The Bible as a Sacrament: Experience the Presence of God in the Pages of Holy Scripture!

During the last few weeks we have been considering the precious aspects of ministry, always honored by our Lord: anointing the sick with oil, serving holy communion, and today: reading from the Bible.

A couple of years ago Dr. Francis Martin, a priest and Pauline scholar, spoke at Regent University. Father Martin passed away last year, but I’ll never forget his words. He told us that reading the Bible is a sacrament. We can touch the Bible, we can open it, and read from it. As we do so, God pours out his grace on us and we experience his presence through the work of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that wonderful! In reading from the Word, the living Lord appears to us!

In the last few years a number of books were published, urging the church to renew her devotion to the study of Scripture. I am thinking of Hans Boersma’s Scripture as Real Presence: Sacramental Exegesis in the Early Church, 2017, Matthew Barrett’s God’s Word Alone, 2016, and D. A. Carson’s edited comprehensive volume of essays on the Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, also in 2016. In 2009 Timothy Ward wrote Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God, and in 2003 John Webster urged us never to forget that the Bible is Holy Scripture. As I review these books, the words of Revelation 2:29 (ESV) come to me: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Every revival and renewal movement in the history of the church was always preceded by prayer and study of the Word. A love for the Bible is one of the clearest signs of the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. After I had given my life to Jesus as a 12-year old boy, I read my Bible and underlined it in a way that encourages me to this day. I am sure you had the same experience. Please share with us in the “Discussion” space below!

Today we have the best and easiest to read translations. People often ask me which translation is the best. The best translation for you is the one that speaks to you! Competition between publishers is so fierce today that there are no bad translations on the market. Let me share with you what I find helpful in my daily reading of Scripture. The New International Version (NIV) remains one of the best. The NIV committee of translators included scholars from all denominations, including Pentecostal denominations, and this is why the NIV remains so widely accepted. I also find the New Living Translation (NLT) enjoyable to read and true to the original languages. The English Standard Version (ESV) Reader’s Bible, deserves special recognition. Beautifully printed in a single column without all the verse numbers and section headings, it is uniquely suited for extensive Bible reading.

Have you discovered the benefits of listening to audio versions of the Bible? In my early morning devotion I am listening to the audio edition of the New Living Translation, called Breathe Bible. What the creators of this audio presentation say is true: “Feel the moving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and sit with Paul as he pens his teachings.” Get the free app and listen to the Gospel of John. Access to the rest of the New Testament is not expensive.

Let us listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches and let us read our Bibles diligently and experience the presence of our Lord!

Share with us what you have found helpful in your reading of the Bible.