Why Do We Read The Bible? Part 2

*An introduction as well as Reasons 1-5 are found in October’s Newsletter.  (note: both October and November Gracelets  are based on a series of messages available at www.gcmfm.com that began on Wednesday, Oct. 1st).*

Reason 6—We Read The Bible Because It’s The Source Of Faith (Romans 10:17)…My wife has roots in West Palm Beach.  We travel there once or twice a year to visit some sites and to have lunch at a landmark sub shop.  We love the sandwiches so much that we not only eat there but we bring home lunch (and/or dinner!) for the next two days after we get home!  A couple of years ago after a trek to the east coast I took one of these culinary delights to work with me.  A fellow coworker saw the bread, baked to a beautiful golden brown with just a touch of sugary sweetness; the fresh sliced ham, salami and provolone cheese; the crisp vibrant green lettuce and ripe red tomatoes; and a side of oil just to top it off to perfection!  In between bites I could see the envy in her eyes!  She asked me “what Subway in town did you get that from?!”  I put down my sandwich for just a moment to tell her that no Subway shop had that kind of quality on a sandwich.  I proudly went on to say “you can’t get this around here” and let her know that it came from a specialty shop in West Palm Beach…You see, if you want something, you’ve got to know where it comes from, you’ve got to know the source.  Every Christian I know, in fact some non-Christians I know, will say that they want more faith.  They will do all sorts of things, some of them quite strange, in an effort to get more faith.  However, Scripture is very clear, genuine faith doesn’t come from sitting cross legged on the floor and humming in the key of screech, or from closing one’s eyes so hard their retinas pop out, or from any other sensational kind of activity.  The only true source of genuine faith is to be found in the pages of the Bible.  (Romans 10:17—Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.)  Do you want more genuine faith?  Then read the Word of God!

Reason 7—We Read The Bible Because There Will Be A Test (Deuteronomy 13:1-4) …I have spent many years in education.  I have never been one to give pop tests; my students usually know at least one week in advance when the exam will be, what format it will take, and what material will be covered.  Still, it never ceases to amaze me how few students put in any study time and are caught off guard when the test is passed out…Moses told the Israelites that false prophets would arise to lead them astray from the true and living God.  He clearly instructed them that any prophet who prophesied events that did not take place was not to be believed or feared and should be marked as false and punished.  (I won’t tell you the punishment, but let’s just say there were rocks involved!)  The great deliverer went on to tell the people that even if what a professed prophet said did take place or if he performed some great feat of power, he was still not to be followed if his teaching in any way led them astray from the clear and distinct word of God.  Deuteronomy 13:3 clearly states that such false prophets would be a test to see if the people knew the Word of God and loved the God of the Word.  Still, even with Moses’ notification of the upcoming tests, Israel more often than not failed to study and fell into the lairs of the liars…Fast forward to the New Testament and you will find Jesus warning His disciples that false Christs would come in future years (even performing great miracles) and Paul declaring that there would be a day when people would not endure sound doctrine but would go after false teachers who would tickle their ears making them feel good about themselves on the broad road to destruction (Matt. 24:23-25; 2 Tim. 4:3).  Yet, even with these written admonitions in Scripture, there have been many professing believers over the centuries who have failed the test and gone after false Christs and false teachers, and the results are truly devastating…All this being said, let’s not judge my pupils, Israel, or the New Testament readers of Jesus and Paul too harshly.  In our present day, with Bibles aplenty, how many of us find ourselves not preparing for the tests—though we have been told with certainty that they will come?  All of the exams of our spiritual lives are open book!  There will be a test!  Do you want to pass?  Then read the Word of God!

