Americans have become Biblically illiterate. Don’t believe me? Check out this quote from Christianity Today:
Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. http://www.christianity.com/1270946/
Today I was reading in John 6. The chapter starts with Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. It ends with nearly all of Jesus’ followers deserting Him because of the analogy He draws from that miracle.
The religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign, reminding Him that Moses gave them manna in the wilderness as a sign of his authority. Jesus takes their challenge:
Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” – John 6:32-33 ESV
He then tells His listeners that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Talk about a way to clear a room.
To fully understand what Jesus is trying to say, we must look back to how John opened up this Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. – John 1:1-2 ESV
Jesus’s point is that He is the Bread of Heaven. We “eat” (I know that sounds bizarre, just go with it) Him by fully internalizing the Scriptures, where we find His very essence.
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4 ESV
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. – Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV
One way to do that, is to make a commitment to the discipline of daily Bible reading. And when most Christians think of that, they think of reading through the entire Bible in one year. Why is this a good idea?
1. It is Spiritual Food
God said this in the Old Testament, and Jesus said it again in the New. The Word of God is spiritual food. No one thinks that much about whether or not they should eat every day. We just do it. We don’t over analyze things. We don’t wait for the perfect meal. When we’re hungry, we eat. Some times we enjoy our meal more than others. Most days we can’t remember what we ate yesterday. That’s not the point. We need to eat to survive. It’s the same with our spirit. The Word of God is spiritual food, and most Christians are eating one or two meals a week. No wonder we’re dying.
2. It Increases Biblical Knowledge
Reading the entire Bible through in a year prevents us from parking in the few books or passages that we really enjoy, and ignoring the parts we don’t. The Bible has a lot to say, and some of it we don’t want to hear. Reading through the Bible in a year forces us to focus on the whole thing. And when we do that, we learn much more. For example: many Evangelical Christians love to read and study The Revelation. They know all about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Two Witnesses. But those same Christians rarely if ever read the Old Testament, and have no idea that those same Four Horsemen and Two Witnesses are in the Book of Zechariah. Reading through the Bible in a year, just makes for more well rounded Biblical students.
3. Builds Spiritual Discipline
I know, discipline is a bad word. We don’t like what it takes to build it. But spiritual disciplines is essential to spiritual growth. My amazing wife made a decision about three months ago to lose weight. She’s been dieting and working out every day since. And she’s looking more and more like the hot 19 year old that I picked up in a parking lot (not really – inside joke) eighteen years ago. It hasn’t been easy, and the results didn’t come overnight. But her physical discipline is yielding amazing results. But this is happening only because she’s been watching what she eats even she doesn’t feel like it, and working out every morning, even when her body doesn’t want to. Imagine what will happen if you build this level of spiritual discipline into your life?
Reading through the Bible in a year isn’t easy. But believe me, if you do it, it will change your life. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to do it.