For more than fifty years, brother V. E. Howard has asked repeatedly in his radio sermons, “Are you listening?” I would like to rephrase that questions lightly and ask similarly, “Are you reading?” How many of you have ever read the Bible through from cover to cover? How often do you read the Bible? Do you bring your Bible to class with you on Sundays and Wednesday nights? Have you noticed how few have their Bibles in these classes? If you have ever taught such a class and have made an effort to get the students in your class to bring their Bibles, you know how difficult this task is. I wonder how many of us in the church today are reading our Bibles outside of the church buildings.
I wonder how many of us read the Bible even when we prepare for class and how much we rely on supplemental material instead of the Bible even when we teach. I want to ask you, “Are you reading (the Bible)?”
The Bible must be read diligently by every member of the church. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Nothing threatens the church today more than Bible ignorance!
When we begin to rely on the writings of men (e.g. commentaries, workbooks, teacher’s guides, and other books) more than on the Book of God, we can easily be led astray. We need to be like the Bereans “in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Let us look at four reasons why we should read the Bible diligently.
1. It is our Owner’s Manual. Every product comes with an owner’s manual which tells how the product is to be used. God made man. God breathed into man and he became a living soul (Genesis. 2:7). God inspired (breathed into) a book, the Bible, which “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17). When we violate our owner’s manual (I John 3:4), we will cause problems for ourselves (Galatians6:7-8) and will ultimately be destroyed (Romans 6:23).
2. The Bible satisfies our hunger and provides for our spiritual health. Jesus stated, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). A person who gives attention to food for the body and neglects his soul has deprived himself of that which is most important. When a person is born again (John 3:5), he has a natural hunger for spiritual food (I Peter 2:2). The Bible promised that this natural hunger will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). As Irving Jensen stated,“Hunger is a sign of health. When we neglect the Bible, it is because we are not hungry for the things of God. Not being hungry, we cannot, therefore, be healthy, spiritually” (Enjoy Your Bible, p. 13).
3. The Bible is needed because of our responsibility to teach. Parents are supposed to teach their children about God and His Word (Ephesians 6:4;Deuteronomy 6:7). We cannot teach that which we do not know. Further, the faithful have the responsibility of teaching others “who shall be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2). In addition, we are responsible for teaching the lost what they must do to be saved (Matthew 28:19-20). To teach we must study the Bible ourselves (II Timothy 2:15).
4. The Bible is the Book by which we will be judged. We know in advance the standard of our judgment (John 12:48). Our eternal destiny will be determined by whether or not we have lived by that standard (II Corinthians5:10). We can prepare ourselves for judgment by reading the Bible and following its instructions.
The Bible is important to every child of God, “his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalms 1:2). The psalmist realized the importance of God’s Word. He wrote:
O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.… How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way (Psa.119:97-104).
Are you reading?