Like any other book, the Bible is a book with words that anyone can read and go away with something or not. However, the Bible is also not like any other book in the entire world, in that it is the very Word of God, for the authors of the Scriptures were carried along by God the Holy Spirit in writing the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). Theologians (Bible academicians) call this the two natures of the Bible, a human book and a divine book. Besides the black and red ink on white pages, this is also the living word of God to men. Thus, the Bible being a God-given book makes it to be a very important book, for in it the person and will of God is revealed. This is not meant to scare the reader, for this book has always been a source of eternal joy across all generations and ethnic boundaries. Its content has marvelled both a 5 year old child and a 90 year old man and left a blessing for both. This is indeed a peculiar book.
The importance of this book cannot be more emphasized in that it is the very word of God. If this fact cannot get your attention or orient you to read it and treasure it with on your heart, I do not think any other reason can be of help to you. This is not an article on the defence of the Bible and its source, but it carries with it an assumption that its reader must acknowledges and affirm that without any shadow of doubt, the Bible is the very word of God and from it God speaks to men. Therefore, in this brief article, I hope to show you two things that must be true of a person if he/she is to profit much from the Bible, and conclude by showing you the number one and endless goal of Bible reading.
Before going into the matter of the subject, a quick side note of the reality on the ground is helpful to ground the importance of the study at hand. Since confession is good healing for the soul, confession is needed here. It is sad but true, we do not read our Bibles as much as we should do and ought to do! Using plural terms sounds a bit comforting. The reality is that, I do not read my Bible as I ought to. Just like prayer, we will all agree that we do not pray as much as we ought to or want to, this is also true with Bible reading. Our struggle of following Bible reading plans or devotionals is pure evidence that this is a reality.
If the word of God is as Jeremiah says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16a), then the word of God is the most wonderful tool that must be read without any setbacks. Therefore, the Christian should not be handicapped or suffocated in their ability and desire to read it. And if Paul says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), then Scripture is most to be studied for its benefits are worthy and endless.
Two things that must be true
This section is not aiming to thoroughly exposit (deeply examine) the Scriptural passages that would be used, but rather we will look at the ideas being explicitly or implicitly stated from the given passages. The goal of this is to help us have a right attitude towards the Bible and a preparedness or readiness if we are to read our Bibles and profit much from it.
- There must be a hunger
Job 23:12, “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food”
Psalm 119:103, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth”
1 Peter 2:2. “Like new-born infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation”
In the above passages is one principle that must not be missed, and it is that the word of God which is contained in the entire Bible is something precious and totally desirable. It is something that should be sought after. That is to say that it gets the first priority and most excellent attention. This is not something strange though, for every genuine Christian has this experience. Remember when you firstly became a Christian; what was your attitude to the Bible? I know! The Bible was as sweet as honey to you; you loved it and desired to read more and more of it. Probably even some of your close friends begun to think that you might be going crazy. So this is not something strange or something known to the biblical writers only. However, if you do not know or you have never experienced this, you might not be a Christian in the first place. I would recommend you read both, ‘A biblical understanding of salvation’, https://gracetothenation.blog/2019/03/11/a-biblical-understanding-of-salvation/ and ‘What is the gospel’, https://gracetothenation.blog/2019/03/29/what-is-the-gospel/ by clicking the provided links.
O dear Christian, do not miss the point of this brief writing, is this desire and craving for God’s word true of you. Do you have a longing for it, a longing that cannot be satisfied by any other thing then God himself? Or have you grown cold and became mechanical to the point of reading the Bible with no emotion? O be careful, such emotionless leads to backsliding and to Christians who are not concerned about the things of God at all. Why do you think many do not know experientially about the goodness of God? It is simply because they do not have a desire for God to start with. My prayer then is that the Lord awakens us and transforms us to long for His precious word, so that we will know that His will is good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).
2. There must be a seriousness
Proverbs 2:4-5, “If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God”
Romans 11:33a, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God”
2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth”
In the above passages, the word of God is being compared or likened to something that is very valuable, hidden and hard to be obtained; it is something very deep, rich beyond comprehension and must be thoroughly examined. This is the other face of what the word of God is. As much as it is easy and it can be read by anyone who can read, it also contains deep truths that can only be obtained if one is to search them as if looking for hidden treasures. Not that there are hidden things in the Bible and one must search between the lines, but the reality is that it contains the vast revealed will of the incomprehensible God. The point that must not be missed here is that some form of seriousness of study is involved to be enriched by the Bible. The comparison cannot be avoided, and it is that of mining. Those who mine for silver and other precious treasures go to large extremes to obtain these treasures. Large amount of research, money and time are spent just to find one diamond. For these treasures do not just lie on the surface.
