Read God's Word

Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on June 20, 2010

In many churches today where the authority and sufficiency of Scripture are taught, very little Scripture is actually read publicly. But God has given us aspecific command to devote ourselves to the public reading of Scripture (1Timothy 4:13). Surely there must be a good reason behind this.

I can think of many. When we listen to God's Word being read, we're acknowledging our dependence on and submission to God's revelation. Children learn to respect God's Word when it's read with genuine respect and enthusiasm. Visitors see that we value the Bible. When Scripture reading iswell planned, the congregation gets a balanced diet of God's Word. And for those who don't read their Bibles, it may be the only time they hear it.

Some traditional liturgies prescribe Scripture readings each week. Our church doesn't follow a plan like that, so we seek to make Scripture reading a priority in other ways.

After the meeting begins I might read a verse such as Psalm 111:1–2: “Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” That gives me the opportunity to explain what we've gathered to do—to delight in and study the works of the Lord. I try to avoid “worshipful” sounding verses that don't impact me personally, like,“Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!” (Psalm 9:11). In other words, don't use the Bible as filler. People should understand why we're reading a particular Scripture at any given moment.

We can also read Scripture between songs. Reading the Bible between songs doesn't necessarily break the flow or inhibit true worship; it feeds it.Reading a Scripture passage can help people understand why we're singing the next song, give a biblical basis for a line or verse from a song, or serve asa change of focus between two songs.

Sometimes we also intersperse verses of a song with Scripture. Once we had different vocalists read portions of Psalm 103 in between the verses of the hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” We were seeking to “ponder anew what the Almighty can do,” as one verse says. The effect was an increasingfaith and joy in our hearts as we sang each verse. On another occasion we read portions of Isaiah 53 in between verses of the song “Behold the Lamb”by Mark Altrogge. Doing so helped us freshly appreciate how Christ's sufferings fulfilled prophetic words written centuries before he was born.

God's Word can also be read responsively, as a leader and the congregation take turns reading through a passage or selected texts.

In whatever way we read Scripture, we want to do it with clarity, conviction, and power. People should be aware that the words they hear aren't ours, but God's.

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