From a literary point of view, the Bible is an amazing book. Written by more than 40 authors over a period of sixteen hundred years, it is remarkably consistent from beginning to end. Most of the authors didn't know each other. Some were educated, some were illiterate; some were young, some were older; some were Jewish, some were Gentile; some were preachers, some were laypeople. It was quite a mixed bag of individuals who combined efforts to produce this "great work of literature."
Of course, as far as Christians are concerned, the Bible is more than just great literature. It is a book with the power to change your life--for better and forever. It is a book whose message is to be not just read, but lived. It contains the wisdom of the ages, and when you begin to apply the teachings of the Bible to your life, you will never be the same. The best advice anyone can take is to start reading the Bible regularly. It will benefit you in many ways.
Everyone who goes to church knows you're supposed to read the Bible. But the fact is, most church-going people don't. Why not? The excuses I hear are: "It's boring...I don't get anything out of it...I'm too busy...I don't understand it..." These are the kinds of statements that people who don't read the Bible make. It's funny that you never hear people say, "Yes. I read the Bible everyday. It's boring." People never say that, because once they start reading the Bible, they discover their preconceived ideas were all wrong. Yes, we're supposed to read the Bible--and there are many good reasons why you should read the Bible. Today we're going to talk about 5 good things that happen to you when you make reading the Bible a regular part of your life.
1. You Find Out What God Is Really Like
Is that important? Is it really important that we know what God is like? Absolutely! A.W. Tozer said, "What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."
Do we know who God is? There is an absence today of Theology Proper -- the study of God. This is not a new problem. The Jews were zealous for God but they didn't really know Him.
Romans 10:2-3 (NKJV) For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
They thought God was less righteous than he was and they thought that they were more righteous than they were. So they thought they had found common ground with God without a savior. It was disastrous for the Jews that they didn't know God.
We become an idolater when we assume that God is other than He is. We create our own God. We invent just what we want; a nice, soft, easy going God who tolerates our sin. We want a God we can in some measure control, and that is not the God of the Bible.
Psalms 50:21-23 (NKJV) These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes. 22 "Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver: 23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God."
The Bible tells us what God is really like--better than if you just listen to preachers. Some preachers give the impression that God is more concerned with saving whales than He is with saving souls. Others give the impression that God delights in punishing our sins. Others give the impression that God has a political agenda, not a spiritual agenda. If your concept of God is based solely upon what you've heard a preacher say, you have a limited idea of who He is. However, when you read the Bible, all the pieces of His character come together and present an accurate portrait.
C.H. Spurgeon said, "The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father."
Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know God.
The Bible teaches us that God is holy and being holy, he must punish sin. Since we all realize that we are sinners, that should really scare us if we don't understand that God is also a loving God. At Calvary God's love provided what his holiness demanded. God punished the Lord Jesus Christ for our sins on Calvary and now he is free to forgive us if we trust in Him. As we study the scriptures, we learn that God is a forgiving, gracious, and loving God.
Nehemiah 9:16-17 (NKJV) "But they and our fathers acted proudly, Hardened their necks, And did not heed Your commandments. 17 They refused to obey, And they were not mindful of Your wonders That You did among them. But they hardened their necks, And in their rebellion They appointed a leader To return to their bondage. But You are God, Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them.
Micah 7:18-19 (NKJV) Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. 19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.
Our God delights in mercy. He is a God ready to pardon those who seek His forgiveness. If you have been living in sin and want to get back into a right relationship with God but are not sure what God's response to you will be, look with me at one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible on God's forgiveness. When the prodigal son realized his sin and decided to go back to his father, notice what his father's response was:
Luke 15:20-24 (NKJV) "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 'And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry.
This is a beautiful picture of God's response to the repentant sinner. Our God delights in mercy.
If you could ask God anything in the world, what would it be? The overwhelming response to this question from those who were asked was, "How am I doing? Am I on the right track? Are you satisfied with me? Am I going to heaven?" These are good questions to ask--more people should be asking them! The good news is that we don't have to wonder where we stand with God. We can be sure. John wrote...
1 John 5:13 (NKJV) These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
How can we know that we have eternal life? Because the Bible is full of promises offering this assurance to those who believe.
John 3:16 (NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
All we know about God we learn from the Bible. There is no greater pursuit than to study our Bibles to learn about our God.
Not only do we learn about God from reading our bibles, we also:
2. Find Solutions To Problems
The Bible isn't just full of "begets," or "thou shalt nots." It is full of practical wisdom. It was written for people who live in the real world and face everyday challenges just like you and me--family problems, work problems, money problems, temptation, fear, anxiety and so on.
Psalms 119:105 (NKJV) Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
We live in a society full of sexual temptations. Every where you look you are exposed to sexual temptations. To our society, adultery and fornication are acceptable, but the Bible warns us of their danger.