O dear Christian, the Bible contains deep riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. O do you think you will only obtain these rich precious truths by casually coming to the Bible and read it careless with your small mind? O be serious, for God requires that you know how to rightly divide/handle His word (2 Timothy 2:15). Long hours of study are sometimes needed, money to buy books is unavoidable, and relationships must be formed with others since you are not the only one with the Bible. Do you see the seriousness that is demanded? Are you wholeheartedly committed to knowing God and pursuing godliness with your whole heart? There is no a super Christian dear reader, but there is only a small and ordinary Christian with a big mind for God and His mission. That is what sets the difference between believers. There are those who are lazy and careless, but there are soldiers of Christ who only have one goal and that is to please their commander (2 Timothy 2:4). So which are you? Or do you think the Lord was joking when he said, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13; Deuteronomy 4:29; Proverbs 8:17). O be serious and arm yourself for study, and God will give the blessing.
However, this is not to say that it is out of one’s own strength and ability that one can know the Bible and all that is contained in it. That is not what I am saying. We need God to understand his will. The above emphasizes are the required human responsibilities, for we are active Christians and not passive Christians. Although, it is God who enlighten us to his truth (Ephesians 1:17-18), and through the Holy Spirit we are able to grow in the knowledge of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-13). We need God to understand his will. Thus, we need to read the Bible prayerfully. Our plea in reading the Bible must be like that of the Psalmist who says “open the eyes of my heart, that I may see Wonderful things in your law (Psalm 119:18). This was also Apostle Paul’s prayer for fellow believers (Ephesians 1:15 -18). Yet, I dare boldly say that you will only have this knowledge if you are a spiritual man, one who is born again. But even much more, if you are a spiritual man, these treasures are only yours if you are passionately and devotedly seeking for them. Paul is a classic example of this, read Philippians 3:7-16, you cannot miss the hunger and the seriousness in him.
Real ordinary historic examples
Looking back in history, there are great men that God used that many of us know. These are the likes of Martin Luther, Nakambale (Martin Rautanen), C. H Spurgeon and many more. Such men wrote wonderful books containing deep riches of the knowledge of God, and often we wonder what sort of miracle these men had. Besides their special gifting by God, these men were wholeheartedly devoted to God and his glory. These men were hungry for God and they were serious into finding out His revealed will. Their hearts and work can all well be summarized with William Carey’s words, they “expect[ed] great things from God; [thus they] attempt[ed] great things for God”. The knowledge of God did not come on a silver platter to them. But they spent all their days of their lives in the deep mine of God, searching, seeking and digging night and day for that precious silver.
O may we follow such example brethren, for the Scriptures highly exhort us to do so. Philippians 3:17, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us”. Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith”.
The goal of hungering and seriously reading and studying the Bible
There many goals or outcomes that one can get if they are to approach the Bible in this manner, but due to space and time, only one goal will be examined. To my judgment, this is the greatest goal! The goal is simply this; the Scriptures make us to know God. They birth the knowledge of God in one. It takes us from a general knowledge about God to a person knowing of God. This must only be so dear reader, for if the Scriptures purely contain the will of God, the will is not divorced from the person of God. This goal must be true because if God is to be known, it is only right that He reveals Himself to us who are nothing but creatures. God is unknown where the Scriptures are not found (Acts 17:23). The delighting and pursuit of God is the goal. Even our Lord himself has said that this is the goal of life he has given us, note when he said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). And those that know their God are those who will: 1) have great courage for God (Daniel 11:32); 2) have great thoughts or great minds of God (Colossians 1:9-13); 3) have great boldness for God (Acts 5:29, 20:24); and 4) have great contentment in God (Romans 8). Is this your goal? Or perhaps you have mistaken it with your own happiness and safety? God is the ultimate chief goal. And I hope and pray that, that is your goal and longing.
Do not only pick the good parts in the Bible, but read it as a whole from Genesis to Revelation. Shuffling along does not typically result in discovered treasures. Sometimes we have to dig. This is what produces deep passions for God, and even the digging becomes profitable and enjoyable knowing that this (the Bible) is the very Word of God taking me to God Himself. Let us keep our Bibles open and not give up until we discover His truths because we know that God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).