LutherMartin Luther has been quoted (or probably misquoted) as saying, “I’ve read the Bible once.  I don’t need to read it again.”  The life of Luther disavows this ascertion because it was his study of the scriptures that led him to faith in Christ.  His last note scribbled on a scrap of paper while he lay on his death bed was an exhortation to study the Bible with a humble heart.

As a young woman, I was a bit preplexed when I learned that Christian seminaries teach theology–not the Scriptures.  Theology, as I’m sure you know, is the study of God rather than the study of the Word of God.  While the Bible is the basis for all theology, our seminaries teach and examine the thoughts and beliefs of theologians regarding what the Bible teaches about God.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve seen this study of theology in our seminaries as a good thing, rather than a negative.  While I do not believe that the study of the Scriptures should ever be replaced with the thoughts and ideas of men, we learn from and gather knowledge from women and men who know God and have searched the depths of His love and grace.

This year, I’ve simply read and reread the New Testament for the past six months.  When I received an iPad as a ministry tool, I found it a valuable tool for studying the scriptures, as well.  Then I discovered the value of the audio Bible.  I read along with the audio and gleaned a great deal more than I have gathered from all the years of reading it to myself.  Preparing for bed, I would listen to the Bible.  I’d read my normal four chapters before I went to sleep and then I would listen to the Bible as I went to sleep.

I found amazing nuggets that I’d missed previously.  I’ve always desired to have a deep understanding of the Book of Romans.  I listened and relistened to Romans.  I read and reread Paul’s epistle.  I found that repetition brought great meaning to me.  I felt the sting of his rebuke and the comforting joy of knowing that my redemption was fully and completely bought by the blood of Jesus.  I entered a new time of rest and joy as I rehearsed Paul’s writings from Romans 8.

Again and again, I would stop the audio to reread a part that seemed new and fresh.  Perhaps it is the working though grief that has drawn me into the New Testament in this way.  I must say that I’ve felt more of the Lord’s grace and mercy during the past 18 months, than I’ve felt sorrow or remorse.

My mother used to say, “Repetition bring out thought.”  I’ve seen that my repeated reading of God’s Word has brought out a thoughfulness that I’ve not experienced in all my years of studying the Scriptures.

I’ve also wondered how much value the mentally challenged community would received by a daily rehearsal of the scriptures.  I understand that the Bible is not a “magic book” but we are promised that the truths contained in the Bible are valuable and able to transform our minds and hearts.  What do you think?  Do you believe that there is value in having our member hear the Scriptures read to them as they follow along?

Each new generation learns valuable lessons that may be missed by a preceding group of people.  I love rereading my favorite books.  Yet, I came from a tradition that you didn’t watch a movie or television show but once.  You certainly didn’t read a book but one time.  Nevertheless, I would pull out the books that were read to us in elementary school,  especially Penrod and Penrod and Sam, and reread them during my high school years for book reports.  When I became an adult, I would reread books when I read to my children.

Rereading has now become a more accepted practice.  In fact with the advent of videos and DVD’s, children memorize many of the children’s movies because they view them so often.  By the time a child has reached his teen years, he may have read one of the modern classics many, many times.  There are great benefits to this practice.

  • First, it teaches children that one pass over a subject matter will produce a most limited knowledge of the subject.
  • Second, children will understand at an early age the value of review.

Reading is one of the great pleasures of my life.  I can hardly imagine not being able to have that privilege.  Bible reading was introduced to me by my Sunday school teachers and mother.  We were able to get a check mark if we read our Bible each day.  I loved getting check marks.  The denomination in which I was raised values the study of the Bible so much, that it’s now being accused of believing the Bible is the fourth part of the Godhead.  However, reading the Scriptures has not alway fared well through the ages.

In the 16th century, when Martin Luther entered the monastery, it was not typical for a person to read or study the Bible.  Men who had their doctorate in theology seldom read the Bible directly.  Few of them owned their own copy of the Scriptures.  It appears that Luther was one of the few men of his day who had a love for God’s word.  On his death-bed, Luther wrote a note that extolled the value of the Bible and how important it was to read it with a humble heart.

At Special Gathering, we put an emphasis on learning the Bible.  While most of our members cannot read, they still are able to understand what is read to them and the precepts contained there.  Last year, we inserted into the order of service a “Call to Worship.”  After the announcements and several upbeat praise songs, we calm the service and begin with a Scripture verse that is our Call to Worship.  We use one verse for three months.  A member reads the verse and we listen.  After two months of listening to the verse, I ask the members to recite it with me.  The Member Reader will read–or say from memory–the verse and then we will repeat it from memory.

I am amazed at how quickly our members are able to pick up the verse and say it.  There are only a few things that have changed during the years we’ve been conducting Special Gathering worship but I believe that this is one of the most beneficial.

I understand that reading or even memorizing a Bible verse does little to ensure that this word will become affective in our lives.  However, I also know that NOT knowing the Bible almost guarantees that we will not be able to apply a truth to our lives.

Occasionally, I will talk about an Old Testament precept that is repeated again and again.  People who don’t read the Bible are shocked that these Sacred Writings even addresses things such as thrift, banking, ecology or conservation.  Some Christians have no idea that preservation of the land is a strictly-held concept taught in the Law of Moses.

As a teacher and leader of a flock of men and women who are developmentally disabled, it is my responsibility to be sure that the Bible is learned.  Additonally,  the principles must be relearned and then reviewed time and again until they becomes a part of my life and the lives of our members.