Why Read the Bible?
I’ve actually come across a few blog posts in my time that, in their well-meaning pursuit to cut to the chase and get on with the application, say something along the lines of, ‘I’m sure you’ve already know why we need to read the Bible’ or ‘We don’t need hear why it is important, we need help with how to read it’. I have no doubt that these sort of posts have their place, but in doing this little series on ‘The Reading Rut’ I was conscious that all the helpful tips and best resources are nothing if we don’t first understand why we should be reading, and should want to be reading in the first place.
It could be that you have always just known that reading the Bible is important to being a Christian because it is ‘God’s Word’ or because ‘that’s the way God speaks to us so we should read it’. Or maybe since your time of giving your life to Christ you simply saw that everyone else did it, with no-one explaining why. Or perhaps you are an old-hat at all this; you’ve essentially been reading the Bible since you could read at all, and you know that it is just vital to your relationship with God. But if it came to explaining to a new Christian the foundational principles of why, you wouldn’t know where to start.
I hope that this can be a starting place for each of these – and whatever your situation.
Let us start with 2 Timothy:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
For me, there are two quite profound components to these verses;
1. That all of Scripture is breathed-out by God, and
2. That all Scripture is profitable, (for a variety of reasons. )
For Scripture (The Bible) to be ‘breathed out by God’ means that it is inspired by God, that they are God’s words written by human hands. Simply, The Bible is God’s way of communicating with us. Every single part of the Bible is meant to be there, with the intention of us reading it as the way we listen to what God is saying to us. In doing this, we are not only listening to the rules God wants us to follow and how we are to live our life, but we are gaining an understanding of God himself:
“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12)
The Holy Spirit works as we read God’s Word to reveal God to us. It is how we know God, know his character and the good news of what he has done for us. The most important aspect of this revelation is that it is the means by which we see, know and understand God revealed to us in the flesh, Jesus Christ, and the ramifications of his life, death and resurrection for us.
All of Scripture is profitable, for teaching, rebuke, correction and for training in righteousness. I must admit that it has taking me a while to realise that the purpose of this verse isn’t just to reason why we should know Scripture for the purpose of teaching, rebuking and training other Christians, but it has this same purpose for us; that as we read, God teaches us, rebukes and corrects us, and is training us in righteousness. God is the one to grow us in godliness as we faithfully listen to his teaching and correcting. In reading The Bible, God equips us to live lives of service and of holiness, so we may complete ‘every good work’. Now this idea of ‘good works’ may sound a bit abstract, or may even strike you as ‘legalistic’, but it is actually what we were created to do:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
We were created for the purpose of completing good works. Our lives to be in step with the plan God has set out for us in advance – all by the grace of God expressed in Jesus Christ.
How much more vital does this make reading The Bible to our life? It is how we are equipped for our life purpose – to serve and reflect our creator.
Whilst analogies are never perfect or complete, another way of looking at this is that Scripture is our ‘life roadmap.’ It tells us where we are, where we are going and how to get there. It places us in history, giving us an eternal perspective, reminding us of who we were and where we have been – dead in our sin and separated from God (Ephesians 2:1-3, 12), and gives us hope as we look towards where we are going and who we are becoming – eternal life with God and being conformed to the image of Christ (John 11:25-26, Romans 8:29).
I want to leave you with one final encouragement; that in reading God’s word, our faith is increased. In the middle of a passage in Romans about the message of Salvation – Christ saving all those who faithfully call on His name – comes the verse, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Through hearing and reading God’s Word, our faith grows. And with faith in God comes not only the great gift of salvation, but also the faith we need to live out God’s will and purpose for our lives. What a reason to rejoice that we can freely access God’s Word and have faith through it!
Stay tuned for the next post in the series, looking at why we should be reading God’s Word regularly.