Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

Feeding on Jesus

meal with rice

by Dennis Pollock

People don’t read nearly as much as they once did. I think that’s unfortunate. Reading is a phenomenal means of increasing your mental acuity, expanding your vocabulary, and, assuming you are reading good books, improving your character. It is far superior to watching most television programs, attending most movies, or playing video games. Sadly, in our generation, reading is a lost art.

Christians are a different sort. We strongly endorse reading, particularly the reading of the Bible. What makes an evangelical an evangelical is the belief that the Bible is inspired by God, and that every Christian should take it seriously, believe it, and read it regularly. Polls show that few evangelicals actually do read the Scriptures daily, but they at least acknowledge that regular Bible reading is a good thing.

When most people read, they typically do so for one of two reasons: they read for pleasure and entertainment or they read to gain information. Evangelicals also read for information. We are eager to learn as much as we can about God and Christ and the Holy Spirit. We desire to think like God thinks and adopt His views, attitudes, and values. Believing that the Bible is a record of God’s dealings with men and women throughout the history of the earth, we want to know what He has done, what are His ways, and what kind of people He chooses to work with and through. And as we read the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, and proceed through the gospels and the epistles of the New Testament, we gain the finest education any man or woman can ever possess. We become knowledgeable in the things that relate to the One who has made us all.

Spirit and Life

But Christians have another purpose for reading the Scriptures which goes beyond the acquisition of information about God. The word that perhaps best sums up this second purpose is nourishment. We believe that the Bible does more than merely inform our minds; it really and truly nourishes our spirits. We believe this for good reason – the men whom God used, anointed, and inspired to write the Scriptures have testified to this. Jesus declared that unless we were willing to eat His body and drink His blood we would have no life in us. This astonished his audience, but He later explained His odd statement to His disciples with these words: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

In another place Jesus tells us that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). God’s words, the Scriptures, are given not only that we may learn, but that we may live! The ultimate example of this is the experience of the new birth. We are born again when we receive Jesus Christ by faith, having heard the message which the Bible refers to as “the word of His grace,” or more simply “the gospel of Christ.” No one receives eternal life without hearing the gospel. As the Bible says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14). How are we saved? We hear about Jesus Christ, His death on the cross for the sins of the world, and His resurrection from the dead, we believe on Him, and divine life flows into us. We receive the Holy Spirit, bringing the life of God, and we become children of God. Jesus is the source of the life of God, which nourishes us, strengthens us, empowers us, and qualifies us as citizens of heaven.

Daily Manna

What we sometimes miss, however, is that having received eternal life through faith in Christ, we are still in need of daily fresh grace and life to enable us to live the Christian life successfully and bear much fruit. No, we don’t need to get saved all over again every day. Eternal life is already ours, but we do need fresh releases of divine life for daily living. “Give us this day our daily bread…” and our daily grace, our daily anointing, our daily encouragement, our daily wisdom, and our daily empowering. We who have become partakers of Christ for eternal life, must learn to daily feed on Jesus for sustenance and spiritual nourishment. We must be anointed with fresh oil, and sustained by fresh grace.

It is the same Jesus who provided us eternal life who will also grant us ample measures of divine life from day to day and hour to hour. And the major way He does this is as we feed on Him in the Holy Scriptures. It is vital that we do not miss this. When we pick up our Bibles to read, we must understand that we are not merely going through some religious exercise; we are reading the word of God to feed on Jesus Christ, who is the Bread of Life! We read to feed!

Understanding this should influence the way we read the Bible. I am going to make a statement that may seem to many of you as nearly heretical, but I will say it nonetheless: I think that one-year Bible reading plans and one-year Bibles are a terrible idea. Now before you start howling and screaming at me, hear me out. The problem with reading the Bible through in one year (if that is the only Bible reading you are going to do) is that you will end up residing in the Old Testament for a little more than two thirds of the year. From January through sometime in September (if you read it through chronologically) you will never read a thing about Jesus. Of course, there are prophecies which refer to Jesus and there are “types and shadows” in the Old Testament which clearly foretell Jesus, but many Christians, especially the new believers, may pass right over these and never even realize that they are reading about Jesus.

