Of all the people I know, no one better exemplifies the Christ-life than my dear friend Edward Fudge. Those who know Edward will all agree that he is a Jesus-man. He is a gospel machine! One of the reasons I love Edward is that he keeps Jesus at the center of his teaching and living. Observing his life is a vital lesson on how to live and love for Jesus. And, Edward is also a Bible-man! He loves the Word of God and has studied many years mastering Greek and practicing that biblical language with a friend so he could better know what the Bible is actually saying.
With this introduction I gladly present a brief study on reading the Bible from Edward Fudge.
For the person who follows Jesus, his body and blood are bread from heaven, the food of eternal life (John 6:48-58). This metaphor emphasizes the necessity of maintaining spiritual union with Jesus so close that his life sustains and nourishes us. But next to Jesus himself, the Scriptures are surely the best soul-food available here on earth. Here are three practical, scriptural pointers to help us maximize the blessing received whenever we read the Scriptures.
1—Begin with prayer. It often goes unstated in our humanistic culture, but Christianity is a supernatural way of life. Academic study, original languages, and all sorts of study “aids” can assist understanding when properly used, but none of those things can begin to substitute for divine revelation. Whenever we open the sacred writings, let us pray–as the Book of Common Prayer puts it–that God will enable us to “hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them” (John 6:45; Luke 24:45; Col. 1:9; 2 Tim. 2:7).
2–Keep Jesus Christ central. Scripture’s very purpose is to lead us to him (John 5:39-40; Luke 24:47; 2 Tim. 3:14-17). To miss Jesus is to miss the point of the Bible. Randy Millikan, a physician and cancer researcher, and one of the best Bible teachers I have known, delights to say: “Begin anywhere in the Bible and head straight for the cross.” Ask yourself and God how your passage points to Jesus Christ.
3–Remember that the purpose of your reading is not information for its own sake but spiritual transformation. We cannot stop with knowing, but go on to doing and being. Jesus came to make disciples, not scribes. On the last day, God will not ask how many biblical facts we can recite. Read with the intent of becoming more like Jesus (Matt. 7:24-27; Matt. 11:25-26; Col. 1:9-11).
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Brother Royce — With you and so many of your readers, I am honored and humbled to be a Jesus-man and a Bible-man. Thank you for your words of encouragement. The goals they describe are worthy of our best efforts to try to attain! With God’s power, faithfulness, and love, we can move that direction constantly to the glory of God.