uses the Bible to teach us what is right and to encourage us to right thinking. The Bible teaches us wisdom concerning what is right. When we read the Bible we should ask questions such as: “What does this text say? What is it telling me about God? What is it telling me about myself and the world around me?” We are also instructed in the Bible about how to think. Paul wrote, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things” (Phil 4:8).
Good for Your Heart
We should strive for a clean, pure heart (James 4:8) and fight against a hard, callous heart (Heb 3:13). The Bible says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17:22). This world with its sin and evil will dry you up; only by coming to the Bible and being reminded of God’s holiness, love, and goodness can we find the “good medicine” to bring us joy to our hearts. Only the Bible can truly guide your heart to good and proper things while keeping a proper perspective. The Bible is good for your heart. When we read the Bible we should ask questions such as: “What do I like about the text? What in the text do I struggle with? What truth must I embrace?”
Good for Your Hands
Most people want to do something good with their lives, but are unsure what to do. The Bible is good for your hands because it reminds you that your hands belong to God and should be employed for His glory. We are a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) to God and we are to remember “You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). The Bible tells you to put your hands to work for the glory of God and for the good of others. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” When we read the Bible we should ask questions such as: “How am I going to think, speak, and act differently because of what I just read?”
Good for Your Home
The Bible is good for your home. The family that has Jesus as its foundation is a family that will last. When the rain comes and the wind blows, the firm foundation of Jesus will make sure that the house will not fall. If you try to build your family on any other foundation the house will fall and great will be its fall (Matt 7:24-27). Read the Bible together and talk about God’s Word (Deut 6:4-9).
Practical Helps for this Habit
Picking up a Bible for the first time or after many years can feel overwhelming. Jesus told the church to “observe all that I have commanded” (Matt 28:20) and there is much for us to obey. Here are a few questions that are frequently asked about the Bible.
What are good translations? There are many great translations. Pastor Jeremy prefers the English Standard Version (ESV) and the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). Both provide a good balance between faithfulness to the original language of the Bible while providing an easily understood English translation. Other good translations include: New American Standard (NASB), the King James Version (KJV), and the New King James Version (NKJV). If you have questions about others, contact Pastor Jeremy.
What is a Study Bible and why are they helpful? A Study Bible is a Bible that contains notes that help the reader better understand the meaning and background of the books of the Bible. A good Study Bible is a valuable tool to help you increase your biblical knowledge. Good Study Bibles are: ESV Study Bible, MacArthur Study Bible, and the CSB Study Bible.
I don’t like reading books. Why should I read the Bible? Your commitment to reading the Bible reveals how much you value it. Make it a priority to read the Bible. If you are struggling to read it, there are audio versions of the Bible. The YouVersion Bible app allows you to listen to the Bible.
It’s hard to understand the Bible. How can I? While it may be difficult at first to understand, the more you read and study the more you will learn. For example, most people do not automatically know how to ride a bike and find it difficult at first. If they keep practicing; they soon become more proficient. Therefore, do not use this as an excuse for failure to read the Bible. Make the commitment to study the Bible.
What are Bible Reading Plans? Bible reading plans are helpful because they provide structure to reading the Bible. Some plans take you through the Bible in one year, others guide you through various subjects mentioned in the Bible. Ask Pastor Jeremy or search the internet for Bible reading plans.
What are a few good devotional books? A good devotional book is one that increases your love and appreciation for the Bible. Two books Pastor Jeremy highly recommends are: 1) Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett and 2) Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent. Valley of Vision is a collection of prayers and Gospel Primer reminds us of the need to rehearse the gospel to ourselves daily.