Proverbs 6:23-32 (NKJV) For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life, 24 To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress. 25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids. 26 For by means of a harlot A man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. 27 Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared? 29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; Whoever touches her shall not be innocent. 30 People do not despise a thief If he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. 31 Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; He may have to give up all the substance of his house. 32 Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.
When we get a biblical perspective on adultery, we see the pain and destruction that it causes.
There are times in life when the choice between right and wrong may not always be so clear. There are times when the choice between good and best aren't clear, either. You need wisdom. You get it from reading the Bible.
For example, if a person is single, the Bible offers a great deal of wisdom about the kind of person you should marry. If you are self-employed, the Bible tells the kind of person you should do business with, and the kind of person you should avoid like the plague. The Bible instructs parents in the way to relate to their children, and shows friends how to treat friends. The Bible is full of wisdom on the subjects of parenting, finances, friendships, health, business, sex, marriage, spirituality, success--it covers all areas of life. That's why David said,
Psalms 19:7 (NKJV) ..... The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
As you read scripture day after day, you will be amazed at how often you receive plain and
unmistakably clear direction for problems and opportunities you face. It's not magic, it's
miraculous. God speaks to you through the Bible. The Bible has the power to change your life. It
will help you establish and maintain a life-long, life-changing connection with Jesus Christ.
3. Find Out What You're Doing Wrong
A college student was working as a janitor for a hospital. At night he would rush through his duties and then sneak into a storage room to study for 2 or 3 hours. He always got his work done, but the quality wasn't anything to brag about. One day as he was reading his bible, he read this verse:
Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV) And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
As he reflected on this verse, He realized he was cheating the hospital, and sinning against God.
How often have you been angry at someone for something that they have said or done to you? We know that it's wrong to hold grudges or bitterness toward someone but we forget how wrong it is until we read a passage like:
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV) Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
It's hard to continue to be bitter after a passage like that shows us how wrong it is. The Word of God will expose our sin.
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Some people hear that verse and think, "Oh great. That's all I need. I feel guilty enough as it is! Why would I want to read all about the sins that I've committed?" There's a good reason. The Bible doesn't just beat you up and make you feel guilty about sin. It shows you the way out....
4. It is the source of Spiritual renewal.
There's a story in the Old Testament where we see an example of this. The wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem had fallen into disrepair, bringing shame to the city and making it vulnerable to enemy attack. A Babylonian slave, named Nehemiah, organized the people of the city into work parties and together they rebuilt the wall in record time. As they completed their work, they realized something else: not only had the wall of their city fallen into disrepair, so had their lives. They had wandered from the truth, and left behind the God of their ancestors. People from all over the nation gathered together and asked Ezra to read from the law. He spent the entire morning reading from the Bible. When the Israelites heard the word of God, they turned their hearts toward him and committed themselves to live according to his law. This happens when the Bible is read--it is a source of spiritual renewal.
This is true in my own life. I became a Christian by reading the Bible. When I was 21 years old I became interested in spiritual things. Even though I had gone to church most of my life, I had no idea what it meant to be a Christian. My "theory" of salvation went like this: "Try to live a good life. When you die, God will weigh your good deeds against your bad, and which ever way the scales tip will determine where you spend eternity." I thought that being a Christian was like balancing a check book--if you were going to debit the account with bad behavior, you better make sure you deposit some good behavior before the check gets cashed!
Yes, the Bible reveals our sin to us, but it also shows us how to be forgiven. It doesn't make you
relive your guilt, it helps you relieve your guilt. It tells us how to find forgiveness, peace, joy,
happiness, contentment-all of the things that we are looking for.
5. Find Comfort During Times of Crisis
There are some problems that can't be solved; some situations just have to be endured. Like an illness, or the death of someone you love, or some kind of crisis. During these times, the words of the Bible provide comfort and assurance.
Prisoners of the war in Vietnam brought back stories of how they had pieced together all the verses of scripture they had learned as children to form a partial Bible. These verses helped some of them make it through those horrible years of imprisonment.
Passages such as John 14, Psalm 23, and Romans 8 offer comfort; you hear them at many funerals. But there are hundreds of other verses that contain words of encouragement and hope that we cling to during difficult times.
We can face tomorrow with confidence because we have God's assurance that he is in control of every aspect of our lives, and he is working all things together for our good. We can face life with optimism and joy. David said...
Psalms 19:8 (NKJV) The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.....
When you read the Bible, you find yourself overcome with a recurring sense of optimism that just won't go away. When you fill your mind each day with scripture, you are reminded that God loves you, God is in charge of your life, God takes care of you, God protects-- and you will not be able to suppress the joy that works its way into your life.
Reading the Bible is not like reading a novel or a history book. Something supernatural happens when we read scripture. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word. When we read the Bible, we are connecting with the eternal.