Read Together, Together
In a recent Desiring God article by Brian Wright, we are encouraged to take up the lost discipline of reading the Bible with one another.
Last Sunday, in his sermon "Life Together", Pastor Ian encouraged us to think about how our relationships and life together should be organised around the question -- how can our relationships with one another bring God glory?
A recent Desiring God article by writer Brian Wright provides a possible answer: read the Bible with one another. What better way to deepen what we Believe, strengthen the community we Belong to, and practise how to Behave as one church?
Is this a new and foreign idea? Wright provides the Scriptural evidence that the New Testament pattern shows that communal reading was commonplace. He writes that "Jesus, Paul, and the earliest Christian communities all read communally (Luke 4:16–30; Acts 17:1–3). Indeed, the New Testament documents were written with the intention of being read in community. Paul explicitly instructed some of his letters to be read aloud (Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27), along with other Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13)."
According to Wright, here are four important benefits:
1. Reading together shapes our faith. "Reading together counters our individualistic tendencies and fosters humility and gratitude. By reading and discussing Scripture in community, we acknowledge our inability to fully grasp God’s truth on our own, and we learn to appreciate the insights of others. Gifts are shared, weaknesses offset, and personal interpretations exposed to inquiry. When we receive God’s revelation together and interact with one another, our personal biases are exposed, and other opinions are conveyed and considered. This teaches us to listen attentively, think carefully, question kindly, and respond humbly. Our souls are formed when we read together."
2. Reading together aids discipleship and evangelism. "Philip taught from Isaiah in a chariot. Paul read God’s word in synagogues, taught it in lecture halls, and evangelized with it along riverbanks and in marketplaces. Communal reading is a powerful tool for evangelism and discipleship because it aids understanding and promotes interactive discussion of our common confession (Acts 17:2). In fact, believers’ lives were meant to be walking communal-reading events for everyone to examine and read (2 Corinthians 3:2–3), and one way early Christians loved their neighbors was by reading with them."
3. Reading together unites a community. "We are reminded that we are a community when we read communally. Despite our differences, reading with other believers connects us and reminds us that we are one in Christ. Consider the diversity of people hearing Paul’s letter read aloud in Rome (Romans 16:3–16). There are Greek, Latin, and Jewish names listed among the slaves, siblings, and saints, gathered together at multiple house churches."
4. Reading together protects the truth. "In the New Testament, there were apostolic endorsements (Colossians 4:16), conciliar decrees (Acts 16:4), textual examinations (Acts 17:11), gospel feedback (Acts 18:26), and public warnings to repeat and receive divine revelation reverently (Revelation 22:18–19). Taken together, there was a sustained focus in the first century on safeguarding the Christian tradition. Communal reading helped preserve the precise passing down of God’s revelation, while also providing additional checks and balances to interpretation (2 Peter 3:16)."
So how do we get started with this at GBC? What do I do if I want to get started?
On Sunday, we started a two-session Equip class taught by Young Adult leaders Nehemiah Chong and Sidney Loo that looks into how to read the Bible for yourself, and in the coming session, how to read the Bible with someone else.
Come join us in Room 310A&B this Sunday from 11am-1230pm as we seek to rediscover this spiritual discipline and ministry of reading the Bible with others in order to build up one another, and GBC.