Then said the high priest, Are these things so? And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, (Acts 7:1-2 KJV)
Today, it is my earnest desire to throw down a challenge to every Christian; to every believer in Christ Jesus. It is a challenge coming from the life of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who is essentially the focus of my writing this topic. The challenge is to the pursuit of the knowledge of the word of God. Not just an in-depth knowledge now, but in-breadth knowledge.
Now, I have heard brethren making statements like these: “it is not about knowing the Bible from Genesis to Revelation; but it is about doing the one you know.” While I can sympathize with the motivation of the statement, I simply do not agree.
I do not know when Stephen became a believer; though I am strong in my conviction that he was one of the converts on the day of Pentecost. He was brought in trial before the Sanhedrin after men had laid some allegations against him, and he was asked to speak by the high priest. Beginning from Father Abraham, he gave these members of the Sanhedrin a solid history of the Jews. Without looking into the Bible or into any other notes for guidance, he was able to tell, on the spur of the moment, the history of God’s people from ‘then’ till ‘now’. His speech that day was the longest recorded speech in the Acts of the Apostles. Remember that he was chosen to ‘serve tables’ so that the Apostles could give themselves to the ministry of the Word and to prayers; yet he knew God’s word so much that I wondered how much the Apostles would have known if someone like Stephen knew this much!
Now in our ‘spiritual’ laziness, we can say that the Holy Spirit came upon him and seized his mouth such that he started speaking what he did not know! But that is a moot point. Anyone who knows a little of the movement of the Spirit knows that such is not the manner of operation of the Spirit of God.
Whenever I am privileged to handle new believers, I usually teach them the practice of ‘Quiet Time’ and give them a devotional to assist them (e.g. Daily Guide). Over time, however, I discovered that sometimes they do not get much out of a passage of scripture that they read that day simply because there were other backgrounds and previous stories that came before which would have made that passage of the Bible to make some sense if they had known them. But because they do not know these previous stories, they hardly can milk anything out of the passage. So, I changed my plan! There are quite a number of them that I am following up currently, and I placed them under Bible reading plans. For example, there are a few of them that I would sit down, give them a few preview of a book of the Bible (e.g. Genesis), and give them the stipulated amount of days to finish it. Some of them a times run through Genesis in 7 days! It is not going to give them that in-depth knowledge of Bible that comes from meditating on a small portion of the Scriptures for days, but it will give them in-breadth knowledge of the Bible which is necessary for the in-depth knowledge in the years to come.
It is a tragedy that there are Christians who have been born again for several years, and have never finished the whole Bible, not even once in their lifetime! It is painful when you see how these brethren would suddenly become Bible teachers and have powerful opinions about issues in the Bible while they have never read the whole story, unless the ones popularly bandied by their select preachers and denominations.
What manner of follow-up or lifestyle could have made a new convert like Stephen this ‘worded’? Remember that the early church met every day; not just to sing and clap, but for the word of God and for prayers. Trust me if I tell you that their teaching services were not 1hr. 30 mins services. They met daily, and yet they met for hours; while we meet once or twice a week, and we meet only for 1 hour, 30 mins (including praises and worship, testimonies, thanksgiving and offerings), with the word of God ‘made sharp’ for just 30 minutes! No matter how powerful a man of God is, never can that kind of service raise a worded generation! Never! The Apostles never tried it, why should we?
The tragedy of it all is that as the brethren return from these ‘short’ services, they do not have a personal commitment to Bible reading and study. Instead, we have become a generation of PowerPoint, quotable quotes, and Instagram. We would rather watch 10 disconnected video clips of 6 minutes each, than to sit down for a 1 hour sermon.
Now, I am not trying to be overly critical, but I am saying that if we are going to stay ‘worded’, we must make a commitment; and that is what I am calling you to. We must make a commitment to read through the Bible cover to cover. I literally mean that! Not depth but breadth. Give the Holy Spirit a wide range of land in your life for Him to work, and you do that by having breadth in your knowledge of God’s word.
Start from Genesis (the book of the beginnings- though not the first book of the Bible chronologically), then you can take the books of the Bible in any sequence of your choice. Start reading. You can read quietly or aloud to yourself. You can use Audio Bibles to help you. Set goals for this; and run through the whole scriptures. It is an error to have a particular Book of the Bible that you have never read all your life.
Get to know what is written in God’s word- it is a debt you owe yourself, your generation and your God. Doing this will open you up to the full scope of God’s design, and make you a worthy ambassador for Christ when you stand in the gates against His enemies.