Above, Bill Hwang and Ravi Zacharias in their 2019 interview
Do you read the Bible? Have you found that private spot where you go to silently soak up the divinely inspired Word of God? Maybe you are riddled with guilt because you can’t seem to maintain this spiritual habit.
Perhaps you ramp up the number of sermons you hear throughout the week to make up for the loss. Still, there’s an uneasy feeling you are falling short. And you’ll admit you’re not growing in your faith as you would like.
That was the case for Bill Hwang, a pastor’s son and Wall Street investor. A decade ago, while in his 40s, he experienced a downturn in his business, and in desperation, turned to the Word of God.
Though he tried, he failed. He couldn’t stick to the discipline of reading the Bible alone.
Hwang began listening to an audio Bible, and he soon discovered that silent reading was generally unheard of in biblical times:
• Moses read the law to the Israelites (Exodus 24:3-7).
• Joshua read the law to the entire assembly when the covenant was renewed (Joshua 8:30-35).
• After the “Book of the Covenant” had been lost and forgotten, King Josiah read it to all the people (2 Kings 23:2).
Shared reading events permeated first century culture. The practice was so important to the Apostle Paul that he instructed Timothy, “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Timothy 4:13).
The Apostle John opened his prophetic letter by saying, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it …” (Revelation 1:3).
Aloud and together
As co-founder of Grace and Mercy Foundation, Hwang partners with a number of organizations to bring a project titled “The Communal Reading of Scripture” to the U.S. and a worldwide audience.
“In general, people do not grow on men’s words,” Hwang said during a 2019 interview with the late apologist Ravi Zacharias. “It is very important for us to get good teaching and preaching … but without God’s Word, people don’t grow.”
Reading the Bible is like eating food. And partaking of a meal together is much more enjoyable and meaningful than eating alone. But Western individualism has pervaded American culture, prioritized private “eating,” and stunted church growth.
“Churches over the last few years have faced a lot of challenges,” Zacharias lamented. “We’ve done a lot with music … with programming … with trying to trim down the sermons … but in the middle of it all, the one thing that is still conspicuous by its absence is an effective reading of the Word of God.”
“Most Christians are like people who watch previews of a movie constantly,” explained Hwang. Too many hear the same storyline over and over without seeing “the movie” – without experiencing it for themselves.
“It takes only 90 hours to read the Bible, but [for their] entire life, people struggle,” said Hwang. “You know why? Because there’s no strategy.”
But a strategy is accessible. Using today’s technological advances, public Scripture reading gatherings help facilitate what only God can do in the human heart – bring personal growth.
Read the Word together
Enjoy the community experience of listening to the Scripture together via a virtual gathering from the comfort of your home:
▶ Short, animated videos walking through the structure of books of the Bible and themes woven through the entire Scriptures.
▶ Dramatized audio Bible (20-, 30-, 45-, and 60-minute reading plans).
▶ Facilitation through an opening Psalm, an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, and a closing Psalm.
Learn more at:
▶ Phone app: Public Reading of Scripture (Select “About.”)
Editor's Note: This originally appeared in the August 2020 print edition of The AFA Journal and online here.