Why In The World Do We Read Our Bibles?
Believers, and even those outside of the faith, acknowledge Bible reading as an important discipline in the Christian life. It makes sense that Christians, wanting to be Christ-like, would be in the practice of reading Scripture. The Bible instructs the children of God to: read His Word, meditate on His Word, feast on His Word, hide or implant His Word within. The command is simple, but do we understand why? Why are we to open the Book and dive into the pages of redemption? What is our motivation for taking time aside and placing ourselves before the Bible? I believe it is helpful if we think on this topic.
There are often negative reasons and positive reasons why we do what we do. Reading the Bible can be motivated by the same logic. I am one who usually rushes to the negative arguments why one must do something; it is how I am wired. When I am instructed in something, I evaluate the consequences. Self-preservation and hazard control stimulate my compliance. I like to know the threat, how severe the punishment, and if I am in close proximity to violating a serious rule. This way of thinking might be safe, but it is far from appealing. Living life in such a way robs anyone from joy.
When we think of God, do we believe He designed us so we may tremble at every corner of life? Is our devotion to Bible reading spring forth from seeds of fear planted by God? When we think seriously on why we should open the Good Book, what mental list develops? Maybe your reasons look something like the list below.
- I do not want to disobey God’s command. Not reading means disobeying.
- I do not want to sin. The Bible teaches and shows me what is right and wrong.
- I want to know truth. I do not want to be caught believing in something that is not true.
- I want to be able to defend my faith. There are a lot of smart people out there that do not see the Bible as true. I want to be able to defend my beliefs competently.
- I want to know more about God. Topics like the Trinity, and Old Testament Christophanies intrigue your intellectual side.
- I want to know more of the history recorded in the Bible. The plots, stories, and genres are masterpieces worthy of study.
This small list is not comprehensive. We could add many more reasons why the Bible should be read. But in this small list above we see both negative and positive reasons. Still, I do not believe our greatest reason for reading has been recorded in our short list. Is it good to want to know truth? Yes. Should we encourage Christians to have a robust theology that can defend Christianity? Yes, of course! With this understood, we still have a greater purpose for reading the Bible.
Our Desire to Know God
In God’s Word we read, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me’” (Jeremiah 9:22-23). The greatest reward granted to the people of God is the privilege of personally knowing the Redeemer. Knowing God, not simply knowing about Him, is our aim as beloved children. We do not boast in intelligence, strength, or finances. In comparison to God such things are insignificant. Our aim and our reward is much greater! We long after God. Reading His Word welcomes us to taste and see that the Lord is good. Sweet as honey are the Words of God to the one who knows Him (Psalm 119:103). Therefore, we read. It is from a motivation of love for God that we read. In fact, the Scriptures encourage us to seek our God with the heart (Deut 4:29, 1 Chro 16:10, Psalm 27:8, Prov 8:17-19 Jeremiah 29:11-13).
In closing, let us review. Are the other reasons for reading the Bible good reasons? Some of them are. Do any of the other reasons recorded in our little list eclipse the glorious thought of knowing God? Not by a long shot! Be motivated not in obligation, fear, pride, or routine. May each page, chapter, and verse we read be a joyous pursuit of knowing God greater! Run to His Word, and in doing so, arrive in blessed communion with the Author of salvation.
In Christ by His Grace,
Interested in reading more on this topic? See J. I. Packer’s Knowing God.