Discipline and spontaneity. We need both in reading the Bible. Discipline to move steadily through books of the Bible. Spontaneity to go to a part of the Bible that we sense will meet a particular need. Both can be powerful with encouragement for faith.
Only 50% of clergy from declining churches agreed it was “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians”, compared to 100% of clergy from growing churches.
71% of clergy from growing churches read the Bible daily compared with 19% from declining churches.
46% of people attending growing churches read the Bible once a week compared with 26% from declining churches.
93% of clergy and 83% of worshippers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb”. This compared with 67% of worshippers and 56% of clergy from declining churches.
100% of clergy and 90% of worshippers agreed that “God performs miracles in answer to prayers”, compared with 80% of worshippers and 44% of clergy from declining churches.
We have all known those who content themselves with a profession of Christ and a smattering of gifts and works, and who do not wish to know if there is more to the Christian life. They are the ones whose graces freeze when winter winds buffet their souls. But the saint whose faith has been insulated from error by the truth of the gospel will be able to withstand all Satan’s icy blasts.
Reading the Bible generates life, it produces change, it heals hurts, it builds character, it transforms circumstances, it imparts joy, it overcomes adversity, it defeats temptation, it infuses hope, it releases power, it cleanses the mind
Preachers are therefore like forest rangers. The ranger knows the terrain and helps people to learn how to navigate it. In a similar way, a preacher is meant to learn the terrain of reality as it relates to God, people, places and personal conscience. The Bible is the map that one needs to amke true contact. With that map, the preacher introduces reality to people and in essence says: "Now when you come across this kind of path, here is what you need to know in order to walk the path wisely." The map has something to say regarding every path available in this landscape of "all things" withs it varying kinds and capacities.
The Word will bring you faith. Romans 10:17 makes this one crystal clear. Do you want that kind of faith that pleases God, causes the impossible to become the possible, moves mountains, destroys satanic strongholds, and violently advances the kingdom of God? It comes from hearing and hearing and hearing and hearing the things that God has to say! You can have faith in your feelings, in which case your feelings will govern your life. You can have faith in your fears, and so be paralyzed into inactivity. You can have faith in others, and often be disappointed. Or you can have faith in God’s Word, and learn that He is utterly trustworthy in every situation. Smith-Wigglesworth said, "Except the word of God, everything else is sand. It’ll stand forever, it’s settled in heaven, not one jot or tittle will fail, it can’t be broken or improved upon, and those who believe in it shall be like Mount Zion that cannot be moved.