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Motivation to Press On in Reading the Bible for Life

Motivation to Press On in Reading the Bible for Life

Dear New Covenant Family,

Mike Jacoby and I have just returned from a very encouraging visit with two of New Covenant’s gospel partnership families overseas, the Wilsons and the Bonifases.  We heard diverse reports of how the Holy Spirit is using the Word of God to break through ground that has long been hardened toward the good seed of the gospel. Our goal for the trip is reflected in Romans 1:11-12: “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” We are thankful to report that this goal was abundantly achieved: by God’s grace, our missionaries were strengthened by the support of New Covenant Bible Church through our visit—and we ourselves were encouraged in our faith and strengthened in our resolve to finish the mission that our Lord Jesus Christ left for his disciples.

One of the joys of the trip was the opportunity Mike & I had to do our Bible readings together. Even our missionaries are encouraged by this joint venture. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, Pam Wilson wrote from Istanbul to say how delighted she was to see New Covenant reading through the Bible this year. She sent a quote  by a man named Ralph Shallis that has meant a lot to her through the years. When she encountered this back in 1982, she committed herself to reading through the Bible every year—and though she has missed the mark a few times, Pam says it continues to be her goal to read through the Bible every year. Let this word encourage you to press on in our Bible reading—and if you haven’t started yet, this week would be a perfect time to dive in as we begin reading the book of Exodus.

From Now On, by Ralph Shallis

Some folks say to me: ‘What you are postulating is an impossible target: you really expect too much! Why, the whole Bible in one year! That is perhaps all right for some intellectuals; or for people with time on their hands, but, as for me, I reckon that to read through the Bible through in five years is an adequate objective!’

To that I reply: ‘Yes, to read the Bible through in five years is not bad. But just figure this out accurately. Let us say you are twenty years old and that you have just met God. Now, if you read the Bible through in five years, that means that, at the age of twenty-five, you will have read it once, but only once. That is well enough as it goes; but think a minute. At the age of twenty-five you are a man or woman at the peak of your strength and with all your faculties developed. You should be in the forefront of the new generation, a man or woman who can see very clearly, who knows the answers, who can now readily discern the true from the false, and who can above all inspire the adolescents who are growing up around you. Yet you have only read the Bible once; you are hardly even a beginner in the things of God. You are still in God’s nursery!

At the age of thirty you may have two children, perhaps three; the eldest will have begun asking you a lot of questions and will already be causing you some anxiety. Your home will be invaded by problems they bring home from school and from the street. In your church there will be young people needing someone who understands their difficulties, and can face their spirit of revolt and their questions with divine wisdom. But you have still only read the Bible twice; you yourself are still at primary-school level so far as the things of God are concerned; you are hardly out of the kindergarten. Yet you are thirty years old, at the very summit of your vitality—mature, no doubt, in everything but the ways of God.

At the age of forty, you are expected to carry the whole burden of the world on your back, including your adolescent family and the church with all its problems. This is the age when a man should be able to achieve his masterpiece. But you have read the Bible through only four times; you are still a mere spiritual ‘adolescent,’ possibly even somewhat retarded since your progress has been so slow. You are still poorly equipped, you do not have much of value to contribute to the agonizing problems of the new generation which is now coming to full age. Instead of being the chief of a thousand in the army of Christ, you are still only bringing up the rear.

Then, at the age of sixty, you will have read the Bible only eight times; you will still be hardly adult. You will have read it so slowly, that you will have forgotten a great deal of its contents each time before beginning again. Why, a man or woman of sixty should be a father or mother of the church, wise, knowing the answers, capable of imparting deep teaching and able to confront the agonizing and critical problems of those forty years of age, as well as those of younger people. Today there is a terrible dearth of such people, for the simple reason that they were not taught when they were young to give sufficient time for God, in order to know His word.

All that is the negative side. Now let us look at the positive side. If you read the Bible in approximately one year, it means that, at the age of thirty, you will have read it through ten times! You will already have a deep knowledge of the things of God. Already you will be saturated with the whole range of His thought. You will have a surprising strength, you will already be a man or woman of God. Then, at the age of forty, you will have read the Bible through twenty times; you will have become a prophet or teacher; you will have a positive message for the rising generation; you will be a source of inspiriting for your children; you will be a pillar of the church. And, when you reach the age of sixty, you will have read the Bible through forty times! You will now have an invaluable and stunning message for young and old. You will know how to give the church of Christ a true direction and save it from error.  You will have an inexhaustible wealth of truth to communicate.  Instead of fading into an insignificant retirement in old age, you will be sought out from all sides because of the heavenly light you can shed on basic and current questions. Oh, my brother, my sister, how I covet you for God, that He may make of you a man or a woman of God!