As we enter into a brand new year, it’s a good time to take stock of your life. Set aside a few moments to consider the things that matter most, and ask yourself how your personal priorities match up. One of your highest priorities should be to increase in your working Bible knowledge.
I once talked with a young lady who said she has been in church all her life. When I asked her about reading the Bible, however, she admitted that she never really read it. While this was saddening, I am aware that it is an all too familiar scenario. Growing up in a church in Virginia, I remember some of my old thoughts about the Bible. Irrelevant, unnecessary, difficult, and boring were typical descriptions of my sentiments. Later, after being challenged by other Christians, I began to discover some of the numerous benefits of the Bible.
Great authors write great books. Though the Bible was written by men, ultimately the words they wrote were inspired by God Himself. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The words translated “inspired by God” could literally be rendered as “God-breathed.” God supernaturally used the unique personalities and backgrounds of the human writers to produce exactly what he wanted written. Because it is inspired by God, the Bible is never out of date or irrelevant; it is the greatest book of all because it was written by the greatest Author.
Several other benefits flow out of the fact of the Bible’s divine inspiration. Psalm 19:7 says, “The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Wisdom is the art of skillful living. It goes beyond raw knowledge to the practical application of knowledge in everyday life. Because God is the creator of the universe, we can have great confidence that he would have the best insight into life, much like the maker of a watch would have the best insight into each of its workings. The Bible offers principles and commands that instruct the readers in true wisdom. You might say the Bible is the Maker’s instruction book of life on earth.
Knowing the Bible is also the key to living life in the way the Lord expects. The writer of Psalm 119:9 asked, “How can a young man keep His way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.” He continues in verse 11 to affirm, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.” Because he is the Creator, God has authority over all people. He has established his laws as the moral standard. A regular reading of God’s Word keeps his ways constantly before the reader.
Another benefit of the Bible is the promise of success to those who read and consider what it says. The first Psalm contrasts the man who is influenced by the wicked with the man who delights in the Word of God. The description of the state of the latter is amazing. “And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Just this assurance of blessing should motivate every person on earth to read and consider the Bible.
The most important benefit that the Bible provides is the way to be in a right relationship with God. Right before that wonderful description of the nature of the Bible in 2 Timothy 3:16, the writer commends Timothy on his knowledge of the Bible from his earliest years. “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
The Bible reveals all anyone needs to know about God, his standards, and his provision of Jesus Christ for those who violate his standards. James urges his readers along the same line: “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
With all of these benefits, you may be asking, “Where do I begin?” The answer depends on you. If you have never read the Bible before, begin with Mark’s Gospel (it might be listed as The Gospel according to Mark, or St. Mark). Mark offers a fast-paced, clear description of who Jesus was and what he did. If you have already read about the life of Jesus Christ, I would suggest a short New Testament book like James or 1 John. They each have only five chapters, and can easily be read in one sitting.
What about the Psalms? If you read five Psalms every day, you can have the whole book done in one month. The Psalms cover just about every emotion as the different authors respond to God from their various situations. The Proverbs include the wisest words every uttered. You can read one chapter a day from this book and be done in a month. Just read the chapter that matches the day of the month.
Where should you go from there? You can not lose, the Bible is all inspired and all profitable. If you have questions about what you read, don’t give up, ask your pastor or any Christian who is already enjoying the great benefits of the Bible. Get a good study Bible, like the ESV Study Bible or the MacAruthur Study Bible. They are filled with helpful notes to help you better understand the language and culture of the Bible, and therefore the meaning of what you are reading.
Begin this new year on the right path—the path of growing in a working knowing God’s Word.