by William J. Stewart
The desire of every Christian should be to grow in faith. Essential to doing so is a focus on the word of God. Paul stated, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Time spent in the Bible is perhaps the biggest contributor to a growing faith. Conversely, failing to devote sufficient time to the Scriptures will keep us from being what we could be spiritually. Any time in the Bible is good, but not all time spent in the Bible is equal.
There is a great emphasis in Scripture on hearing or reading God’s word. Several times in the Old Testament we find God’s people gathered to hear His word (Deuteronomy 31:10-13; Joshua 8:34-35; Nehemiah 8-9; etc.). Israelite kings were specifically commanded to have a copy of the Law and to “read it all the days of his life” (Deuteronomy 17:19).
The New Testament repeated affirms the importance of hearing/reading God’s word. Several times we find Jesus saying, “have you not read” (Matthew 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:31; etc.). Sadly, we have some brethren who have not. Jesus expected people to be acquainted with His word.
Paul commends all Scripture to us (2 Timothy 3:14-17). Reading both the Old & New Testaments will serve to increase our faith. In his epistles, he urged Christians to read and understand the word (Romans 10:14, 17; Colossians 4:16; Ephesians 3:3-4; 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 1 Timothy 4:13; etc.).
As profitable as reading the Bible will be, if we go beyond that and study, we’ll see our faith flourish. What is the difference between reading and studying? Consider the difference in how we approach a newspaper VS a textbook. Reading is typically quicker than studying. Reading will take you further and faster, and is great to develop a cursory knowledge of God’s word. Studying is a slower process. It requires analysis. It involves cross-referencing, word studies, perhaps even digging into the original Bible languages. Reading serves to acquaint us with the word; studying will increase our understanding and appreciation of what is revealed.
Studying will help us reason, explain and persuade people about the faith (Acts 17:2-3; 18:4; 19:8-9). Diligently studying and rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) will help distinguish us from those twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16), and the destruction of those who hear them (2 Peter 2:1-2, 18-20).
Reading the Bible is a good start. Studying is the logical and wise next step, and will help us grow in faith. There is one more step we need to take in our approach to God’s word—meditation. We’re not talking about sitting cross-legged on the floor, humming a monotone drone. That’s not biblical meditation. Meditation is continued thought on what has been studied. Take it with you throughout your day. Mull it over in your mind. Strong defines the Greek word rendered meditate as to “revolve in the mind.”
The Psalmist encouraged his readers to meditate on God’s word (Psalm 63:6; 119:15, 27, 48, 78, 148; 143:5; 145:5; etc.). Paul urged Timothy to meditate, indicating that if he gave himself entirely to the things of God, the progress of his faith would be evident to all (1 Timothy 4:13-16). But don’t think meditation is a preacher thing—he also compelled Christians in Philippi to meditate on things of God (Philippians 4:8), and doubtless did so in all the churches (1 Corinthians 4:17).
Do you want to grow in the faith? Give attention to reading. Study to show yourself approved. And meditate on these things.