Why Is Reading the Bible an Important Part of the Christian Life?
- Sophia Bricker Contributing Writer
- 2021 16 Jul
In a 2019 study done on the amount of time Protestant Christians spent reading the Bible, only a third or 32% said they read the Bible every day (Aaron Earls, “Few Protestant Churchgoers Read the Bible Daily” Lifeway Research). This is a surprisingly low number considering the vast availability of the Bible in print and online across America and other western countries. While there are many Bibles available, there appear to be few people who desire to read Scripture regularly.
As many scholars and theologians have noted, the Western world has grown to look more like Pre-Reformation times in terms of people reading Scripture. In contrast to those in Pre-Reformation times who were unable to read the Bible and had no access to Scripture, people today have mass accessibility to God’s Word but are not taking advantage of this privilege.
Although many Christians may wrongly see Bible reading as a chore, Scripture is the only way a Christian will grow spiritually, hear from God, and know the truth about reality. Cutting off Scripture reading and study from one’s life is like refusing to water a new plant seedling. There will be no growth or noticeable fruit, only a dead, scorched plant. God’s Word is the refreshing rain that brings spiritual growth and flourishing.
Access to God’s Word Is a Blessing
Having access to the Bible is a privilege and a blessing. Many Christians around the world do not have access to Scripture. For instance, in China, there is very little access to the Bible, and it is even harder to find Scripture in rural areas (“Global Prayer Guide: China,” Voice of the Martyrs).
In such areas as these, Christians would love to have access to the Bible to read and study. These Christians recognize that being able to read the Bible is a great blessing and privilege. Because of lack of access to Scripture, many believers around the world actively memorize verses and passages to retain knowledge of God’s Word, storing it in their hearts as the Psalmist did (Psalm 119:11).
In addition, being able to read God’s Word is also a great blessing considering how long and hard many reformers worked to get the Bible into the languages of the common people. Men like William Tyndale and Jan Hus risked their lives based on the conviction that the Bible should be accessible to all. John Wycliffe was also declared a heretic after his death because of his assertion that the Bible should be available in the vernacular or ordinary language of the people.
A major tenant of the Reformation was “Sola Scriptura,” which is that Scripture alone is sufficient and authoritative for Christian life and practice apart from the hierarchical authority of the Roman Catholic Church and its emphasis on tradition. Thus, one can see why the reformers focused on translating the Bible into the common language and emphasized personal reading and study of the Bible.
Scripture Is Needed for Spiritual Growth
In addition to the fact that owning a Bible is a wonderful blessing and opportunity that many people historically did not have and many today still do not have, reading the Bible is essential to spiritual growth. Like human infants, who need nourishment to grow, so also do Christians of all levels of maturity need spiritual nourishment through the Word of God.
Scripture is often likened to food, such as meat or milk. As Peter says in his first epistle, “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness” (1 Peter 2:2-3, NLT).
To grow in spiritual maturity, Christians must move on to the “meatier” teachings found in Scripture, instead of staying with the infant milk diet of elementary truths (Hebrews 5:12).
God’s Word renews the mind of the believer, enabling them to grow in likeness to Christ (Romans 12:2). The Bible serves as a mirror, in that Christians can read the Bible, be doers of the Word, and experience spiritual growth (James 1:22-25). A person cannot experience such growth by prayer alone or listening to a sermon every week.
Only the Bible equips believers for good works (2 Timothy 3:17). Believers should seek to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” by reading, studying, meditating on, and memorizing Scripture (2 Peter 3:18).
God Speaks Through His Word
As well as producing spiritual growth, the Bible is also the final revelation of God. While people can know that God exists through the testimony of the created world (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:20), the only way people can know the Lord and hear from Him is through His Word.
The Bible is God-breathed and contains the real words of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Men did write down the words of Scripture, but they did so as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, thus making the Lord the ultimate author of the Bible (2 Peter 1:21).
Seeking to hear from God through any other source or means is foolish because the Bible is complete and sufficient. Waiting to audibly hear the Lord give direction or encouragement is unneeded because He is speaking in His Word.
People can hear from God by taking the time to read the Bible and study the inspired words of God. Being much more than a book, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV).
The Bible Reveals the Truth
Only in Scripture can people know who God is or what He is like. In the pages of the Bible, a person can learn that God is loving (1 John 4:16), good (Psalm 145:9), kind (Psalm 100:5), holy (Revelation 4:8), righteous (Psalm 145:17), and just (Psalm 89:14).
They will also learn that God is three persons in one, consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). By taking the time to read the Bible, a person would come to know and love God more deeply.
Only by reading the Bible can people understand the true state of reality. Despite what the world says, people are not inherently good but are evil and in need of salvation (Romans 3:23). Likewise, a person cannot learn about the good news of Jesus Christ apart from what has been revealed in the Bible.
A person would never know about Jesus’ saving work on the cross or His resurrection apart from the record of these events in Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Furthermore, without Scripture mankind would be ignorant of the wonderful gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
As pilgrims in the world, Christians need the continual intake of Scripture to keep their minds focused on eternal matters (2 Corinthians 4:18; Colossians 3:2). Sadly, only a “small minority of believers renew their minds on a consistent basis with the scriptures, and this means that the majority are more likely to be influenced by their culture than by their Creator” (Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image: Biblical, Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation).
Staying grounded in God’s Word enables the believer to equip themselves against the lies of the world and the schemes of Satan (Matthew 24:35; Ephesians 6:11). The Bible is the Sword of the Spirit that believers can yield against the enemy (Ephesians 6:17). However, the Sword of the Spirit will only be effective if every Christian chooses to pick up their sword and practice wielding it, which necessitates studying the Bible.
Read the Bible
Therefore, daily Bible reading is essential to the Christian life. Far from being a chore or legalistic practice, the study of Scripture is a great blessing to those who have the privilege of accessing the Scripture. Also, the Bible is vital to spiritual growth and maturity in the Christian life. A person cannot expect to grow apart from the life-giving words of the Bible.
Finally, people can only hear from God and learn the truth about reality by regularly reading God’s Word. Wondrously, the Almighty God of the Universe took the time to make Himself known through the Bible and His followers should want to take the time to read Scripture and allow His Word to transform their lives, minds, and hearts.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.