Have You Really READ It?

     “Till I come, give attendance to reading …”1 Timothy 4:13 While written specifically to Timothy, the responsibility is ours as well. Paul said, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Reading is a form of “hearing” and thereby required for the obtaining of faith! Ephesians 3:4 assures us that when we read, we can understand. Paul told Thessalonica the epistle sent to them was to be read unto all the holy brethren. There is no question of the value of reading the Scripture. Returning to Paul’s admonition toward Timothy, notice precisely what he says: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” Each of these requirements requires time, concentration, and determination to please God. It is much akin to Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Read from Peter’s writing what is necessary to add to our faith! (2 Peter 1: 1 – 15)

     Several years ago, a man who had served in WWI and a neighbor to us, showed me his bible. We’d become friends (our oldest son even invited him to attend his 10th birthday party and he came!) and so our conversations were frequent. Fred’s bible was unique in several respects. It was well worn, including tattered pages, small pieces of paper with various notations, and lots of dates. With the Bible containing but sixty-six books in all, Fred determined to read each one at least three times a year! He was an avid reader, so the challenge of reading the entire bible in two months was not inconceivable. So, he dated each time he read a book of the Bible, and then on the back flyleaf, the date of when he finished reading the entire bible. Sure enough, there were three “finished” dates for each year … and this he had done for several years!

     The sad truth is that Fred never obeyed the gospel! It was as if he never learned a thing from his reading. Oh yes, we would discuss it and sometimes argue about the importance of application from the reading of God’s truth. I was preaching a gospel meeting in Illinois when I received the call of his death. He had no family, and his written request was for me to conduct his funeral. I wish he had learned and obeyed from his reading!

     For years I’ve encouraged younger people to devote at least thirty minutes each day to reading God’s Word. It matters not whether it be from the Old Testament or New, as the purpose in this request is to acquaint the reader with God’s Word – all of it! As one gospel preacher taught, “If every Christian obtains a good understanding of the Old Law, they will develop a greater appreciation for the New Law.” In reading the history of Israel, one obtains a better understanding of the importance of the Lord’s church and its requirement to be a glorious church, without spot, blemish, or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:22 – 33). The prophecies teach us what to expect, and the New Testament shows us the fulfillment of these expectations. As Paul states, “The things written aforetime are written for our learning…” (Romans 15:4) We can’t learn them if we don’t read them!

     In recent years, I’ve found reading from two or three separate translations helps me appreciate God’s Word even more! While I personally esteem the KJV as best, reading from the New American Standard Updated and New King James versions add some enlightenment to my understanding and thus the application of God’s Word. I don’t hesitate to use highlighters and pens and make copious notes! But neither do I hesitate to truly read the book!

      Anyone can read a book of any kind for pleasure reading, including the Bible. That’s what my friend Fred did. But it takes a soul desirous of heaven eternal to read the Bible with such diligence as to learn its content and obey God’s commandments for salvation!  It becomes more than a book – it becomes our life (Colossians 3:16 – to “dwell” means to “live”). It behooves each Christian to read it diligently, and by its content, prove all things, holding fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Further, it behooves each Christian to accept this reality – “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2) Yes, others will note our lives, and determine from them whether we are what we claim to be – God’s children. Make no mistake: others read the Bible diligently, but not for reasons we might hope. They read it to see if we are reading and obeying its content! Many in this world love to critique our lives, and often their critique proves to be an accurate assessment.

     So, READ the book … and learn and obey God’s commandments!