During my sophomore year of high school my eyes were opened to the truth of the gospel through the preaching of God’s word in my local church. I was given the grace to see God for all his worth, my sin for what it truly was, the beauty of Jesus, and the incredible gift of the cross. I finally understood that faith was the means to enter into a relationship with a lovingly sovereign God.
As God began to move and work in my life, the greatest discipline that I discovered was reading His written word. God gave me a supernatural hunger and desire to consume and meditate on scripture. I am seeing fruit in my life today because of the daily discipline of scripture reading yesterday. As we strive to be carriers of the good news of Jesus, I don’t see many other thing as important as daily Bible reading.
For youth pastors and Christians desiring to share the gospel, I see three primary ways in which we should read the Bible as we long and make it our aim to be more like Christ.
Read the Bible to Feed Yourself
Primarily, read the Bible to feed yourself. Now, I know this isn’t a crazy radical encouragement, yet it is crucial to understand that whether we are in vocational ministry or not, we need to be rooted and anchored in the word daily. Not because we have to prepare a message this week, but because we want to joyfully meet Christ in the scriptures. I ask the Lord to give me a deep longing to read scriptures for no other reason than to see and savor the beauty of Christ.
John 15:4 reminds us that apart from him we are useless: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
We are useless and fruitless apart from Christ. We ground ourselves in the Scriptures so that our joy will be full, we will have direction, and our hope in Christ will be a focal point of our lives.
Read Your Bible to Feed Others
Reading your Bible for yourself is priority number one; however, as a minister of the gospel, you have the privilege of being able to teach others the truths that God has revealed to you in His word. This means there is a special opportunity to study, read, and meditate not only for yourself but for the health and spiritual growth of others.
We see the importance of giving ourselves to the study of God’s word for the benefit of others so clearly in Acts 6. The church was growing, and with that growth came more needs that the local body of believers was being expected to meet. In the midst of the busyness, widows were overlooked. The apostles knew their call was to teach and lead, and saw this as an opportunity to let other members of the body of Christ exercise and utilize their giftings. This need was met by Stephen and six other men. (Acts 6:1-4)
In this story we see a desperate need for the widows to be fed and physically tended to; however, the twelve responded in a way that honored the need while still honoring God’s word. They didn’t belittle or negate the task of feeding widows; however, they did prioritize the teaching of God’s word and the necessity of that taking place within the church.
As ministers, God has placed a special calling upon our lives to “devote yourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” That doesn’t mean other ministries shouldn’t take place, it just calls for the ministry of the word to not be neglected.
Read Your Bible in Community
Finally, reading your Bible in community has proven to be a life-changing practice in my life. In my first semester at university, I was invited to a friend’s house for dinner and after dinner he asked if I wanted to read scripture together. A little dumbfounded at the beauty of that invitation, I responded with a resounding yes. We sat on his couch and simply opened the Bible and invited the Holy Spirit to move among us. That night we prayed together, read scripture together, repented of sin together, and expressed our need for a greater understanding of the gospel. I was astounded at how incredible it was reading scripture with another believer.
Often overlooked and underestimated, reading scripture in community can be one of the most beneficial disciplines for young people. When you read scripture with other believers you are unifying God’s people around God’s word and demonstrating your personal devotion in the context of the body of Christ. Reading God’s word in community is a unique way to teach and show others how to create a life oriented around the teachings of Jesus. When reading with other believers you are able to point to age-old truths while still revealing the relevance and desperate need of God’s word today in our culture.
Paul writes to the young pastor Timothy and encourages him in 2 Timothy 2:2: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also.”
Paul is pointing to reading and studying God’s word in community. We see four tiers of people being reached with the gospel in this one verse. We see Paul, Timothy (the recipient of the letter), “faithful people,” and others who will be taught by the faithful people. This is the multiplication effect of discipleship oriented around God’s word. When we read scripture in community and use it as the primary tool to disciple, many generations will be reached with the gospel.
As an individual who has reaped the benefits of these three practices, let me encourage you.
Read your Bible to nourish yourself first and foremost.
Read your Bible in order to share what you have learned.
Read your Bible in the context of fellow believers.
And then see how the Lord uses them to enrich and deepen your walk with Him.