I was standing at the door shaking hands after church when John* said to me, “Can someone please explain the Bible to me?”
1. "Can someone please explain the Bible?"
I’d been praying for some time that God would lead me to someone with whom I could read the Bible. But, typically slow to see God’s answers to my own prayers, I racked my brain to think of someone to read the Bible with John. “Come back next week,” I said, weakly. Thankfully, John did return the following week, and by then I had worked out that I could read the Bible with him! So we began reading the Bible together each week early on a Wednesday morning.
Come back next week
We started with Mark’s Gospel, and on the first day, we read just the first three verses. “What is the Bible, anyway?” John asked. We didn’t get far on that first day!
2. "What is the Bible?"
Over the weeks it was a privilege to sit alongside someone who had never read the Bible before and, as a result, had many original insights as well as many thoughtful questions.
John would often comment, “My culture is not like Bible culture, but Western culture is Bible culture”. It was with some poignancy I had to inform John that Western culture is in the process of rejecting or forgetting its biblical heritage more and more.
Western culture is in the process of rejecting biblical heritage
3. "Why did the disciples leave their business to follow Jesus?"
As Mark’s Gospel focused our attention on Jesus, John became more interested and challenged by him. Why did the disciples leave their businesses to follow Jesus, when that made them poorer, not richer? Why didn’t Jesus heal the paralysed man straight away? Why did Jesus associate with people “below” him?
Eventually, we got to the death of Jesus and the curtain in the Temple tearing in two. We looked at what the Bible says about the curtain in the Old Testament and then in Hebrews: “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body” (Hebrews 10:20).
4. "We can come into God's presence?"
John asked,”We can come into God’s presence because of Jesus’ death?” And then my friend paused for a moment and considered the outcome of Jesus’ death on the cross. A trace of moisture appeared in his eye as he said, “This is amazing love”.
"This is amazing love"
After reading the Bible together for many months, John was baptised and confessed his trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins, and his desire to serve and follow Jesus as Lord for the rest of his life.
The power of the Bible
From the first chapter of the Bible we learn that God’s word is sovereign and life-giving. By his word, God blesses and commissions the first humans and dignifies them, making them accountable for their obedience to the word he has given them.
Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).
The apostles teach the first Christians that it is through an “imperishable word preached to them” that they have been born again (1 Peter 1:25) and that they received the gift of the Holy Spirit when they believed the gospel that they heard (Galatians 3:2).
Scripture is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15) and the word of God’s grace is able to build us up, and keep us for our inheritance (Acts 20:32).
Scripture is able to make us wise to salvation
Who can you ask questions with?
I know of no better way to share the gospel with others than simply sitting down together and prayerfully reading the Bible. Is there someone you long to see come to know Jesus or grow in Jesus, who you could ask to read the Bible with you? It might be someone at church who is a young Christian, or someone who is just trying to find out what it’s all about. Perhaps a neighbour or a work colleague with whom you could grab 30 minutes before work or over lunch?
Many of us have had the privilege of being fed the word of God for many years by faithful Bible teachers at church. Many “average” Sydney Anglicans are better trained in reading our bibles than the legion of evangelists and church planters who are taking the simple gospel message into unreached parts of Africa and Asia.
Chances are you could be a great encouragement and help to someone who would benefit from reading the Bible with a willing, humble and prayerful partner. And the encouragement flows in all directions!
Why not ask your minister (and the Lord!) to help you find someone to read Scripture with? After all, we “do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”.
*not his real name