Reason 8—We Read The Bible Because We Will Be Blessed (Revelation 1:1-3)…God graciously saved me at the ripe old age of 13!  I say “old age of 13” because I had been in church since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and had undoubtedly heard the gospel many times before believing it.  If you had asked people if I was saved, they probably would have said yes.  I was a well behaved kid and tried to do what I knew and was taught were the right things to do.  However, it wasn’t until the beginning of my teenage years that I truly became convinced of my sinfulness under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and knew that I must repent and put faith in Christ, the only Savior.  It was another couple of years before I started to study the Bible intently and personally.  No one told me that I should begin in John’s gospel, so I started in Genesis.  Some things I understood, most passages seemed over my head.  I was relieved when I eventually got to the New Testament and the more familiar passages from the gospels and epistles.  Finally, I hit the book of Revelation.  And I do mean “hit” the book of Revelation.  I began reading about bowls and plagues and dragons and judgments and scrolls.  My mind was racing but my heart was racing even faster.  Many times I turned away from finishing Revelation and went back to the gospel of John for comfort (and understanding).  Then one day I paid closer attention to the first three verses of chapter 1 where the promise is given that we will be blessed if we read (and heed) the book of Revelation. It was then that I made the commitment to read the entire 22 chapters and learned something about Bible reading in general.  Being blessed shouldn’t be the main reason why we read Scripture, but it is an undeniable truth.  We are blessed when we read God’s Word, even the passages we don’t currently understand.  As surely as a parent knows that their child will be bettered for obeying their instructions even though the child may be unaware of the benefits, as surely as a person may not understand all the biological processes involved in converting food into energy yet keeps being built up by eating, God’s children are blessed when we obey our Heavenly Father and feed our souls on the living bread of His Word!  Want to be blessed?  Then read the Word of God!

Reason 9—We Read The Bible Because There Is Nowhere Else To Go (John 6:66-68)…The content of Scripture is inspired, but the chapter and verse designations were created by man to make it easier to reference passages in the Bible.  That being said, I believe verse 66 of chapter 6 in the gospel of John has providential numbering.  The beginning of the chapter records Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed the five thousand.  This is followed by the account of the Lord walking on the water.  Powerful miracles that should make anyone believe.  (And of course Jesus had done many more!)  Then He begins to speak.  Among His teachings He told the people that “I am the bread of life…that came down  out of heaven!”; one of the 7 “I AM” statements found in the gospel of John in which Jesus clearly proclaims that He is God!  As if claiming to be God wasn’t “bad” enough, He went on to tell the people that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life!  What was the people’s response to His sermon?  The 66th verse of the 6th chapter sorrowfully records that “as a result of this many of His disciples (nearly all) withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.”  How sad!  How tragic!  They had the world’s greatest miracle worker, the world’s greatest preacher, the world’s only sinless man before them and yet they turned away (perhaps a message of conviction and encouragement is to be found here for preachers of all times)…Had Jesus been a false teacher, He would have changed His message totally and immediately to appeal to the selfish motives of the masses.  Had He been overly sensitive (as even true preachers can be at times) He might not have changed the message but would have found a way to quickly qualify His preaching in some less offensive terms.  But Jesus was not false nor overly sensitive.  Instead of any of these expected responses, Christ turned to the disciples that remained and basically asked, “are you going to leave too?”  Peter, who was known to fluctuate between brilliance and obtuseness, had one of his better moments here as he answers Jesus’ question by saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You (alone) have words of eternal life.”  There may be times when we don’t understand Scripture.  I understand the lack of understanding those who left Jesus had at His Words.  There may be times when we don’t like the Scripture that we do understand.  If you’ve never read a passage of the Bible and had your carnal mind revolt at its teaching, then I dare say you need to read your Bible closer.  Our minds are crooked and when God’s Word comes to straighten them out there can be pain in the process.  Still, understand it or not, like it or not, there is only one place to look for the words of eternal life—and that’s in the pages of your Bible!  Why do we read the Word of God?  Because there is nowhere else to go for eternal life!

Reason 10—We Read The Bible Because God Tells Us To (2 Timothy 2:15)…Okay, if you’ve read the newsletters on Why Do We Pray? and Why Do We Go To Church?, then this last reason comes as no surprise to you.  Predictable?  Perhaps.  But I truly believe that there is no higher reason to do or be anything in the Christian life than simply because God tells us to.  2 Timothy 2:15 instructs us to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  (For those who’ve ever been curious about the origins of the AWANA program for youth, here it is—A Workman Approved Not Ashamed.)  If God Himself has commanded us to study His Word, then we ought to be obedient to do so.  Let me put it in a way that may stand out a little more.  If we neglect the reading of God’s Word, then we are being disobedient and can expect the discipline of a loving Heavenly Father (if we are indeed His children).  Want to be obedient unto God?  The read the Word of God!