I first read “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” in a small group I led, and found it to be a great resource. It impacted my faith walk so much, I even wrote about it in my last post, “Out Of The Darkness & Into The Light”.
This series will be in response to a few comments I received, following that post. Of course, I’m happy to organize some notes from my book group for anyone willing to listen (or read!).
I hope what I share will be an encouragement to pick up this book for yourself. At the same time, it should be enough information to easily uplift or ignite your personal Bible reading, without it.
This post is not particularly from the book or my group, but I’m hoping it will help you see the importance behind reading Scripture, in general. Future posts will expand on the “for all its worth” part and will also get into the HOW, as laid out by the authors above.
Either way, I hope to inspire some further reading that leads to the Bible 😉
The Importance of Scripture
As I was compiling verses for this post, I came across a commentary by Alexander MacLaren, and felt it suited the beginning of this series.
Though I can not speak on his theology or teachings, I found he was a Baptist minister at the turn of the century (1900) and this particular word absolutely applies today.
From MacLaren Expositions of Holy Scripture (Revelation 3:10, edited for length)
“I am afraid that the plain practical duty of reading (the Bible) is getting to be a much neglected duty amongst professing Christian people… I am afraid that newspapers, and circulating libraries, and magazines, and little religious books – very good in their way, but secondary and subordinate – have taken the place that our fathers used to have filled by honest reading of God’s Word. And that I believe is a very large part of the reason, why so many professing Christians… walk in an extraordinarily leisurely fashion, by fits and starts, and sometimes with long intervals, in which they sit still on the road, and are not a mile farther at a year’s end… There never was, and never will be, vigorous Christian life unless there be an honest and habitual study of God’s Word.”
Seems pretty relevant 100+ years later. And I happen to share the belief that a thriving Christian is a Bible reading Christian.
I also believe that it is God’s will for us to be consumers of His Word (the Holy Bible), over any other source. Even the shortest of verses can bring forth multifaceted ideas to prayerfully meditate upon! Over the course of one’s lifetime, it would be impossible to squeeze every ounce of goodness from this Good Book. Many scholars have tried, and would be the first to admit they’ve only scratched the surface.
More than likely, you & I are anything but scholars, but God Himself does tell us, all throughout the Bible, of its importance. Take note; Scripture is the source of:
God’s Word: 2 Tim. 3:16 “All scripture is God breathed…”
God’s Truth: 2 Tim. 2:15 “…the word of truth.”
God’s Blessing: Luke 11:28 “…Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it”
Sanctification: John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth; Your word is truth”
Growth: 1 Pet. 2:2 “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow…”
Power: Rom. 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation…”
Defense: Eph. 6:17 “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”
Sustenance: Mat. 4:4 “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Prophecy: Heb. 1:1-2 “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets… but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…”
Boundary: 1 Cor. 4-6 “…learn by us not to go beyond what is written…”
Wisdom: 2 Tim. 3:15 “…the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Competence: 2 Tim. 3:16-17 “All scripture is useful… so the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Glory: 2 Thess. 2:14 “…that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (through the gospel).”
Belief: John 20:31 “These are written so you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God….”
Teaching: Rom. 15:4 “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us”
Hope: Rom. 15:4 “Through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
Integrity: Ps. 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Liberty: Ps. 119:45 “I will walk at liberty, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.”
Preservation: Ps. 119:93 “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.”
Guidance: Ps. 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”
Joy: Ps. 119:111 “Your statutes are the joy of my heart.”
Understanding: Ps. 119:130 “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
Freedom: John 8:31-32 “If you continue in My word, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Being kept: Rev. 3:10 “Because you have kept My word… I also will keep you…”
Wow. And if those wonderful promises to help us & sustain us aren’t enough, there are yet a few other reasons for making a priority out of knowing & understanding our Holy Bibles…
As MacLaren noted, the reliance on 2nd hand information is subordinate. We must note this as an even greater concern today because once trusted sources have only down-graded in our time of biblical illiteracy & compromise.
This tragedy is merely compounded by the modern overflow of (dis)information. Something I addressed in my last post, HERE.
