The biginning of a new year is the time many people start a Bible reading plan. They set out on this journey with great excitement and great expectations. They gather their read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year list, their favorite Bible, find that special place and start out on their journey. But something happens in late January or early February. The excitement wanes and the expectations weaken. They encounter obstacles that were unexpected. Certain parts of the Bible seem uninspiring, or the pace of the reading is too fast. The endless genealogies, the unpronounceable names and the weird practices (like animal sacrifices) trip them up. It is easy at that point to throw in the towel or just read the parts that are easy or interesting. If that describes you and where you’re at in your Bible reading plan, or if you’ve shied away from the ambitious goal of reading the whole Bible, then I want to share with you some reasons for reading the Bible that will, I hope, inspire and motivate you to continue or begin Bible reading. I believe that reading the Bible is one of the most important things a person can do with their life. So, here are eight reasons to read your Bible.
1. The Bible is the inspired Word of God.
This reason alone should be enough to keep us glued to our Bibles. We have in the Bible God’s written word, his authoritative message to us. In the Bible we understand who God is and who we are. We discover how to have a relationship with God. We see and experience the deep dimensions of God’s amazing love. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read, “All scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The Bible is inspired and inspirational. It is a great blessing. We can persevere in reading it to reap the benefits.
2. The Bible is spiritual food for the soul.
We all need food to live. Physical food is necessary for physical life. So also, spiritual food is necessary for spiritual life. The Bible is that spiritual food that we need. When the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger and prove he was the Son of God, Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew4:4). We need the spiritual food of the word of God. We can satisfy our spiritual hunger by reading his word. In fact, reading the Bible can deepen our hunger for the healthy food of the word rather than the junk food of the world.
3. The Bible brings salvation to the soul.
This is the most important reason to read the Bible. The greatest need of every person is salvation. All people are sinners and need a Savior. God provided salvation by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He paid for the judgment of our sins on the cross. God is just to forgive us when we repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). The bible tells us about God’s salvation and effectively brings salvation (Romans 1:16). Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-15 that is was the scriptures that made him wise for salvation. And Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:23, “you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.”
4. The Bible helps us avoid sin.
Sin is a power that temps us and pursues us all the days of our lives. We are no match for the enticing power of sin. The Bible helps us know what sin is and provides the power to avoid it. Sin has destoried many a life. A soul saturated with the word of God is a great deterrent to the destructive power of sin. The psalmist in Psalm 119:11 encourages us with these words, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Reading large quantities of the Bible helps us see the follies of sin and focus on the lover of our souls, Jesus.
5. The Bible gives strength to sustain in sorrow.
Sorrow, struggle and stress are a very real part of life. No one can avoid it. Reading the Bible and having the Bible in our hearts can greatly help us during hard times. But the Bible is no magic wand. If we have not been consistantly reading God’s word and trusting him in life, then turning to the Bible for a quick fix when troubles hit will not work. But it would be a good place to start. Again, the psalmist gives us encouragement in Psalm 119:28, “My soul melts away from sorrow, strengthen me according to your word.” Then in verse 92 he gives us this insight, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Reading the Bible provides us with the spiritual medicine we need in trouble. Pain is real. The word of God will not make it disappear, but it will give us the strength we need to move forward.
6. The Bible leads us in the path of righteousness.
While the Bible helps us avoid sin, as we’ve seen, it will do more. The Bible will guide us in the righteous life God desires for us and demands of us. Jesus proclaims in the Beatitudes the those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied. That satisfaction comes through the word of God, prayer and the Holy Spirit. Reading the Bible fills our lives with all these. A well known and loved verse is Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Another well known and loved verse is in Psalm 23:3, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” The word of God is that lamp and light that leads us in the path (life) of righteousness. By consistantly exposing myself to the Bible, I’m submitting myself to it as the guide for the righteous life God desires for me.
7. The Bible transforms the heart.
We are all in need of changes, deep change. But genuine change is one of the hardest things in the world to realize. We want to change. We try to change. But we seem to fail more that we succeed. Because of this, many just give up on changing. They may reply, “That’s just who I am.” It may be who we are now, but it is not who we need to be and who God wants us to be. God has provided a means of transformation. Again, it is the word of God, prayer and the Holy Spirit. The writer of Hebrews gives us a great truth in chapter four and verse twelve, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” When the word of God gets inside us, it does great heart work. It changes us if we submitt to its sometimes painful work. When we read the Bible, it is doing its heart work even if we do not remember everything we’ve read. It is worth the effort.
8. The Bible keeps us from the error of false teaching.
False teaching is in the world and has been in the world since the serpent tempted Eve in Genesis chapter three. We neglect its reality at our own peril. I believe very strongly that false teaching is more prevalent today that in most times in history. That’s a huge claim to make, but I believe it’s true. False teaching abounds in so many blatant ways, but also in many subtle ways. People are led astray and lives are destroyed. Honest and good believers can be misled. Putting one’s self under the ministry of a sound Bible teaching church is critical, but constant reading of the Bible is also necessary. In John 8:31-32, Jesus tells some people who had believed in him that if they would remain in his word they would know the truth and the truth would set them free. In Hebrews chapter five we are told that the word will give us the ability to discern good form evil. When the reading of the Bible is an everyday part of our lives, we are better equipped to see and avoid false teaching.
Take up and Read
For these reasons and many more I encourage you to persevere in Bible reading. There are few things that you can do that will be a greater blessing to your life and to others. God has given us a book. Some people do not like to read, but the fact remains that we have a word from God and it’s in a book. Whatever it takes to read it, ask God for help. He desires that you read it and he will help you. It will truly change your life.