Recently I heard someone describe the importance of being part of a “Bible-reading church.” That phrase caught my attention.
I have often heard (and said) that a Christian should be part of a Bible-believing church or a Bible-preaching church, but I have never thought specifically about the importance of a Bible-reading church. Let’s think about what difference it would make to be part of a Bible-reading church.
The Bible is God’s very Word. The Bible reveals God to us. How does a person really know about God? A lot of people have a lot of interesting ideas about God that they kind of make up. The Bible is the objective source of our information about the truth of God. Psalm 119:38 says: “Establish Your word to Your servant, As that which produces reverence for You (NASB).
If you are in church full of Bible-readers they will know God much better than a church that kind of makes up their own version of God. Think of the difference that ought to make in the worship. If you are surrounded by people that know and honor the real God, your heart-felt worship will be multiplied as you join the happy songs. I hate to say it, but I think there are churches with plenty of people that just enjoy the style of the music without any serious consideration of the biblical content of the lyrics.
The Bible also reveals God’s ways to us. In other words, it is the Scriptures that tell us right and wrong, and gives us wisdom for how to live in ways that please him. Psalm 119:105 is a familiar text. It says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The Word of God is like headlights on your car as you drive through the thunderstorm of life at night.
“Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments” (Ps 119:73). Who made you? Who made the world? Of course, the right answer is God. So, if that is true, and the Bible is his Word for his creatures, that means the Bible is like the owner’s manual for all of life.
When a church is functioning as it ought to, the members live their Christian lives together in community. In other words, the Christian life is a team sport not an individual competition. Christians must lean on their fellow church family members for comfort and help in times of sorrow and need. We need each other for correction and guidance on big decisions.
The Bible assumes we all actually need daily encouragement from each other. “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
Which people are going to be the greatest church teammates to have by your side when your times are toughest? The people who know the Bible the very best are going to have the very best comforts, encouragements, and even corrections for your times of need. How will these teammates be equipped with such useful Bible knowledge? They will read their Bible day by day.
I have been blessed to have studied at a Christian college and two seminaries. I study the Bible for hours and hours when I prepare new sermons. Yet, for all of my formal training and sermon preparation I would submit that my Bible knowledge has really come from being a Bible reader most every day for over 30 years.
I say that to encourage you that you can learn God’s Word too. Slowly and steadily build and refresh your Bible knowledge by reading it day by day. It is a wonderful practice. It will change your life.
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Just like babies need a steady supply of milk to grow big and strong, Christians need a steady supply of God’s truth to grow up to maturity. If you are part of a Bible-reading church, you will be surrounded by maturing Christians.
In one sense when your life is going great you can make a variety of churches work for you and your family. You can pick the church with the kid’s program your children enjoy, or the music style your wife likes, or the church with some of your buddies from work. Even if no one at that church really reads their Bibles much, it can still work okay, because, after all, you are reading your Bible, right? Some Christians go farther and say that they be the one that will try to help all of their non-Bible reading fellow church members in their tough times.
The testing point for you and your family will be when the wheels get wobbly for you. In other words, when you are going through a difficult trial, who will you want to be surrounded by? How mature will you need your friends at church to be when they are offering you desperately needed comfort, counsel, or confrontation? Will you and your family survive without a mature church family? It is easy to think that you will be fine when everything seems fine right now, but you may be in for a terrible discovery on that dark day. Many people have realized how much they need a mature church after it is too late to save their marriage or their kids.
Are you a Bible reader? I hope so. Start there. Start today. Make small good Bible-reading habits and keep them. Are you part of a Bible-reading church? How would you know that? Figure it out, and then if you are not, consider looking for a church that doesn’t just believe and preach the Bible, but has a lot of people who regularly read the Bible. You and your family will not regret being on that kind of team—both now and all through eternity.
By John Crotts