You’ll quickly see, I haven’t always held such a high view on the importance of knowing my Bible, and it led to trouble in the form of deception, oppression, & bondage.
Maybe you’re in a place like I was then. I dismissed the importance of reading my Bible and often opened it simply because I knew I should. I’d then sit down with the attitude of checking another task off the list, or day off the reading plan. I never really went beyond the surface, but felt good about it, none the less.
Beloved, I’ve since learned so much gets left on the table this way!
Our time spent in the Scriptures truly is a special time. A time of communion & of expectation. It should be viewed as an opportunity to seek God & to hear God. Not to mention, it is a time at which the Holy Spirit can work in our lives to bring about the characteristics mentioned above.
Just as Hebrews 4:12 says,
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow”
His Word is unlike any other. It can bring conviction, deeper revelation, practical guidance, or even deep emotional response. And as our source of truth, it should be a plumb line on which to test everything else. An idea that is counter-cultural in a time where everyone is encouraged to find their “own” truth.
Please, don’t fall for that doctrine of demons.
We need look no further than the authors of the letters that ended up in our Bible to see just how sure of a truth it is. 1 John 1:1-4 gives some insight…
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—THIS we proclaim… we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
(Emphasis is mine)
The God above all gods has graciously revealed His truth to those who will receive it. First to the Jews, then to the gentiles.
Yahweh & Jesus, were able to prove their identity, on various occasions, often in the midst of huge crowds, all throughout Jewish history. And lucky for us, these events once recorded for preservation have since been assembled, for our own benefit, that we too may believe.
What I have always found to be most convincing, are all the eye-witnesses who were given an opportunity to recant their testimony and instead chose brutal death. Not to mention the numerous prophecies that have been fulfilled, across landscapes & across centuries (well into present day).
With that said, you better believe the #1 spiritual attack on Christianity is an attack on Truth & the very word that reveals this truth. Individually, this attack may come for our schedules & our minds; whatever it takes. Satan knows just how to keep us from the truth where freedom from his grip of manipulation & control, can be found.
To you & me, the Bible is a story of Good News, one of redemption, & life abundantly. To the devil, it’s nothing more than a reminder of his limited power here & a continual retelling of his ultimate demise. A truth he’s spent all of human history trying to hide, distort & outrun.
I think he understands what I for so long did not… that it is in our Bibles Christians are equipped, empowered, & edified. Not only do we uncover the truth in our Bibles, but it is where we fan into flames the light of eternal life. A light that is irresistible to many, while also irritating to a world that prefers the darkness.
The devil realizes that as we take the time to understand the intricate story within the Bible, we gain a bold confidence. The kind that has lead countless to slaughter with praise & glory on their tongue.
He hates that. And he hates that his motives & tactics are brought to attention on the pages of our Bibles. We’re given behind the scenes intel as we read and it is only upon this understanding we learn how to effectively resist the devil’s schemes and make him flee. All while growing in a way that glorifies God and hopefully leads us to spread the Gospel that brings more & more to read the Bible for themselves.
Naturally, it is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, that is the weapon used to gain ground within the battle of these 2 kingdoms.
For too long I was unarmed. I’d hate to see anyone else make the same mistakes I did.
At the end of the day, biblical literacy is something that benefits all Christians. Whether we know it or not, our time in the Word, our understanding of the Word, our appreciation for the Word, is what molds us, guides us, & nurtures a personal relationship with our Lord & Savior. And there is indeed no discernment without biblical literacy.
Truthfully, we are at a huge disadvantage without a consistent commitment to Bible study.
With that said, if this is an area of struggle, stay tuned as I share some context, resources, and general practices that can help. And may I suggest starting where ever you are, with an attitude that no time in the Word of God is ever wasted.
The next post in this series will explain how I approached building this habit. We’ll also go into the process of interpreting what is being read, and how personal interpretation is something we all do, at all times! From there I’ll share some points on how to do so more effectively, as well as give some background on the different biblical translations.
I don’t know how many posts will end up in this series, but I hope you’ll join me! Be sure to hit that follow button if you don’t want to miss it