Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1199 MP3 Audio File Video File

Restoring What's Forgotten

Jeffrey T. McCormack

Delivered 12/31/2023

It’s that time of the year where this pulpit will exhort you again to set a goal to read through the Bible in a year’s time. And in a roundabout way, that is the ultimate purpose today, though using a historical storyline to get there.

As we all know, much of the modern church these days relies heavily on creeds and tradition. In general, that is not always a bad thing, as these historically established doctrines tend to stem from much study and discussion, to come up with a well-thought-out end belief.

When we look back and study church history, there have been pivotal times when issues and controversies had come to a head and councils were called so that doctrines could be examined, and changes in thinking could be made where needed.

There were of course many such councils, debates and doctrinal statements in the early centuries of church history when doctrines were being fleshed out and codified. These are still held by many as a foundation to start to build upon.

Then for the next thousand or so years following, mainly under the Roman Catholic church era, there were like another dozen or so councils called to deal with issues as they arose. Oftentimes, rising controversies were a reason to call a council to deal with it, and the outcome was usually an established apologetic on the issue.

Then there of course is the Reformation period, when some theologians within the Roman Catholic Church felt that the Church had strayed from the path of the truth of Scriptures, so they raised their voice in an effort to challenge the church to get it back on course in those areas. This was the normal practice of doing things to assist in reformation.

This type of periodic challenge is rarely a bad thing and should be seen a normal way to reevaluate a biblical position. In general life, as well as church life and doctrine, we learn things, we apply things, and over time situations come up that require our practices and thoughts to be tweaked a little to conform to some new condition.

A little further down the road, something else comes up and things get tweaked a little more. Those altered teachings are taught to others who go out, and those others will later come up with an issue and they tweak things, and then later others give it a little tweak too. Over time, all of those slightly tweaked doctrines can come together and get merged or tweaked a little bit more for the sake of unity.

After a few decades of this going on, it is easy to see how the original doctrine with its biblical foundation can get blurred and become something quite different from when it started. It is not hard to understand how over the years, this can lead to how a lot of church traditions become a solidified “doctrine.”

This is what had obviously happened after more than a thousand years of the church’s activity in the early years. So, when some of the teachers like Martin Luther came forward and questioned the church’s tradition, it caused quite a stir, though it really shouldn’t have.

It should have been a welcome way to reevaluate a position, changing when and if needed. They raised questions because they simply wanted to right the ship and get it back on course, they were not seeking to break away or start a new denomination.

Of course, if you know the history there, you know how things turned out with that situation. Instead of righting the ship, it led to a great division, which is why we now have the Roman Catholic church, and those that left and do not adhere to that line of doctrine, labeled the Protestant Church.

But out of that whole situation, a rally-cry of sorts was produced from the Protestant Reformation system. Unfortunately, it is one that many seem to forget to apply even today. That is, the idea that the church is reformed and always reforming.

Some have improperly interpreted this phrase and seek to misuse it to imply that truth is always changing, and that newer is probably better. That is a misuse in understanding this phrase. A while back I found an overview of the modern view explained by blogger Jeff Landis, who said:

But as the years went on I discovered that those who espoused the idea of “always reforming” were often reforming the wrong things. Their idea of reformation was to change the meaning of biblical texts and the theological understanding of the church. Too often it seemed to me, their idea of reforming the church was to modernize the theology of the church to better conform to the current standards of culture and society. So, reforming churches reformed their view of Scripture (no longer inerrant) and their view of the roles of men and women in the church. Then they changed their views of sexual sin and determined some sexual sin was to be tolerated because society concluded the person was made with a bent for such sin. What was being reformed was the clear teaching of Scripture!

