Our habits form us. And I know of no ritual or habit more powerful in this world than daily Scripture reading.
Throughout our lives, we will change. We are not the same person today that we were yesterday. And we will not be the same person tomorrow that we are today. We are constantly being shaped by our culture, friends, and family, the institutions we invest in, what we read and watch, and myriads of other influences in our lives.
That is why daily Scripture reading is so important. Above everything else, we must be shaped by God. We must be transformed by the person of Christ as we find Him in the Word of God.
When we read Scripture, we are “beholding the glory of the Lord,” and “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18). In other words, Scripture reading is not a mere intellectual exercise. Yes, it involves the life of the mind. It involves the cognizant awareness of who the original author was and who he was speaking to. It also includes understanding the grand story of Scripture—the flow of the Old Covenant into the New Covenant and how all of Scripture is ultimately about the Lord Jesus (Luke 24).
But at the end of the day, reading Scripture is about actually seeing and experiencing Christ. We do not just encounter Christ in the Word when we are converted to Christianity like Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 4:4-6. We continually encounter Christ throughout the course of our lives, as we pick up our Bibles. It was Jesus who said that He was the logos—the divine Word of God creating the cosmos and even more astounding, new life in our hearts (John 1:1).
Of course, it is not in our power to magically conjure up Christ when we open the Bible like some type of genie. Rather, the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us in the Word in such a way, that it is actually better that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father and not actually with us in person (John 16:4-15). The Holy Spirit opens up our blind eyes and the dark places of our hearts and brings to us the most beautiful and true Being in the universe: the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is why to see Christ is to be changed by Him. There are no neutral encounters with the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit uses the divine Word of God, as the writer of Hebrews says, “piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb 4:12).
So if we are going to be transformed into His image, through the power of the Word (again using the language of Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:18), we must discipline ourselves daily to attend to this means of grace, the only place in the world, where the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us.
A SUPERNATURAL ROUTINE
Though it seems rote and unremarkable to our world, reading the Bible every day is an exercise of the supernatural. It is an act where we bring our souls before God and ask to see His face. It is an act of humility and contrition before God—where we confess that we are not yet like Christ, but that we desire to be. It as an act of obedience and dependence to God. And probably most importantly, it is an act of honor. It is a statement that says that God is God and we are not.
That’s why I think George Whitefield read Scripture every morning on his knees. The greatest preacher the world has known since the Apostles felt that he was unworthy to receive the Word of God in a posture, which did not reflect the attitude of his heart. So he read his English Bible, his Greek New Testament, and Matthew Henry’s commentary every morning on his knees. He felt that that was the appropriate posture to come to the Lord Jesus. I only recount Whitefield’s routine as a reminder to us, that the great influencers for Christ, throughout the history of the church, have also viewed the daily reading of Scripture as a supernatural exercise.
TURNING BACK TO THE WORD
We often assess our own spiritual lives at the end of December and vow that in the next year, we will read the Bible through in its entirety. Perhaps you made such a commitment, but have missed days or even fallen off altogether. I would like to challenge you afresh in your daily commitment to open up the Bible. This time, I would like you to pick up your daily Bible reading, with the goal of not “getting through the Bible,” but rather, seeing and encountering God. To open up the Bible in hopeful expectation that you will encounter Christ and in so doing, be changed and know His will for your life.
When you read the Bible like that, it becomes addicting and contagious. You get to the point, where you can’t get enough of the Word. Instead of reading four chapters a day, you desire to read through Romans or Mark in one sitting. You work through Isaiah in five days. You hunger for the Word because you hunger for God.
So my challenge to you is this: pick up your Bible right now with the expectation of encountering the Lord Jesus Christ. For those who seek the Lord will find Him when they search for him with all of their hearts (Prov 8:17). And when you encounter Christ daily in the Word, you will be changed. You will be transformed. To the point that when you look back, the real constant in your life will be the discipline of daily Bible reading.