Spiritual Disciplines: Why Read the Bible?
What we do is certainly important but why we do it is even more important. It can be helpful to step back and ask yourself, “why do I read the Bible?” Doing the right behavior is important but the “why” we engage specific actions is what gives sustaining life and energy to those behaviors. For example, the task of studying for your final exam takes on a new perspective when you focus on why you are studying. Motivation for studying might come from wanting to get a good grade, simply enjoying learning, not having to take the class again, or getting your degree for a future career. The “why” is likely what motivates the behavior of studying. When we lose focus on the purpose for our behavior, the behavior is likely to stop over time.
Time in the Scriptures is much the same. It becomes dry, boring and confusing when it is merely a behavior to engage without any purpose or goal. For Bible reading to become purposeful, you will need to identify a “why” that brings life and purpose to your time in the scriptures. For example, one of the main purposes of spending time in the Bible is to better know the God of the Bible. Time in the Scriptures is to change who we are as we encounter the reality of our Creator. This in turn changes our view of self, others, and the world around us, ultimately affecting how we live. The Word is to affect our hearts and minds, exposing our brokenness so we turn to Christ and follow him. Ultimately, we are to pursue time in the Bible out of a desire to know God and be transformed into his likeness.
This transformation changes the way we live by following the scriptures practical instruction. We are given instruction on the things to do as well as things to abstain from. The converted heart must take these instructions seriously. Yet, the Bible is not primarily a book about how to live. Rather it is a book meant to point us to God rather than to offer specific “how-to’s” for daily life. The Scriptures expose the desperate reality of the human heart and the wonder of a God who has created and relentlessly pursues his people. We, like the Galatians, can quickly lose sight of our hope being in Christ and be drawn back into the law. As we read the Scriptures, we are to consider how it should affect our lives and we should remember God’s promise (Genesis 12) came prior to the Law (Exodus 20). Thus, the promise is not annulled by the Law, but the Law is provided as a “schoolmaster” to bring us to the Promise (Gal. 3:24). Getting to know God through his Word will bring us to a place of fearing a holy God who at the same time is a compassionate friend. The Scriptures offer an endless journey of knowing God more deeply who is both a consuming fire and a kind father. Knowing God then brings us to a place of offering our lives as a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1-2)
- Why do you read the Bible?
- What do you hope is accomplished through time spent in the Bible?
- Do you believe your view of God, Man, Satan, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus will change as you read the Bible? Why or why not?
- What does it mean to read the Bible for the purpose of growing in godliness?
- What are your thoughts about seeing the Bible as a book about God and getting to know God rather than a book of “how-to”?
- How would you describe God to someone who asks, “What is God like?”
- Describe how you can get to know God more deeply.
- What will knowing God more intimately lead to for an individual?
- List some ideas that could enhance your Bible reading.
- Scripture to Consider: Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 119:105, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 2 Timothy 3:16, Psalm 5:7, 1 John 5:1-4, Isaiah 43:5-15, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Deut 6:1-9; Josh 1:5-9; Psalm 12:6-8, 19:7-14; Psalm 119; 2 Tim 3:10-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21
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For Further Information:
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
Author: Donald Whitney
This 352-page book drawn from a rich heritage will guide you through a carefully selected array of disciplines. By illustrating why the disciplines are important, showing how each one will help you grow in godliness, and offering practical suggestions for cultivating them.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life: Workbook
Author: Donald Whitney
This companion guide to Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life takes you through a carefully selected array of disciplines that will help you grow in godliness. Ideal for personal or small-group use.