That is not the type of “reforming” that we are speaking of here. The directive is not to reform the Scriptures to match us, but to reform our thinking to match the Scriptures. On the other hand, there is the typical modern way of thinking the past and traditional thought are the higher form of accuracy, as one unnamed American Vision writer states:

This simple principle is one that is most often forgotten in modern discussions about theology, where a surefire way to end a disagreement is to pull out something written by Luther, Calvin, or even Spurgeon and show that they said much the same thing. Although the Reformers themselves were quite emphatic that they were not the final word (hence the "always reforming"), contemporary Christianity seems to be convinced that dead theologians should be the authoritative standard of interpretation. (

The point is, church tradition, or ancient teachings do not always equate to the most accurate Scriptural truth. I am in no way suggesting we throw it all out and start over. I will quite often pull up dead theologians to make my case. In many ways, those truths may still hold true in light of modern interpretative practices.

They are almost always helpful, but they simply portray where that teacher was in their working out of a theology position at the time that they wrote. These things are not to be held as authoritative, nor to be considered perfect in their comprehension of a topic.

On the opposite end of the topic, going with a total private interpretation of Scripture approach, is likewise not a system of absolute truth. While many claim to be led by the Spirit, and thus consider their understanding of Scripture to be accurate, this is rarely the case.

All we tend to end up with, is a bunch of self-led professors of their truth, causing more and more confusion and division. People tend to forget that Scripture does not come to us in a vacuum of sorts, just waiting for each individual to dig in and apply it as they wish. It is also not a book of good words and sayings that we must then arrange and interpret to fit our situations.

Many Christians treat the Scripture as a book of sayings, with some fortune cookie or sayings of Confucius mentality. They use verses pulled out of it and applied to their current situation as needed—squeezed to fit their desired scenario. Rarely are the context, historical setting or audience relevance ever taken into consideration these days.

The average church goer not only tends to ignore such underlying ideas, but many church leaders are ignorant in these areas too. Traditional “favorite” verses are still the go-to verses for many, even when grossly misapplied. Sadly, these practices are so often done by Christian and teachers, that they then become tradition themselves, and the ship continues to go off course little by little.

Those who dig deeper and understand the story of Scripture better do see the importance of understanding the culture, historical settings, etc. that surrounded the writings, and use that information to form a more proper understanding of Scripture.

Sadly, when people do start such an approach in their study, they start to say and teach things that then sound so alien to modern believers, because it sounds so against the “tradition” they think is more accurate.

Once you begin to see the whole story as it unfolds and ties together, the Bible becomes a whole new amazing world of discovery. But in order to see that, you must read and be familiar with the story.

The key point I am making here is that, for most all of these issues that came up, these synods and councils were all called together with the intent of addressing error, yes, but a by-product of it was often dealing with areas where tradition may have led to now being against Scripture.

In the process of dealing with the arising error and seeking to get in line with Scripture, it inevitably led them to finding and addressing any possible tradition that had built up and addressing that further too.

Things were not much different in the ancient times of the Hebrews. Looking through the Old Testament Scriptures, we find that for many centuries, the Hebrew Scriptures were revered, studied, memorized, and applied to every area of life by those seeking a better understanding of Yahweh. Many followers knew these Scriptures inside and out.

The Hebrew culture had a much stronger value on the memorized word over the written word. So, they not only had the Scriptures, but they also worked to memorize them. In most cases, this was a necessity, since the mass production of copies of the Scriptures was not widespread.

Maybe they did not always adhere to them or apply them correctly, but they honored them and studied them thoroughly. At various times, traditions would grow in importance and lead people astray, and a reformation of thought and practice would come about to repair things for a time.

Often times, the reformation of thought was prompted by the raising up and condemnation of a prophet, or worse, an actual judgment from Yahweh, in order to get their attention and to bring about these repairs.

While it happened time and time again, one thing was a constant – the revealed law and Scriptures were the central point they returned to. Yahweh was always telling his people to remember... remember... remember. The truth was there, they just had to remember it and follow it.

