Early on in my Christian walk, I considered whether or not I should actually read the whole Bible. I found many different answers to this question.
In typical “Saved for Later” style, I researched these answers. This week, I wanted to share with you what I learned.
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One of the most surprising things I had discovered was how rare it actually was for a Christian to have read the whole Bible.
What was even more surprising was the excuses I got for not reading it:
- We can learn the Bible from other Christians or from just attending a good church.
- I never read the “whole” Bible, but I’ve memorized lots of verses.
- I speak to God every day when I pray.
- We really only need to read the New Testament now.
- The Bible is there for moral guidance, but I consider myself a good person.
- I’ve started many Bible-reading plans, but never finish.
- Who has the time?
- I can’t understand the Bible.
All of these (and other) excuses can fit neatly into 3 categories:
- Our misunderstandings about the Bible keep us away.
- We want to read the Bible, but don’t prioritize it.
- We are too lazy to read the Bible.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
The ‘laziness’ excuse.
From one new-adult believer to another, let me speak frankly. If we have been saved, then we have been called out; set apart. We now can no longer get by on the world’s lies that we tried to get by on all of our lives.
We must move forward under the power of the truth of which we are now aware. Hiding from it is no longer an option. From now on, the excuses we make, we make to God. God is not interested in our excuses. He wants us.From now on, the excuses we make, we make to God. God is not interested in our excuses. He wants us.Click To Tweet
Our misunderstandings about the Bible keep us away.
Often, we feel we have good reason to avoid reading the Bible.
- The Bible was written at a different time and no longer applies.
- The Bible was written by men and is full of contradictions.
- Some parts of the Bible are unimportant.
Satan doesn’t mind if we are Christians, so long as we never read God’s Word and only show up for church occasionally to share our biblical misunderstandings with one another.
What would be even better (for Satan) is if we think we know the Bible because we take the word of others as authoritative and just call it good.
The misconceptions above – and many others like them – only serve as viable excuses to anyone who has never actually read the Bible.
Hence, we have the danger of not reading it.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Another danger of not reading the Bible is having that vacuum filled by people telling you (often incorrectly) what the Bible says. Invariably, you will only be offered that person’s agenda or theology by way of the choice Scriptures this person serves up to you.
A great many people have earned a great many dollars explaining to people how they can become wealthy if they pray for wealth. That Jesus was a just a really good dude. And that they can be healed of their ailments (every Saturday evening from 5-6 pm) if they attend a particular sermon and “give generously.”
So many of these lies could easily be dispelled with a thorough knowledge of God’s Word.
It is worth noting that an entire industry exists simply because people do not read the Bible. It is called the self-help industry. The shelves are bursting with books on The law of this, or The science of that. Or How to tap into such-and-such power.
All self-help books can have the same title; How to succeed in life without God.All self-help books can have the same title; How to succeed in life without God.Click To Tweet
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible is life’s user’s manual; life’s how-to book. The steps, case studies, touchstones, milestones, instructions, and maps (both figurative and literal) are all there.
We want to read the Bible, but don’t prioritize it.
We want to read the Bible, but there never seems to be time. We start reading plans but never finish them. We have to be here or have the kids there. We work too many hours and just want to veg out and watch some TV at night.
I am not here to preach to you that there are no legitimate reasons why you may not be able to read the Bible on a given day. But every day? Ahem…here comes the sermon.
Here are the small mental steps that I went through:
- Do I believe in God?
- Do I believe in Jesus?
- Without fully understanding the Bible, do I at least believe God is speaking to me from somewhere in there?
- Is there a good reason why I do not want to know what God is saying to me?
- Is what God is saying to me more important than the news, or sports, or sitcoms, or crime dramas, or social media, or whatever I fill my evenings with?
Okay, okay. Breathe deep.
It’s okay. It’s okay. Shhh. I’m right here.
I am not saying to give up TV or the Internet. I only mean to suggest that you take some of the time (not all of it) that you spend doing those other things, and share some with God. I’m just saying.
Trust me, there are evenings and even entire days off, where I just need to veg. That is okay. Just not every evening or every day off.
Let’s try an exercise for perspective.
You will need a Bible that you are able to understand (i.e. a version that is understandable for you) in a medium that you are comfortable with (i.e. printed book, on your computer, tablet or phone, or an audiobook). Take all the time you need to get what you need. But it should take no more than a day.
Next; read or listen to (the equivalent of) 13 pages. I want you to time yourself doing this. Don’t race; read like you normally read. By ‘pages,’ I’m referring to a whole page that is not broken up by study notes, pictures, or bolded quotes floating in mid-page.
Lastly, plan this much time reading the Bible each time you set out to do it. This is how much time you’ll need to budget.
Let’s say it’s a half hour (or 45 minutes, or whatever). You then need to plan to get up a half hour early to read the Bible before you start your day. (And plan to go to bed a half hour earlier if the sleep is necessary.)
Or, you need to plan a half hour during your lunch hour.
Or, you need to plan a half hour before you turn on the TV, or before you eat if you watch TV while you eat.
Or a half hour before you go to bed.
Here is what you have done.
If you notch 13 pages per day, you will have the Bible read in just 90 days. Seem doable? Don’t want to read every day?
Only want to read 5 days a week? That makes it about 120 days.
With 6 pages per day, you can check the Bible off your list in just 6 months.
3 pages per day? That’s only a year.
The trick is to be flexible. If you get behind, abandon your timetable. It isn’t important. What is important is that you read it. All of it. It is the Word of God. It is His special revelation to us.
All it takes is the decision to do it and the conviction to stick with it.
You have to be fair with yourself and realize that parts of it will be tedious. But even though you may not understand them yet (that comes later), those parts are important too.
Therefore, if we are ready to face the fact that we either believe in God or are getting close to believing in God. If we believe in God’s power and His unlimited capabilities. If we believe that God is responsible for the Bible being written the way that He saw fit…
Then why on earth would we not want to read it? All of it. Why would God not want us to read all of it?
Why would God’s only written form of communication with mankind, that was put here for all mankind, for all time, only need to be partially read? Or not read at all? We should read it.
So let’s get started.
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Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.