Many of you are already well on your way to reading through the Bible in 2021. Like every other year, you’ve heard the call: “Let’s read through the Bible together this year.” Sadly, though, the resolve to read lasts for about a month or two. Then life’s demands and the pressures of each day suppress the commitment we earlier made. How can we not let that happen again this year?
I want to suggest that our failure to maintain our pledge to read Scripture consistently is largely due to a misunderstanding of what we think we’ll find in reading God’s written Word. What I want to suggest is that we recognize that in reading Scripture we encounter the resplendent glory of Jesus Christ himself.
Here at Bridgeway, in 2021, we are reading through the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, together with the book of Acts. Not just once, but repeatedly. Why?
I love the way John Piper answered that question in his excellent book, Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Crossway, 2017). Piper responds to the question, “How can we see and savor the glory of God when we have never set our eyes on Jesus or heard him speak with our ears?” He points us to the gospel of John where the apostle’s “answer is that the Holy Spirit would come and enable him and the other eyewitnesses to put what they saw into words (John 14:26; 16:13), so that people could see the glory of Christ by reading and so believe and have eternal life” (67).
Did you hear that? The Holy Spirit enabled the biblical authors to put what they saw of Christ and his glory into words that, when read, would enable us to “see the glory of Christ” no less clearly than they did. Do you believe that? I do. Many struggle with their faith. They labor to believe. How might we find the power to overcome the drift into lifeless skepticism and doubt? It is by reading! Believing, says Piper, “comes by reading what is written, because reading what is written is a window onto the glory of Christ” (68).
Look closely at what John said in the opening verses of his first epistle:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete (1 John 1:1-4).
John repeatedly refers to what he has seen and heard and was made manifest to him and others who walked and talked with Jesus. “And four times he says that what he has seen is now being turned into what he testifies and proclaims and writes” (Piper, 68). Of what significance is this? What is John’s aim? Simply this:
“[His] intention is that the faith and life he received by seeing the glory of Christ, his readers would also be able to receive by seeing what he saw—the glory of Christ shining through the inspired writing” (68).
I’ll say it again: “the glory of Christ shining through the inspired writing!” If you have resolved this year to read Scripture faithfully and consistently, you will see the glory of Christ shining through the inspired text. Knowing that this is what awaits you in the words of God’s Word will, I believe, sustain you in that commitment and supply you with the energy and endurance you need not to give up.
So, whether you have chosen to read through the entire Bible, or selected segments of it, or perhaps like us at Bridgeway you have committed to read repeatedly through the four gospels and Acts, behold the glory of God!