One of the ways he instructed them to remember it was instructing them to of course read or hear it often. Let us go back in early Hebrew history and take a glimpse at this. In Deuteronomy 17 we find the instructions that every future King of the nation was to follow – which was read earlier:

And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20 ESV)

Notice that each king was to copy the law to have a personal copy to read all the days of their life that he may …. continue long in his kingdom

Then later in the same book, chapter 31, as the people are about to cross over into the promised land, we are told:

Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, "At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess." (Deuteronomy 31:9-13 ESV)

Well, as the story goes, we find that over time that these practices of writing and reading the law did not continue to occur as they should, and we find throughout the books of Kings and Chronicles that time and time again, the kings did evil in the sight of the Lord.

In 2 Kings 17 we are told many of the things the nations of Israel and Judah did, revealing just how far they had strayed from what they should have been doing. We are told they:

  1. Set up pillars and Asherim (Canaanite goddess Ashera) (v. 10)
  2. Served idols (v. 12)
  3. Despised his statutes and covenant (v. 15)
  4. Went after false idols (v. 15)
  5. Followed the nations which the Lord commanded not to (v. 15)
  6. Abandoned all of the commandment of the Lord (v. 16)
  7. Made metal images of two calves (v. 16)
  8. Worshipped all hosts of heaven and Baal (v. 16)
  9. Burned their sons and daughters as offering (v. 17)
  10. Used divinations and omens (v. 17)

And in response to these things, we are told:

Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. Judah also did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight. When he had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. And Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD and made them commit great sin. (2 Kings 17:18-21 ESV)

Then if you track the history of the kings of Israel, it is pretty much one king after another that “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Apparently, there was no longer the practice of the kings writing and reading the law, and thus also not presenting it to the people every seven years as commanded.

The history of Judah is a little different and becomes a hit or miss of kings that do good and those that do evil. In the books of Kings, we are often told how this one did evil in the sight of the Lord, and how this one did what was right. Some kings we are not told their spiritual state at all, just some of their activities.

But let’s jump to a time in Judah’s history to the time of Hezekiah. Prior to Hezekiah we had quite a few kings that either did evil, or we are not specifically told much about them. But in in 2 Kings 18 we come to Hezekiah and are told:

In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. (2 Kings 18:1-7 ESV)

So, we discover that he came into power and cleaned house of the atrocities against the Lord of his predecessors, and in return, did many good things. We are told there was no one like him either before him or after him in Judah. We know things were bad prior to him, so this is a high time of revival in Judah’s history.

We can assume therefore that the laws were being read and honored during his lifetime. Many of his acts can be read throughout 2 Kings 18, 19, and 20. Then at the end of chapter 20 we find him passing away and his son Manasseh begins to reign. Sadly though, we are told:

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hephzibah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. (2 Kings 21:1-2 ESV)

So, after a great time of revival, the very next generation turned right around and went back to evil. We are told Manasseh returned to doing the following:

  1. Rebuilt the high places his father had destroyed
  2. Erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah
  3. Worshipped all the hosts of heaven and served them
  4. Built altars within the house of the Lord
  5. Built altars to the host of heaven within the two courts of the Lord’s house
  6. Burned his sons as an offering
  7. Used fortune telling, omens, mediums and necromancers

When it came to obeying the word of the Lord given to those before Manasseh and his people, 21:9 tells us:

But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel. (2 Kings 21:9 ESV)

We are told in 2 Chronicles of how God brought Manasseh under judgment, and how he seemingly repents, and the Lord restores him. In return Manasseh puts some changes in place, taking away idols and foreign gods, restoring the altars in the house of the Lord, and commanding Judah to return to serving the Lord.

Then after 55 years of Manasseh, he died, and his son Amon began to reign. And while we saw Manasseh turning things around, his son Amon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 21:21 tells us:

He walked in all the way in which his father walked and served the idols that his father served and worshiped them. He abandoned the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD. (2 Kings 21:21-22 ESV)

2 Chronicles 33 also relates his reign, stating it as:

And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. Amon sacrificed to all the images that Manasseh his father had made, and served them. And he did not humble himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself, but this Amon incurred guilt more and more. (2 Chronicles 33:22-23 ESV)

The things his father had started fixing in his later years, Amon turned around and restored the original atrocities his father had established early in his reign, and actually pushed things even further. However, Amon only reigned two years before his servants conspired against him and put him to death.

