A Bible reading plan can be a good thing or a bad thing.
Any plan can become legalistic, laborious and will end up being tedious if it becomes the main thing or an end in itself. This can happen very easily and sometimes without even being aware that you have ceased being thrilled about hearing God’s voice and the whole process has become dry and lifeless.
I realize that my next comment may be controversial, but this is why I have misgivings about the plan to read the whole Bible through in a year. It may be great for some people, but if the goal becomes getting through the assigned readings and not getting behind, we have missed the whole point of reading Scripture.
The point of reading Scripture is to discover God and hear His voice to you. That is where the life is, and that can happen in one verse, one chapter, and the Holy Spirit invites you to camp in that passage for a while and let God’s voice and presence touch and change you. In this example, moving on just to stay on some prescribed reading schedule would be the last thing you or I should do.
On the other hand, one of the benefits of a reading plan is that eventually you get around to subjects you typically might not think about.
This morning, my reading in 2 Thessalonians 2, is an example of being surprised by the Spirit during a scheduled reading, according to the plan I use. Paul is describing circumstances immediately prior to the Lord’s return…and says,
“That day will not come unless the rebellion comes first…”
That statement “the rebellion” suddenly had interest for me. The footnote in my ESV Study Bible dismisses the possibility that “the rebellion” is an apostasy of Christians or Jews, as some suppose, but rather “the rebellion of humanity as a whole against God.”
If we could remove ourselves, for a moment, from the subtly increasing warmth of water in the kettle we all live in, it isn’t hard to see this “rebellion” growing all around us and around the world. I was informed, just last night, about churches in India that have had their mail withheld by their local post office for a year. And when they appealed to the officials they were told the State government forbids delivery to their address. They ask if there is any way they can get their mail, and are told no…end of story.
We are seeing examples in our own country of a growing hostility to Christianity and the Gospel of Christ. Even elements of what is called the Christian Church in America is sliding into rebellion against God and His Word.
This is all the fruit of “the rebellion” and clearly signals that it is time for the Church to draw closer to the Lord than ever before, to be more intentional in discipleship and more aggressive in our witness than ever before,
It’s time to return to the basics!
Read on a little further in 2 Thessalonians and you will discover Paul’s own solution to “the rebellion.”
It is in verse 15. “…stand firm, hold to the traditions you were taught by us…”
That is our calling today. Stand firm in the Gospel and the Word of God. Don’t easily give up the traditions of the faith handed down to us by faithful servants of the Lord who have gone before.
I value the new thoughts and ideas being recommended as a basis for church ministry in our day. The only caution is that they are untested by time, and few of us know where the final dominoes will fall that are recently set in motion.
I value more those thoughts and ideas concerning the Christian life and ministry that have been handed down to us by those who have gone before, that have stood the test of time and have proven themselves to be the true fundamentals of the faith.
That is the safest place to stand firm!
By Alec Rowlands