***DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FOR FREE FROM MOODY PUBLISHERS TO REVIEW***
Nate Pickowicz’s How To Eat Your Bible: A Simple Approach to Learning and Loving the Word of God represents the second book I have reviewed for Moody Publishers for 2021. It’s the second book titled How To Eat Your Bible that I have reviewed (the other one I reviewed was by Andrew Doane). I chose Pickowicz’s book because I had heard much good about it. Furthermore, since I already enjoyed one book that was titled How To Eat Your Bible, I thought I would enjoy this one. I needed a book from Moody to enjoy after finishing Tony Evans’ narcissistic and blasphemous Kingdom Encounters for my most recent Moody book review.
Tim Challies wrote the book’s foreword (pp. 9-10). From the introduction to chapter five, Pickowicz’s book has a rather fixed structure. First, he gives much content backed by much Scripture in context. Second, a summary concludes the chapter. In chapters one through five, study questions follow the conclusion. These study questions are very basic. Furthermore, they reinforce the information given in the chapter. Chapter six basically functions as a conclusion to his book. Pickowicz then gives a seven-year reading plan, acknowledgments and some notes (the latter of the three corresponding to the footnotes in his book).
In the book’s introduction (titled “Setting the Table”), Pickowicz clearly gives both his prayer for the book and his audience (p. 19):
In short, the Bible is powerful and able to change your life from the inside out. No other means is given by God to accomplish such a task. The Spirit of God, who is at work in the hearts of Christians, uses the Word of God to transform them into Christlike people. And so, to neglect the discipline of Bible reading and study is to cut off the very source of spiritual food that you need to live a Christian life. But if you’re like me and have experienced the frustration of not knowing how or where to begin, I pray that this book encourages and instructs you.
Now, if you realize that you’re not a Christian, then I’m really glad you picked up this book! It’s my greatest hope that you would see your need for the Savior, turn from your sins, and trust in Jesus Christ today. Nothing in the world is more important than that!
But if you are a Christian, yet you’re struggling to read and understand your Bible, this book was written for you. It’s a book about how to not just read but truly feast on Scripture. My hope is that you would learn how to eat your Bible.
As we’ll see in this book, Pickowicz obviously is not advocating for literally eating one’s Bible (the cover, the pages, the maps, etc.). That would be weird (gross even). Instead, he is talking about eating the words of God. More on that later.
I’m very happy Pickowicz specified who his audience might be. His audience might be saved people. His audience might be unsaved people. People do need to understand that by default, we are all born dead in trespasses and sins.
Ephesians 2:1-10 explains:
2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The Bible is clear that people are born dead in trespasses and sins (2:1-3). God’s being rich in mercy makes one alive in Christ (2:4). Furthermore, it is by grace through faith that one is saved (2:5-9). It is not based on works (2:9).
If you do not believe what Ephesians 2:1-10 states, I would ask you please look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen something, even if it was small? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Jesus said that whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus also said that if you ever get angry at someone, you’ve committed murder in the heart (Matthew 5:21-26). Just the mere thoughts of adultery and murder make you guilty of the very acts themselves.
Please understand that it only takes one murder to be a murderer, one lie to be a liar and so forth. David said in Psalm 51:5 that he was conceived in sin. Genesis 6:5 states that every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually. Clearly, man has a sin problem. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Man is in big trouble with God because of his sin. This is more amplified by the fact that perfection is the standard (Matthew 5:48).
Now, some people try to justify their sin by trying to balance it out with the good deeds that they have done. However, if you were to try that in a court of law, the judge would throw the book at you. A good judge would not accept a bribe. He would cast you off into jail. God likewise will not accept a bribe, for there is no partiality with Him (Deuteronomy 10:17; Ephesians 6:9). Revelation 21:1-8 states the following (NASB):
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be anymourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give water to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life, without cost. 7 The one who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8 But for the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and sexually immoral persons, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
The Bible is clear that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. No adulterer, no murderer, no idolater, no unbeliever (among others) will inherit the kingdom of God (see also 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Sin has a very serious consequence.
Thankfully, Jesus Christ came to solve the sin problem 2000 years ago (Isaiah 53:1-12). You and I broke the law. Jesus paid the fine (Matthew 26:14-28:20). This means that the judge can do what’s legally right in dismissing your case. He can say, “This person has broken the law, but someone has paid his fine. He’s out of here.” This is good news.
