The Discipline of Bible Intake (1)
“The Alternative to Discipline is Disaster”
Last week we considered 1 Timothy 4:7-8 “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (NIV) Training yourself carries the idea of disciplining yourself.
This week we will begin a journey that will introduce us to what have been referred to as the classical Christian disciplines. Donald Whitney defines the spiritual disciplines as “those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth. They are the habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times.”
No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Two texts of scripture need to be mentioned:
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”(John 17:17)
“That He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word.” (Ephesians 5:26)
The point is actually quite simple, there can be no spiritual growth, which is not rooted and grounded in and consistently fed by biblical truth. In the book How People Grow, Henry Cloud and John Townsend state that “the Bible stands alone as God’s only perfect guide to life and growth.” (2001, 191) To the extent that our spiritual life ignores this, it is deficient. That is a strong statement, but a painfully true one.
When the Bible speaks, God speaks, and if there is ever a desire to grow to Christlikeness then the Bible has to be prominent. The Bible sanctifies (John 17:17) and defends from temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). It’s preaching was at the heart of Paul’s missionary journeys (Acts 13:5, 44, 46; 17:2; 18:4; 20:32). Just as babies desire milk to grow, so ought the believer desire the Word to grow and to keep on growing (1 Peter 2:2).
I will conclude with a quote from Donald Whitney’s excellent book “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.”
No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There is simply no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of scripture. The reasons for this are obvious. In the Bible God tells us about Himself, and especially about Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God. The Bible unfolds the law of God and shows us we’ve all broken it. There we learn how Christ died as a sinless, willing substitute for breakers of God’s law and how we must repent and believe in Him to be right with God. In the Bible we learn the ways and will of the Lord. We find in scripture how to live in a way that is pleasing to God as well as best and most fulfilling for ourselves. None of this eternally essential information can be found anywhere else but in the Bible. Therefore if we would know God and be Godly, we must know the Word of God – Intimately.
I will pick up from here next week … See You Sunday,