Why Bother with the Bible?

Image by Abigail Nimmo

Consider the absurdity of a group of friends who get together for a game of soccer. One of them suddenly realises and announces that they have left the soccer ball at home, only for someone to reply, with a dismissive wave of their hand: “Forget the ball, let’s get on without it.”

Such a situation is unseemly not to mention unlikely yet it serves as a metaphor for Christianity throughout Africa. Though it is unthinkable that a game of soccer would kick off without a ball, many Christians go about their lives without regularly hearing from God in his Word. Actually, many wonder why we should even bother with the Bible.

Though it is unthinkable that a game of soccer would kick off without a ball, many Christians go about their lives without regularly hearing from God in his Word

It may be that the underlying thought behind that position is the perplexity about how a book from ages ago, originally written to people in different contexts, can still speak to us today. Why do we place such an emphasis on the Bible? For starters, the Bible self-identifies as God’s Word to us.

Therefore God does not tell us to read our Bibles, God speaks when our Bibles are read. No single article could exhaust the benefits of allowing ourselves to be gripped by and saturated with the words of the living God but that does not mean we should not begin to plumb the depths of those blessings. 

Reading the Bible offers great spiritual benefit, by helping us grow our convictions, filling us with awe as we see God at work in and around us. It is the means by which God sanctifies us to live according to His pattern. Surely it goes without saying then that we need to know His story and His plan, as revealed in His Word. Knowing His story shapes and renews our minds, equips us with a biblical worldview and also informs our prayers.

We have the tremendous privilege of knowing the God who speaks in Christ. Surely we cannot ignore the speech through which we come to know our heavenly Father better.

God does not tell us to read our Bibles, God speaks when our Bibles are read

I guess what makes a game of soccer is not left up to the players to determine. They are either playing by the rules or not, they are either playing soccer or something else. It is very similar in the Christian walk, our relationship with God. A Christian cannot be genuinely committed to Christ without being committed to his teaching. Stripped of all technical jargon, the Christian is someone who submits to the authority of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

It is more than identifying with a church; having our names on a baptismal certificate; or even having being able to quote Scripture. Rather it is the person and lifestyle shaped and informed by the Bible, God’s Word to us today.

Developing a deep and abiding love for God is made possible through knowledge, which primarily comes to us through the Bible. For we live by faith, and that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Yet faith is not an end in itself, rather a means to the end of holiness and ultimately standing before God in glory.

There’s an aspect of reading the Bible as a matter of spiritual discipline – a form of exercise and rhythm that we strive to adhere to; yet there’s a weightier dimension of reading it as a matter of life. In other words, we come to the Bible, gasping for breath, because we know that faith cannot be sustained without the Word of God. Jesus, rebuking the devil in the wilderness, alluded to the warning given to the Israelites that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). How can we dispense of something Jesus said was more important than our daily bread?

Lacking in the wonder and joy of meeting the Lord in his Word, the Christian life ebbs into a joyless burden, laden with much pretence and hypocrisy

Tying it all together, just as there exists no possibility of a soccer game without a soccer ball, so is there no true Christian life or experience without the Bible. Lacking in the wonder and joy of meeting the Lord in his Word, the Christian life ebbs into a joyless burden, laden with much pretence and hypocrisy.

As believers who are desirous of pursuing a right relationship with God, we cannot afford to take our eyes off of His Word. After all, knowledge of His will cannot happen outside of His Word.

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