Then Josiah, his eight-year-old begin to reign. Now note, while we are initially told that Josiah did was right in the eyes of the Lord, we must pay attention to the fact that it was not until a full eight years into his reign that he first began changing things – at least in his own life:

For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images. (2 Chronicles 34:3 ESV)

Some conclude that most likely the first twelve years of his reign were not much different than his father Amon’s reign had been. Matthew Henry states:

I fear, however, that in the beginning of his reign things went much as they had done in his father's time, because, being a child, he must have left the management of them to others; so that it was not till his twelfth year, which goes far in the number of his years, that the reformation began. (Matthew Henry Commentary)

Then eight years into his reign, at 16 years old, he begins a personal spiritual reformation, and then another four years later–twelve years into his reign—now at the age twenty, what do we find him doing? He begins to:

  1. Chop down the altars of Baal
  2. Break into pieces the Asherim, as well as carved and metal images
  3. Burned the bones of the priests to cleanse Judah and Jerusalem
  4. Went into many surrounding cities and destroyed the altars there too

It appears all of these actions took place over the next six years, for we are then told in 34:8:

Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had cleansed the land and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah…to repair the house of the LORD his God. (2 Chronicles 34:8 ESV)

Many years after working to cleanse the land, work is then begun to restore the house of Lord, and things were being done, and items shifted around, Josiah instructs Hilkiah the high priest to take money from the house of the Lord in order to pay for the supplies for the repair. And then we are told in 34:14:

While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD given through Moses. (2 Chronicles 34:14 ESV)

So, what can we assume at this point? Obviously, the practice of copying and reading the law had not been in place up to this time even in Josiah’s reign, and the laws of God had been all but forgotten and buried in the apparently unused house of the Lord.

The house of the Lord, which for at least the 55 years of Manassah reigning, and the two of his son Amon, and possibly even the first eight to twelve years of Josiah, had been abused with idolatry. Obviously, the law had been buried, ignored and long forgotten.

And we are given no hint that the practice of reading the law was in practice during the prior eighteen years of Josiah’s reign either. Now they have begun doing some house cleaning, and they have discovered the book of the law, and have read it, what did Josiah initially do?

And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. (2 Chronicles 34:19 ESV)

Then he immediate began to take action, as we are told in the next verses:

And the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, "Go, inquire of the LORD for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book." (2 Chronicles 34:20-21 ESV)

So, while things have been going well with Josiah’s reforms up to this point, he realizes that neither he nor his fathers have been keeping the full word of the Lord, and so he determines to make even further changes, and so we are told:

Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. And the king went up to the house of the LORD, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.
And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.
Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin join in it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.
And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 34:29-33 ESV)

And now I wish to leave the story of Josiah and look at how we might apply this to ourselves. As I mentioned in the beginning, it is that time of the year when we wish to extend to everyone the Berean Bible challenge.

As Christians, we can look at these stories and glean general attributes from them that we could then seek to apply to our personal spiritual walks. So, going back, we found in Leviticus 17 that the kings were commanded to copy the law and read it all the days of his life.

We read that they were to read the law in order that the kings would:

  1. Learn to fear the Lord
  2. Not be lifted up above his brothers
  3. Not turn aside from the commandments
  4. Continue long in his kingdom, he and his children

So, are there any of these listed traits that we feel should be despised by us today, and that we should not seek in our own lives today? These were traits that the kings would get from staying in God’s law all the days of their lives. How much more could WE gain by staying within the even larger amount of Scripture that we have in our possession?

Now, some Christians have actually, at one time or another, read the entire Bible through at least once. Maybe it was not all in a short period of time, maybe it was drawn out of years of reading some here and there, but they can say they have read it all at least. It is probably truer today though that most church goers have never read the Scriptures through in their entirety even once.

