Why Do We Read the Bible?

In Joshua 1:8 God speaking to Joshua says,

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Jos 1:8)

Joshua highlights one of the main reasons we are to read and meditate on the Bible — “so that [we] may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” As much as the Bible is an intellectual exercise, intellectual knowledge shouldn’t be the main reason we read the Bible.

Instead, one of the main reasons we are to read the Bible is so that we can live according to God’s will and bring Him glory.

Our Benefit

As you can see, there is a benefit in living according to God’s will. It allows us to be prosperous and successful. Apart from popular opinion, God is not out to punish us or to take the fun out of life. God wants us to flourish. He wants us to be successful. If we live according to God’s Word, more often than not that’s going to happen. Not necessarily in a health and wealth gospel type of way, but in a real biblical since we will be prosperous and successful.

Warning

But, I have to warn you, as you make reading, meditating, and seeking to live according to the Bible a practice in your life, you will find that: The Bible, at times, will provide the encouragement you need to keep doing what you are doing. However, at other times, you are going to find that the Bible will call you to think and live differently.

No Surprise – The Bible Will Disagree with Us

The Bible calling us to live and think differently shouldn’t be a surprise to us. When you study 2 Timothy 3, you learn that the Bible is useful for:

  • Teaching
  • Reproving
  • Correcting
  • Training in righteousness

When we come to the Bible, then, we should not only expect it to encourage and teach us, but we should also expect it to disagree with us from time to time. If you think about it, that has to be true — the Bible has to disagree with us if it’s going to teach, reprove, correct, and train us so that we mature in Christ and live as God would have us live. Honestly, if you find that God’s Word never disagrees with how you are living or thinking, you can be sure that you aren’t reading and applying it correctly.

Why Things Need to Change

The way we live and think must change because we are a people who have been deeply affected by sin. It has corrupted our mind so that we live and think in a way that’s unhelpful, that doesn’t produce human flourishing. So we need God to come in and correct and teach us so that we can live in a way that not only pleases and brings Him glory but also causes us to flourish as humans.

Question for Reflection

  1. How has the Bible disagreed with you this week?

Resources

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Post developed from my sermon What should we do with the Bible?

The What, How, and Why of Meditating on Scripture

Psalm 1:2 says,

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he mediates day and night.” (Ps.1:2)

Secular/Eastern Meditation

A couple of years ago, I watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love. The movie is about a lady trying to find herself. In the process, she travels to India, just like everyone who is trying to find themselves do. While she is there, she encounters a guy who tells her about one of his meditation experiences. One day, in particular, he had gone on the roof to meditate, and that day he was able to clear his mind in a way he hadn’t been able to do before. As result, the universe came rushing in and provided the insight he was seeking.

While that’s an Eastern and secular idea of meditation, that’s not what I’m encouraging.

Meditation in a Biblical Sense

Meditating in a biblical sense is much different than what’s commonly practiced in Eastern Religions, and even in our secular culture. By telling you to meditate on the Bible, I’m not encouraging you to hum in a monotone tone, with your legs crossed in an effort to completely clear your mind so that the universe can come rushing in. Instead, I’m encouraging you to do the exact opposite — to fill your mind with Scripture, to turn it over and over in your head in an effort to understand it and apply it to your life.

An Everyday Practice

Meditation is something we should practice each day after we get done reading the Bible, which means we aren’t to close the book, check the box on our reading plan, and never think about what we read again. Instead, we are to meditate on that day’s reading throughout the day.

I find the best way to begin meditating on a text is either to memorize it, put it in my own words, write a journal entry, or a blog post. Once I do one of those, I find I am able to think about my reading for the remainder of the day.

Why Meditate?

You might be wondering: Why do I need to do this? Isn’t reading God’s Word enough? Yes, reading God’s Word is a good practice. But the reason we are to take this extra step is so that we can come to a better understanding of how the Bible applies to our life so that we can better serve God by living accordingly.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you take the time to meditate on God’s Word?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What should we do with the Bible?

What is the Bible and What is it For? – Part 4

When I was in Middle School, we bought our first personal computer. I believe it was a Packard Bell. At the time I didn’t know much about computers. We had them at school and used them a little bit to play Oregon Trail, but I hadn’t taken a typing class or a class on how to use any of the programs yet.

I remember looking at the keyboard for the first time. I knew what the letters and numbers did. Delete and enter were self-explanatory, as was Caps Lock, but I had no idea what the other keys did, which meant they weren’t all that useful to me until I learned what they did and what they were for.

In a similar way, we may look at the Bible and ask: What is the Bible and what’s it for? Until we are able to answer that question, it is not going to be all that useful to us just like those other keys on the keyboard weren’t all that useful to me.

What is the Bible and What is it for?

(4) The Bible Can Tell Us How We, As the People of God, Can Live in God’s On-Going Story

As we immerse ourselves in Scripture our knowledge of ourselves and God will grow. In the process, we will be formed into the type of people God wants. That’s because, as Paul tells us in verses 16 and 17,

“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 complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Ti 3:16–17)

Now notice that Paul tells us it is “all scripture” that is inspired and profitable, which means we can’t just pick and choose to follow this text but not that one. Instead, we have to allow the whole Bible to influence how we live. When we do that, we will find that the Bible does a number of things.

  • It Teaches us
  • Reproves us
  • Corrects us
  • Trains us in righteousness.

First, It Teaches us 

By this, Paul means that the Bible is able to teach us about God, His plan, His Savior, as well as it teaches us about ourselves, our church, our family, and the world in which we live. The Bible teaches us about all those things and more. Which is why I said earlier that if we want to know who we are we must look to the Bible instead of within or to our culture. The Bible tells us who we are as it teaches us all these different things.

Second, It Reproves us  

It tells us if we have done, taught, or thought something wrong. As one commentator puts it,

“Scripture can show sinners their failures, clarify [their] mistakes, and lead them to a new sense of peace and wholeness.”

Third, It Corrects us  

The Bible doesn’t just point out what we have done wrong, it goes a step further and directs us to the behavior, thinking, or teaching that’s inline with God’s will.

Lastly, It Trains us in righteousness 

This phrase means that Scripture provides us with a system of teaching and discipline that develops Christian character so that over time we grow to be more like Christ.

The result of all this teaching, reproving, correcting, and training is that we are made complete or mature, and we are equipped for every good work. In other words, as we immerse ourselves in the Bible, and allow it to have influence over us, we will be taught how we are to live as God’s people within His story. So if we want to follow Jesus and live how He wants us to live, and we should if we are Christians, then must read His Word. By doing so, we will be taught how to live as God’s people within His story.

Conclusion

So that is what the Bible is and what it does:

  • It’s a unified story that points us to Jesus.
  • It tells us the real story of human history.
  • It is a divine human word through which God’s Word is revealed to us.
  • It tell us how we, as God’s people, can live in His ongoing story.

Since the Bible is and does all those things: It’s useful to us. It’s relevant. It’s a book worth spending our time and mental energy reading.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you turn to the Bible to determine how you can live in God’s ongoing story?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Bible and What Does it Tell Us?