The final joy in any truly Christian discipline or practice or rhythm of life is, in the words of the apostle, “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
When it comes to spiritual disciplines, we are apt to confuse the means and the ends. We can so easily slip into believing that good habits of reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other Christians is the sum and substance of the Christian faith. We can take joy and comfort in the strength of our habits. But like the apostle Paul, we must have a much more noble desire than that, and we must labor toward a much greater joy.
As David Mathis says, “The final joy in any truly Christian discipline or practice or rhythm of life is, in the
words of the apostle, ‘the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’” (Philippians 3:8). Knowing Christ Jesus—this is the great goal and the great joy. We read the Bible because it reveals Jesus Christ as divine Savior of the world. We pray so we can have a true and living relationship with God through Christ Jesus. We commit ourselves to
fellowship so we can join together with Christ’s body, which is the local church. Though the habits may bring joy as we apply ourselves to them, the greater joy comes in the real and living relationship we have
as we come to know Jesus Christ.
The man who attempts Christianity without the church shoots himself in the foot, shoots his children in the leg, and shoots his grandchildren in the heart.
The Bible has much to say about creating legacies of faithfulness for our families. To parents falls the solemn responsibility of raising our children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). God calls us not only to teach them the facts of the Christian faith but also to model before them the distinct character of a Christian. As we do so, our hope is reflected in a popular proverb: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Part of what we must model to our children is the centrality of the local church in the life and faith of the Christian. We must model what it is to do good to others, to persevere in local church fellowship, to respect church leadership, to participate in the means of grace. For just as the blessings of our obedience will flow out to them, so may the consequences of our disobedience. Kevin DeYoung offers a sober warning: “The man who attempts Christianity without the church shoots himself in the foot, shoots his children in the leg, and shoots his grandchildren in the heart.”
Gather the riches of God’s promises. Nobody can take away from you those texts from the Bible which you have learned by heart.
Corrie ten Boom
We are an educated people with high standards of literacy. We are a free people who enjoy religious liberty. We are a wealthy people with unlimited access to a nearly infinite quantity of Bibles. We are a privileged people who may not realize how blessed we are. Many of our forebears and even many of our contemporaries have not been capable
of reading the Bible, have not had the liberty to read it, and have not had access to it. To be able to know and apply the Bible, they have had to memorize it.
And while it is right that we enjoy all our privileges and all our liberties, they may foster a kind of spiritual laziness in which we consider the Bible on our shelves as good as the Bible in our mind. John Piper puts out the call even to us to be diligent in memorizing it, for “if we do not carry it in our heads, we cannot savor it in our hearts or wield it in the Spirit.” To memorize the Bible is to put the best thing in the best place for the best reason! It is effort that will bear fruit in every life.
The above excerpts are taken from Knowing and Enjoying God by Tim Challies, a book exploring the daily spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, and community. These habits are the “ordinary means of grace” by which we draw closer to God, growing in our knowledge and love of Him.