Notes to Pigrims #1
Contrary to what you may have heard from other Christian ministers in the past, daily Bible reading is not a requisite for authentic Christianity. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we commanded to read the Bible on a daily basis. In fact it would have been virtually impossible for anyone in the early church to keep a command like that. I am positively certain that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself would not have been able to keep such a command. How was that, you ask? Simple. Individuals did not own Bibles back in the day. That’s right, the cost of owning your very own neatly bound copy of Holy Writ was so prohibitive that only synagogues and churches had them.
In addition, one would be hard-pressed to find a command in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt peruse thyself daily to prayer and to the reading of God’s Holy Word which shalt be known to thee as thine Quiet Time.” The consistency of one’s devotional life, after all, does not define one’s identity in Christ. So if you’re one of those Christians who regularly suffer ‘quiet time guilt,’ or the fear that God would not bless you if you skipped a day from your Daily Bible Reading Plan, please permit me—a Christian minister—to say this to you: it is not true that you need to read your Bible everyday and it is not true that God’s blessings or favor towards you are contingent upon your consistency in keeping a Daily Quiet Time.
Whenever the Bible speaks of God’s blessings and favor upon believers (e.g. Ephesians 1), these are always spoken of in terms of their being ‘in Christ.’ Christ—by His perfect life, death, and resurrection—has vicariously secured acceptance, favor, peace, and indeed salvation for His people before God! And this is the good news, that all who turn away from their works-based self-sufficiency and humbly turn by faith to Jesus are numbered among His people. They are accepted before God on account of Christ’s merit and not their own. They are therefore freed from ‘obeying in order to be accepted’ since they are already accepted in Christ. They are accepted therefore they obey. As such the frequency of one’s Bible reading does not change the fact of one’s standing before God.
So does this mean that we are to do away with Bible reading altogether? Not at all! The discipline of Bible reading is something that believers do well to put into practice because the Bible is where the Christian encounters his Christ. Towards the end of his life, Paul told Timothy to continue in the faith that he’s learned and believed from the ‘sacred writings, which are able to make [him] ‘wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ (2 Timothy 3:14-15). You see the Bible is all about the gospel (i.e. good news), which is all about Jesus. And here Paul urges Timothy to continue in this—the gospel. Timothy was already a believer yet Paul’s advise to him was to continue reading and studying the ‘sacred writings’ because it is there that he finds Christ. The goal of Bible reading therefore must—first and foremost—be that we would be brought to a deeper love for Jesus and appreciation for His beauty and glory in the gospel of the cross. So how often do we need to read the Bible? Just as often as we need Jesus. Is this a command to follow? No but it is certainly wisdom for the wise.
—Pastor James (firstname.lastname@example.org)