The Public Reading of Scripture

The following paragraph is taken from an article written by Terry Johnson, pastor of the Independent Presbyterian Church (that still sounds like an oxymoron to me, just kidding) of Savannah, Georgia, sharing about his visit to an Anglican Church in Great Britain during the 1970s. The full article may be found here. Johnson shares:

At the time I was none too pleased with the Prayer Book service that was used. I was unaccustomed to reading prayers and responses, regularly got lost, and was typically confused. But one part of the service made a powerful impression. At the appropriate time a reader stood to read the Old Testament lesson, and later another to read the New Testament lesson. The readers read slowly, deliberately, and beautifully. The Old Testament text was from Isaiah. I recall being surprisingly moved by the power of the word skillfully read. I also recall thinking that the experience of hearing an extended reading of Scripture was new. I couldn’t recall in 22 years of church-going at evangelical churches (whether Brethren, Baptist, Congregational, Independent Bible, or Presbyterian) of ever hearing a text of Scripture being read other than the few verses before the sermon. Obviously it made an impression. I can still speak of it over a quarter of a century later. Isn’t it “funny,” I thought, that these liturgical Anglicans read the Bible, and my “gospel-preaching” churches don’t. With all their high-church regalia, with all the various postures and gestures of the priests, which my low-church self referred to as “bobbing and weaving” (thank you, Cassius Clay), they packed more Bible into their services than we did.

I wonder why people today find it “strange” that an entire chapter of Scripture might be read at a corporate worship service? (I remember a church member once asking me, “Are you going to read all of that?”) Is it not the Word of God? Is it not our spiritual nourishment? Is it not full of doctrinal truth and practical guidance? Has not God commanded us to do so in 1 Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture.”

As Shepherds to God’s Sheep, it is our responsibility to provide the green pastures of God’s Word to His people. Reading aloud from God’s Word in public worship is one means that can be used to “not shrink from declaring to [God’s people] the whole counsel of God,” (Acts 20:27) for “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) It is high time that the modern church repent and return to the once common practice of the public reading of Scripture when the church is gathered for worship, for the spiritual health of the church depends upon it!

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1 Comment

  1. Sandra A. said,

    May 5, 2010 at 6:59 AM

    Amen, preach it, brother!!!


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