Personal Bible Reading


JC Ryle

This morning’s (Oct 30) JC Ryle Quotes blog has a quote by Ryle’s biographer, Eric Russell, regarding Ryle’s daily habit of Bible reading. You can find the quote and post a comment thanking Eric for his blog site at the following address –

The Personal Bible Reading of J.C. Ryle

Part of Russell’s quote includes the following –

Before his conversion Ryle hardly ever opened his Bible, but after he became a Christian he formed the habit of daily Bible study, which continued without a break for more than a half a century. He rose early each morning so that he could study the Word without interruption.

Ryle, in fact, wrote a tract on Bible Reading which you can find at the following link:

Bible Reading, by J.C. Ryle

The opening lines to Ryle’s tract read thus –

Next to praying (see Ryle’s tract on Prayer) there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible-reading. God has mercifully given us a book which is “able to make [us] wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). By reading that book we may learn what to believe, what to be, and what to do; how to live with comfort, and how to die in peace. Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it, but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice!

The outline to Ryle’s tract read as follows:

I. In the first place, “there is no book in existence written in such a manner as the Bible.”
II. In the second place, “there is no knowledge absolutely needful to a man’s salvation, except a knowledge of the things which are to be found in the Bible.”
III. In the third place, “no book in existence contains such important matter as the Bible.”
IV. In the fourth place, “no book in existence has produced such wonderful effects on mankind at large as the Bible.”
V. In the fifth place, “no book in existence can do so much for every one who reads it with an open heart, as the Bible.”
VI. In the sixth place, “the Bible is the only standard by which all questions of doctrine or of duty can be tested.”
VII. In the seventh place, “the Bible is the book which all true servants of God have always lived by and loved.”
VIII. In the last place, “the Bible is the only book which can comfort a man in the last hours of his life.”

Ryle concludes with this advice to would-be Bible readers?

This paper may fall into the hands of someone who is “willing to begin reading the Bible, but wants advice on how to begin.”

(a) For one thing, “begin reading your Bible this very day.”
(b) For another thing “read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it.”
(c) For another thing, “read the Bible with childlike faith and humility.”
(d) For another thing, “read the Bible in a spirit of obedience and self-application.
(e) For another thing, “read the Bible every day.”
(f) For another thing, “read all the Bible, and read it in an orderly way.”

I fear there are many parts of the Word which some people never read at all. This is a very arrogant habit. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching” (2 Timothy 3:16). To this habit may be traced that want of broad, well-proportioned views of truth, which is so common in this day. Some people’s Bible-reading is a system of perpetual dipping and picking. They do not seem to have an idea of regularly going through the whole book. This is also a great mistake. No doubt in times of sickness and affliction it is allowable to search out seasonable portions. But this exception, I believe it is by far the best plan to begin the Old and New Testaments at the same time, to read each straight through to the end, and then begin again. This is a matter in which everyone must be persuaded in his own mind. I can only say it has been my own plan for nearly forty years, and I have never seen cause to alter it.

(g) For another thing, “read the Bible fairly and honestly.”
(h) In the last place, “read the Bible with Christ continually in view.”

The primary object of all Scripture is to testify about Jesus:

Old Testament ceremonies are shadows of Christ.
Old Testament judges and deliverers are types of Christ.
Old Testament history shows the world’s need of Christ.
Old Testament prophecies are full of Christ’s sufferings.
Old Testament prophecies are full of Christ’s glory yet to come.

The first coming and the second.
The Lord’s humiliation.
The Lord’s kingdom.
The Lord’s cross and crown.

Exhortation

I repeat Ryle’s exortation…are you that man? Will you take up the challenge to read your Bible more dilligently in the days and weeks ahead? Are you a lackluster Christian who only but dips his toes into the Scriptures here and there? Ryle offers direct advice to you, but I will leave you to read his work for yourself.

My Challenge

Ryle’s tract and my own great sense of appreciation for Reformation Day and the Protestant heritage that has been handed to us moves me to be more aggressive in my own personal Bible reading. How many times I’ve taken up the word of God and a McCheyne Bible reading plan in January, only to be distracted by close word studies, theological writings, family duties, etc. in March and April, and then to revise my goals over and over again throughout the last half of the year.

So…

In honor of Reformation Day 2010, the testimony and example of Ryle and other of the so great a cloud of witnesses, and the impending 400th anniversary of the Authorized Version of 1611, I’ve resolved myself to follow in Ryle’s footsteps – to live out the formal cause of the Reformation – by attempting to read my KJV in 3 months – 92 days. A 90 Day plan, to commence tomorrow. The plan I propose to use is the one at the following link:

90 Day Bible Reading Plan

I plan to update the site periodically to chronicle my progress in this effort.

May God bless my efforts to know Him better through His Word and may you be encouraged to join me in reading through his Holy Word at a challenging and exhilarating pace!

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