The Bible is an intimidating book. The size of the book and its language add to its already very intimidating nature as a religious text. So, it is no wonder many, even for those who have been Christians for a long while, ask: “How should I read the Bible?”
Most ask this question looking for a daily Bible reading plan. Or if reading the Bible for the first time, they may be looking for advice on which books of the Bible to read first. All are very good questions and very important ones. But I want to focus on an aspect of this question many people, Christians especially, often overlook.
How should you read the Bible? My answer: slowly and prayerfully. Why? Because it is the Word of God.
Realize the Bible is not simply a collection of books written by men. It is this, but it is so much more than this. The pen was in the hand of man. Men wrote every letter of every line of every book. But every man was led by one God (2 Peter 1:21). God spoke perfectly through the various authors of scripture to speak to His people throughout all time, even to this present moment. This is how God has chosen to speak to us. Every word of the Bible is the Word of God to us.
This should cause us to marvel. What unconquerable love has been poured out in the making of the Bible. Many have given everything — including their lives — to bring this message from God to the people. But none so much as God’s own Son, the one we know as the Word of God. Through His birth, His preaching, His miracles, His death and His resurrection, He brought the message of the Lord to us.
We were made for God. But mankind rebelled, and we still do today. Every man, woman, and child that has ever lived is a sinner by nature. By our evil actions and evil thoughts, we have forfeited our lives to punishment. You see, since we are made for God to live for Him in love and service, how great a crime against our Creator is it that we live for ourselves. But mankind has, and our wage — for we have earned it — is punishment in hell. An eternal punishment for an eternal crime.
But it does not have to be this way. This is the message of Christ Jesus. Repent of sin, which means turn from the wrongs you do, every one of them. Confess to God you have gone your own way.
Then, ask Jesus for forgiveness of those sins. Ask Him to save you through His actions not yours. And trust in this, if you do, He will. Will you today do this? Will you be saved today and not fear what is on the other side of the grave?
This fact is the most precious bit of knowledge that has ever blessed the minds of mankind. Do you not think we should read our Bible carefully? For every word means the difference between life or death, nearness to God or eternal separation.
And lastly, read the Bible prayerfully. We cannot hope to understand so sweet a thing on our own. Pray to God to draw near as you read. Ask the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that led the authors, to lead you.
This is how to read your Bible. I hope this was a help to you today.
(Jeremy Breland is a farmer in Ruffin and a M.Div. student at Southern Seminary. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)