By Marlin Kilpatrick
In years gone by, I have often emphasized the importance of reading the Bible. There’s no book like the Bible, and knowledge of its contents is basic to the living of the Christian life. But, is just reading the Bible all that’s necessary to the living of a life that’s pleasing to the Lord? If one is to benefit from reading the Bible, he must first understand some guiding principles that will assist him in coming to a deeper appreciation of God’s eternal word (cf. Matt. 24:35), and how the scriptures have an application in his own life.
The Bible is literature. Not all literature is interpreted in the same way. To further challenge our understanding of what we are reading, the Bible is comprised of different kinds of literature. When one reads the Bible he will encounter history, poetry (wisdom literature), biography, along with some apocalyptic writings. Each of these kinds of literature requires the reader to apply certain rules of interpretation. A mistake is made when we try to interpret all scripture the same way.
The Bible is a book. All books have a basic function which is to impart information. One who is trying to solve a mathematical problem would not seek help from a book about world history. He would seek a book that illustrates how to solve various kinds of mathematical problems. Likewise, the Bible, being a book, imparts all the information one needs to be able to obey the gospel of Christ and live successfully the Christian life. The Bible is unique among all books, because it is God-breathed (2 Pet. 1:20, 21).
Christians are supposed to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). The first step in our spiritual growth is to read the Bible. But more is required than just reading the scriptures; we must correctly handle God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). If we correctly handle the scriptures, we will be able to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). We will also be able to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of the God” (Rom. 12:2). The reading of the scriptures will make us “wise unto salvation” (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15).
Should we just read the Bible? No, but reading, studying, and applying the teaching of the scriptures in one’s own life will greatly enhance his life and lead him to that eternal home of the soul. Think about it.