Metabolizing Scripture

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I just started reading Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book, and boy do I wish I had started it years ago. So often we approach the text in our church as if it is a dead text. It’s read like a legal document, history book, or any other text. But to approach the Bible this way is to discount the idea that it is living, breathing, and active. Listen to what Peterson says:

“Christians don’t simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son.” Pg 18

I love that image. Scripture gets metabolized and produces fruit in our lives.

Bible

So often I read the Bible it seems just to gain information, or to study. None of this is inherently bad, but the text isn’t here for us to master it. It masters us. In fact, what kind of Holy Scripture do we have if we can totally sort it all out? What kind of God do we have when we have him figured out. We are always hinting at God, capturing images, praying for more. God cannot be mastered.

So, today I encourage you to do what Peterson recommends and eat this book. Let the text get down inside of you, shape you, transform you, convict you, teach you, move you into more deeply loving God and loving neighbor.

How would it change if we went to a text, read it, meditated on it, and asked a different set of questions. Instead of the classic factual questions, what if we asked things like: What am I learning about God here? What am I learning about the world? How might God be calling me to act in light of this text?

Eat the book. Digest it. Let the Holy Spirit work through the text to transform us into the image of Christ.

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4 thoughts on “Metabolizing Scripture

    Danny said:
    August 15, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    “Your words were found and I ate them, / And Your word became to me / The gladness and joy of my heart, / For I am called by Your name, / O Jehovah, God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16)

    [footnote]: Ezek. 3:1, 3; Rev. 10:9-10
    According to the entire revelation in the Holy Bible, God’s words are good for us to eat, and we need to eat them (Psa. 119:103; Matt. 4:4; Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:2-3). God’s word is the divine supply as food to nourish us. Through the word as our food, God dispenses His riches into our inner being to nourish us that we may be constituted with His element. This is a crucial aspect of God’s economy. When we eat God’s words, His word becomes our heart’s gladness and joy.

    Danny Crapps said:
    August 16, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Dear Ryan:

    I really appreciated your encouragement, reminding us to “eat the Book.” I thought you might enjoy what some others, beginning with the Lord Jesus Himself, have said about coming to the Lord when contacting His Word. Lord, remind us all, You are the true bread come down from heaven. Your words are Spirit and are life. If we eat You, we will live because of You. (John 6: 57,58,63)

    Grace be with you my brother,

    Danny
    ____________________________________________________________________________________
    John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning Me. 40 Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

    [Footnote:] The Jewish religionists searched the Scriptures but were not willing to come to the Lord. These two should go together; because the Scriptures testify concerning the Lord, they should not be separated from the Lord. We may contact the Scriptures, yet not contact the Lord. Only the Lord can give life. (from: New Testament Recovery Version; published by Living Stream Ministry)
    _____________________________________________________________________________________
    Listed below are some testimonies of men in church history who appreciated the intimate and vital relationship between God’s Word and Prayer; (From: ‘Lord…Thou Saidst’; compiled by Ray Graver; March 1981):

    “Often have I found him [Luther] weeping and praying for the whole church. He spent a part of almost every day reading the Psalms, with which he mingled his own supplications amid tears and groans.” (Philipp Melanchthon, 1497-1560; friend of Marin Luther.)

    “And finally, the most effectual rule of all, whereby to expound the word of God, is an heart…which doth continually pray…” (Johann Heinreich Bullinger; 1504-1575)

    “…among our prayers, meditation both on God’s nature and on his Word is by no means superfluous.” (John Calvin; 1509-1564)

    “One way to get comfort is to plead the promise of God in prayer, show Him His handwriting; God is tender of His Word.” (Thomas Manton; 1620-1677)

    “[let the Scriptures] penetrate inwardly into your heart and allow the heavenly food to be digested there, so that you get the benefit of its vitality and power…” (Philip Jacob Spener; 1635-1705)

    “It is also reasonable that the reading of the Holy Scripture be done with all prayer and groaning as well as praise and thanksgiving. For this is the simple way, that at all times one would have his good edification.” (August Herman Francke; 1663-1727)

    “To pray Scripture is a safe way to pray according to the will of God.”(Jonathan Edwards; 1703-1758)

    “My mind being now more open and enlarged, I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees, laying aside all other books, and praying over, if possible, every line and every word. This proved meat indeed, and drink indeed, to my soul. I daily received fresh life, light, and power from above.” (George Whitfield; 1714-1770)

    “The Word of God is the food, by which prayer is nourished and made strong.” (Edward M. Bounds; 1835-1913)

    “Study the Bible, dear brother, with prayer. Seek the Lord there …” (John Nelson Darby; 1800-1882)

    “I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament, from the beginning, early in the morning…making confession or intercession or supplication, or [giving thanks, going] to the next word or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer…continually keeping before me that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation.” (George Muller; 1805-1898)

    “…the Word supplies us with material for prayer and encourages us in expecting everything from God…it is only by prayer that we can live such a life that every word of God can be fulfilled in us.” (Andrew Murray; 1828-1917)

    “It was nearly two miles to Dr. Parker’s and every moment appeared long. On my way thither, while wrestling mightily with God in prayer, the precious words were brought with prayer to my soul, ‘Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and though shalt glorify Me [Psalm 50:15]’ I was enabled at once to plead them in faith, and the result was deep, deep unspeakable peace and joy.” (Hudson Taylor; 1832-1905)

    “I hope that the brothers and sisters will read God’s Word conscientiously every morning. Do not read it through quickly; pray as you read, and read as you pray. If you read this way for fifteen minutes, half an hour, or an hour every day, you will be fed and strengthened. If you eat God’s Word today, you will find that the Lord is your strength today; He will carry you through everything.” (Watchman Nee; 1903-1972. Excerpted from: The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, (Set 2) Vol. 38: General Messages (2), Chapter 7; published by Living Stream Ministry.)

      ryanlassiter responded:
      August 16, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Thanks for the comments, Uncle Danny. I love all of the quotes. Eugene Peterson bases his idea of “eat this book” from Revelation, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel as you have noted. He also roots it in the John 6 passage from Jesus. Thanks for reading and commenting! I’m honored.

        Danny Crapps said:
        August 17, 2016 at 1:54 pm

        Dear Ryan:

        After reading your post yesterday I was curious how many times the words, “eat”, “serve” and “worship” appear in the Bible. I looked it up in the KJV this morning: worship (108), serve (222); eat (655). How can something mentioned so many times in the Bible rarely, if ever, get our attention?

        Lord, recover us back to eating the Word, taking You in as our real food and drink.

        Danny

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