WHY READ THE BIBLE?

© Rosemary Bardsley 2020

In this brief article we look at -

The nature of God
The nature of humans
The nature of the Bible
The purpose of reading and studying the Bible.

 

BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF GOD

Generally, all people have presuppositions about God.

Atheism: that there is no such thing as ‘the supernatural’, therefore God does not exist.
Agnosticism: that there may be such a thing as ‘the supernatural’, but it is impossible to know anything about it.
Romanticism: ‘God’ is defined by human imagination and limited by human understanding.
Postmodernism: essentially atheistic, assumes that there is no such thing as ‘truth’ so you don’t even look for it. All ‘truth’ claims are nothing more than human opinion.

Each of these is subjective and changing, dependent on human perception and relative to human perception. Ultimately, they produce meaningless and despair, because ultimately they destroy the significance not only of ‘God’ but also of being ‘human’.

But there is another option:

Christian theism: there is an infinite, personal, triune God who is there, and who has spoken.

This fifth option, alone, is objective and unchanging. It generates meaningfulness, confidence and joy. In allowing God to define himself, it also establishes the definition and significance of being ‘human’.

So as Christians we read and study the Bible because we know that in the Bible, and only in the Bible, we have a clear, unmistakeable, written revelation of God. The agnostics are correct as far as they go – it is impossible for us to know God.

God is beyond us. He is not within the grasp of our minds. (Isaiah 40:12 – 31)
We cannot, of ourselves, fathom the mystery of God. (1Corinthians 2:7)
We do not automatically understand God. (Isaiah 55:8; Romans 11:33 – 36)

But, that is not all there is. God is a self-revealing God, a God who is not only there, but has also made himself known.

 

BECAUSE OF HUMAN NATURE

There are several things about humans that make it difficult for us to know and understand God.

We are creatures. God is so much greater than us, so much greater that our finite minds find it difficult to understand him. He is outside of the categories by which we measure and interpret reality. (Isaiah 40 and 55 remind us of this vast difference between us and God.)

We are sinners. In our rejection of the true God and rebellion against the true God, we have deceived ourselves, into redefining ‘god’ on our own terms, and within the limits of our understanding. As sinners, we do not want a God who is infinite and authoritative, we do not want a God to whom we are accountable, and who identifies as the Judge of all the earth. In our rebellion we have created gods in our own image, gods we can manipulate, gods we can manage.

There is an enemy. From Genesis 3 Satan, the deceiver, the destroyer, and accuser, has been actively blinding our minds to prevent us from seeing the truth about God.

But there is for the Christian one saving fact – God is for us, God is with us, God indwells us by his Spirit. What is otherwise impossible, is possible for those reunited to God in Christ. That which is unknowable, is knowable. That which has for ages been a hidden mystery, is now visible and understood. (Read 1Corinthians 2:6 – 16; 2Corinthians 4:4 – 6)

 

BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE BIBLE

When we read and study the Bible we do so knowing that these words are the words of God. This is God’s self-revelation to humans. Here we are reading and studying what God has said – about himself, about the world, about humans, about his relationship with the world and with humans. Importantly, it tells us of God’s plan and purpose to send his eternal Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to reconcile human sinners to himself, to re-establish peace between himself and humans. The Old Testament speaks of Jesus Christ in anticipation. The New Testament reports and reflects upon his coming.

We read and study the whole Bible because:

It is cohesive – its focus on Jesus Christ gives unity and consistency to the whole. It contains the one message from the one God.

It is trustworthy – because it comes from God (2Timothy 3:16; 2Peter 1:20, 21).

It is effective – it is living and active, penetrating the depths of our souls (Hebrews 4:12) exposing our need of Christ; it leads us to Christ and the salvation he has obtained for us, and in doing so, it sets us free (John 8:32); it protects us against the evil one (Ephesians 6:9 – 17).

It is authoritative – it tells us what to believe and what not to believe; it tells us how to live and how not to live (2Timothy 3:16).

 

THE PURPOSE AND GOAL OF BIBLE STUDY

When we read and study the Bible there are several reasons that are not valid. These include -

Reading the Bible to demonstrate our own piety or confirm how ‘spiritual’ we are. How much we read the Bible is not a gauge of our spiritual temperature.
Reading the Bible because we hope we will ‘have a good day’ because we read it.
Reading the Bible as a ‘lucky dip’ for guidance in personal life decisions.
Reading the Bible to keep God happy with us.

Rather, we read and study the Bible because –

We are searching for truth. God is so wonderful, and so significant, that we want to know all that we can about him. We want to know him better. We are so impacted by him – his majesty, his power, his love, his amazing redeeming grace, that we want to gaze and gaze on him, more and more and more.

We love him. Our search to discover more and more about him is the expression of the new, eternal relationship we have with him through his Son, Jesus Christ. Because he loves us and we love him, our desire is to please him, to live for his glory, so we read his word, we hear his voice in the Scriptures, and seek to believe, understand, trust and obey all that he has spoken and recorded there.

To reject and despise his word is to despise and dishonour him, a reflection of rebellion and hardness of heart. (Read Romans 1:18 – 32)

 

THE EXAMPLE OF THE PSALMS

Read these Psalms –

Psalm 1 – for the importance of grounding our life on the written word of God.

Psalm 119 – for an example of a heart totally in love with, and committed to, the word of God. (Make notes of all it says about the word of God.)