Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Growth in Bible Intake and Learning

Just as there is no substitute for proper diet and exercise if one wants to be physically healthy and strong, there is no substitute for the spiritual disciplines if one desires to grow spiritually. The spiritual disciplines, as explained by Dr. Donald Whitney, are: Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. There are different ways to pursue each of these disciplines; the following commitments have been helpful in my personal "Bible intake" and "learning."

Bible Intake: Taking Time to Pursue Questions of the Text

A commitment to read through the Bible in a year (or in two years, depending on the schedule you use) is a good thing, but some people can become so focused on reading Scripture cover-to-cover every single year that they virtually never take the time to slow down and contemplate what they are reading. I have experienced this myself: I will be reading several chapters on a yearly schedule, and I will have questions about certain verses in those chapters, but the next day I am on to the next set of chapters and my previous questions are forgotten.

It is good to consciously allot some time to consider questions arising from the text, even if it means that there are some years in which you do not complete a reading of Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. Writing down at least some of the questions that come to mind while reading the Bible, and then diligently, prayerfully seeking the answers to those questions can lead to greater confidence in the Word of God and greater understanding of how different Bible passages relate to one another.

(To see one example of where I have worked through a text that I initially found difficult, read "Faith Seeking Understanding: Deuteronomy 22:28-29." Tim Challies also occasionally works through difficult texts on his blog; for example, see: "Does Genesis 2 Contradict Genesis 1?")

Learning: Taking Time to Dig Into Specific Doctrines

Pick a doctrine from systematic theology, and take a year to carefully study that doctrine. Seek to understand what the Bible has to say about the specific doctrine that you pick, and then turn to Church Fathers and theologians, seeking to understand what they have to say about the relevant Bible texts. Examination of a particular doctrine can be a great help to evangelism; if you have carefully studied the Trinity, you will be able to provide a much more confident and effective testimony to any Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, or Muslim that you might meet. Examination of a particular doctrine can be a great help to worship; if you have carefully studied God's sovereignty and providence, then you will be better equipped to give God all the glory for any good thing that happens in your life as well as retaining confidence in Him during the trials of life.

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