They may know much of what it says. They may have studied large sections of it in depth. They may have portions of it memorized. They may know enough to be able to defend certain positions that they adhere to. But even with all of that, they may still be ignorant of how it all fits together.

In some places, a copy of the Scripture may indeed be scarce, especially in some of the countries we hear of weekly in the persecuted church segment. When someone in those countries acquire even a portion of Scripture, they tend to cherish what they have. While places where they have them in abundance, it is often taken for granted.

Here in America, we do not even have to go out and buy a copy of the Bible, it is free online in so many different versions and languages, and there are so many free commentaries, study aids, teaching aids, etc. So what excuse is there for us today?

I like how Matthew Henry puts it – and he did not even have the abundance of availability as we have today:

We may hence take occasion to bless God that we have plenty of Bibles, and that they are, or may be, in all hands - that the book of the law and gospel is not lost, is not scarce - that, in this sense, the word of the Lord is not precious. Bibles are jewels, but, thanks be to God, they are not rarities. The fountain of the waters of life is not a spring shut up or a fountain sealed, but the streams of it, in all places, make glad the city of our God. What a great deal shall we have to answer for if the great things of God's law, being thus made common, should be accounted by us as strange things! (Matthew Henry Commentary on 2 Chronicles 34:14-28)

He hits on a good point here. Bibles are so freely available in many places, so that it is no longer precious to them. It is not rare, and people do not have to copy them to make a personal copy, nor do they risk their life to get it, and so we end up taking them for granted.

Obviously in Josiah’s day, he did not have copies of the law laying around everywhere, and he wasn’t just leaving it on the shelf and ignoring it like many do today. And what happened when they found it and read it to him? He tore his clothes.

He was so distraught over what they had been missing. Realizing all of the laws he and his people were ignorant of, and most like even living contrary to. Once he became aware of the problem though, he immediately began seeking how to rectify the situation. This should help motivate us to desire to read as often as possible.

What if there are things within the Scriptures that we are ignorant of and living contrary to? Would we respond in like manner if we read God’s word and found some area of our lifestyle to be at odds with what we ascertain as the proper Christian lifestyle? Again, wise words from Matthew Henry:

We may hence learn, whenever we read or hear the word of God, to affect our hearts with it, and to get them possessed with a holy fear of that wrath of God which is there revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, as Josiah's tender heart was. When he heard the words of the law he rent his clothes, and God was well pleased with his doing so. Were the things contained in the scripture new to us, as they were here to Josiah, surely they would make deeper impressions upon us than commonly they do; but they are not the less weighty, and therefore should not be the less considered by us, for their being well known. Rend the heart therefore, not the garments. (Matthew Henry Commentary on 2 Chronicles 34:14-28)

For today’s Christians, my first question is just how many today can seriously claim the Scriptures as “well known” to them? What does that even look like today? As mentioned, I am sure there are many who have well-known verses in their head.

But because it is so uncommon today for Christian to stay in the Word and read through it often and entirely, we find many people actually mishandle the Scripture simply because they do not really know it.

I would almost dare to say that the things contained in the scripture are pretty much new to many professing Christians. So many people have multiple copies, and yet know so little of the actual full story contained within. They know what they hear taught from their pulpits. And few, if any, of today’s pulpits cover much depth of Scripture.

Over the years, people pick up favorite verses, phrases, terms etc. and use them, usually out of context, as if they are in and of themselves truth of scripture being properly applied. Using the Scripture out of context to make points that are not what is actually being made by Scripture, is a very common practice these days.

All of these misapplications can be done away with if people would just read the entirety of Scripture, in its context, and more frequently. What people need to understand and do, is to seek to learn the whole story of Scripture, and not just a bunch of pet-verses found in them.

We should never be content with what we currently know or think we understand. We should never be content with a reading schedule that finds us only occasionally in God’s Word. We should strive to be like the kings of old, where we read it “all the days of our lives.”

