Do Christians really need to read the Bible?
You would be shocked at how many professing Christians never read their Bibles. We're actually doing a study at my church right now about the importance of God's Word and how to study it, which makes me feel the need to write this post that much more.
When I was a new Christian back in 2014, I never read my Bible. Occasionally I may have gone to Sunday School, but it was super boring, and I only did it because I was required to. I loved Jesus, I know that, but I hadn't yet learned just how important it was to read His Word, and let's face it, I was still too selfish to devote that kind of time to Him. I learned verses thanks to my mom and grandma, who have both done an outstanding job of teaching me about Jesus and gently but boldly pointing me to the truth, time and time again.
But to be honest, I devoted my entire life to the computer. I worked on writing everything in 2014, and that was my priority. I remember Mom would always ask me, "How much time do you give to God in a day?" And I would always get all defensive and be like, "I talk to Him all day long...." Yes. Now let me go talk to Him about what's new on Pinterest.
But finally, little by little, the Holy Spirit started cleaning me up like He does with any new Christian. And I started to get it. I started by getting devotional books. Then I worked my way up to a Bible study devotional type book, and in 2015, I finally started getting into my Bible, dissecting it, consuming it, etc. Now I know just how important it is to read the Bible--not just because I need to, but because I truly want to.
But with that being said, what if you don't WANT to read it? Do you HAVE to?
Short answer: yes. But not for the reasons you probably think.
You don't read it to go to heaven. Your salvation isn't based on you reading your Bible X amount of times, etc. That's religion, where you have to do this and this and this to be saved. That's not true. Salvation is found by believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins (John 3:16). Look at the thief on the cross. He didn't have time to do anything like that, yet he went to heaven with Jesus based on his faith in Him (Luke 23:43). But then keep in mind that the thief on the cross was alive for an hour after that. I'm sure that if he'd had more time, he would've read the Word. Why? Because that should be your natural response.
So many people go the opposite way where, just because it's NOT a requirement to be saved, they will never read their Bible. And that just tells me they're trusting Jesus only to save their skin and not because they genuinely desire Him. Jesus didn't just come to save you. He came to get you to God, to have a RELATIONSHIP with Him. And what I had to learn is that you can't have that relationship when you never take the time to learn about God. And how do you know that? You read His Word, which is by Him (2 Timothy 3:16). You need to read the Word because that's how your relationship with God grows. It absolutely cannot grow without it. You need it for your soul. And when you realize this, you should want it. So many people only go to Jesus for their eternal security. They have no desire for Him. And something is wrong there. If you did that in any other relationship with someone, you would not have a relationship with someone very long. Hey, I'm just gonna use you so that I'll be okay when it comes to XYZ, but other than that, I'm not going to learn about you, spend time with you, or read what you've wrote to me. In fact, I don't really want you anyway, but I need you for XYZ. And it sounds terrible when you put it that way. But believe it or not, that is exactly how so many professing Christians act.
Here's what I've learned from studying my Bible about why you need to read the Word and why you should want to. It's also important to remember that you can't always go by your feelings. You may not FEEL like praying or FEEL like reading the Bible everyday, but do it anyway. You will never waste time praying or reading the Bible. And I'll also share some tips on what to do if you find it boring or hard to understand.
You need to read the Bible to be a good witness.
And when I say a good witness, I'm not talking about your reputation, where I have to do something so that I'll look like a good Christian. Once again, that is religion. When I say you need it to be a good witness, I'm talking about when you come in contact with nonbelievers or even other Christians that are misguided about something. When you use Scripture to back up your points, no one can argue with you, because then it's not YOU saying something, it's GOD. I once saw a quote that said the Bible is like a lion in the sense that once you let it out, it doesn't need you to defend it, it can defend itself. God's Word, truly, is supernatural. You don't need to try and change or convict anyone by giving them a Bible verse in its context. When you do that, let the verse speak for itself. God's Word has been designed for that.
You don't need to teach on your own. Use the Bible as your guide, and it will speak for itself. Let the Bible rebuke, correct, and train somebody. It is authored by God, after all. This is why it's important to know your Bible so that when somebody has questions or are taking a verse out of context and twisting it to their own desires or just when somebody is doing something contradictory to the lifestyle Jesus has called us to, you can share the truth with them and let God do the talking, since after all, the Bible is God-breathed. :)
You need to read the Bible to live an abundant life in Christ.
I don't understand how you can have a good relationship with Jesus or be able to live an abundant life in Him without His Word, which is what tells you how to get it. How can you follow somebody if you don't even know them? How can you follow Jesus if you never take the time to learn about Him and what He has done for you and expects of you? You can't. His Word is the light on your path. Without it, how do you even know you're going down the right path?
