Recently, I was asked a very simple, yet very profound question.
Have you read the Bible?
It was a simple question with a simple answer. Either I have read it or I haven’t read it. My options are few: I could either answer “Yes, I have read it.” Or “No, I haven’t read it.”
Why is this such a big deal for me? Why was I so disturbed by this question?
I am a Christian. I was baptized for the remission of my sins at the age of 11. I am now 29 years old. I have attended worship services faithfully since that time, and actually, had been attending regularly my entire life up until that day, as well.
I go to church camp and vacation bible school every year. As a middle school child, I attended summer Bible school two or three times a week every year. I’ve been on mission trips. I teach Wednesday night Bible classes.
I have been able to read since about age 6 or 7, even if my comprehension of what I was reading didn’t fully develop until years later.
I say all that to say this: I have read the Bible, in part. The person asking me this question meant have I read the Bible entirely. I couldn’t answer with an honest “yes”. As evidenced above, I have had multiple opportunities to read and have read a large portion of the Bible. I’ve even committed much of it to memory. I’ve taught much of what I know to my children. But is that really enough?
I have no excuse to offer.
Ashamed as I may be to admit this, I have never willed myself to sit down and read God’s Word in its entirety, from cover to cover, at any time in my life.
I’d like to think I know a lot about the Bible. It is a divine book, inspired by God himself. It is perfection, fulfilling prophecy after prophecy. It is infallible truth that leads us to salvation if we do what it says. How can we know what it says if we don’t read it?
I have spoken to several brothers and sisters in Christ since being asked this question, and I have found, sadly, that I am not alone. The more I thought about it, the more discouraged I became. Some of the best people I know, some of the people I consider to be most knowledgable about the Bible, have never read it cover to cover. Like myself, many Christians have become o.k. with knowing “most” or “a lot” of the Bible. I am not talking about atheists, agnostics, or fallen away Christians. I am talking about devout, zealous, faithful Christians! Those of us who take the Great Commission seriously. Those of us who teach our children daily His precepts.
Christ himself asked the Pharisees this same question in Matthew 19:4. As usual, the Pharisees were trying to test our Lord, and at this point they were questioning him about marriage and divorce. They asked him ,”Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” Jesus responded to them with a question, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female and said ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?”
Have you not read..? He used Old Testament scripture that the Pharisees would not dispute. He expected them to have read the scriptures. He expects us to do the same, and more! These men were attempting to catch the Christ, the Messiah himself, in a mistake. We profess to be His followers, and have not even read as diligently as those who openly opposed Him.
In II Timothy 2:15 we are told to be diligent, and to rightly divide the word of truth.
As Christians, it is our privilege to open God’s Word. We are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. We are to love the lord our God with all our soul, mind and strength. Reading the Bible requires using our mind and strength.
Since being asked this question, I have set forth a plan to read the Bible all the way through by Thanksgiving. Just this week, I have gotten a good start. I have prayed, researched, and put into action a way to fully take in God’s word so that I can hide it in my heart. Below, I have attached a few links and ways I intend to effectively study God’s Word from now on.
- Read every day. This one is simple. I am using a New King James Version chronological study Bible right now. I’m developing a habit that I hope to keep forever.
- Read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I am not going to veer off into topical studies (which is how I usually study the Bible) until I have completed a comprehensive read through of the Bible. * This excludes readings for my women’s study group, the Digging Deep Bible Study (ladies, look it up on Facebook. Totally worth it.) I’m just not going to skip around with my daily Bible reading.
- Read with a purpose. Check this link out to get tips on how to get the most out of what you’re reading. (I found this link on the Red Boiling Springs Church of Christ Website.) Helpful Hints for Studying the Bible
- Read with someone else. This doesn’t mean you have to physically read with someone else every day (although this is always a good idea), but have someone else to hold you accountable. Have someone who asks you often if you’re reading, what you’re reading, how much progress you’ve made, etc.
Have complacency and low expectations become epidemic in the Lord’s Church? I fear the answer is yes. We cannot be okay with knowing “most of” or “a lot of” God’s word. We cannot accept that we know “enough”. We must raise awareness of this line of thinking and combat it, starting with ourselves.
I want to be “ready to give a defense” at all times to anyone who asks me a question about the Bible. What better way than to dive into his Word full throttle, leaving no page unturned, no verse unread, and no idea unconsidered? If the Lord grants me enough time, the next time someone asks me if I’ve ever read the whole Bible, I will be prepared to answer, without hesitation and with full joy, a resounding “Yes“. Won’t you join me?