“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
For the devoted Christian, frequently reading the Bible must be a priority. In America, one can hardly escape hearing a sermon or seeing a Christian broadcast exhorting to spend time in “the Word of God,” meaning the scriptures. This article addresses why reading the Bible is so important.
First of all, reading the Bible is not the most important part of a Christian’s life. The most important activity is connecting with God by devoting one’s entire life to Him through following Jesus. One can never read a single verse but still receive Jesus as their Savior and begin a new life in the family of God. As long as a person hears the gospel message of Jesus and believes on Christ, if they call on God they will be saved. (Romans 10:13)
However, the believer begins to spiritually grow by spending time with God and having God gradually impart more of Christ’s divine nature into their life. (Romans 12:2, 2 Peter 1:4) Present day Christians need to do the same as the first disciples by daily listening to Jesus and following Him wherever He goes.
What does this have to do with reading the Bible? Reading the Bible is one way to always “hear” a message from Jesus. Every book in the scriptures in some way contains a message about Jesus, from Jesus, or about how to follow Him. When a believer reads scripture, they are reading something God previously inspired. This is similar to hearing a recording of God’s voice. As one reads Biblical text, one has the opportunity to go beyond mere reading to personally encountering God’s voice.
The writer of Hebrews expresses this by saying “the Word of God is alive and active…” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV) Even though God inspired the words centuries ago, when a believer fellowships with God through reading scripture God speaks fresh unique messages. The Spirit of God can teach multitudes of lessons using a single verse. The significance lies not in the words on the page, but in the words God speaks as He gives understanding to the Christian.
Reading the Bible should be fundamental to all believers, but it must be done with correct perspective. One should always read the Bible with God, not for God. Jesus reveals that seeking to know Him is more important than studying scriptures. In the following quote, Jesus exposes the trap of reading scripture relying on one’s own understanding. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39,40 ESV)
The proper motivation for reading should be increased fellowship with the Lord; to learn more from Him and become more like Him. This can never be achieved by mortal intellect, but only by Spiritual transferrence. Reading the Bible cannot give you eternal life, but it is one great way to spend time with the One Who can.