Why You Should Read the Bible
‘BUT I have read the Bible,’ you may say. ‘As a child it was read to me, and we hear it discussed at religious services.’
However, is this sufficient?
Certainly it is a fine thing that the Bible was read to you when you were young. It indicates that your parents were endeavoring to heed the Scriptural injunction to impress God’s Word on the minds of their children. (Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4) But is what you listened to long ago sufficient to equip you to live a Christian life? Is not regular Bible reading also necessary?
For example, if your child were to ask you a question involving his conduct, would you be able to give him counsel based on the authoritative Word of God? Or would you be forced to tell him only what seemed to be right in your own eyes? And what about your personal decisions? Are they supported by the Scriptures? The inspired warning that ‘there is a way that seems upright before a man, but the ways of death are its end,’ impresses upon one the importance of relying on what God says in his Word.—Prov. 14:12; 3:5, 6.
Also in need of consideration is the Christian responsibility to share the good things in God’s Word with others. Are you equipped with the Bible knowledge necessary to do this? Jesus Christ himself emphasized the importance of this knowledge by saying: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
Is it not apparent, therefore, that to handle the Bible effectively you must read it regularly? Truths quickly slip from mind unless they are reviewed. Even regular attendance at religious services does not replace this need to read the Bible. The Christian apostle Paul showed this when writing concerning the Beroeans. “Now the [inhabitants of Beroea] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica,” Paul wrote, “for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.”—Acts 17:11.
Notice that the Beroeans ‘carefully examined the Scriptures daily,’ even in addition to attending religious services. This is the course recommended by the Bible. But what is the situation today?
A reporter who attended church in the northwestern United States noted that it is quite different. He said that few persons brought Bibles, but, instead, looked at the Bibles provided by the church, and then returned them after the service was over. The reporter asked: “Don’t they need to have the Bible at home? Is the Bible just for one hour on Sunday morning?”*
What do you think? Can the Bible guide a person’s life if he is unacquainted with its teachings? How can one be sure what decisions to make if he does not know what God’s requirements are? And what about one’s hope for the future? Can a person have confidence in the Bible promises of everlasting life if he has not read those promises? Furthermore, will he be able to give a reason for his hope and build hope in others by sharing the good news from the Bible with his fellowman if he has not studied it carefully?
Such questions come to mind when one reads the syndicated columnist Louis Cassels’ comments regarding certain churchgoers. “Sixty percent were unable to name the four Gospels,” he said. “Seventy-five percent could not identify Calvary as the place where Jesus was crucified. Some congregations might do better,” Cassels offered. “But not many. The vast majority of Americans today are Biblical illiterates. They simply have never read the book which they profess to regard as ‘the word of God.’”*
Despite this negligence, there is every reason why you should read the Bible. For it truly is the Word of God! “All Scripture is inspired of God,” an apostle of Jesus Christ assures.—2 Tim. 3:16.
Do you really believe this? If so, you will make Bible reading a daily habit. God’s Word will enable you to make right decisions. It will also strengthen your confidence in God’s promise of everlasting life under his righteous kingdom.—Matt. 6:9, 10.
However, for Bible reading to be of this benefit you must not read it as many persons do. Some look through the Bible to find proof for their religious beliefs instead of basing their belief on what they read. And others read the Bible, not so much to learn God’s will as to cover so many pages, that they may eventually say they have read it through.
But note how God encourages the reading of the Bible: “You must in an undertone read in it day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it.” (Josh. 1:8) Yes, while you read observe how it applies to your life. If you take care, thinking as you read and silently asking yourself questions, you will see how Bible incidents affect your own life. You will note whether you need to make adjustments in your attitude and actions so as to be pleasing to Almighty God.
The Bible was not written to be consulted as one does a dictionary, but was intended to be read. It is true that to prove their points on certain issues Jesus and his apostles gathered scriptures from various Bible books, thereby setting a proper precedent. However, at the same time, it is vital to read the Bible consecutively. This will serve to prevent you from wresting scriptures out of context.—Luke 24:27; Acts 17:2, 3.
What a rewarding treasure awaits you within the pages of the Bible! It is the finest reading there is! The divine wisdom found in its pages is “more precious than corals,” the wise Proverb writer wrote. In fact, “it is a tree of life to those taking hold of it.” Certainly, then, for your own welfare, you should read the Bible regularly.—Prov. 3:13-18.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 3, 1963.
San Mateo Times, April 15, 1961.