This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
by VEN. DR. I. U. IBEME
Comment on The Chapel of Grace web blog: http://thechapelofgrace.wordpress.com
THE POWER OF LITERATURE
Literature is creatively written work on any field of knowledge, whether preserved,
compiled, digitized or published. Literary works are meant to be channels through which
ideas and knowledge can flow from one mind to another. To write well, one must not only be
creative but must also be well read.
Christians should devote a great deal of time and energy to the reading and study of the
Scripture and other books to develop leadership skills and spiritual minds. This will equip
them for higher service in God’s kingdom and for fruitful impact in the human society.
Learning shapes a person. A learned person could, through influence and communication,
shape the world within his or her reach.
For Christians to make kingdom impact on their generation and beyond, they should devote
even greater deal of time to writing on the spiritual life as well as every aspect of human
Christians are often called ‘the people of the Book’ because their faith is based on the Word
of God as recorded in the inspired Scripture. The Apostolic Gospel witness has been taught,
preserved and transmitted through preaching, reading and writing.
To be able to shape the world, Christians should read to develop their minds and spirits. How
we think, how we behave, what we speak and what we write depend on a great deal of what
we read. The Christian faith depends on hearing God’s Word and spiritual understanding
depends on spiritual reading. Hence, the Bible talks about “he who hears” (Romans 10:17,
Rev 2:11) and “he who reads” (Matt 24:15, Rev 1:3) and “study to show yourself approved”
(2Tim 2:15) and:
(13) Until I arrive, concentrate on the public reading of Scripture, on
exhorting, and on teaching.
(14) Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through
prophecy, accompanied by the laying on of the elders' hands.
(15) Think on these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see
(16) Pay close attention to your life and your teaching. Persevere in these
things, for if you do this, you will save both yourself and those who listen to
Apostle Paul, one of the greatest world shapers, was once accused of “too much learning”
(Act 26:24). While awaiting execution, he was still given to much reading and writing. In
prison he wrote several epistles of the Scripture, one of the last of which was 2 Timothy. In 2
Timothy 4:13, he was asking for more books to be brought to him right there in the prison,
despite his readiness for possible death expressed in 2Tim 4:6-8.
One Scottish pastor in the 17th century was known to have built a personal library of over
17,000 books. I know a lay Christian brother in Maiduguri who accumulated over three
thousand Christian books in his personal library as at 1997, even though he was just a trader
who did not complete junior secondary education. He was then a Sunday school teacher.
Poor reading habit is a mark of laziness, low mentality and low spirituality, none of which
should be found in a good Christian.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a man of great oratory and encyclopaedic knowledge, wrote
“Reading makes a full man; speaking a ready man; writing an exact man” On how to
read he wrote “read…to weigh and consider; some books are to be tasted, others to be
swallowed, some few to be chewed and digested”
WHY AND WHAT TO READ AND WRITE.
Reading and study must have a purpose therefore what you read and how you read should be
determined by that purpose.
1. For General Information and Common Knowledge: a Christian world
shaper must know what everybody knows. He should therefore read to keep abreast
with development in his environment. This is only possible when one reads
newspaper, magazines, science and technology developments, politics, history
sociology and philosophy. These must not overshadow Biblical and Vocational
2. For Aspiration and Inspiration: aspiration springs from the soul that has been
aroused or challenged to seek greater things. Inspiration comes when the mind and the
spirit have undergone development or growth through illumination and meditation.
Such challenges and illumination come from the rubbing of minds with great men of
the past and present through written works. The Christian world shaper should read
biographies and testimonies of great men and women as well as keep in touch with
selected authors who have distinguished themselves in matters of church life, faith and
ministry. For this purpose they should read motivational books and stories of great
ministers and missionaries as well as great secular leaders. Such select renowned and
godly authors like John Stott (the most prolific Christian writer of our time), J. I.
Parker, Michael Green, A. W. Tozer, Martin Lloyd Jones, J. C. Ryle, W. Pink, and
William Barclay, Watchman Nee, etc
3. To improve style of speaking, conversation and writing: Francis Bacon
wrote “Reading makes a full man; speaking a ready man; writing an exact man” he
also wrote that “histories make men wise; poetry, witty; the mathematics, subtle;
natural philosophy, deep; morals, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend”. As one
reads one should endeavour to learn simplicity of speech, clarity of expression,
nobility and consistency of thought, dignity and conciseness, vocabulary and other
traits that make for incisive and sound communication. Here topical books written by
distinguished and selected authors, who are dialectical, expository and homiletical, are
Motivational Speaking brings required wisdom and orientation that equip and provoke people into action
in order to attain desired fulfilment and success in endeavours.
Inspirational Speaking brings emotional uplifting for hope and courage in the face of discouraging
experiences and daunting difficulties.
