This is the final blog on our series on meditative reading of the scripture (e.g., SOAP).
So far, we’ve argued that meditative Bible reading as per the method of SOAP is a valid, biblical and evangelical spiritual practice. In this blog we will share with you an excerpt from our GenJ Book (2020) on SOAP. It will provide you with some helpful insights to practically spend time with God’s Word daily and allow it to transform you from the inside out.
It is a profoundly simple method that walks you through how to identify and personally hear from God and apply His Word. But before we go any further, here’s our disclaimer: Much like learning to ride a bike, drive a car, or fly a plane, you may feel that the process of hearing from God is a little mechanical at first. But with practice, it will become natural and intuitive and will form your new default settings. Over time,...
Comparing the components of meditative Bible reading (e.g., Lectio divina), Howard (2012) recognizes the similarities of these features with evangelicalism. He states that:
“It is my conviction that the essential features—and even many of the particular components, of lectio divina—are not only kindred, but common in the evangelical tradition” (p. 57).
Howard extensively argues that evangelicals considered the devotional reading of the Bible as a valid spiritual practice that included reading, meditation, consideration, prayer, illumination and experience of the Holy Spirit and action. Engaging in devotional Bible reading promised transformation rather than simple gathering of information.
Evangelicals have consistently promoted the discipline of reading the Word daily. Howard (2012, p. 59) observes that “evangelicals of past centuries used the language of...
Throughout my ministry years in evangelical church contexts, I have met numerous individuals who refuted the appropriateness of reading the Bible meditatively (e.g., through the method of SOAP or lectio divina).
Listening to some well-meaning evangelical teachers, churchgoers, and bloggers theorize about meditative Bible reading may give the impression that SOAPs are either heretical or at least invalid approach to evangelical spirituality.
However, in a study of the historical practices of evangelicalism, Evan B. Howard, affiliate Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality at Fuller Theological Seminary, examines the alignment of meditative Bible reading (lectio divina) with Protestant practices. In his extensive enquiry, he investigated practices of Protestant Reformers, Anglican devotional writers, Puritans, Pietists, revivalists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Fundamentalists, and other similar expressions. He concluded:
“Devotional Bible-reading was important and that,...
And just as there are diverse and equally valid ways of consuming food, there are also diverse and valid ways of consuming God’s Word.
A restaurant chef consumes food for the purpose of creating the best possible meals. Chefs are akin to Bible teachers who study God’s Word, digging for theological concepts, exploring historical and cultural contexts, analysing grammar, comparing biblical texts throughout the cannon, as well as synergising and presenting biblical truths in an engaging way for their audience.
A restaurant critic consumes food for the purpose of analysing the quality of meals. Critics are similar to Bible study groups or theologically oriented students who investigate the cultural background, mull over each passage,...
In a study with 2,500 churchgoers in the USA, Lifeway Research (2019) asserts that “Bible reading was one of the most predictive of spiritual maturity.” Yet, their research indicates that only 32% of Christians (Protestant churchgoers) read their Bible daily (Few Protestant Churchgoers Read the Bible Daily - Lifeway Research).
Does that sound strange to you?
Have you ever wondered why Christians are too busy, or lethargic, or inconsistent in reading God’s Word daily?
Maybe the enemy has deceptively schemed to undermine the commitment of believers to the Word and consequently, their growth towards Christlikeness. Sadly, one of the most disconcerting plots of the enemy often comes from within the ranks of the church. Some teachers, leaders and bloggers have unintentionally dissuaded believers from reading their Bible.
It is unbiblical to assume that once we are saved by Jesus, we don't need to get too obsessed or stressed with sin and holiness and we are told that it's all about grace and to stop being so legalistic.
This is not a new argument pertinent to our era. In the New Testament church, some people misconstrued the free grace of God and used it as a license to live an ungodly lifestyle. Paul confronted them in Romans 6:1-2:
"Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!"
Let's be clear about this... God hates sin and He doesn't sweep it under the rug.
So are there consequences for sin? There sure are! There's eternal punishment for those who don't accept Jesus and there's also eventual discipline for those who continually walk in disobedience.
1. Eternal Punishment
For those who haven’t accepted Jesus as Saviour and Lord- the consequences of their lifestyle of sin is eternal punishment. The wages of sin is death, but the...
Do you know that God's will for us is our sanctification? (1 Thessalonians 4:7)
That’s why God teaches us to say no to ungodliness (Titus 2:11-13). True believers pursue holiness wholeheartedly - not out of a sense of obligation, but out of a heart of gratitude.
The attitude of an authentic believer towards sin will look like the following:
1. They will recognise that they are dead to sin and the influence of sin. They see that through the cross, Jesus has set them free from slavery to sin.
2. They will rely in the Spirit to empower them to put to death the misdeeds of their sinful nature and to empower their pursuit of righteousness. They offer themselves as instruments to righteousness, one decision at a time.
3. They will resist sin and flee from lust with all their God-given self control and grit.
4. They will repent when they sin and trust God to forgive, cleanse and restore to them the joy of His salvation.
A relaxed and indifferent...
Once we’ve received Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are invited to emulate His example and live like Him in the world (1 John 2:3-6 & 4:17).
Admittedly, we can’t live like Jesus through our own abilities. But we can collaborate with the Spirit who works in us to will and to do what is pleasing to God (Philippians 2:13).
The process of our lifelong transformation requires us to embrace our new divine nature, as well as pursue Christlikeness as our ultimate calling.
As we look in the mirror of God's Word, we catch a glimpse of our potentiality. Potentiality refers to who we can become. When we catch this image of our future-self, it motivates us to make daily choices that are consistent with our Jesus-like nature.
As we surrender to the Spirit’s desire and control, He begins to shape and manifest Jesus in our everyday lifestyles.
God’s eternal dream of restoring humanity to His image was made possible through the insane mystery of the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus came to rescue us from the eternally damaging virus of sin; the virus that was passed down from Adam and essentially invaded our humanity (Romans 5:15-19).
In His gracious initiative, God intercepted our lives and offered us salvation, once and for all. The salvation of Jesus has been perceived and presented in many different ways through many different brands or flavours of Christianity.
At GenJ we believe that the New Testament presents salvation as a three part process.
1. The first part of the process is where we are saved from the penalty of sin. This is called, our justification - where God imputes the righteousness of Jesus to our account because He has already paid our punishment, and hence we are justified (2 Corinthians 5:21).
2. The second part of the process is where we are being saved...
Christians are called to live like Jesus in this world.
That's not cliche or over the top, that's facts! But it's also a huge benchmark, right? None the less, it's possible, and it is in essence, our ultimate calling. We are created and called to live like Jesus in this world; it's actually our full potential. It's what the ideal human looks like!
Deep within us, the Spirit of God is stirring us and firing us up with a desire for a movement of wholehearted devotion to Jesus, a holiness movement, a revival of sanctification... a brand of Christianity that manifests the character of Jesus in our homes, workplaces and in the community at large. What a dream! Does this excite you, too?
Why are we so fired up about holiness and sanctification? Well it really springs up from our biblical convictions, our observations from 20 years of church ministry and the empirical data that exposes the fact that Christians actually live similar lifestyles to that of their culture....