For the past weeks, we have been looking at reading the Bible as an expression of loving God with all our hearts and with all our souls. We've seen what it means to know God, and in this post, we will explore how we love God with all our minds, and what it means to make Him known.
If I were ask 10 Christians to define the word “evangelism”, 9 out of 10 probably be able to do so. But if I were to ask this same group to perform evangelism by explaining the gospel to me in five minutes, I’ll get a whole host of different responses! Probably by far, the most common reaction to this would be horror and fear.
Don’t laugh! This phenomenon amongst believers ought to cause us a great deal of concern. Here is another example. Many of us know the Great Commission in Matt 28:19-20 by heart. But just how many of us know how to respond to a younger Christian that asks, “Will you teach me what I need to do to observe Jesus’ commandments?”
What will you say?
My point is simple: Many of us know that the Bible commands us to evangelise and disciple others, but just how many of us know what is required to carry out these commandments faithfully? Are we always prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope we have in Jesus (1 Pet 3:15)? If we are not able to clearly articulate our Christian faith, it might be an indication that we ourselves don’t know what we believe in.
Knowing God vs Knowing about God
Theologian J.I. Packer makes a distinction between knowing God and merely knowing about God. Bible reading can come across as an intellectual exercise. For some, the tendency is to reduce it to the study of an academic text, without seeing the God of the Bible. And on the other extreme, others are likely to shy away from reading it because it is too intellectual and they’d prefer to “find God” through other means.
Yet, we can never succeed in telling others about Christ if we ourselves do not know Him (Who is He? What has He done?). That’s why reading the Bible is more than just an intellectual exercise to tickle our brains. We are commanded to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom (Col 3:16). We should strive to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge that we may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph 3:19). If we truly seek to know God, we need to seek the things that are above and set our minds upon them (Col 3:1-2).
Reading the Bible to feed our minds
Let's take a look at 3 principles that can help us when we read our Bibles.
1. We should read our Bibles with expectancy that God will reveal Himself to us
The psalmist David models for us the right posture in approaching the Scriptures. He cries to God in Ps 119:33-35:
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
We need the grace of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Scriptures to us. By grace, we need to humbly submit before the authority of God’s word and seek to apply it to our lives daily.
2. We should read our Bibles with the objective of growing in maturity in Christ through the renewal of our minds
In 1 Cor 13:11, Paul uses an analogy of giving up childish ways and reasoning when he grew up into a man. Then, he explains what Christian maturity is in Romans 12:2, to no longer be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of the mind, and that by testing, we will be able to discern what is God's good, acceptable and perfect will. The author of Hebrews puts it similarly “for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Heb 5:13-14).
Growing in Christ involves us being renewed in our minds through the daily reading of His word. As we grow in our understanding, we will be able to discern between truth and falsehood.
3. We should read our Bibles with the mission of becoming better witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ to the world
We need to read our Bibles to know what is the God of the Bible like - His character and attributes. The apostle Peter connects the mind with a call to holiness in his letter in 1 Pet 1:13-16:
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.
Just like how messengers wear emblems that represent their sender, we are to don the “clothing” of a citizen in the Kingdom of God. This is what Paul means in Eph 4:23-24 when he calls the church “to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Only when we know Him, can we make Him known
When we read the Bible, it is important to engage our minds in the process. God’s Word shows us our mission, and equips us for it. Reading the Bible is key for our mission and maturity. The mission for every Christian is to know God first by reading His word. And by knowing Him well, we will be better equipped to make Him known to the world.
Posts in this series: