Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:
I came across the following quote attributed to Martin Luther:
Whoever would know God and have eternal life should read [the Bible] with diligence and search for its testimony of Christ, God’s Son. – Martin Luther (What Luther Says § 245)
In July 2019 Lifeway “Facts and Trends” reported that…
those who regularly attend Protestant churches are inconsistent in their reading and thinking about Scripture…A third of Americans who attend a Protestant church regularly (32%) say they read the Bible personally every day. Around a quarter (27%) say they read it a few times a week. Fewer say they only read it once a week (12%), a few times a month (11%) or once a month (5%). Close to 1 in 8 (12%) admit they rarely or never read the Bible.
I would suggest that the statistics in Canada would be a lower given the more secular impact of the culture on the church.
Whatever the statistics may say, the truth is that to know God and have eternal only comes through the Bible which bears witness to Jesus Christ, the only Saviour:
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. – John 5:39-40
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12
It is for this reason that Martin Luther encouraged people to a greater investment of time in the reading and study of the Scriptures. Here are some more quotes reflecting the high value he placed on God’s Word:
That he cares best for his own soul who is completely immersed in the quickening and saving fountain of the Word of God, no one better knew than our Luther. We know what drove him into the monastery; he wanted to find rest for his soul. What did he first seek for there? “When I went into the monastery,” he himself relates, “I asked for a Bible and the brethren gave me one.” (Nebe, August. Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1894, p. 17)
Whoever would know God and have eternal life should read this Book with diligence and search for its testimony of Christ, God’s Son. (Plass, p. 80)
For him who believes and keeps Christ’s Word heaven stands open and hell is locked. The devil is also taken captive, sin is forgiven, and the believer is a child of life eternal. This is taught by this Book, Holy Scripture, and by no other book on earth. For this reason let him who would live forever study in it diligently. He who does not do so and does not want to do so is and remains in death eternal. (Plass, p. 82)
When the devil finds me idle and unarmed, not heeding God’s Word, he works on my conscience that I have taught wrong, and stirred up by my doctrine much offence and division, compared with the former state of the Church, which was still and peaceful. I
cannot deny I am often in depression and anguish on this account; but when I grasp the Word of God, I have won the battle. (Watchwords for the Warfare or Life: from Doctor Martin
Luther. London: T Nelson and Sons, 1887. p. 69)
Since the written Word of Scripture is the living Word of God, Luther’s logical conclusion is that we must constantly be occupied with the Word, reading it, hearing it, remembering it, meditating upon it. “It is an exceedingly effectual help against the devil, the world, and the flesh and all evil thoughts to be occupied with the Word of God, and to speak of it, and meditate upon it… Undoubtedly, one will not start a stronger incense or other fumigation against the devil than by being engaged upon God’s commandments and words…For this is indeed the true holy water and holy sign from which he flees, and by which he may be driven
away.” For this reason alone, we ought to “read, speak, think and treat of these things.” In other words, there is nothing more important for the Christian for the sanctification of life than to meditate upon the Word of God in Scripture. God Himself enjoins us (in Deut. 6: 6 ff.) “That we should always meditate upon His precepts, sitting, walking, standing, lying down, and rising, and have them before our eyes and in our hands as a constant mark and sign.” This is the way the Holy Spirit accomplishes our sanctification. “At whatever hour, then, God’s Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified… because of the Word.” Meditation on the Word is sure to bear fruit,
because “such is the efficacy of the Word, whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, that it is bound never to be without fruit, but always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness, and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but creative, living words. “ Here again is a theology to live by. (Preus, p. 138-139)
So take inventory of your life and what place or priority God’s preached, written, and visible Word has for you. Just as faith proceeds from the Word of God so also faith in Christ alone is sustained and strengthened through the Word of God. It is the medicine of eternal life.
Grace be with you,