Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Bible-Reading: Works or Grace?

"We study the Bible because it is the whole counsel of God."

Is Bible-reading work?

Notice the question is not "Does Bible-reading work?" That is a different question altogether. "Is Bible-reading work?" could be answered in a couple of different ways.

If one is wondering if committing to devotional time in Scripture is laborious, the answer is that it depends. Many people (and this is a growing demographic!) spend little time in books; therefore, reading is difficult for them. Compared to digital screens that feature short, entertaining video and audio, reading seems as antiquated as washing clothes by hand. Additionally, those who have lost their fire for the Lord don't have the motivation (at least not the proper motivation) to spend time in the word. Yet, for those who read regularly and are filled with the Spirit, reading the Bible is not work at all, but rather an activity as desired as eating a favorite meal.

If one is wondering if committing to devotional time in Scripture is a religious work we pursue (as opposed to God's grace that we experience), the answer is that once again it depends. Any grace can be made a work of the flesh if a person has an erroneous viewpoint--salvation itself serving as a great example. What Roman Catholics have done with salvation by grace alone is Exhibit A in this discussion.

There's also the reality that hearing from God is a cooperative effort. For someone to hear God's voice in the Bible, he must put in the effort (or, "work") of taking up his Bible to read it. So, is Bible-reading apart from grace?

As Paul may have said: "May it never be!" Instead, reading the word of God is one of the Lord's designated means of grace in the lives of believers. These means (prayer and fellowship are a couple other examples) are not sacraments employed to earn something from God. Instead, as it says in John MacArthur's and Richard Mayhue's Biblical Doctrine, "God uses various means to bring blessing, strengthen faith, and cultivate spiritual growth in the lives of His people... They are the instruments through which God's Spirit graciously grows believers in Christlikeness as He fortifies them in the faith and conforms them into the image of the Son," (780).

So, for the one who is rightly oriented in this endeavor, it could be said that Bible-reading is no more work for the Christian than absorbing the life-giving sunlight and rainfall is work for the lilies of the field. Bible-reading is a marvelous means of grace.

No comments:

Post a Comment