Four reasons to read the Bible
Because of what it says about God
God appears on the first line of the first page of the Bible. Ten times in the first chapter of Genesis you will read the words ‘God said’.
God is not only introduced as the creator of all things but as one who communicates by words. As soon as man and woman are made he speaks to them (Genesis 1.27-30).
One of the descriptive names of the Lord Jesus is ‘The Word’ (John 1.1). As God, he entered ‘our’ world to tell us more about the Father by his words, actions, his death and resurrection (Hebrews 1.2). His words were carefully recorded by his disciples (also known as Apostles) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and can be read in the New Testament.
In the first lines of the Old Testament we see God speaking and in the last lines of the New Testament we see the Lord Jesus speaking. He is making a promise to those who follow him. (Revelation 22.20).
We read the Bible to discover what God says about himself.
Because of what it says about itself
With phrases like ‘the Word of God’, ‘Thus says the Lord’ and ‘Jesus said’ the Bible makes astonishing claims.
The Apostle Peter, who insisted that followers of the Lord Jesus must be absolutely truthful (1 Peter 2.1), emphasised that he and his fellow disciples wrote only what they had heard Jesus say and do (2 Peter 1.16-18). He went on to explain that the Old Testament prophecies were from men and women moved by the Holy Spirit and so they spoke from God. (2 Peter 1.21).
From this we see that God first revealed his word to certain individuals (male and female), this was subsequently written down and preserved under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If God revealed his truth and inspired its written record, it follows that the teaching of the Bible has God’s authority and must be taken seriously.
We read the Bible to discover what God wants us to do.
Because of what it says about us
It’s human nature to want to know what is written about us whether in work appraisals, doctors’ records, or, if we are famous enough, the media.
The Bible says that God knew us even before we saw the light of day (Psalm 139.15-16). He knows the best and worst about us and loves and values us just the same (Luke 12.7).
Even the best (let alone the worst) about us does not qualify us to deserve his blessings or enjoy his company. Therefore the Bible teaches that death is tragic in more ways than one as we then face God’s appraisal (Hebrews 9.27). But it also shows how the death of Jesus Christ for wrongs he did not commit can bring forgiveness for all the wrongs we do commit (Hebrews 9.28). It explains how his resurrection can mean eternal life for us, now, as his Spirit comes in to live within us.
We read the Bible to understand how to live the new life that God has given us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because of what it says about the future
It’s also human nature to wonder what will happen in the future. What if I lose my job? What if I get seriously sick? What if I am left to cope on my own? What if…?
The Bible will not give precise answers to these questions, but it does assure us over and over again that if our faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ our future is safe in God’s hands. There will come a time when the Lord Jesus will return and put the world to right. It explains how God can use the things that go badly wrong in life to work for our good (Romans 8.28). It shows how death and suffering can never separate us from his love (Romans 8.38-39).
We read the Bible to be reminded regularly that the Lord Jesus Christ is still in control and he alone has the words of eternal life (John 6.68).
How to get started
If you are new to reading the Bible we recommend that you start with one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John). Read one page a day and before you read ask God to help you to understand what it means and how it can become a part of your life. If you have questions (and you almost certainly will) do email or phone us at St Andrew’s. From time to time we run an Alpha or Christianity Explored course that may help you.
For those who are not new to reading the Bible you may be interested to follow one of these links to find a daily Bible reading programme. Or why not join a Life Group and study the Bible together?
Bible study aids
There are many websites offering Bible study aids, but these are some of the best, which you may find helpful.
Bible Gateway is a comprehensive site offering the ability to view any passage of the Bible in almost any English translation you care to name, as well as many foreign language translations. It offers:-
- Passage lookup
- Daily readings
- Audio Bibles
- The Bible Gateway app (for Apple, Android or Kindle devices)
The ESV Bible
The English Standard Version (ESV) is a modern, but “essentially literal” translation which aims to keep as close as possible to the original Hebrew and Greek texts. As such, it is well suited to Bible study in depth. This site offers various additional study aids, including the ability to bookmark favourite passages and hear the Bible read aloud. Phone and tablet apps are available:-
Bible in a Year
The HTB Bible in a Year takes you day by day through the entire Bible in a year, with a passage from the Old Testament, one from the Psalms or Proverbs and one from the New Testament, together with a short, lively and challenging commentary by Nicky Gumbel (Alpha director). It takes about 15 minutes per day (or as long as you like) and, especially if you have never read the Bible from cover to cover before, it is an excellent guide and encouragement.
Produced by the Good Book Company, ‘Explore’ contains daily Bible readings with questions to help you engage with the Bible.
Bible Reading Fellowship
BRF has a long tradition of publishing Bible reading notes. They publish:-
in a variety of formats
SU have a wide range of guides and resources to help you engage with the Bible.