Why Read It?
It reveals God as He is, not as we imagine Him to be.
Simply put, the whole of scripture.
But one example is in Exodus 34:6-7 “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations."
Passages such as Isaiah 6 should cause us to pause before we speak to boldly.
It reveals humanity as we truly are.
We see it in the creation account.
We see it in the countless passages about our sin.
We see it in the many passages on our position in Christ.
The bible is given so that we can grow with respect to our salvation.
1 Peter 2:1-3 "Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."
This is always interesting when you talk to a person who is struggling as a Christian. Ask them to describe what salvation means in their mind. Or ask them to describe what it means to be “in Christ.” It is not uncommon for them to give only generalities, which means they are not reading and growing in respect to their salvation. They are babies.
It instructs you in the way of holiness.
Psalm 119:9 "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word."
There isn’t any secret to walking in a God-honoring manner. It is learning to read the bible, understand what it is saying and then applying it into your everyday life.
The problem is that we too often are trying to read the bible to figure out the minimum needed to be “holy.” This is not a proper way to read it.
Practical suggestions on how to read it well:
Don’t read it like an non-Christian.
When you read for the experience.
So common in America, we are asking not what is true but how did we like it?
We confuse an emotional experience with actual encounter with truth. We think that because we were convicted that it is the same as repentance.
When it is really all about you.
Psalm 119:36 "Incline my heart to Your testimonies And not to dishonest gain."
David knew his heart and tendency so he overtly asks God to move in his heart.
Are we reading to be seen? Or reading to show off our knowledge?
When you are more interested in anything more than understanding God better.
Be aware of your need for God’s grace in understanding.
David says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold the wonderful things from your law” (Psalm 119:18).
Too often we read it so casually and assume we are going to see it rightly. This is foolish.
Understand that the ultimate goal is properly to know God.
"You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread." (Isaiah 8:12-13)
Good bible reading reorients your thinking over and over again.
It puts everything back into the proper perspective with God at the forefront.
Ephesians 1 gives us additional understanding.
Three times we see that the whole purpose for God’s redemptive work is “to the praise of His glory.”
Asking yourself in your reading, “how is God’s glory on display here?” will change much in the way you think about the bible.
Read it with the goals of 2 Timothy 3:15-17 in mind: “from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
How am I growing in my understanding of my salvation?
How is my faith in God being strengthened?
What am I learning?
How am I being reproved?
What is being corrected in me?
How am I shown the way of holiness?
What good works am I called by God to do?
Understand it uses the rules of language because God created language.
This almost sounds a bit jarring compared to the other points. A bit unspiritual. But it is quite important.
You must learn grammar. It is that simple. And it is a great evil that has occurred over the last several decades in our schools.
Many parents were not taught it and are still deceiving themselves that it is not important.
The result is their children are learning it even less.
Grasp the genre you are reading.
At some point you need to learn basic interpretation skills if you are going to do any type of real study. If I were to start somewhere it would be learning Hebrew parallelisms.
Pay attention to context. Huge and this protects you from appropriating passages that are saying one thing but you try to make it say another. So many examples of this today……
When reading teaching passages like the epistles slow down. Let the logic of the passage lead you.
Little words are usually big ones in meaning. Learn your prepositions. Learn your conjunctions. Logic terms like “so that,” “therefore,” and such.
Look for the commands.
Two final thoughts:
"The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; He is weary of bringing it to his mouth again." (Proverbs 26:15)
Take this proverb and apply it to bible reading. The dish is a dish of food. It is good and necessary. Make that dish the bible.
Then think about how often people have the Word of God sitting in the same room or on their phone and they think about reading it but it is too difficult to pick up and read.
As a sluggard will harm himself out of laziness by not eating; so a lazy Christian harms himself by thinking about reading the bible, planning on reading the bible, but never actually doing it because he is too busy, too tired, too…..whatever.
"The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can give a discreet answer." (Proverbs 26:16)
The lazy reader is often also a person who is far wiser in his own eyes than he really is.
This person often has many opinions on theology, think they know the bible, think they have much to contribute; but in reality they do not because they are not defined and confined by the Word.
I (MH) think on how many times I show something to say something regarding the Word, theology, and their application to people who then say something like, “Oh, I’m not sure I agree with that.” But they are not doing this from a biblical foundation.