The Bible has stood the test of time. It has been tested and tried and has been found flawless. One would think that the world would be in better shape than what it is, since there are so many Bibles in print, but that is not the case. So, why do so many read the bible?
Some read the Bible just to be able to say they have read it. In the English departments at most universities, portions of the Bible are required reading, but merely as another piece and style of literature, but not as the Word Of God! A knowledge of the Bible is more valuable than all doctorate degrees combined. There is a big difference between the books that men makes and the Book that makes men.
Others read the Bible in order to fill out a workbook for Sunday or midweek bible study. In many cases very little is learned when the Bible is read from this motive. The important thing is not that you went through the Bible, but did the Bible go through you.
Some own a Bible as a status symbol. Politicians use the bible to write inspiring speeches and to appear moral and just before men. Lip service is given to the Bible as a good book to live by, but most discussions of it are of a shallow nature. Surely, there is a better reason for owning a Bible than this.
Some read the Bible for argument’s sake. Every person should want to be right about what the Bible teaches, but not for the sake of winning an argument. The mere desire to win an argument is motivated by pride. An haughty, arrogant spirit is condemned in the Scriptures. “Pride goes before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). Love is not arrogant (1 Cor. 13:4). It is possible to “win” an argument and still lose a soul.
Some read into the Bible what it actually never said. They may read it with prejudice, attempting to prove a theory. Some see salvation by faith only in John 3:16. But the idea of “only” is not there. Some read it to prove their faith, but not the faith of God (Rom 10:1-3).
There are those who read the Bible to get something out of it. It is an inexhaustible mine of treasure. It deals with the loftiest and most sublime questions that a man can raise – Where did I come from?, Why am I here?, and Where am I going? It answers the most serious question that could ever cross the mind of a human being, yet it deals with them in simple terms that all can understand. The Bible was not written merely for the critics and philosophers. It touches on a vast number of subjects and covers several thousand years of history, but it is brief when one considers the vast area of subjects with which it deals. When one reads with this attitude, he is sure to find in it a richly rewarding experience. Still, the Bible is the textbook of life, not merely a book of texts. One could quote the bible from cover to cover and still not gain eternal life (Mt 4:1-11).
The best motive for Bible reading is to get to someone – Christ. Concerning the Scriptures, Jesus said “They are they which testify of me” (Jn. 5:39). The Bible is history – His story. The Bereans were commended for they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). They were not reading the Scriptures just to say they had read it or to try to put something into it. Their interest was not merely in winning arguments or in status symbols, for “many of them believed.” Their interest was more than the curiosity of the Athenian philosophers. They, as the many believers today, regarded it as “the chart of life.” Other books are given for our information, but the Bible was given for our transformation. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Ps. 19:7). “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to your word” (Ps. 119:9).
Conclusion: The Bible is not only the world’s best seller, it is man’s best giver, for by obeying it gives us eternal life. However, no one is saved by buying a Bible he does not read, nor is one saved by reading a Bible he does not obey. Even if you read the bible, there is more than a good chance that you will not fully understand it. Many scholars have read the bible but they fail to comprehend what they have read. All who read the bible need to read understanding the basic bible principles which govern it. The Eunuch read the bible, but he needed help to understand it. Philip’s preaching opened up his understanding when he preached unto him the gospel of Christ (Acts 8:30-35).
What are those basic principles you will need to understand the bible? First, you need to know that the old testament is for your learning and not your obedience (Rom 15:4 f; Jn 5:39). This is called rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). Secondly, you will need to know that the prophesying, speaking in tongues, miracles of the apostles, and knowledge from on high ended after the completion of the New Testament (1 Cor 13:8-10). Thirdly, you need to know that all scripture is given not by the will of man but by God Almighty (2 Tim 3:16,17 f; 1 Pet 1:21). Lastly, you need to know that no one is allowed to add to or take from God’s Word (1 Cor 4:6).
Remember this, God can and will harden the hearts of any man who loves not His Word. Therefore, read the bible sincerely, desiring eternal life (2 Thess 2:10-12). God will hide the understanding of the bible from the wise and prudent and reveal it to the simple (Mt. 11:25.26). Therefore, with the right attitude and the basic principles, one will understand that the law of Moses ended with Jesus’ death on the cross (Col 2:12-16 f; Rom 10:4) They will understand they have to obey the gospel and continue in the apostles doctrine (Mk 16:16 ff; Acts 2:37-47; 2 Jn 9). Then, and only then will reading the bible prosper you anything!