TWO WAYS TO DEAL WITH THE WORD
If we mean business with the Lord, if we seek Him, love Him, and desire to know Him, we need two ways to deal with His word, and we need two ways to pray. The first way to deal with the word is to come to feed on it, to take it as food. This is a basic, important matter. We may illustrate reading and feeding in this way: In order to eat, we must first go to the supermarket, buy the food, and then cook it. Then we have to sit down and eat it. To buy groceries is one thing, but to eat is another. Which is more important, to buy the food or to eat it? On the one hand, if we do not buy it, we will not have anything to eat; on the other hand, there is no point in buying it but not eating. Just as our two ears are equally important, both buying the food and eating it are just as important.
Why then did I stress eating the word in the previous message? It is because of the unbalanced situation in today’s Christianity, and perhaps among us also. We have been too much on one side, just “buying the groceries” and not eating them. In this message, however, I would like to stress buying and preparing the food. In order to have the proper eating, we have to do the shopping and the cooking. In other words, all the brothers and sisters need to learn how to read and study the word.
The Need for Two Times Daily to Deal with the Word
A proper Christian who intends to lead a proper Christian life needs two times daily to deal with the word, one for eating and the other for studying and learning. The first time is in the morning to eat the word. The other time may be at noon, in the evening, or late at night. This is especially true for a young Christian, a new convert who has just started to seek the Lord. More than thirty years ago I received the help that I needed to have two Bibles, a clean one without notes, marks, or diagrams, and another one with marks. In the morning when we come to contact the Lord by eating the word, we should use the clean Bible, while at the other time, when we come to study the word, we should use the one with notes, marks, and diagrams.
In the Bible there are the passages concerning the first way of coming to the word. As we saw in the previous message, some verses show us that the word of God is food for our spirit. Jeremiah 15:16a says, “Your words were found and I ate them,” and 2 Timothy 3:16a says, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” This is one side. On the other side, there are the verses in the Scripture Reading at the beginning of this message. Second Timothy 3:15 says, “And that from a babe you have known the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” In Colossians 3:16 the apostle tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, and in 4:16 he encouraged the church to read his epistles and to cause others also to read them. On this side, we must learn to study the word.
Reading the Entire Bible Once a Year
In order to better study the word, we should arrange a way to finish reading the entire Bible once a year. This requires that we read three chapters in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament each day. On the Lord’s Day, however, we can skip the reading of the chapter in the New Testament and just review what we read in the past six days. This is because there are three hundred sixty-five days in a year but only a little more than two hundred chapters in the New Testament. This is not a hard task. If we desire to do it, we will be able to. It takes about five minutes to read one chapter, eight minutes at most. You can test this by reading Genesis 1; five minutes is enough to read the whole chapter. This means that it will take only half an hour to read the four chapters. I would suggest that the young brothers and sisters obtain a pocket- sized Bible, or if that is too thick, buy a Bible and take it apart to separate the books. You may, for example, carry only the book of Genesis in your pocket, and while you are waiting for someone, open it and read a few chapters. This will save you time.
If we have the heart to do this, I assure you that we will be able. We should not say we are too busy. We are not too busy. Some brothers put a chapter in front of them and enjoy it while they are eating. That does not hurt their digestion; that helps it. We have the way to work it out. If a young believer were under my training, I would require him to read the Bible in a year.
Every day we should spend about half an hour in the morning to feed on the word. At this time we should not read too much. We simply should read and pray according to our understanding. This is the way to eat the word. Then every day we need another half hour to read three chapters of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New, using a few minutes on the Lord’s Day to review what we read throughout the past week. Even in this kind of reading, we should stay in balance and not try to know too much. If we read three chapters in the Old Testament and one in the New, we should not be tempted to do more. To be tempted to do more does not help; it only causes us to be cooked too much on one side—to be burned on one side and raw on the other. Rather, we should keep the rule of reading three chapters plus one.
When we take five to eight minutes for each chapter, we will learn something. Here again we can apply the principle that if there is something we do not understand, we can just let it go. If we understand something, we understand it, but if we do not, we do not; we should leave it and not spend too much time there. However, I am sure we will understand something. We can spontaneously keep in mind what we understand and remember it. By reading a chapter we will get the general idea, the general thought, of it. Then we can also keep that in mind. In the same principle, we should not try to remember more than we are able. If we simply read, spontaneously we will remember something. Over the long term, this will help us. If we practice these two kinds of reading—the reading to feed on the word and the reading to understand something—we will be wonderful Christians after only one year. We will have the proper and genuine knowledge with the adequate growth in life. This is the balanced way to deal with the word.
Some may still say that they are too busy. I sympathize with them. I admit that some are busy, but they still have vacations. In their vacation time they can try their best to make up their account of the three chapters plus one daily. If someone is too busy for one week and has no time to read anything, then he loses twenty-seven chapters, but if he has a day of vacation on the following week, he can read these chapters. This will be easy. I am older than many of you, so the experience of my age allows me to say this. Many dear ones spend more time in reading secular writings, such as newspapers and magazines, than the holy Scriptures. Therefore, to say that we have no time is a lie. If we have the heart, we can do this. If we will, we can. Do we not have even twenty minutes? We do have it.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)