Another of the great councils in church history took place in the early 1600s, and the end result was the Westminster Confession of Faith, used to this day by the Reformed churches. This large statement of faith holds the Scripture in the high and supreme place it should be in a Christian’s life:

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. (Westminster Confession of Faith, I.VI)

The question becomes, how can these good doctrines be deduced from Scripture by Christians, if Christians are not frequently reading Scripture? And while most everyone would speak out against openly adding to the Scripture, few even flinch at the idea of imposing their traditions on life, which ends with a going above and beyond the scope of Scripture teaching.

In the end, tradition is king for most. They believe what they are taught, because that is just always the way things have always been believed, and they get no further to study beyond that. Then, when a doctrine comes up that may sound “new” or odd sounding to them, they simply dismiss it as false.

Rarely is this decision ever made because they have examined it, understood it, and can seriously refute it from Scripture. It is just rejected because it goes against our tradition or confessions.

As we briefly touched on, traditions appear, they are solidified over time, and as time progresses, they tend to become “law” and it becomes so binding that most people never question it. As those traditions grow and distort, often they can make the truth so hidden or obscured that what the tradition is no longer really truth.

Staying in the whole word, frequently, is a good exercise against this progression. If everyone in a congregation was in the Word frequently, and stayed well versed in it in general, these traditions and straying from truth may be more easily avoided or addressed. Usually, what happens is a few will raise question, it becomes a church split, and a new church body or denomination is created.

As cultural thoughts change, so do the thoughts and beliefs of many Christians. New applications and ways to address the changing culture begin to come into play. These new applications become the new truth, and these beliefs become the new tradition, and that tend to move things further and further from truth.

As mentioned earlier, this is not the kind of reforming church that we are wanting to see. We should not seek to reform the Scripture to fit the world around us, but should be seeking to reform the world around to conform to the truth of Scripture. But this is near impossible to do it we do not know it.

Can you imagine what churches would be like if every single person who sat in the pew week after week were engaged in a daily reading plan of the Bible – and doing so in a way that takes them through the Scriptures in their entirety?

Can you imagine a world where every profession Christian truly knew their Bible more thoroughly because of this reading schedule? Can you imagine the number of crazy teachings and teachers that would not be tolerated? Can you imagine the impact Christians would have on the surrounding culture?

Prior to the Reformation, the ruling church did not allow the common man to have the Scriptures in their hands. One of the benefits that came after the Reformation, was that the Scriptures were put into the common tongue and given to the people. This offered a sort of accountability against the church becoming abusing in their traditions and unscriptural teachings.

Since then, the church has grown greatly in many ways. But as always, given enough time, new traditions come in. The church that was always reformed and always reforming, has either become stagnant and filled with new traditions, or has instead become the “conformed and conforming” church.

The Scripture is in their tongue; it is freely available to most, yet still there is a great lack of real Scriptural knowledge. The people have them, but apparently it is not worth the time to invest to get to know them.

Scripture reading is important. And every year you get a message from this pulpit encouraging you to get a set yearly plan, and that is what you are getting today yet again. It takes about 15 minutes a day to read through the whole of Scripture in a year.

It is not just a book that we should read once, get a feel for the general story, and then put to the side and use only as a reference book when some text is needed to satisfy us in some way. It is a life-long instruction manual of sorts, filled with words and stories that can continue to change our lives the more we learn.

I am sure many of you have heard people say things like “every time I read the Scriptures, I see something new I hadn’t seen before.” If you have committed to such a plan, I believe you will likewise come to this kind of a conclusion.

Let me tell you a little embarrassing story about, uh, this friend of mine, let’s just call him Henry. Henry was an avid reader and studier of many deep theological issues over the previous decades of his life. He kind of prided myself on knowing a little bit of something, and felt he had a pretty good grasp on the whole story of Scripture.

He studied many theological issues, doctrinal controversies, church history, presuppositional apologetics, and all kinds of teachings with intelligent sounding words to make things sound deep and important. He listened to hundreds of hours of sermons, he attended church regularly, and he did occasionally read the Scriptures.

