All you you need to do is go into any christian books shop, whether physical or digital, and you will find stacks and stacks of books on topics like how to read and apply the bible, how to understand the reliability of the bible. Those are all great books! But this little book is, as far as I know, the only book of it’s kind.
Before you open your Bible looks invites Christians to have a look at our own hearts and attitudes as we open up our Bibles to feast on the nourishing Word of God.
How many times do we open our Bibles in the morning with a sigh because we’re tired?
How many times do we open our Bibles because we know that we should and not necessarily because we want to?
Matt Smethurst starts his book by asking a question “Have you ever been intimated by the Bible?” most people have either by it’s size, some of it’s more difficult parts to understand or because of boredom, familiarity can kill our motivation to read and grow. Therefore, because we know our weaknesses and our proneness to struggle we need to be aware of and watch how we approach the Bible.
Smethurst writes about 9 postures of the heart that we should be exhibiting as we approach our Bibles. to mention them all here would probably get me into copyright trouble, so I’ll just mention four that stood out as the most challenging to me:
“We should never take for granted that the exalted Creator would befriend the work of his hands. But that’s precisely what he did.”
Humility is not the first thing that jumps into my head when I think about my quiet times, but when you step back and think about what the Bible is you can’t help but be humbled. The Bible is God’s story of salvation, the narrative of how He created a world that would despise Him, promised life and a relationship with those who would kill Him and the message of hope for a world that loves the darkness. The Bible is the great revelation of our great Creator God, it’s a book that speaks of His immensity and in comparison we are grasshoppers.
Smethurst takes the reader directly to God and explains that he is a God who has started the conversation, even though we don’t deserve to hear His voice and even though we constantly fail, He still choice to speak to us in the Bible. Therefore, we should humbly approach God and His Word.
The Bible and Christianity are not just a hobby, Christianity is not just an activity or club that we join to up our social status or to get more friends on Facebook. If we are Christians then we have a new identity, we are new people, a new creation whose desire should be to know God’s Will and live it out. Where can we find this will and purpose? The Bible. Therefore, we need to approach it desperately; learning all we can from it, feasting on the depths of truth that it presents and not just snacking on the bits we like.
The Bible is our source of knowledge about God, Jesus and His plan for the world. It should teach us, guide us, shape us and change us. But it can only do those things we approach it as if our very souls depend on its teaching.
“Your soul will wither and die without your Bible. Approach it desperately.”
We aren’t called to leave our minds out the door when we come to the Bible, but we should be just as, actually more, invested in the study of our Bibles than in any other topic. The Bible is one way that God reveals Himself to the world, therefore, if we want to be good representatives of God we should study His Word to know Him more.
All of our studies in the Bible should make us worship God more and in a more wholesome manner. Our whole lives should be dedicated to the service and worship of our Great God. I remember sitting in my first Bible College lecture in 2013 and being told that I was a theologian. That was a scary thought! But it’s true, every single one of us who holds beliefs about God and speaks about Him is a theologian, so we should want to be good ones. This chapter of the book is really important and helpful because it explains the importance of knowing who we are talking about when we speak about God and it stresses the importance of approaching our Bible with our minds.
“Don’t let anyone ever convince you that theology is impractical, that it distracts, that it impedes worship or hinders mission. Any good thing can be misused, of course, but the purpose of theology has never been to make you feel smarter. It’s certainly not to make you feel superior. The purpose of theology is to stoke your worship, to deepen your love, to fuel your mission, and to sustain your life.”
God has made humanity with a plan, with an inbuilt design and when we read the Bible that’s what we see, but do our lives reflect the truths of Scripture? It’s one thing to read and understand Scripture, obeying it’s teaching is a different thing all together.
Obedience doesn’t get the world exited, it doesn’t muster up warm and fuzzy emotions, but it will change your life when you obediently live the life that you were designed to live; a life in a right relationship with God.
This little chapter is packed with some wonderful truths, some mind-blowing quotes about the God who calls us to obedience and it’s full of things that will convict, challenge and test your attitude of obedience to God’s Word.
“Biblical obedience is not about keeping an arbitrary set of rules; it’s about living in accordance with our Maker. Because he wants us to flourish, he restricts us in order to truly free us.”
This book is less than 90 (A5) pages, it is a quick and easy read but it’s one of those books that I’d recommend you re-read numerous times to check your attitude before you open your Bible. Buy it here for just £2.99.
Matt Smethurst is managing editor of The Gospel Coalition. He and his wife, Maghan, have three children and live in Louisville, Kentucky. They belong to Third Avenue Baptist Church, where Matt serves as an elder.