He who wants to hear God speak should read Holy Scripture.Martin Luther
One of the most important things that we as Christians can do to nourish our faith is to read the Bible. If we want to hear God speak, Martin Luther teaches us, we should read Holy Scripture. Or, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it, “Every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me. I can only move forward with certainty upon the firm ground of the Word of God.”
Yes, on both counts. I could not agree more. But in this post, I want to take a step back and ponder the obvious question: Why? Why read the Bible? Here are five basic reasons to read the Bible, according to the Bible itself.
To Believe and Have Life in Jesus’ Name
“Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31)
The first reason to read the Bible is simple: That we may come to believe, and through believing have life in Jesus’ name. Reading the Bible helps us to believe – to believe in God and to believe in Jesus. There are a lot of things that take place in our world that can undermine our faith. Reading the Bible regularly can counteract these influences. After all, the Bible itself reminds us that “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4). And these words that “come from the mouth of God” are found in Holy Scripture. So, we read the Bible to nourish our faith, to feed our hungry souls. And in doing so, we find life, true life, in Jesus’ name.
To Deepen Our Spiritual Roots
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)
Another reason to read the Bible is found in Psalm 1, where we are reminded that reading and meditating upon God’s word helps us to be like trees planted by streams of water. It helps to deepen our roots, so that we can withstand the storms of life. We all face storms in this life. We all suffer. It is inevitable and unavoidable. But being deeply rooted in God’s word helps us to be like the trees that withstand the strong winds. We bend but we do not break, and our roots keep us steady and grounded. Reading the Bible regularly deepens our spiritual roots and keeps us planted by the lifegiving streams of God’s grace.
To Learn and Grow in Faith
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible is “inspired by God.” It is literally “God-breathed.” But it is also a practical resource to turn to for “training in righteousness.” Do you want to know how to live as a Christian and grow in your faith? Read the Bible. It offers practical wisdom for how to live this life, as a believer and as a child of God. When we approach the Bible as a student eager to learn, it is amazing how much we find in its inspired pages. It may be an ancient document, but because it is inspired by God, it continues to offer us timely and helpful wisdom for living in our current world. It is not always easy to understand, to be sure, but reading it regularly, studying it with others, and ponderings its implications for our world today will inevitably help us to grow in wisdom and to live more faithfully.
To Be Guided Through Life
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Psalm 119, which is an extended song of praise for God’s Word, reminds us in this particular verse that God’s Word offers light for our path through life. The way through life can get confusing. We can get lost. It can be a challenge to know what to do and where to go. We can find ourselves in a dark wood, searching for the path back to safety. That path can be found through the light of God’s word. It may not turn our night into day, but it offers just enough light to help us take our next step, and our next, until the morning dawns. But it is important not to wait until it is dark before opening God’s Word! Reading the Bible regularly when life is going well is what makes it a valuable resource when life gets challenging.
To Abide in Jesus
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
A final reason to share with you here on why to read the Bible is found in the words of Jesus himself: We read the Bible to abide in Jesus. There is nothing more important in life than our relationship with God. Apart from that relationship, we can do nothing of value, for ourselves or for this world. And apart from that relationship, we cannot even be the people we have been created to be. There is a hole in our life that cannot be filled by anything else. Whether we are always aware of it or not, we have a deep desire to abide in God, and one of the best ways to do that is to prayerfully read God’s Word. This connects us to God like nothing else, and is why it is so important to read the Bible: To abide in Jesus.
“If you continue in my word,” Jesus says, “you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Reading the Bible helps us to know the truth, it helps us to connect to Jesus, and it ultimately gives us a freedom that we cannot find anywhere else. Blessings to you as you read and prayerfully reflect on God’s enduring gift to us: God’s Holy Word.