But in the past few years, each year that I – uh, I mean Henry – has stuck to reading through the Scripture regularly and consistently, he has picked up and connected points on things that he thought he knew but it turns out he was quite clueless on.

It is true that the more you read, the more you will discover those “oh wow” moments while reading – as things you may have thought you understood will continue to take on new life and make much more sense. As pieces of the story become more familiar, as context is grasped further, points within the overarching story start to become more clearly connected and understood in new ways.

People may think re-reading the same book over and over would be boring, but there are so many things that seem new the more they are read. Plus, I’m sure we may all know of people who will re-read their favorite literary pieces multiple times, and they still get newer understanding out of simple fiction pieces. How much more should the Bible be read by those who call it their Lord’s revealed words?

So, if you have become one of the comfortable Christians who have the book on the shelf but not in front of your eyes frequently – who are content with getting what you get from the pulpit— I recommend that you pull the book off the shelf, dust it off and read it frequently.

Maybe you feel you have heard so much of it preached over years of church attendance, that you are fine as you are. My friend Henry felt that way too – but that is just a self-inflicted lie masquerading as a reason to be lazy and not do it.

Having God’s word, but ignoring it, is like having it hidden and all but forgotten in one of the rooms of your spiritual house? If you feel your spiritual life might be a series of just going through the motions and surviving, in a sort of auto-pilot dominated by your tradition of religion, it is time to make the commitment to read.

Do not be content to live like the early years of King Josiah, by simply following the herd and sticking with tradition and ignoring the personal growth you’ll receive with Bible reading. He had the book, he didn’t know that he did, was doing some good things in life. But when he found it, and read it, he acted upon it, and things changed.

For those of you old enough to recall the 1990s, there was the big resurgences of the WWJD motto. You saw it everywhere in churches – WWJD – WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? Before you took some questionable action in life, ask yourself – what would Jesus do? This morning I ask you to say WWJD – What would Josiah do?

While asking “What would Jesus do?” may indeed be helpful in making decisions in your daily walk – that can only truly even begin to be comprehended how to answer the question if you are truly and deeply aware of Him and his story in order to make such decisions. A better question to ask yourself first might actually be, “What would Josiah do?”

Having a book from God - What would Josiah do? He would read it.

Having and reading a book from God - What would Josiah do? He would tear his clothes after realizing just how far off the mark things have gotten.

Having and reading a book from God that make you realize how bad things have gotten in life - What would Josiah do? He would begin applying those teachings to life to reform practices and theology in life. He would evaluate the traditions in life that were against the book of the law, and would adjust appropriately.

Too many Christians sit around feeling sorry for themselves, saying they do not feel as though God is there for them, and that he seems absent in their lives. Some simply think God is a big God, concerned with the big things of the world, and that the little things in their life are not part of that consideration. Much of this mentality can be brushed away when you see his concern for the little things throughout his Word.

The bottom line is – if you are a person who claims to love and worship God and His son, who claims to be a part of his people, and who claim to want a better life in Him, yet you do not stay consistently within His Word, then you are part of the problem not only with what may be bothering you in life, but with the affects of Christianity in the world today.

Harsh words I know. But in this day and age, there is no real excuse for not staying in the word, and failure to do so makes you one of those people who is most likely walking around living and speaking Scripture in a manner out of line with what Scripture actually teaches. You become more of a liability for honoring the name of Christianity, and the message just continues to be obscured.

The truth is there, we just have to read it so as to remember it and follow it – and once is not enough. Pull out the Word, read it and as we are told in Joel 2:13— “rend your heart, not your garments,” and let the Word bring revival to your soul each and every year as you join the challenge to pick a reading plan and read through the Scriptures entirely in a year.

Berean Bible Church provides this material free of charge for the edification of the Body of Christ. You can help further this work by your prayer and by contributing online or by mailing to:

Berean Bible Church
1000 Chattanooga Street
Chesapeake, VA 23322