From time to time, people will ask for the title of a book they should read to help their faith. They realize that in some areas of their discipleship, they need to deepen their understanding.
For some reason, everyone seems to be surprised by my answer. “Read the Bible.” Whatever book a person may choose to read will always be tested on the anvil of Scripture. The book’s validity will be confirmed or dismissed by the way the authors align their insights to the truth in revealed Scripture.
Yes, there are a lot of books. Yes, there are a lot of good books. I hope you read, and read a lot.
Yet, in NO way does any book replace the Bible in ANY way in the life of the believer. Period.
If you have time to only read one book, read the Bible.
Only the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
Only the Bible is the revealed World of God. What I mean by that is the Bible is where God has chosen to reveal Himself in the witness about God’s greatest revelation—Jesus Christ.
Start with gospels. Read them, and then read them again. Let the words and actions of Jesus be burned into your heart and mind. Know for yourself what Jesus actually said and what He meant in the context of His teachings.
Read the Psalms. Read Proverbs and Romans. Read every book, and then read it again.
God has given us His book. The mysterious wonder of reading Scripture is that we open this Holy Book in the presence of the Author. As we open the Bible, Christ has promised to meet us in our conversation with the text.
Sure, Jesus can do anything He wants, and yes, He can meet you anywhere He wants, but it’s been my experience that Christ meets me—and I meet Him—most consistently when I’m reading my Bible.
So, if you want to know more about Jesus, read the Bible. Want to better understand humanity and yourself? Read the Bible. Want to know the secret to a life well lived? Read the Bible.
Now you have my best suggestion on what book you should read—the Bible. I’ve been reading the Bible almost all of my life and yet, in most ways, I feel like I’m just beginning. Reading the Bible is the most fascinating and life-transforming experience you will ever have.
What are you waiting for? Pick up your Bible and start reading.
We’ve just finished our series preaching through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. To add a little more challenge to this series, we preached the letter in reverse. We started with chapter 6 and went to chapter 1. Here are 10 things I learned preaching through Ephesians…again.
1. People are people.
Although we’re separated from the people and culture of Ephesus by several thousand years, we have a lot in common with them. The issues addressed in Paul’s letter are the same we address every week in our own church—marriage and family, faith and culture, leadership, relationships, and how the gospel impacts every area of our lives. For all of our differences and as much things have changed in our world, people are still pretty much the same.
2. The war may be over, but the battle goes on.
True, Christ has completed His redemptive work. Our future is secure in Him. Yet, our enemy, though defeated, is still fighting. That’s why we have to be dressed in the full armor of God. Every day is a fight.
3. The good news of the gospel impacts every area of our lives.
Our marriages, our roles as spouses and parents, our roles as employers and employees, our place as believers in an unbelieving culture—everything is under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
4. All of us have spiritual gifts, but no one has all of the gifts.
God, in His wisdom, has created a process where we need each other. We are, in the unity of Spirit, more reflective of Christ together than we are individually.
5. God was working before we got here, and He’ll be working after we’re gone.
The divine purposes of God were established before the foundation of time, and His work will continue until He’s completed all that He has promised.
6. Salvation is a gift.
We can’t do anything to earn it, and we haven’t done anything to deserve it. Because it’s gift, we can only receive our salvation in gratitude and live it out faithfully.
7. Each of us was called ON purpose FOR purpose.
Paul was an apostle—by the will of God—called to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul saw his ministry as part of his salvation experience. Yes, we’re grateful for our salvation, but it always involves a call, a mission to which we are sent. They go hand in hand.
8. We didn’t choose Jesus. He chose us.
I always find it amusing when someone tells me they “found Jesus.” I quickly remind them, “Jesus wasn’t lost.”
9. The redemptive work of Christ won’t be defeated.
His victory is “predestined.” The end is already determined, and the victory belongs to Jesus. Because we’re “in Christ,” His victory is our victory.
10. There’s always reason to praise.
Remember, Paul was in prison as he wrote this letter. His first words to the Ephesians? “Praise!” How could Paul say that? Because Paul knew regardless of the situation, God is always working things out for His glory. That’s a lesson I need to learn again and again…
So, there you go. What did you learn going through Ephesians in Reverse? Let me know!
Have you ever had a song get stuck in your head? You don’t even have to like the song, but if you hear it the right way at the right time, you’ll be singing that song for the rest of the day. Reading your Bible can be the same way. You’ll find yourself reading a passage of Scripture that hits you in a particular way, and the next thing you know, you’re thinking about that passage for the rest of the day.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been teaching through the Book of Ephesians. There are so many passages worth memorizing in this letter. I’ve picked out a few. Spend a few minutes getting these passages into your head and heart.
Jesus quoted Scripture from memory. I guess Scripture memorization should be a priority for us as well.
Here are a few verses from Ephesians to get you started:
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength. (Ephesians 1:17-19)
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. (Ephesians 6:11-17)