Many of us have been brought up on a steady diet of assembly Bible readings. They have been invaluable, both in the demand they have placed on us to study and prepare, and in the truth they have imparted to us. “Iron sharpening iron” balances us and prevents one-sided theology. Few owe as much to Bible readings as I do. But …
Picture these Scenarios
“In the assembly Bible reading this week, we covered two verses in 45 minutes. All the while, there were young men sitting there facing sexual temptation in the college dorm and office.”
“The brethren got into a discussion about the aorist tense and argued about its meaning for 20 minutes, while there were sisters sitting listening, who were suffering withering reproach in the workplace for their appearance.”
“We covered the section and everyone gave their opinion of what they thought it meant, but no one actually said what it did mean. I left confused.”
“Bible reading is way over my head. I had no idea what they were talking about!”
Face the Situation
If these scenarios sound foreign to you, then perhaps your Bible reading is different, but in many places, saints are starving, struggling, and suffering while we are striving over tenses and nuances of meaning. I recognize tenses can hold a wealth of truth and must be grasped by the Bible student, but we should bring the fruit of our study, and not the process of our study, to the Bible reading.
Consider these Solutions
Some will object to this, but it may be time to face the reality of our current educational and societal decline. People do not like to read anymore. They have been programmed to “scan” material. The concentration span of the average person has declined drastically. As believers, we should be readers and thinkers; we should be able to meditate and concentrate. But a teacher can never excuse his failure to teach by blaming his students. He must always assume responsibility for the teaching process.
In light of that, we have only two options. One option is to improve our Bible readings by careful planning which attempts to cover enough material to maintain a focus on the thought flow of a passage. While giving the interpretation of the passage, we must make sure its practical application to the needs of the saints is being made, and the believers leave with the principles of God’s Word emphasized. The other option is to establish a regular assembly ministry meeting, but not one open to an “any-man-and-anything” message which comes to mind. There must be careful planning by the leadership of the assembly to teach the great, basic doctrines of Scripture, showing how they influence everyday life.
When was the last time someone in your assembly taught the doctrine of the virgin birth and incarnation? Dry doctrine, some say? Think of the practical and valuable truths which flow from the truth of His incarnation and genuine humanity? Not only is His incarnation essential to our salvation, but His current role as our sympathetic Great High Priest is based on it, as well. The great doctrines of Scripture do not exist in a vacuum, but are the springboard for the truths that meet the needs of believers faced by temptation, undergoing reproach, and struggling with family issues, and trials. Remember – edification is the watchword of 1 Corinthians 14.