Note: This article was written for and published first on the BibleStudyTools.com website. You can find the original article here.
John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
As a teenager growing up in a very conservative, independent, Baptist church, I was often challenged to make a commitment at the end of the year to read my Bible through. I knew the importance of God’s Word, and I was a believer, so every year I would make this commitment in my heart. Like many people reading this article, I started out with enthusiasm. As a person who loves to “check off the boxes,” my legalistic soul relished each time I read the portion of Scripture assigned to the day and could affirm my faithfulness to God by that little red checkmark.
Sadly, around the time I got to Leviticus and Numbers, my enthusiasm waned and inevitably my reading would grow more and more sporadic. Feeling like I could never “catch up,” I often abandoned it entirely. After all, if I couldn’t do it perfectly, why bother?
That’s why this article may take a different turn than you expect. I still love to check off the boxes, and I still firmly believe that every Christ-follower ought to be spending time in God’s Word daily. But unless we get beyond the legalistic formula and “Bible-reading plans,” it won’t last until Spring. The real, lasting, and effective key to regular reading and studying of God’s Word comes from understanding what a treasure it is, and the power it has on our lives.
At the end of this article, I will share a few practical tips, but more importantly, I want to encourage you with the reasons why and how we must approach our Bibles. After all, as John reminds us, it is the very Word of God – Jesus revealed to us.
1. Read Confidently
2 Timothy 3:14-15 – You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 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.
Stop listening to the mockers that tell you to doubt the validity, inerrancy, and truth of the Bible. Timothy was a young man who sat at his grandmother’s knee, listening to her stories of the faithfulness of God and the truthfulness of His Word. Paul encouraged him to have that same kind of awe and respect that he had as a child, for after all, the wisdom from the sacred writings had brought him salvation.
If you are a Christ-follower, you are a living, breathing example of God’s Word. Read it confidently, even when you encounter things you don’t understand. Trust that God has preserved it for this generation and that His Word will stand forever, long after the scoffers have been silenced.
Colossians 2:2-3,8 – That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. … See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
Proverbs 30:5 – Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
Isaiah 40:8 – The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
See also: 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:23-25
2. Read Purposefully
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Don’t be like I was as a teenager, reading simply to check off the boxes and do your “duty” to God. Read with purpose. God’s Word is living, active, and powerful.
Have you ever read a verse and it “cuts to the quick of your soul” as though God were speaking to you personally? That is the power of the Word. It accomplishes God’s purpose in our lives: to know Him, to obey Him, and to be transformed by Him.
God’s Word allows us to know Him; it is the way He reveals Himself to us. We learn His character, His divine attributes, and His thoughts and purposes for humanity. Jesus is the Word, come to explain God to us.
John 1:18 – No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
John 5:39 – You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.
God’s Word teaches us how to obey Him. We don’t have to guess about what’s right or wrong. The Word teaches us, corrects us, and trains us so that we can live God-honoring lives.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
God’s Word transforms us. As we read, He changes our thought patterns to conform to His image, not to the world. It exposes wrong thinking and shows us the will of God.
Romans 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
3. Read Humbly
2 Peter 1:20 – But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Never approach God with a preconceived idea that you know more than Him. God’s Word is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. Many well-meaning theologians have gone astray by trying to dissect God’s Word and make it acceptable to the culture. Don’t try to “work around” the hard things. Accept God’s Word as truth and adjust your life to it. Trust it by faith, even if your human logic disagrees.
2 Peter 3:16 – As also in all [Paul’s] letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Matthew 22:29 – But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.”
Deuteronomy 29:29 – The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
4. Read Prayerfully
John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
Speaking of “things hard to understand,” without the Holy Spirit enlightening our minds, we cannot comprehend the truth of the Bible. God must open our spiritual eyes and enlighten us to receive spiritual things. We ought to pray with our Bibles open because the Spirit of God speaks through the Word of God to reveal the will of God. Every time you open God’s Word, take time to pray and ask God to speak.
1 Corinthians 2:12-14 – Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But 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.
Luke 24:44-45 – Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
5. Read Diligently
2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
God’s Word is made up of 66 books written over a period of 4,000 years, yet it’s one complete story. Isn’t it amazing that our story began in a garden where the Tree of Life grew, (Genesis 2:15) and for those who accept Christ by faith, it will end in the new heaven and earth where the Tree of Life will still be blooming (Revelation 22:2)? If we approach the Bible haphazardly, we will miss so much of its wisdom and meaning. Determine to read faithfully and diligently, year after year, and God will open up the treasure house to you.
Acts 17:11 – Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
Revelation 1:3 – Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Matthew 4:4 – But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
6. Read Practically
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
To let God’s Word “richly dwell” in us is to allow it to “inhabit abundantly.” It takes up residence in our hearts, our minds, our thoughts, our feelings, and our emotions. That kind of influence can’t happen sporadically or by chance. If we want God’s Word to do its work in us, if we want to know God personally and intimately, if we want to accomplish the good works He has called us to for His kingdom’s sake – we must take practical steps to dwell in God’s Word. We need to choose a plan, a place, and a point in time.
You can find all kinds of plans on the web. Start here. You can even create your own plan here. For an even easier option, choose a Bible that is already formatted for daily reading, like one of these.
Once you settle on your plan, find a place in your home that is conducive to quiet reflection, and announce to your family that to the best of your ability, at a certain time each day you will be “off-limits” as you meet with God in His Word. Not only does this give you the freedom to take that time, but it will also offer some accountability when your ten-year-old asks, “Aren’t you supposed to be reading the Bible right now?”
7. Read Intentionally
Romans 15:4 – For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through the perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
You might think if you don’t have time for an intensive, in-depth study, that simply reading through the Bible isn’t worthwhile. That’s not true. By asking a few questions of each passage you read, you can gain a lot of knowledge and begin to experience the supernatural life-change the Bible promises to those who live by it. After each day’s reading, answer the following:
Observation: What does the passage say?
Interpretation: What does the passage mean?
Application: What is my response to the passage?
You’ll be amazed at what you glean from God’s Word! As you grow in faith and knowledge, God’s Word will richly dwell in you, and you’ll never go back to simply checking off the boxes again!