©FOUNDATION Magazine, Mar-Apr 2000
Why Read the Bible?
Shall We Send It Back
A lad of seven years took the Bible one day from the library table in his home and
asked, "Is this God's Book, Mother?" "Certainly It is," was
her reply. "Well," continued the lad, "don't you think we might
as well send It back to God? We don't use It here, do we?" This incident
may cause us to smile, but it reveals a sad and vital lack of reading the Bible.
Whatever may be one's views of the Bible, there are many sound reasons for
reading It. We need to read It because It is:
The Book of Life
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the
mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). When we try to "live by bread alone,"
we feed the body but starve the soul. A short time ago a man died of starvation
in Olympia, Washington. After his death it was discovered that he had $38,000 on
deposit in local banks. He never referred to his money, even when physicians
were seeking to check the ravages of malnutrition. He let his body starve with
plenty on hand to feed him. Maybe you, my reader, are letting your soul starve,
although the Word of God is at hand to provide you with life-giving spiritual
food. John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, said, "For
years I have read my Bible through once a year. I read It every morning, as the
very best way to begin the day."
Perhaps you think you have not time to read the Bible every day. A man once made this
excuse to D. L. Moody. He answered, "My friend, if you are too busy to read
the Bible every day you are busier than Almighty God ever intended any human
being should be, and you had better let some things go and take time to read the
Bible." With almost every kind of machine goes a book of instructions. The
Bible is the Book that goes with man. Think of it-having sixteen waking hours
every day to travel the highway of life, and no time to read the Guide Book!
Then how can we expect to follow the right road and escape the bypaths and
pitfalls? No wonder so many "wrecks" are strewn along life's highway.
William E. Gladstone, England's great prime minister and Christian statesman,
often came home from Parliament very late at night. But no matter how late, he
arose at 6:30 in the morning and gave the first hour of every day to reading the
Word of God and to prayer. He said, "Talk about the questions of the time!
There is but one question-how to bring the truths of God's Word, the Impregnable
Rock of Holy Scripture, into vital contact with the minds and hearts of all
classes of people."
If we neglect to read the Bible, we are missing the best things in life. Earthly
things do not satisfy the heart. The Bible is the Book of the heart. It shows us
how we may possess and enjoy real life. A worthwhile life, and satisfaction in
life, are found by reading and receiving the Word of Life into our hearts.
"The Words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life"
(John 6:63). Woodrow Wilson said, "I am sorry for the men who do not read
the Bible every day. I wonder why they deprive themselves of the strength and of
the pleasure." On another occasion he wrote, "The Bible is the Word of
Life. I beg that you will read It and find this out for yourself-read, not only
little snatches here and there, but long passages that will really be the road
to the heart of It." And he continued, "When you have read the Bible,
you will know that It is the Word of God because you will have found It the key
to your own heart, your own happiness and your own duty."
The Bible covers the whole range of human life. It follows us to the lowest depths
and leads us to the highest heights. It tells us about real men and women and
reveals God in relation to human life. Herbert Hoover said, "The study of
this Book (the Bible) ... is a post-graduate course in the richest library of
human experience." A leading educator stated, "I would rather have my
son acquainted with the Bible and ignorant of all other literature than to have
him acquainted with all other literature and ignorant of the Bible."
"There's just one Book for life's gladness;
One Book for the toilsome days;
One Book that can cure life's madness;
One Book that can voice life's praise.
There's just one Book!"
We need to read the Bible because It is:
The Book of Light
"The entrance of Thy Words giveth light" (Psa. 119:130). Life is full of
perplexities. There are so many things about which we want light. The Bible
gives us the light we need. It enlightens us as to the origin, purpose, problems
and destiny of life. Like the bright sun in the heavens, the Bible shines
through the fog of human speculations, bringing light and warmth to all who will
receive Its beneficent rays. "Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17) is the
testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Bible. Much that is called light is
gross darkness. "To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not
according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa.
8:20). The Bible gives us the true light about God, about ourselves, about the
future of the world and the future life as well as about the problems of sin,
suffering and the way of salvation.
"A glory gilds the sacred page,
Majestic like the sun:
It gives a light to every age;
It gives, but borrows none!"
We need to read the Bible because It is:
The Book of Salvation
"The Holy Scriptures ... are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith
which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15). The Lord Jesus Christ made the way
of salvation very simple when He said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and
knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in" (Rev.
3:20). The very moment we open the door of our hearts by believing on Him, He
will come in, and we will be saved. But until we yield our wills to His loving
holy will and receive Him as our personal Savior, we are eternally lost. There
is no other way of salvation. Read John 14:6 and Acts 4:12.
"How can I look on Calvary's Cross,
And see my Savior there
With outstretched arms the world to save
My sins Himself to bear?
How contemplate, and yet withstand
Such love as He has shown,
Who died to draw the sinner near,
And claim him for His own?"
story is told of a man who had never read the Bible. One day he got hold of a
Bible and began to read It. Soon he exclaimed to his wife, "If this Book is
true, we are lost!" Then he read on and not long afterward shouted joyfully
to his wife, "If this Book is true, we can be saved!" And they opened
the door of their hearts and received the Lord Jesus Christ and were saved. Will
you, my friend, do the same thing just now, right where you are? God grant it.
