NT Reads the NT
Our desire as a church is to grow deeper in our relationships with God and with one another. For this reason, we want to encourage every member to participate in our Bible Reading Initiative: NT Reads the NT (or North Toronto Reads the New Testament). For the next three months, we will be reading through the ‘New Testament Epistles and Acts’ through a plan that can be found on YouVersion with the same title. Our hope is that our members would be reading the Bible every day and would be using the app to share what God is teaching them about Himself and what He is demanding of them.
As an encouragement, I want to share 4 reasons why you should join us on our Bible reading journey.
YOU HEAR FROM GOD
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:12-13
When you understand the spiritual meaning and application of a Scripture passage, God’s Spirit has been at work. Remember, this understanding does not lead you to an encounter with God; it is the encounter with God. – Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God
Reading the Bible is not just an academic exercise, but a deeply spiritual one. We are not just trying to understand what the passage means, we are seeking to hear from the God of the universe, who promises to speak to us through His Word. God’s Word is living and active, meaning that He has a message for us today. Through His Word, God reveals to us His character and His purposes so that we can have a relationship with Him and work alongside Him as we adjust our lives to follow after Him.
We must remember that our understanding of a particular scripture is not merely the byproduct of our intellectual processes. Rather, God has directed our minds to a particular understanding by His Holy Spirit who lives in us. Therefore, our understanding does not lead us to an encounter with God, it is the encounter with God. God has revealed Himself to us through His Word!
YOU BUILD UP OTHER BELIEVERS
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
– Isaiah 55:10-11
“We should not…think of our fellowship with other Christians as a spiritual luxury, an optional addition to the exercises of private devotion. We should recognise rather that such fellowship is a spiritual necessity, for God has made us in such a way that our fellowship with himself is fed by our fellowship with fellow Christians, and requires to be so fed constantly for its own deepening and enrichment.” – J.I. Packer, 18 Words
We must remember that Christian fellowship is not a luxury, but a necessity. The brothers and sisters that God has given to use are necessary for our spiritual well-being, as we are to theirs. We are one body (1 Corinthians 12:12) with one mission: to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and to build up His Church (Ephesians 4:11-12).
One of the ways we are to build up God’s Church is to share God’s Word with one another. The Bible promises that all Scripture is useful for our training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16) and that His Word never returns to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). This means that whenever we share God’s Word with someone, He is doing a good work in the hearts and lives of the recipients of that Word. It is an incredible encouragement to know that God not only speaks to us, but through us!
YOU WILL BE A WITNESS TO NON-BELIEVERS
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
It takes a man of God, with the Word of God, and the Spirit of God, to make the children of God, for the glory of God. – Jack Wellman
God calls us to grow deeper so that we can go farther. Therefore, the best way for us to be effective evangelists is to be steeped in the Scriptures. When we grow deeper in our relationship with God, we are being filled with encounters with Him and experiences of Him; as we spend more time with Him, we grow as a witness of His beauty and grace. One of the reasons God meets with us and fills us up is so that He can send us out farther to serve the needy, make disciples, and share the Gospel.
YOU CAN DISCIPLE YOUNGER BELIEVERS
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. – 2 Timothy 2:1-2
God has called all of His children to make disciples. One of the ways we do this is to train people to read God’s Word; we are to entrust the Word to them. We are to reproduce our discipline and desire in younger believers, helping them to develop a habit of Bible reading and, more important, helping them to hear God when they read the Bible.
Since we are called to reproduce disciples, we ought to do our Bible Readings, or devotions, in a manner that is structured and reproducible. We must be able to teach others how to study God’s Word and how to hear and respond to God through the reading and hearing of Scriptures.
MY PRAYER FOR YOU
My prayer is that as you read the above Scriptures and the explanations of them, God would stir in your heart a desire to hear from Him through His Word. I also pray that He would compel you to journey with other believers so that you can mutually encourage one another. Additionally, as you grow deeper, my prayer is that you will be empowered to be a more effective evangelist and that you will be inspired to reproduce your discipline and desires in younger believers.
– Pastor Kwan
- How would my life be different if I read the Bible every day and heard from God every time I read the Bible? How would my small group be different if we all took up this discipline together?
- How will reading the Bible with others in my community enhance my own personal relationship with God?