Read the Word
By David Ward, PhD | March 27, 2018
Before I started dental school, my commute to New Orleans for graduate school increased by 45 minutes up to 1.5 hours one way. While continuing to make this long commute during dental school every morning, I typically listen to some variation of the following: podcasts by Ravi Zacharias (or members of his team), sermons, books by C.S. Lewis or other Christian authors, an audio Bible, worship music or apologetic debates (I love apologetics). My long commute has always been a great time of fellowship with the Lord. However, last semester a lingering issue began. Listening to those Christ-centered resources left me with a rapidly growing level of discontent. As God revealed, the problem was a neglected desire to read my Bible. Therefore, for this blog post, that is the message: we need to read God’s Word.
In a defeated attempt to develop a reason as to why we need to read the Bible, I asked more questions than provided answers. That is an unfortunate side effect of graduate school. Nevertheless, that process generated an unpredicted and reductive question, “Why did God create us?” I will attempt to explain the reasoning later. However, being unable to provide an answer immediately, the follow-up question, nonetheless, became, “What does the Bible say?” Before attempting to answer those questions, among others not mentioned, as well as present an essential reason to read the Bible, God establishes several precedents within the Bible regarding its contents. Therefore, what the Bible says about itself is the first reason why we need to read it.
Of greatest importance, the Bible states that all Scripture is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, the Bible is God’s words written through man. That verse in Timothy is complemented by Paul’s writing, which discusses how the reception of God’s word is like receiving it directly from Him (1 Thessalonians 2:13). However, from the same verse, God reveals more by stating that His words are at work in us. Once again, Scripture verifies Scripture, Paul’s writings are complemented in the book of Hebrews that state God’s words are alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). Furthermore, in Isaiah, God reveals to us that His words are sent to accomplish what He pleases, and it will be successful in the thing for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11). In other words, the Bible is God speaking to us, to work in us, for His plan; another reason to read the Bible. However, the scope of God’s plan is what I found interesting. This is due to the fact that we are a part of it, suggesting a purpose for our creation.
Finding answers to questions about God’s plan and our creation are found in the book of Matthew from Jesus. Specifically, during an inquisition from the Pharisees, Jesus was questioned about which is the greatest commandment. In response, Jesus proclaimed that the greatest commandment is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37, NIV 1984). Jesus then proclaimed, this is the key, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40, NIV 1984). In these verses, God established that the Bible, His plan and our purpose are for a loving relationship between us, God and people. In essence, the Bible is a love letter from God; another reason to read the Bible. From this letter, we can grow greater in our understanding of how His love manifests. However, what is important for this blog, we can learn how to love God in return.
The revelation of the relationship above has led to what I found to be another reason why we need to read the Bible. From God’s side of the relationship, He has countlessly demonstrated His great love for us. The epitome of His love revealed in Jesus, the exact imprint of God (Hebrews 1:3). Moreover, if we seek carefully enough, we will find that God’s fingerprints are on every facet of our lives. It should be utter amazement to know how great and personal His love is for us. If that is unknown to you the reader, then that is another reason to read the Bible. However, what led to this blog was discontent with third party, Christ-centered resources and a neglected desire to read my Bible. What I have come to understand is that I was failing on my end of the relationship, the essential reason to read the Bible.
Failure is a consistent theme throughout the Bible. Specifically, we fail while God does not. That was the whole reason for Christ entering the world. He came to end the old and establish the new because we could not fulfill the Law of the Old Covenant. All the while, Jesus demonstrated God’s great love for us by paying for our sins on the cross. Nevertheless, keeping in mind that we were created for a relationship (see above), failing to read the Bible is a failure in reciprocating our love for the Father. Jesus teaches us this in the book of John. Specifically, in John 14, Jesus tells us that if we have His commandments (words) and keep them, we love Him (John 14:21). Again, if we keep His word, we love Him (John 14:23). Finally, God’s love and our relationship with Him is perfected if we keep His words (1 John 2:5). Since it is not God that fails in loving, but it is us, we need to read the Bible and receive His words. In doing so, His words work in us to reciprocate His love. Therefore, we need to read the Word.
There are several reasons why we need to read the Bible, and this article presented only a few. Nevertheless, the Bible is more than a text; it is the Living Word of God. These words that God gave us are meant to accomplish several things. This includes working in us to grow into a greater understanding of God and to grow into a greater relationship with God. In this relationship, God has already performed and will continue to perform His part. However, we need to perform ours. Therefore, in a word of encouragement, the essential reason for reading the Bible is to perfect a loving relationship with God (Jeremiah 29:11-13, Matthew 7:7-11, Matthew 6:33, James 4:8).