Stop Reading the Bible?

January 14, 2014

Okay, I must admit, I said a few challenging things on Sunday. I’m not, necessarily, suffering from preacher’s remorse, but I do want to make a few follow up comments. I stated that, for some of us, ‘we need to stop reading the Bible.’ This represents an intentionally shocking statement for a pastor to make, but I followed it with the comment, ‘we need to start studying it – stop reading, start studying.’ For some of us, we have read the book of Romans 6 times, but we’ve never taken the time to dig beneath a surface reading of the text.

Obviously, an  immediate objection arises, ‘Where is the time’? ‘I’m not a pastor or bible teacher!’ That is true, so allow me to help you. Let me point you towards some resources with the encouragement to redeem your commute, or your choirs around the house by combining it with learning from great preachers and teachers on-line. In addition, I recommend some theological and devotional resources below.

Podcasts & On-Line Resources


If you have a smart phone get the Reformed Theological Seminary App. There are free courses there.






http://www.reasonablefaith.org/ There are podcasts here as well as good articles.




Theological Books

The Cross of Christ – John Stott

Doctrine – Mark Driscoll

Basic Christianity – John Stott

Created For Community – Stan Grenz

Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis

Hard Questions, Real Answers – William Lane Craig

Biblical Commentaries

Ephesians – John Stott (any commentary by John Stott is worth reading)

Paul For Everyone – N.T. Wright

The NIV Application Commentary

Devotional/Lifestyle books

Crazy Busy – Kevin DeYoung

Blue Like Jazz– Donald Miller

Dying to live – N.D Wilson

The Gospel – J.D Grear

Jesus plus nothing equals everything – Tullian Tchividjian

Jesus is _______ – Judah Smith

Things Unseen – Mark Buchanan

You God is too Safe – Mark Buchanan

I can lend you most of the above books (first come, first serve). But I hope the websites in particular help encourage you to dig into the word of God in a deeper way than ever before!



  1. Hey Chris,

    I liked the shock value of your comment…but as I’ve learned, its good to keep listening for clarification 😉

    In my opinion, I don’t necessarily think that what we need to do is add piles of commentaries to our reading list. They are helpful, but I have found that most of my troubles with my understanding of the Bible are resolved when I do the following:

    1. Read the way I read almost any other book or article: stop reading just a paragraph section and read as large a portion as I have time for. This way I’m less likely to miss the context. If I’m reading 1 Corinthians 11 by itself and read in v10 “because of the angels”, I might have seen the connection if I had also read 1 Cor 6 (ie. v3, “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”).

    2. Because I can easily miss contextual background, I need to ask questions about the things I don’t understand AND THEN TAKE THE TIME to search for the answers :-). Bible software (like online Bible search http://blueletterbible.org/ or Logos software, etc.) or a thorough concordance and cross reference like the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge will help here. For example, when reading 1 Cor 11:10, I should ask “what do the angels have to do with the woman’s authority on her head?” Use a literal translation like NASB or NKJV and you will see that “a symbol of” is inserted and not in the original. Take it as a translator guess which may or may not be correct. Next search to see if Paul talks about authority or angel(s) elsewhere in his letter (ie. 1 Cor 6:3). Next ask questions about what Paul’s purpose is in writing the passage under question and any other passage that seems to provide background or similar context. If he is responding to something his audience wrote to him earlier, he might be quoting them (remember, there are no quotation marks in the Greek, so you have to infer them from the context). Is there a cultural reference? Search to see if you can find the cultural reference mentioned elsewhere in the same letter, or second, in another letter/book by the same author, or third in a dictionary or historical reference. First start with the Bible and only move onto other sources if you cannot see the connection from a Biblical text.

    4. Try reading different translations to see if there are any differences which might open up further questions to be pursued.

    5. List all possible interpretations (try your best to think outside the box, but this works well in group discussions). Then one by one cross off the ones that could not be correct because they conflict with something else the author said, other Biblical teaching, doesn’t fit the context, etc. Hopefully you still have one or more interpretations that are still possible. Depending on the strength of the objections to each possible interpretations, you may end up with only one that still stands.

    6. As a rule, try your best to read in context, ask questions and pursue the answers to inform your decision about what you think the passage means before looking at a commentary. Remember that not every commentary gets it right, but even if it is right, you don’t want to rely on someone else’s work at the result of not being able to figure out how to read for yourself. Try to use commentaries as a way to challenge your own homework and refine your reading/studying skills. Think about how you read any ordinary modern book. Sure, you can turn to Coles Notes right off the bat, but then you haven’t really learned how to form your own conclusions and more importantly, you haven’t learned if your process of forming your conclusions is sound. If your interpretation isn’t found in a commentary, be suspicious…though you may still be correct. After being challenged by the differing interpretation, revisit the evidence and see if your interpretation still holds. Ask someone what they think the passage means without first telling them your interpretation and see if they see something that you missed.

    For example, without reading a commentary, I discovered that Paul was saying in 1 Cor 11:10 that a woman should have the authority to make her own decision whether or not to cut her hair because, after all, are not we all going to be judging angels one day? Shouldn’t we then be able to judge for ourselves matters of this life? The translator’s insertion of “a symbol of” in this instance detracts from the meaning of the passage.

  2. Touche! Chris.
    We all need to be encouraged to take our understanding of God’s Word to deeper levels. It is the food for our spiritual life and relationship with God whether we are pursuing a theological degree or not.

  3. Thank you for your follow up. I agree that studying the bible has a greater and deeper impact for my heart than just reading. I so appreciate the way you walk us through scripture each week. I always have so much to examine in my own heart and i am just super grateful to call Calvary home.

    • I thought your sermon was great Chris. Yes, most people have busy lives but we all need to be encouraged to grow in our understanding of God’s word. I think it’s better to do an in depth study of a few verses rather than re-read the same chapters of scripture over and over without getting the full understanding of what is being studied. “Shock” statements are a wonderful teaching tool for gaining people’s attention as well as help deepen their understanding. You achieved this Chris and if even one person takes this extra step in their personal study then mission accomplished.Thank you and well done.
      Fred Tinck

  4. Chris, where can I read an overview of your theological stance (core beliefs)? Are you reformed in your thinking? I see you are an “idealist” with regard to interpreting Revelation. Can you point me to your statement of faith? Thanks, John

    • Hi John , thanks for writing. You can find a statement of faith at calvarybaptist.ca Most of my favorite authors are all Reformed (Piper, Packer, Carson, Keller etc.) so I lean that way and if you were writing a year and a half ago I would have thrown in my lot completely with the young, restless and Reformed movement. I am hesitant now because I have difficultly believing that the ‘L’ is thoroughly biblical and it is difficult for me to see (at times) how some Reformed writers don’t end up making God the author of evil. Yet, I remain pulled in the general direction of Reformed Theology. Also, where do I say that I am an ‘idealist’ regarding Revelation? I think my approach to Revelation is more nuanced then that.

      • Thanks for the response Chris. First off, sorry! I meant to type eclectic! Bummer to have a senior moment on record! Ha. I like your thinking of blending the 3 stances together. Makes sense to me.

        I guess the ‘L’ is for limited atonement, right? I’ve never tied that to God being the author of evil. Interesting – but not sure how they are related.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: