In a busy world which has all of us under pressure with respect to time, money and Godly living, we are privileged to be a part of the people who have been called to glorify God by loving and obeying Him.

But by nature, we are totally disinclined to serve God. We tend to serve ourselves, to gratify our own lusts, to heap up treasure and material possessions for our own use, to spend our time in leisure and pleasure: in fact, to do almost anything except what God wants. Left to our own devices, we would never develop a character which in any way reflected God’s glory. So what means has God given us to help us to serve Him instead of being driven by our natural thoughts and desires?

The answer is simple. God has given us His wordin a book. (To more fully answer the question, we would have to say He has given us three thingsHis word, access to Him in prayer, and the work of the angels or providence in our lives.) But for now let us consider this book that God has given, the Bible, and its place in our lives.

Remember the words of Deuteronomy 6:6−9: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

From the inception of our community we have always recognised the supreme importance of the Word of God, and the regular, systematic reading thereof.

Brother Thomas wrote in Elpis Israel, page 52: “This word, which is defined to be ‘the law and the testimony’, is the great instrument of holiness and purification. It changes men’s minds; loosens their attachment to earthly things; causes them to place their affections on things above; creates a new and right spirit in them; diffuses the love of God abroad in their hearts; separates them from sinners; leads them into Christ; and develops in their lives, fruit characteristic of that repentance which needs not to be repented of… It is by this word that an individual is renewed or renovated; so as in an intellectual or moral sense, to become ‘a new man’… This image of God in a man’s character can only be created by the word of the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom.”

Brother Roberts wrote in the preface to the Bible Reader’s Companion: “Salvation depends upon the assimilation of the mind to the divine ideas, principles, and affections, exhibited in the Scriptures. This process commences with a belief of the Gospel, but is by no means completed thereby; it takes a life-time for its scope, and untiring diligence for its accomplishment. The mind is naturally alien from God and all His ideas (Rom 8:7; 1 Cor 2:14) and cannot be brought at once to the Divine Likeness. This is a work of slow development, and can only be achieved by the industrious application of the individual to the means which God has given for the purpose; viz, the expression of His mind in the Scriptures of Truth. Spiritual-mindedness, or a state of mind in accordance with the mind of the Spirit as displayed in these writings, can only grow within a man by daily intercourse with that mind, there unfolded. Away from this, the mind will revert to its original emptiness. The infallible advice, then, to every man and woman anxious about their salvation is, read the Scriptures daily. It is only in proportion as this is done, that success may be looked for. The man who sows sparingly in this respect, will only reap sparingly. Much spiritual fructification [bringing forth of fruit] is only to be realised in connection with fructifying influences of the Spirit in the Word.”

It is important for us to accept and think about this fundamental pointthat reading God’s word on a daily basis should be, along with personal prayer to God, the most vital and central part of our lives. Everything else is built on this, and without this, everything else is just so much vanity and vexation of spirit. The strength of an ecclesia has always been based on each family feeding itself daily at home, and then coming together to gather extra and feed one another. Older brethren and sisters will remember that daily reading of the Bible in the home has long been a consistent feature of our community: when people visited each other’s homes, it was ‘normal’ to sit and ‘do the readings’ together.

And yet, it is evident that this is not so in many cases today. A significant number of Christadelphian teenage children still have trouble finding the books of the Bible, and some admit that they rarely if ever do the Bible readings as a family at home. Many of these same children can be heard happily talking about the latest movie or the plot of a recent TV show, or singing the words of the latest hit song. Even more alarming is the shocking exodus of some of our young people from the ecclesias into the world. These are young people who grew up going to Sunday School and attended the meetings, but were unable to resist the lure of a world which offers them everything that the flesh could ever want.

We are in danger of drifting away from the very core of the reason for our existence. It is time for us to wake up to ourselves, to prevent the damage to our families from getting any worse. We are called to be people of this Book, to become the Word made flesh, and there is no other way of doing this than by giving attention to daily reading of the Word. To do this we must, in our own homes, elevate the daily reading of the Bible to the place that it belongs. This may mean that some hard decisions will have to be made.

Consider this list of possible reasons why it may be difficult to read the Bible at home each day.

  • Children’s homework parents must make a conscious decision. What is really the most important? What will benefit the children for eternity? It is possible to quarantine a time for readinga vital family exercise in which there should be no interruptions.
  • Tiredness-we may be tired at the end of the day, but we can still read the word of God together. The mother may be tired, but the husband clearly has a leadership role to lead in making this time a serious priority.
  • The phone-it is a blessing in many ways, but it can swallow up valuable family time. Parents should be prepared to avoid interruptions and children should be asked to use the phone at another time. This is true of mobile phones and internet also.
  • Other reading, listening to the radio or to music-simply ask the question: “Which is more importantthe newspaper or the Bible reading?” If reading the newspaper prevents us reading the Bible with our family, we have made the wrong choice. There are hundreds of current events magazines and other books which may be interesting and not at all bad in themselves, but if they take away our time from reading, they should be relegated to a lower priority or displaced altogether.
  • Going out-including to extra ecclesial activities: We may not be going to a harmful place, but did it stop us reading the Bible today?
  • Computer games, videos and TV-a great curse of our age. Allowing television to be viewed in the home is a problem in itself because it is the great competitor against God’s Word for the minds of men, women, and children. The images and sounds, the actions and pictures stay in the mind for hours afterwards. To then sit down and read a black and white Bible with no special effects and no sound track can seem positively tame. God’s Word is robbed of all its power to create images in our minds, to wash our minds clean of fleshly thoughts, because we have let other peopleGodless peopleput fleshly images there for us! To be honest, the vast majority of TV programs are no more than sowing to the flesh. Paul says that we cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils. To sit and watch an evening of television is to fill the mind with thoughts of murder, fornication, theft, violence, adultery, envy, homosexuality, greed, and all the other works of the flesh. These are the very same things which we are trying to combat with the reading of the word of God. We know as an academic fact that our nature is biased towards pleasing the flesh; so why do we make the task of serving God more difficult than it ought to be? Do we realise that we may be offering our children to the Molech of television?

Consider also the words of Job 23:11−12 “My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”

This is a challenge to us. How much do we esteem the Word of God? What would we sacrifice or go without in order to read God’s word? Ask yourself: “When was the last time I decided that since I was busy, I would miss a meal rather than miss reading the Bible? It is all a matter of priorities. Are we seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, or has it become something that we fit in where we find a bit of spare time? Consider the warning of the parable of the sower, recorded in Mark 4:18−19: “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”

Remember, there is no other way of conforming our minds to the mind of God, than by reading His word, and allowing its principles to become our principles of living. Let us therefore examine ourselves. It is a time for action, not just words. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, in order to run with patience the race that is set before us.” What does that mean to each one of us? Getting rid of the television? Restricting other reading and activities to put God’s word in its rightful place? Parents making a bigger effort to make the readings relevant and interesting for the children? Fathers taking a leadership role and making sure that the time is allocated as a priority? Whatever the sacrifice, nothing is too great a price to pay in order to glorify God by putting the reading of His word as the centre of our life.

Consider Paul’s attitude, expressed in Philippians 3:7–8: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

Let us become again people of the Bibleput God to the testhave faith in His promises. As we read in Proverbs 3:13−17: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”

May the happy experience and genuine comfort of a life based on an appreciation of the wisdom of God’s words be ours in these last evil days of the Gentiles.