Hidden in the Old, Revealed in the New

Jesus is surely found in the Old Testament, but it is in a less concentrated form. You can read through the entire book of Leviticus and gain one main idea about Jesus – that He is the lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the world. Now this is a great thing to see, but how much more of Jesus would you learn if you read the book of Matthew? To put it another way, suppose you had been corresponding with a man convicted of a terrible crime and living on death row in prison. He will be executed in another month. You are allowed to come and visit him just once, and the prison authorities advise that you are permitted to choose one book of the Bible which they have produced in booklet form that you may hand to the condemned criminal for him to read.. You go into the prison library and find that only two Bible books are available: The Gospel of John and the Book of Numbers.

Which one would you give this man? With his one month left on this earth, and being allowed only one Biblical book to read, which do you suppose would be more likely to lead to his salvation – John or Numbers? Every Christian knows the answer to that!

Let’s consider two verses, one of which is famous and heard all the time, and the other is a verse of which most Christians are entirely ignorant. The first verse (the famous one) is from John 14: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:3). Who could possibly guess how many men and women have been pierced to the heart and brought to salvation in Christ through this forceful declaration by Jesus. The second verse is from 1 Chronicles: “As for the Parbar on the west, there were four on the highway and two at the Parbar” (1 Chronicles 26:18). I know what you’re thinking: “What in the world is a Parbar?” I’ll let you do some research and figure that one out for yourself. But the point is, while all Scripture is inspired and profitable, as Paul declared, not all verses and chapters and books of the Bible are equally valuable or revelatory of Jesus Christ.

We know that this is true in relation to the salvation of sinners, but it is also true in the nourishment and strengthening of Christians. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that the Old Testament is of no value to Christians. I read through it every year, and I have preached sermons from it, and taught from its stories and principles throughout all the years of my ministry. But I also know that I will get the greatest nourishment and the most concentrated spiritual nutrition in the New Testament. I cannot afford to spend months in the Old Testament without ever turning to the New.

Don’t Forget Jesus!

Bible with glassesLet me give you a personal example. It has been my habit for many years to read a portion in the Psalms and Proverbs in the evenings. I usually read in the New Testament in the mornings, and from various books in the late afternoons, but I normally read through Psalms and Proverbs in the evenings. But at a certain point I realized that I couldn’t afford to allow my evening readings to be entirely devoid of Jesus. I began shortening the number of Psalms or Proverbs I read, and started including a portion from the New Testament as well.

When it comes to the Read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans, they often do include a tiny portion from the New Testament as you make your way through the Old Testament. But due to the much larger size of the Old Testament, you end up getting tiny little amounts of Jesus, and vastly larger portions of Moses, David, and Isaiah. Rather than 2/3 of your time in the Old and 1/3 in the New, the way most one-year Bible reading plans work, most of us would be far better off to reverse that ratio: 1/3 of your time in the Old Testament and 2/3 in the New.

We need Jesus! He has told us that we are to abide in Him, and this abiding surely must include fellowship with Him, trusting Him, depending on Him, and feeding on Him in the Holy Scriptures. In the Old Testament Jesus is hidden in symbols, types, shadows, and prophecies. But in the New Testament He is clearly and gloriously revealed. And nowhere do we find a fuller and more complete picture of Christ than in the gospels. One of the most profitable spiritual activities you can do is to set aside a day of prayer and fasting, and determine that you will read a significant portion of one of the gospels for that day. If you have enough time you might even consider reading through an entire gospel. You will re-discover the real Jesus, the Messiah of the Jews and the Savior of the world. Your spirit will be fed, your insight will be sharpened, and your faith will be increased.

Paul wrote to Timothy: “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith…” (1 Timothy 4:6). This is the crying need of Christians today. With all our Bible software, Bible commentaries, multiple Bible versions, and Bible teachers on television, too many believers these days are malnourished. They know a few Bible verses and principles, but they are starving for lack of daily feeding on Jesus Christ. Their poor spiritual diet makes them anemic and leaves them with little energy for aggressively promoting the kingdom of God.

Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, and when Peter declared that he did, Jesus told Him to feed His sheep. And just how was Peter to feed those sheep? He was to give them a world class education in the greatest subject in this world – Jesus Christ. Heroic tales can inspire us, plays can entertain us, movies can make our hearts pound, comedies can amuse us – but only Jesus Christ can nourish our souls. For He is the Bread of Life, and all of the nourishing, sustaining, empowering, strengthening, encouraging life that flows from the heart of God flows through Him. He is our life!


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