You will then be a babe in Christ and need to grow in the grace and knowledge of
the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to read the Bible because It is:
The Book of Spiritual Growth
newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow
thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). Christians cannot grow without food. God's Word is
the food. And it is a great day when "baby" learns to feed himself.
Many who have been Christians for years have never learned to feed themselves
from God's Word. How tragic! Listening to sermons, attending Bible classes and
reading good books and articles cannot take the place of personal feeding on the
Word of God. We cannot thrive unless we get spiritual strength every day from
God through His Word. God's heart is sad because so many of His children do not
feed on His Word and grow.
is not a substitute for reading the Word of God. When we pray, we talk to God.
And when we read God's Word, He talks to us. Of the two, it is more important
that God speak to us. First read the Word, then pray. God's Word will give us
the desire to pray and matter for praise and for petition. What we read in the
Bible yesterday, or a while ago, will not give us the spiritual strength we need
today any more than the physical food we ate yesterday will give us sufficient
bodily strength for today. We take time every day to feed our bodies, which are
temporal. Dare we fail to take time every day to feed our souls, which are
eternal? Is that good judgment? Why not take Job's attitude? He said, "I
have esteemed the Words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job
23:12). Resolve that you will not take time to feed your body unless you will
also take time to feed your soul. If you will do that, you will find time for
both. Satan hates to have us read the Word and does everything he can to block
it. You be as persistent in taking time to read God's Word as Satan is in trying
to hinder you, and God will help you. Set aside a regular time each day, and
hold sacred your appointment with God. Ask God to make you hungry for His Word.
"For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with
goodness" (Psa. 107:9). The more you read God's Word the more you will come
to love It. You will find It not only food, but rich dessert! You will say with
David, "How sweet are Thy Words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to
my mouth" (Psa. 119:103). As we pursue our pilgrim journey, we need to read
the Bible because It is:
The Book of Comfort and Hope
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we
through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans
15:4). Although the world outlook may be dark, friends may fail and earthly
things in which we trusted may crash around us, yet, if we are right with God,
all will be well with us. And as we read the Word of God, rejoice in His loving,
all-wise will and trust Him, we will learn patience and receive comfort. We will
also have a true and inspiring hope: "Looking for that blessed hope, and
the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus
How to Enjoy the Bible
"Thy Words were found, and I did eat Them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and
rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy Name, O Lord God of hosts"
(Jer. 15:16). Many people do not even read the Bible. Some read It but do not
study the Bible. If we let the Bible go through our minds like water through a
sieve, It will not do us much good. We need to study God's Word carefully (read
2 Tim. 2:15). And it is possible to both read and study the Bible and yet not
"eat" the Word of God. To "eat" the Word means to meditate
upon It (chew It), to ponder its message to our own heart (digest It) and to
apply It to our own life (live It). Do you know what it is to "eat"
the Word of God? God grant that you may. It will then be the joy and rejoicing
of your heart. Read the Bible book by book. While each book has a distinct
message, they form a marvelous unity. Avoid the "grasshopper" method
of skipping about here and there. In each chapter of the book you are reading,
find and write down in a notebook three things: first, the main subject; second,
the best lesson for your own heart; and third, the best verse if you could have
but one. Memorize this verse. Read the Bible through again and again.
"There's a Man in It!"
Two little sisters were trying to put together a cardboard puzzle map of the United
States. It was cut up into odd shapes. They were getting discouraged. Suddenly
the older sister turned a piece over and saw on it part of a man's nose. On the
back of another piece she saw part of a man's ear. "There's a man in
it!" she exclaimed. They knew what a man's face looked like and soon put
the pieces together correctly. Then their father turned the whole puzzle over
for them, and there was the map of the United States. The Bible is a puzzle to
many because they do not realize that "There's a Man in It," even the
Lord Jesus Christ. He said the whole Bible was about Himself. "And
beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the
Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). To understand the
Bible, we need to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and look for Him
everywhere in His Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to take the things of Christ and
show them unto you. May our desire be:
"More about Jesus in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine."
D.L. Moody wrote on the fly-leaf of his Bible these words: "This book will
keep me from sin, and sin will keep me from this Book." That is a true
statement. The habit of reading God's Word daily will do more for the stability,
purity, peace, joy and fruitfulness of the life of a Christian than any other
one thing. And many unsaved ones have been led to accept Christ by reading His
Word. My friend, is He your Savior? If so, is He the Lord of your life? If so,
can you say,
"Holy Bible, Book Divine,
Precious Treasure, Thou are mine"?
The Bible becomes ours, not by merely owning a copy, but by storing It in our mind
and heart. Read It now, while you can. What a tragedy to grow old without
Christ, or, if saved, to know only meagerly the treasures of God's Word.
"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Col. 3:16). When this
heavenly treasure, the Bible, is really ours, we will value the Words of God as
did David, when he said, "More to be desired are They than gold, yea, than
much fine gold" (Psa. 19:10). Gold cannot buy happiness, but God gives us
abiding happiness through His Word.