“These are not just idle words for you, they are your life.” (Deut32:47)
As a pastor for more than 50 years across British churches, Mervyn Tilley came across a disturbing trend. As he carried out many surveys on churches of all sizes, he found that only 10% of the people of any church could say that they had read the whole Bible through once.
While that news may not be that obviously striking for most Christians, his concern was that , if the Bible is the supreme source of wisdom, and we are not reading it, then where are we getting our wisdom for life from?
While many Christians are quick to hear what the New York Times and other media outlets are telling us, if our day-to-day living is not being guided by the Word of God, then our personal lives do not have that touch and direction from the Holy Spirit, which is so essential in ensuring God is in the middle of our life decisions.
Accordingly, Mervyn was inspired to write The Importance of Reading the Bible based not only on his own passion for reading the Bible, but because he knows just how valuable it is for Christians in navigating our very complex world.
Now retired, but having been a pastor for over 50 years, Mervyn discovered during the mid-70’s that one of the best ways to read the Bible was to read it systematically from Genesis to Revelation. He says that by doing it this way, you are sure to get the whole counsel of God.
Mervyn pastored two churches, starting in 1961. He has travelled extensively: over 25 times to East and West Africa teaching at leadership conferences, over 100 times to Israel, and also numerous times to Cyprus, ministering at Arab pastor’s conferences.
Church-wise, he has been involved in five building projects and also served as a Regional Superintendent and a member of his denominational Leadership Team for nine years.
The Importance of Reading the Bible is therefore a personal testimony and also very practical in its application. Through regular teaching and preaching on this subject, he says hundreds of people have been helped to give the Bible the rightful place in their lives.
As an example of how this works, when the he spoke at a regional Pastor’s meeting on one occasion, ten years later, when visiting missionaries in Ghana, they told him how their lives had been transformed through what he shared at that regional meeting.
There are many very goods books on the Bible, including with daily meditations on the Bible, however Mervyn says that while they are easy to digest, they should never be a substitute for reading the Bible for yourself, simply because God wants to speak to us himself.
Inside this insightful book is a story about the famous movie The Cross and the Switchblade, which illustrates this point. The young man in question was called Israel and at a meeting where he received Christ as his Saviour, he was given a copy of the Bible. On flicking through the pages, he suddenly became excited and said to his friends, Look, my name (Israel) is on nearly every page!
“That’s what it can be like when you read the Bible systematically, states Mervyn. “God speaks to you where you are on a given day and often he speaks to you where you are in your life at that time. These words become essential for both comfort and direction.
Meryn says that his prayer is that this book will inspire Christians to take the Bible very seriously on a daily basis. “I came across this anonymous quote recently which sums up very well the value of the Bible:
It contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the fate of sinners and the happiness of believers. It is a light to direct you, food to nourish you and comfort to cheer you. It is traveller’s road map, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s weapon and the player’s game plan. It’s a mine of incredible wealth and a river of genuine joy. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true and its decisions are immutable. Christ is its grand subject, your good it’s design,and the glory of God’s it’s end. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be spiritually healthy.”
Mervyn says the key is to read the bible Read slowly, frequently and prayerfully. “Let it fill your memory, rule your heart and guide your steps,” he continues. “It is given to you in life, will be opened at the judgement and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour and judge those who trifle with its sacred contents. The Bible is the word of our God which shall stand forever. Most of us respect the Bible; the trouble is we don’t read it daily and put it into practice.”
“The Bible is an absolute treasure trove of spiritual riches. If the Promised Land was for Israel a land flowing with milk and honey, how much more is this true of the Bible? It’s a matter of tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.”
Mervyn says that his prayer is The Importance of Reading the Bible will both encourage and challenge you to make the Bible a priority in your life. “If you do, believe me, you will be richly rewarded,” he says.
The Importance of Reading the Bible, published by Ark House, is now available globally.