We are to obey what the Bible tells us to do. How do we know what we're supposed to do without it? Also notice how this verse says to mediate on it day and night. It's stressing the importance of consistent Bible reading, not just once in a blue moon when you feel like it. It should be constant. Only by doing that will you "make your way prosperous". That's something I learned the hard way. It wasn't until I finally started reading my Bible consistently that I saw how much success it brought to my life, just like the verse promises. Obedience to God, whether you feel like it or not, is always the right thing, and you will always be blessed for it. I don't mean that in the way where you read your Bible and now you will have a prosperous earthly life because of it, but because it refreshes your soul, gives you the joy found only in Jesus, the joy no circumstance can change. It gets you focused on the things that are unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18). And when you do that, regardless of your circumstances, you will have a joyful earthly life.
C.S. Lewis had an excellent quote I saw the other day, and I love how he said it:
Also look at Psalms 37:4. But that's not something you check off your list just to get a reward. Delighting yourself in the Lord is a daily thing, forever, and it should flow out of your deep need and love for Him. But when you are truly doing that out of love for Him in your heart, you will be surprised at just how true the second part of that verse is. I know I definitely am.
You need to read the Bible to find hope.
Where are you getting your hope and encouragement if it's not through Jesus? I have quite a collection of memories where I tried to find hope through so many things until finally I just went to my Bible, and it was amazing how it just clicked. It was amazing the strength that I could draw from it.
On July 6, 2016, I was up with my grandparents, and there were numerous different situations that were stressing me out. I guess I kind of expected to maybe just run away from my problems, like oh, two weeks with my grandparents will make me feel better, or I'm sure Grandma will be able to make me feel better! Problem is, as fun as the two weeks were and as wise as Grandma is, that can't fill the deepest longings in my heart. Only God can do that, and the way He communicates to us is through His Word. Thankfully I figured that out and wrote on Facebook, "It's amazing how late at night I could be really tired or just some nights when I'm an emotional wreck and I lay this stuff out and feel this sense of strength not from this world."
Yes, that is the effect the Bible has.
You need to read the Bible to know what is good.
The Bible tells us what is good and what isn't. How do we know how to behave and live without it?
We cannot grow as Christians without it. 1 Peter 2:2 says, "Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation." We all know how newborns need milk to grow, and it is true of Christians with the Bible. We can't possibly grow in Christ without it. His Word is the truth (John 17:17).
There are so many more reasons than these, but I just wanted to hit some of the major ones today. The more you read your Bible, the more you will want to because you will recognize the deep need you have for it.
Now... What if it's boring or hard to understand?
I have a few tips, lots that I've learned from trial and error.
1) Always pray before you read.
Don't just plow into it like I did when I started. Ask God for discernment, for understanding, for wisdom. He promises to deliver.
2) Start somewhere simple, like John.
I'm really speaking from trial and error here. Don't get me wrong, there is no wrong place to read in the Bible, but the OCD in me always wanted to read the Bible in order. And I did do that once. But I don't think I understood any of the Old Testament because I didn't have a lot of background knowledge at all. Start with John. It has so many of the principles we live by and so many important different lessons. If you find reading the Bible boring, this is especially important.
3) Annotate what you read.
Take notes about what you're reading. It will help you get into it more and also help you apply it to your life. Take notes of the key messages and themes in the verses you read. If you have questions, write them down. Take note of the verses that speak to your heart. Make it personal. The Bible is how God speaks to you. Ask Him to speak to you, and He will (Jeremiah 29:13).
4) Listen to it on audio.
Some people don't like to read. That's fine. There are other options, like listening to the Bible on audio. You can still take notes and get the same effect.
5) Buy a study Bible from a trusted resource.
I bought the Jeremiah Study Bible, and it's been helpful! Try getting a study Bible to help you comprehend what you are reading. This especially helped me when I went back and read the Old Testament again.
6) Join a Bible study.
This is crucial. Learn from other people further along than you, and offer insight to those who aren't as far as you. God has given us the church to help each other like that (Proverbs 27:17).
If we want to be close to God, we have to listen to Him too. We have to get to know Him. We have to read the Bible. It's as simple as that. God's Word is truly a precious gift, and it breaks my heart to hear Christians treat it as some nuisance or something that is unnecessary. That's not true. Jesus came to get us to God, sealing the gap that our sin had created. God wants you. A relationship can't be one-sided, and the Bible is how God speaks to you. Think about it: that is how the GOD of the UNIVERSE talks to YOU. And He wants to.
So, will you let Him?