Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Review: Why Believe the Bible?

Why Believe the Bible? John MacArthur. 1980/2015. Baker Books. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

For the most part, I really enjoyed reading John MacArthur's Why Believe the Bible? For the record, this is not a new book, but a newly reprinted book with a few pages of new material.

Why Believe the Bible? is divided into three sections: "Can We Really Believe the Bible?", "What Does God's Word Do For Us?", and "How To Get The Most From God's Word." I liked the last two sections better than the first. But the book is solidly good from start to finish.

My favorite chapters were: "God's Word: Guide to His Will," "God's Word: The Way to Grow," "God's Word: The Perfect Pruning Knife," "What Does God's Word Say?" and "What Does God's Word Mean (And What Do I Do About It)?"

I love that so much of this one is about why it's important to read the Bible and on how to read the Bible. I also love the first appendix. In it, he provides examples for people who want to read thirty minutes a day, sixty minutes a day, and ninety minutes a day.

When believers aren't growing, it can usually be traced to failure to be in God's Word. They go to church and sit. They take along their cups and fill them up and then spill them on the steps as they leave. They complain of not getting much out of church or the Christian life. They are weak and rundown when it comes to facing temptations, trials, problems and challenges… Their souls are starved for wholesome spiritual food. The Bible refers to itself as milk, bread and meat, but spiritually a lot of Christians are subsisting on French fries, Cokes, and M&Ms. They aren't growing because they have very little to grow on. Ironically, the solution to their problems is in the very thing they refuse to feed upon--God's Word. (115)
There is no magic in memorizing Scripture. (In fact, it can lead you into the driest kind of legalism.) But there is a tremendous blessing and power in knowing where various passages can be found and what kind of help and resources they can provide. (139)
The first step in Bible study is to read the Bible. I can't emphasize too strongly that effective Bible study has to begin with a systematic reading of the Scriptures. Other methods will be of limited benefit unless you get the entire flow and context of what God's Word is saying. (162)
Of course you need a plan for your reading. For the Old Testament I suggest reading through all of it once a year in a narrative manner (from Genesis to Malachi, no skipping around)… The best way to read the Old Testament is straight through, like a story. As you read, keep a pencil and notebook in hand. Put down notes regarding areas you want to come back to and study in depth later, preferably with the inductive method. (163)
With the New Testament I use a little different approach. Instead of reading through the entire New Testament from Matthew to Revelation, I read each book over and over for 30 days. (164)
If you want to know what the Bible says, this method will do the job like no other. Vary the length of the books you tackle. First a short one, then a long one, then back to a couple of short ones. In two-and-a-half years you will cover the entire New Testament 30 times, and somewhere along the way it will all start to come together as never before. (166)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: