Posted by: austend | Friday, December 26, 2008

How Readest Thou?

A good friend of mine, Jon, lent me a book by one of my favorite authors, J.C. Ryle.  The booklet is entitled How Readest Thou? Ryle, though living in the mid to late 1800’s, could have written this booklet yesterday.  It is a phenomenal little treasure, as are all of Ryle’s writings, and it really presses home a powerful message.  Ryle develops throughout this book the theme of how important the Bible is.  I will share his basic outline:

  1. There is no knowledge absolutely needful to a man’s salvation, except a knowledge of the things which are found in the Bible.
  2. There is no book in existence written in such a manner as the Bible: with extraordinary unity and harmony in the contents; extraordinary accuracy in the facts and statements; extraordinary wisdom, sublimity, and majesty in the style; and extraordinary suitableness to the spiritual wants of all mankind.
  3. No book in existence contains such important matter as the Bible: with extraordinary depth, fullness, and richness in the contents; giving a reasonable account of the beginning and end of the globe on which we live; giving us true views of God; and explaining the state of things we see in the world around us.
  4. No book in existence has produced such wonderful effects on mankind at large as the Bible: it turned the apostle’s world upside down; it turned Europe upside down in the Reformation; and the world owes every humane and charitable institution in existence to the influence of the Bible.
  5. No book in existence can do so much for everyone who reads it rightly as the Bible: it leads to the saving of the soul; it leads to the sanctification of the saint.
  6. No gift of God to man is so awfully neglected and misused as the Bible.
  7. The Bible is the only rule by which all questions of doctrine or duty can be tried.
  8. The Bible is the book which all true servants of God have always lived on and loved.
  9. The Bible is the only book which can comfort a man in the last hours of his life.

After developing all of these points very pithily, he frequently asks the questions: “If the Bible is this important, what are you doing with it?  Are you reading it?  How readest thou?”  His great emphasis is challenging the reader to actually read the Bible.  We may agree with others that the Bible is important; we make ourselves love the Bible, but if we aren’t reading the Bible, then we aren’t really living out our profession.  “To have a Bible is not the same thing as to read the Bible,” Ryle points out.  The Word of God does us no good if we don’t read it.  It is not a magic talisman to keep evil away.  It is only effective when it is absorbed in our mind and heart and reflected in our actions.  He also seeks to emphasize how we read it.  It is not enough just to read a few verses or chapters at night coldly out of duty.  We must love it; we must pray over it for guidance; we must cherish it.  This is God’s very Word to us, and we must read it carefully for it to be of any benefit to us.

Some good quotes:

Your neglected Bible is a plain evidence that you do not love God….God will reckon with you for your neglect of the Bible in the day of judgment.

Begin reading your Bible today!….Read the Bible with earnest desire to understand it….Read the Bible with deep reverence….Read the Bible with earnest prayer for the teaching and help of the Holy Spirit….Read the Bible with childlike faith and humility….Read the Bible in a spirit of obedience and self-application….Read the Bible every day….Read all the Bible in an orderly way….Read the Bible fairly and honestly….Read the Bible with Christ continually in view.

The person who does not read the Bible regularly is the person: who will get little comfort from the Bible in time of need; who will make mistakes in life; who will likely be carried away by false teaching.

To have the Bible is not the same as to read the Bible.

So, I would challenge you to read this short but powerful little booklet.  Then, answer the questions: “What are you doing with the Bible?  Do you read it?  How do you read it?”

John Charles Ryle (1816-1900) {biography} | Find How Readest Thou? {here} | Another outstanding book by him is Holiness {here} or {here} or print it {here}.  Everything by Ryle is worth getting!

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