The Key to Bible Reading: Knowing Who You Are
In addition to the good points made by Andy Young here on Bible reading, I would like to chime in as well. There is an epidemic of non-Bible-reading among professing Christians that is longstanding and the reason is simple: the church caste system predicated on truth as authority. Find truth on your own in the Bible if you will, but it is only legitimate if confirmed by elitist scholars. Protestant scholars say it all the time: the church has the final say on what is true or not true. “Authority” has been “vested in the elders of the local church.” So, why not just get it straight from the horse’s mouth? Whether Protestant or Catholic you don’t need your Bible; Protestantism merely skins the cat in a different way.
How does one define a biblical “disciple.” The word simply means, “learner.” Wait for it; this is the crux of the issue…does one learn directly from God, or mediators? While the Protestant philosopher kings themselves bemoan Bible illiteracy in our day remember this—this is the end result of hundreds of years of orthodoxy and God’s people being drowned in oceans of Protestant ink coming from the pens of church scholars. Like socialism, people keep doing it even though the results speak for themselves. And as the saying goes that’s the very definition of “insanity.” As Ronald Reagan once asked, “After four years are you better off?” Four years? The Reformers have had over 500!
Everybody agrees: professing Christians are biblically illiterate. Why? Because Christ’s assembly is a family body NOT an authoritative institution. The body works like all bodies: it’s a collective effort with ONE head. Elders are “overseers” who protect the body through the gift of discernment not multiple heads. Elders attend to prayer and the ministry of the word as watchmen on the wall—not the usurpers of Christ’s headship over the body.
Body wisdom, growth, God’s glory, and body joy will come only ONE way: a collective effort by all members in learning directly from the head! This is also known as the priesthood of believers. EVERY learner is to learn directly from the head and edify the rest of the body. That’s what a true disciple does. In group settings where God’s people come together in order to edify each other, elders lead that effort because they are gifted with discernment but are far from being the final word on all edification. They lead by example and stimulate edification from all members of the body.
That’s who you are as a disciple. You are to do your part in edifying the rest of the body. You are to study in order to show yourself approved. The present state of God’s body as reflected in the institutional church reminds me of the clients I serve; many have few body functions working properly. Spiritually speaking, the institutional church is full of dialysis machines, nebulizers, and wheelchairs. It not only depicts a one-star nursing facility, it actually claims that such decrepitness is the hallmark of spiritual maturity. Pastors of Protestant temples proclaim proudly Sunday after Sunday that Christians are a “train wreck” and “broken.”
In contrast, the Bible calls us to be a man that walks strongly in good health. In my line of work, we call this “homeostasis.”
That’s why you must study your Bible. It is your primary way of edifying others. You must see for yourself that a teaching is true. This is why orthodoxy denies a permanent indwelling of the Spirit that leads the INDIVIDUAL in “all truth.” If you are merely regurgitating orthodoxy, you are spreading disease in God’s body in contrast to edifying it.
That is our motivation for independent Bible study. This is our calling.