The Lamp and Light
Some at CGC have decided to read through the Bible together over the next 1-3 years using a Bible reading plan by David Schrock. The aim is less about a daily checklist or reading a variety of passages from different books each day, but more about reading larger books and sections together over a month with the goal of getting Scripture into us. For those who struggle with daily plans or who, like me, tend to turn daily reading into a legalistic exercise, this is a nice change of pace. To begin he encourages us to read and meditate on Psalm 119 at the end of the year.
We can all admit 2020 has been an interesting, challenging, and difficult year for many of us. We’ve found ourselves consumed with fear, anxiety, politics, even anger. This has lead to a more worldly mindset in myself and one not fixed as clearly on heavenly and eternal matters. I need a course correction. And, as our confession says in its opening line, the Bible ”is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.” Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.“ Without the word of God we are stumbling around looking for meaning and purpose where there is none, tripping over our sin and the hurdles of this world, and maybe only by accident occasionally moving in the right direction. We need a lamp and a light.
So how does the word do this? Do we just pick it up and read and, voila!, the light of God shines upon us and everything goes well? No. But a lot of times we treat the word like that. So what do we do? First, read in faith with an eye toward Christ. The word reveals the person and work of Christ to the glory of God and orients us toward him. As our pastor from our sending church, Matthew Emadi, often says, “Knowing God is the most practical application we can make.” Don’t look primarily to the word to figure out what you should do today but to know God and yourself. The Bible is a sharp, two edged sword that discerns our hearts and leads us to the throne of grace. And this must be grasped by the Spirit through faith. Open the word with a heart of faith and it will light your way to Christ.
Second, read the word with a heart of obedience. We aren’t saved by our keeping the law and we don’t advance our salvation by obeying the law. But the law does reveal the perfect character of God. In Christ, we receive his perfection and righteousness and we are daily being conformed into his image. This means our lives should gradually come more and more into line with his commands. And, grace upon grace, the Bible tells us what those commands are! We aren’t left guessing about who God is and what he wants. Simply put, we are to love God and love one another. This command reveals our misery in that we cannot fulfill this on our own. It gives us joy when we see that Jesus has fulfilled it in our stead. And it gives us direction for how our lives should look day by day. Can we say with David in Psalm 19 that we love the law of God? We will if we set our hearts to obey it and find it the delight of our reborn souls.
Lastly, read the word with a redemptive view. When you find yourself reading the stories of Genesis, the laws of Leviticus, the geneologies of Chronicles, or the letters of Paul, you are reading a single book written a divine Author with one story. Every part fits into a whole and reveals the most important story of all - the story of God’s love for sinful humans and his work to save them from their sins by fulfilling the law and bearing the penalty himself. Should we fear when the whole world seems to be falling apart? Not one bit. Why? Because we believe in the God who parted a sea for his people and even when he exiled them from their home he never left them or forsook them. When we read the stories of Scripture what we are seeing is the pattern and story of how God serves and loves his people. So whether our lives look more like David’s or Job’s our God remains the same and, like Abraham, we look for a city not built with human hands.
So read the Bible often. Read it together. Let it read you and live in you. It is your lamp and your light in a dark world. And in his light we are safe. Happy New Year!