At the beginning of the year, many religious people resolve to read the Bible every day. After a little while, though, they stop because they don’t feel like they are getting much out of it. They probably continued to keep the Bible around as a decoration. They may even view it as a kind of good luck charm, but they don’t read it anymore.
Has that happened to you?
For many people, the Bible is primarily reserved for emergencies. For example, even people who know almost nothing about the Bible love to hear the 23rd Psalm read when a loved one has passed away. This may help explain why the Bible still outsells all other books every year. It remains the all-time best-seller. The problem is that it isn’t read very much.
Sadly, there is research to prove that Americans don’t read the Bible very much. A George Barna poll conducted several years ago exposed an ignorance or rejection of many basic Bible truths (such as the sinlessness of Christ) among a significant number of people who claimed to be Christian. Another study discovered that 76% of all Americans don’t believe the clear biblical truth that forgiveness is only available “…as a gift by [God’s] grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). [The State of American Theology, LifeWay Research, 2016, Commissioned by Ligonier Ministries]
I don’t want you to be one of those statistics. Let me show you how to read the Bible so that it becomes life-changing.
First of all, make sure you are using a translation that is faithful to the original text but also uses modern language. God’s Word never changes, but the meanings of words do change over the years. The Bible was written in the language of the common people. Good translations keep the meaning clear to us in our day rather than using words from long ago in strange ways we don’t understand. If you would like to know which translations I recommend, email me at BethelChapelChurch@gmail.com
Next, get to know the Author of the Bible. If a child of yours (or even a close friend) wrote a book, you would immediately be interested in it. In the same way, when you have a personal relationship with the Lord, the Bible’s author, you will want to know what He has to say.
In order to have a personal relationship with the God of the Bible, you must surrender yourself to Jesus Christ and accept the forgiveness of your sins that He purchased for you on the Cross. Paul explains that God’s promises belong to you only “if you belong to Christ” (Galatians 3:29). That’s because “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
It is also helpful to remember that, like anything worthwhile, it takes some effort to understand the Bible. All learning requires work on our part, and the Bible is no exception. It tells us to “meditate on [God’s Word] 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 success” (Joshua 1:8).
If you have a computer, these programs will read the Bible out loud to you: www.Youversion.com and www.Bible.is. Both programs have apps for your Smartphone that will do the same thing. Even if you have trouble reading, you can listen to God’s Word and learn it that way.
Lastly, in order to read the Bible successfully, we must decide to trust what the Bible tells us and then do it. We will only experience God’s full blessing if we read the Bible and trust that it has more wisdom than we do. “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, [i.e. the Bible] and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25). On the other hand, the Bible also says, “‘If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings…” (Malachi 2:2).
You can do it! It takes some effort to understand and enjoy reading the Bible, but it is well worth the trouble. “How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart” (Psalm 119:2). If you want to understand the Bible better, then read it, think about what you read, and study it.
It is a great help to study the Bible with others who are learning it too. If you would like to do that, please join us at Bethel Chapel Church where we regularly study the Bible together. Also, feel free to contact me if you would like a free Bible study guide. I hope that this is the year you begin to read, enjoy, and understand the Bible.