Buying your first home is an exciting, scary adventure. Imagine this scenario: After all the negotiations and paperwork are finished, you finally move in. But after about a year, the doors start sticking, and you begin to feel drafts and notice cracks in the walls. Despite all your attempts to fix each new problem, you soon realize that the issue isn’t the walls and doors but the foundation.
This scenario no doubt is one many homeowners have lived through, but it’s also a metaphor for the Christian life. Over the years, many people have come to me seeking solutions for their problems. They usually want a quick fix, but their situations are often symptoms of a deeper problem: They’re trying to live the Christian life without the Bible.
We should never consider reading Scripture as optional. Along with prayer and worship, the Bible is a vital link between God and mankind. First of all, how would the church understand or teach about salvation without the knowledge of the gospel as recorded in the Bible? How would we learn to rightly relate to God and have fellowship with Him? No, He hasn’t left us on our own to figure out who He is and what He desires. Our relationship with God largely depends on our time with God’s words. It’s His inexhaustible resource to help us live an abundant, abiding life in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
All human beings live on one of three possible spiritual planes (1 Corinthians 2:14-16; 1 Corinthians 3:1). The natural person, or unbeliever, doesn’t accept what God has revealed and cannot understand the Bible. The carnal Christian is encumbered by sinful desires and grasps only the basics, but the spiritual person lives on the highest plane of understanding. This person is a Christian who prays and studies the Bible daily and therefore possesses greater knowledge and discernment.
Getting the Most out of Scripture
In order to live on this highest spiritual plane, we need to be in God’s Word consistently. The goal isn’t simply to check Scripture reading off a to-do list, nor is it an aimless or sporadic endeavor. What we need is a daily commitment over a lifetime so God’s Word can permeate every aspect of our life.
We come to an accurate knowledge of God by reading and studying what He has revealed about Himself, and trusting the Holy Spirit within us to confirm the truth.
Have the right objective. People read the Bible for a variety of reasons—intellectual curiosity, duty, personal satisfaction, encouragement, or help with a problem. However, the main objective should always be to know God, because the Scriptures are His self-revelation.
There are many people who say they believe in God, but if you asked them for further information, you’d discover their ideas aren’t supported by the Bible. Even Christians can have skewed conceptions of God, because it’s easier to believe what we want about Him or create our own false image of Him. But as Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” We don’t come to an accurate knowledge of God through our individual opinions or philosophies, but by reading and studying what He has revealed about Himself, and trusting the Holy Spirit within us to confirm the truth.
Have the right attitude. Bibles are so common today that we often lose sight of their value. However, consider what the Lord says about those who honor His revelation to us: “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isa. 66:2). The fact that the Creator of the universe, who is righteous and holy, has condescended to speak to mankind should fill us with awe and reverence.
We also need an attitude of faith. Skepticism is Satan’s oldest tactic to discredit God’s Word. “Indeed, has God said ... ?” were his first deceptive words to Eve (Gen. 3:1). When human reason causes us to question Scripture, we must remember that our limited perspective is no match for the truth of an all-knowing, eternal God. It’s always dangerous to become a critic of Scripture instead of letting it shape the thoughts and motives of our heart (Heb. 4:12-13).
We must remember that our limited perspective is no match for the truth of an all-knowing, eternal God.
Finally, we must approach the Bible with an attitude of obedience. Scriptural knowledge isn’t something we merely accumulate in our brain. God wants it to be worked out in our life through obedience to Him. In fact, if we are not obeying what we currently know, why would the Lord give us more insight?
See the Word of God as food to nourish and delight. When a person is deprived of food, the body wastes away, but the damage caused by spiritual malnutrition may not be as obvious. Christians who are insufficiently nourished are afflicted with all kinds of spiritual maladies. They are powerless to resist temptation, blind to error, helpless to overcome sin, ruled by their own desires, and unable to benefit from the heavenly Father’s loving discipline.
Peter tells believers to “long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). A rich intake of Scripture shapes our thinking, influences our attitudes and behavior, gives discernment, affirms our faith, empowers obedience, and increases our love for God and His Son.
Let the Word be a guiding light. This world can be a very dark place, yet as Christians, we are to “walk as children of Light” (Eph. 5:8). That’s why we need the Bible as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). It instructs us in holy living and truth so we will not fall prey to sin and deception. It’s good to seek advice from people—after all, the church is Jesus’ body, and the body needs all its parts to function. But we should always receive advice in the light of scriptural truth, discarding what clearly contradicts the Lord’s teachings.
God wants His Word to be a source of delight, and He is willing to help you gain understanding when you faithfully and humbly read it. This doesn’t mean that every time you open your Bible, you’ll experience profound enlightenment. But over time as more and more starts to fit together, you will gain a deeper knowledge of who God is and how He wants you to live. In many ways, the Bible is an acquired taste. The more you consume, the sweeter Scripture becomes until you can’t imagine going a day without it.
Photograph by Ryan Hayslip