“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Guard against this. Let the calendar perish rather than this rust eat up your souls.Robert Murray McCheyne was an influential Scottish pastor who lived from 1813 to 1843. One of his lasting legacies has been a Bible reading plan he developed. It’s a robust journey that winds the reader through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice, over the course of a year. I was first introduced to McCheyne’s Bible Reading Plan when I was in grad school. For 2017 I’m using a two year version of this plan. In addition to returning to this influential reading plan, I wanted to learn more about the man McCheyne behind the plan. In my inquiries, I came across the message where he introduced the Bible reading plan to his congregation in December of 1842. It is well worth the read and by breaking it down into it’s natural divisions, would be a great catalyst for formation, in a small group, over three to four weeks.
– R.M. McCheyne
I share below what caught my attention – the dangers of a Bible reading plan. After each of McCheyene’s points of danger, I offer a few questions to enable the point to help you create space for yourself, family or small group. I would love to hear your thoughts and how you experience these dangers in your own life as you journey through the Scriptures.
Dangers of A Bible Reading Plan
# 1 • Formality
We are such weak creatures that any regularly returning duty is apt to degenerate into a lifeless form. The tendency of reading the Word by a fixed rule may, in some minds, be to create this skeleton religion. This is to be the peculiar sin of the last days – “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Guard against this. Let the calendar perish rather than this rust eat up your souls.
#2 • Self-Righteousness
Some, when they have devoted their set time to reading of the Word, and accomplished their prescribed portion, may be tempted to look at themselves with self-complacency. Many, I am persuaded, are living without any Divine work on their soul – unpardoned and unsanctified, and ready to perish – who spend their appointed times in secret and family devotion. This is going to hell with a lie in their right hand.
#3 • Careless Reading
Few tremble at the Word of God. Few, in reading it, hear the voice of Jehovah, which is full of majesty. Some, by having so large a portion, may be tempted to weary of it, as Israel did of the daily manna, saying – “Our soul loatheth this light bread;” and to read it in a slight and careless manner. This would be fearfully provoking to God. Take heed lest that word be true of you – “Ye said, also, Behold what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
#4 • A Heavy Yoke
Some may engage in reading with alacrity for a time, and afterwards feel it a burden, grievous to be borne. They may find conscience dragging them through the appointed task without any relish of the heavenly food. If this be the case with any, throw aside the fetter, and feed at liberty in the sweet garden of God. My desire is not to cast a snare upon you, but to be a helper of your joy. If there be so many dangers, why propose such a scheme at all? To this I answer, that the best things are accompanied with danger, as the fairest flowers are often gathered in the clefts of some dangerous precipice.