As the ancient Church had carefully struggled to do in the past, the Church of today must again ensure the
application of the apostolic homiletical caution (1Cor 1:18-2:16; 2Tim 3:13-4:5), in their attempts to
integrate elements of motivational rhetoric into the preaching of sermons in the Church.
(1) When I came to you, brothers, I didn't come and tell you about God's
secret with rhetorical language or wisdom.
(2) For while I was with you I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ
and him crucified.
(3) It was in weakness, fear, and great trembling that I came to you.
(4) My message and my preaching were not accompanied by clever words of
wisdom, but by a display of the Spirit's power,
(5) so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on God's
(6) However, when we are among mature people, we do speak a message of
wisdom, but not the wisdom of this world or of the rulers of this world, who
are passing off the scene.
(7) Instead, we speak about God's secret wisdom that has been hidden, which
God destined for our glory before the world began.
(15) From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures that are able to give
you the wisdom you need for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
(16) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for
correction, and for training in righteousness,
(17) so that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for
every good work.
(1) In the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge those who
are living and those who are dead, and in view of his appearing and his
kingdom, I solemnly appeal to you
(2) to proclaim the message. Be ready to do this whether or not the time is
convenient. Refute, warn, and encourage with the utmost patience when you
(3) For the time will come when people will not put up with healthy doctrine
but with itching ears will surround themselves with teachers who cater to
their own needs.
(4) They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn to myths.
Sermons (Homiletical Preaching) are mind-illuminating and heart-searching discourses that admonish and
exhort the hearers to believe and obey God, based on the authority of scriptural revelation. Ecclesiastical
Preaching of sermons is meant to impart spiritual wisdom unto salvation by patiently “reproving, rebuking,
exhorting and instructing” (2Tim 4:2; 1Thes 5:11-14), and should always be based on the Scripture which
has been inspired for these same specific purposes (2Tim 3:13-17).
4. To deepen and broaden spiritual and biblical knowledge: The only way
for this to be possible is through prayerful, extensive and consistent study of the
biblical themes. To do this one must be conversant with the Bible. One should
endeavour to understand the Bible with the aids of Bible commentaries, Bible
dictionaries, Bible hand books, theological dictionaries, writings of Church Fathers
and Church authorities, systematic theology text books and books on Christian
doctrines and Christian living. These are today bundled in computer Bible software.
5. To enhance spiritual leadership: spiritual leadership is not only with biblical
thought and preaching; it also involves handling of human beings, administration and
working within certain traditions, both ecclesiastical and secular. As such the Christian
world shaper should read books on philosophy, psychology, counselling, sociology,
medicine, law and historic works of the Church.
The reasons for which we read are the same reasons for which we should
Solomon wrote and taught excellently on every field of learning for every
human endeavour. He greatly influenced his generation through his
encyclopaedic literary studies and works. He was a great literary world shaper.
(29) And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding,
and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore.
(30) And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the
east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.
(31) For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman,
and Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations
round about. (Great Ancient Psalmist Ancestors of Solomon. See 1Chron 2:6)
(32) And he spoke three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand
(33) And he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto
the hyssop that springs out of the wall: he spoke also of beasts, and of fowl,
and of creeping things, and of fishes.
(34) And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all
kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.
HOW TO READ
The Christian world shaper could only accomplish proper study if he or she
cumulatively and consistently spends a minimum of about one hour a day on planned serious
study. More casual reading could be done at any available opportunity in addition.
Study should be done with pen, pencil and notebooks or computers in order to enhance
the memory. Reading should be done with the intention of understanding and remembering
what is read.
Matters and words that are not well understood should be verified whether they are
vocabulary, scientific knowhow, historical facts, etc.
Reading should be varied and planned. Read several books at the same time, keeping
with the book that you enjoy to read at one moment or the other. Read with the speed that
will meet your timed target.
Read with the aim of deriving something useful for life and ministry and actually put
those things that are useful into practice.
Read with discretion and discrimination. Not every book in the book stall is worth
buying or reading. And amongst books some are to be read over and over and others to be
read occasionally; some are to be read partially and others to be read wholly, some are to be
read hastily and others to be read slowly with much meditation; some are to be consulted as
references and others to be mastered as textbooks.
A Christian of influence must not only be a godly person, but must also be learned.
And learning comes from personal continuous study, both spiritual and circular studies.
Christian world shapers must first shape themselves through biblical and literary
studies but they must shape the world through all-round fruitful influence in moral walk
and missionary works, as well as effective communication in speech and writing.
Updated August 6, 2011
by Ven. Dr. I. U. Ibeme
Copyright © PriscAquila Publishing, Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Click here for
PriscAquila Christian Resource Centre