There are two things a person must do. He must repent. This means to turn from his sin (Mark 1:16; Luke 24:36-49; 2 Timothy 2:19-26; Acts 17:30-31). He must also put his trust in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31, 17:30-31; Romans 4:1-25, 10:1-17; Galatians 3:1-14; John 6:26-29). These gifts of repentance and faith are granted by God (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:22-26). If you repent and put your trust in the Savior Jesus Christ, He will forgive you of your sins and grant you everlasting life (John 6:47). Oh may you know His mercy and grace today if you have never repented and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
In the first chapter, Pickowicz gives no less than two outstanding pieces of information. The first piece is how accessible God’s Word is (pp. 24-25). Sadly, despite the accessibility (88% of Americans own a Bible and the average family home has 4.7 Bibles)…(p. 25):
…it seems as though our appetite for the Word of God is greatly diminished. In fact, a more recent survey revealed that 48 percent of American adults are completely disengaged from Bible reading, with another 9 percent reporting that they interact with Scripture sporadically. This shows us that the Bible has little to no impact on the lives of nearly 6 out of 10 people. Seizing on this problem, there have been countless books, articles, and blog posts about the problems of biblical illiteracy over the last decade. In fact, one researcher has confessed his belief that biblical literacy has reached “a crisis point,” even describing the problem as a famine. New Testament scholar Kenneth Berding writes, “Christians used to be known as ‘people of one book,'” adding that “They memorized it, meditated on it, talked about it and taught it to others.” He continues, “We don’t do that anymore, and in a very real sense we’re starving ourselves to death.”
But why is this happening? There may be several key reasons, such as postmodernism’s distrust of religion, self-reliance, social media distractions, entertainment, and addiction to busyness. Whatever the reason, it’s hard not to think that we’re living in a time similar to a biblically prosperous Israel just prior to the judgments of Amos.
I’d like to add to the “several key reasons” part of this discussion. Another key reason is the overall failure of people with the title of pastor to do their jobs (especially in the seeker-sensitive/purpose-driven movement). The job of a pastor is to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-5). These people are instead preaching themselves, and that is not a good thing (2 Corinthians 3-4). These “pastors”, who are not biblically qualified, include but are not limited to Rick Warren, Craig Groeschel, Todd Smith, Henry Seeley, Erwin McManus, Steven Furtick, Scott Hornsby, Dino Rizzo, Greg Surratt, Chris Hodges and Rick Bezet. In fact, the last five names on that list are the founders of an unbiblical movement known as the Association of Related Churches (ARC). The “pastors” at these places preach themselves way more than they preach the Word of God. Their failure to do their jobs is a big reason for why there is a huge problem with biblical literacy. When people are learning so much more in 18 months from listening to a podcast than they are in a decade at the church they attend (as was the case with myself when the program Fighting For The Faith opened my eyes to the spiritual bankruptcy of the seeker-sensitive/purpose-driven movement), something is definitely wrong.
The second outstanding piece of information Pickowicz gave in the first chapter consisted of Bible verses that promoted loving God’s Word via eating the words. Here are those verses (NKJV):
Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
3 Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll.
3 And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness…
…10 Moreover He said to me: “Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears.
Ezekiel 3:1-3, 10
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
When I think of God’s Word, I don’t think about eating His Word. However, eating God’s Word does make sense. This is especially so when one considers the fact Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep (John 21:15-23).
After a chapter on prayer, Pickowicz gives a word about translations near the end of chapter three (pp. 65-67). He explains the differences between the translation philosophies of formal equivalence (word for word) and dynamic equivalence (thought for thought). While he is correct in listing the NIV, CEV and NLT as those that follow dynamic equivalence, he could have added that there are poisonous “translations” out there. They include but are not limited to The Message, The Voice (a “translation” favorable to the heretical Emergent Church movement) and The Passion “Translation.” All three have been around for some time.
After two chapters that focus on studying and applying Scripture, Pickowicz concludes the “chapter” part of his book with a simple 3-step plan for eating one’s Bible. Those steps are (pp. 121-122):
Grab a Bible
Decide on a Reading Plan
The next section of Pickowicz’s book outlines the Seven Year Bible Plan that he built from Pastor John MacArthur’s reading plan (pp. 123-135). While I likely will not scrap my current Bible-reading ways anytime soon (5+ chapters a day), there is something I will add from that plan to my current reading. That “something” would be reading “through a single book of the New Testament every day for thirty days (breaking up the longer books into sections)” (p. 123). I think I can add that facet to my current Bible reading ways with the shorter Bible books. After all, as Pickowicz notes, the book of Titus (an example of a short Bible book) has 46 total verses (p. 124). By comparison, chapter 24 of the book of Matthew (which was read in full by Pastor Gervase Charmley during a sermon of his several years ago) has 51 verses. Typically, I do spend about a day reading the short books before moving on to the next book. I do not want to do that again. I want to master these shorter Bible books. Therefore, in an effort to try and master them, I will read a shorter Bible book (whether Old Testament or New Testament) everyday for a full calendar month beginning on February 1st, 2021 alongside my current Bible reading ways. I hope this will help. I think it will. I’m excited.
Pickowicz’s book is one the Christian should pick (bad pun intended) as a good resource for how to eat and (I would add) inwardly digest one’s Bible (in a good translation, of course). Pickowicz gives good information, excellent Scripture references and a great game-plan for how one can construct a good Bible reading plan. This book’s subtitle couldn’t be more accurate, for the book really is “a simple approach to learning and loving the Word of God.” Oh would many people learn and love God’s Word more than ever. It’s certainly needed. I believe Pickowicz’s book can help one do just that.