Many Christians today are not experiencing spiritual growth. And when an individual Christian stops growing spiritually, it affects the whole church. My friends, this should not be. God has given us His Word to strengthen us, encourage us, and guide us in godliness for our good and His glory. It is a wondrous gift!
However, I know Christians who spend years in God's Word, reading it faithfully every day, who go to church all the time, and yet they remain unchanged, like infants in the faith. In fact, some of them are even hardened—they exhibit no fruit, their life is a mess, and they rationalize their sin. How can people read the Bible, hear the Word of God expounded faithfully, and remain unchanged Sunday after Sunday, Bible class to Bible class, seminar to seminar, retreat to retreat?
If we try to know about God without taking a hard look at ourselves and our lives, . . . it will become nothing but head knowledge.
A RIGHT READING OF SCRIPTURE
The problem is not with the Bible. Rather, there is something deeply wrong with us—a sharp, two-edged sword is glazing off our skin without drawing any blood. The problem is not the time that you spend in reading the Word but in how you are reading it. If you read it for head knowledge only, as Paul said, that knowledge will puff you up (see 1 Corinthians 8:1).
Study the Bible absolutely. Avail yourself with commentaries—I do it all the time. Read other books, without a doubt. Go to Bible classes, yes. But do it for the purpose of knowing God better, of knowing yourself better, of knowing others better, so that you become wiser, more discerning, stronger, more loving (with the kind of love that calls sin sin)—in short, so that you become more like Christ.
If we try to know about God without taking a hard look at ourselves and our lives, if we just want to accumulate Biblical knowledge, it will become nothing but head knowledge—statistics and correct theology, yes, but dull, lifeless facts all the same. We need to read Scripture in such a way that when we read the story of David, we learn that God forgives sins and that those sins have consequences. We need to study the story of Elijah and know that times of discouragement and defeat will follow times of victory so that we can be prepared to hold fast. When we read the story of Jonah, we must recognize that when we wander away from the will of God, He will discipline us—we can't get away with our disobedience. That's how we must come to the Word of God—knowing that it is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Sometimes I hear Christians talk about the Bible like it's a vending machine—you just put your quarter in, push the button, and get your product out. But it doesn't work that way. Rather, we come to the Bible with the goal of self-exposure, that the sword of the Word might penetrate to our souls and transform us from the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit.