On the necessity of reading the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments...

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Thy words were found and I ate them... - Jeremiah 15:16

You accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. - 1Thessalonians 2:13

My dear children: Throughout much of our lives, we have read the Bible together. Why did we do that? Why should you do it on your own?

Reading the Bible plunges us into a spiritual bath...

It cleanses. It is the tool normally used by the Holy Spirit to show us our sin and bring us to repentance. God uses His word as a hammer to break us.

Reading the Bible builds our faith. Faith does not focus on itself. It looks to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As we look to His promises, His character, His warnings, our faith will grow.

Reading the Bible directs our prayers. It tells us how we should pray. Praise God for His character. Pray the entire Psalter. Plead with Him to fulfill His promises in our lives. Heed His warnings.

Reading the Bible reorients our lives. Our culture tells us to follow our dreams, to live for today, to please ourselves. The Bible tells us that we are not the center. God is. His plan is ultimate. We live for eternity.  

Reading the Bible matures us spiritually. We move from babes to children to adolescence to maturity. We live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. All of them. Don't just read your favorite parts.

Reading the Bible fills us with the word of Christ. To be filled with the Spirit of God is to be filled with the word of God. The two always go together. Both are commands of God.

Reading the Bible renews our mind. The world is trying to squeeze us into its mold. Only by meditating on what we read will we be able to escape worldliness.

Reading the Bible warms cold hearts and makes the warm heart even hotter. It will enliven our affections so that we love Jesus most of all.

Reading the Bible hardens our wills to obey Christ no matter the cost. Obedience takes determination and encouragement and endurance and the Scriptures provide it.

Reading the Bible fosters personal discipline. We live in an undisciplined age. The disciplined person will always stand out. There are many ways to learn discipline. Regular Bible reading is one important way.

Read the Bible on your own and as you form your own families. You will have to work hard to establish this as a pattern in your lives. If you do so, you will never regret it. Never. If you don't, you will suffer the consequences and wish you had. I guarantee it. Remember that God accepts you, not because you read the Scriptures every day (or perform some other pious act), but only in and through Jesus. He alone is our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. But don't let that glorious truth lessen your zeal to take God's word into your lives daily.

Just as each of us needs to stay on track with our Father in heaven, so families need the light of God's word every day. If a father has been harsh with his children or his wife, reading the Bible to his family will prick his conscience and shame him. If a wife has become aloof or bitter, hearing the Scriptures will reprove and correct her. If a child is growing hard-hearted to the things of God, hearing the word of God each day and the prayers of his father will help to melt his heart. Children born into a Christian home need to be converted. Family Bible reading could be the means of their conversions. It will be a means of grace in their lives. Martin Luther once wrote, “The Bible is alive—it has hands and grabs hold of me, it has feet and runs after me.”

The Bible is the word of God. It is not a book of magic where you pronounce the correct words of the incantation and the result automatically comes. The Scriptures need to be read in faith. Faith that it does not err or lead astray. Faith that it reveals God to us. Faith that it reveals God's true statements about everything we need to be saved and live a godly life. Faith that God will work through it according to His will. 

While I was growing up in the church, we used this saying that I never hear any more: "Either sin will keep you from this Book or this Book will keep you from sin."

David Wegener

David is an ordained Teaching Elder (Pastor) in the Central Indiana Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. Formerly serving in theological education in Africa with Mission to the World, he and his wife currently live in their hometown of Bloomington, IN.