Why Read the Bible?
I was sitting at the departure gate at an airport, waiting for my flight. Next to me sat an elderly man from a neighbouring country. He was dressed in the way Muslims dress. He was reading from a small book written in Arabic script. The man knew English and another European language, but could not speak in Arabic. I asked him about the book he was reading. He explained that it was an extract from the Qur’an. He had been taught how to recognise the Arabic letters and could pronounce the words, but as he did not understand the Arabic language he could not understand what he was reading. I wonder what benefit he obtained from reading words that he could not understand. He assured me that the younger generation of Muslims in his country were being taught not only to read but also to understand the Qur’an in modern Arabic.
But to read and understand the Bible is something that every Christian should do on a regular basis. From it we receive encouragement, knowledge about God and instruction about how to live. The Bible records some history of the past, and the life stories of good people and bad. Very importantly, it records the words and actions of Jesus Christ. It gives us a look into the future and gives us hope for our own part in that future. Often as we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will draw our attention to a particular part of Scripture that we need to help us in our Christian walk, such as for our encouragement, for wisdom, for correction or to increase our understanding of God’s ways.
Three different languages were used to write the Bible. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek, and some Aramaic is found in both Testaments. Most readers of the Bible today are not capable of reading it in its original languages. So because it is vitally important that Christians read the Bible with understanding, people with knowledge of these languages have devoted much time and effort to translating the Bible into modern languages. The Bible has been translated into all the major languages in use today. Many of these translations are available online, for example at http://biblehub.com/.
Here are some verses from the Bible that encourage us to read it with understanding. To do this we should read the Bible in our own home language, or another language that we know.
Acts 17: 10-12 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
The purpose of reading the Bible is not to perform a ritual, but rather to help us hear from God by absorbing truth from his word. When we read something in the Bible it may help us to ask these three questions:
What does it say?
What does it say to me?
How am I going to apply it in my life?
Let us grasp the opportunity to read and study the Bible regularly, preferably every day, in a language that we know well.