“Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture . . . “ — Martin Luther.
What can one write about Holy Scripture that has not already been written? Not much, if anything. More has probably been written about this Book of Books than any other literary work in the history of mankind. Of course, we know that it is more than just another literary work. From catechism, indeed, from the Word itself, we know that the Bible is the word-for-word, verbally inspired Word of God; that it is God’s Word in its entirety, without error.
With Spirit-breathed words the apostle Paul writes to Timothy: “From a child you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation . . . ” (2 Tim. 3:15). How did Timothy come to know the Holy Scriptures? How did he become wise unto salvation? This knowledge is not in-born in man. As the Lord told Nicodemus: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3:6).
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Timothy, Paul, you and I, and everyone else who is wise unto salvation through the faith that is in Christ Jesus got that way, not by our own wisdom but by the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word.
Nothing More To Learn?
There was a young student who, after returning to the seminary from his second tour of summer vicaring at a congregation, strolled into the classroom and announced to his fellow students: “I’m ready to go pastor a congregation right now! Why take another year of sem?” But that student soon discovered, upon entering his first parish following graduation, that he had much learning to do. In fact, he often wished he could return to the seminary for another few years.
Though our young seminarian/pastor could not return to his sem professors, he took comfort in the fact that he could return to the Word, could sit at the feet of his Savior, could be schooled by the Holy Spirit again and again–and that he could always learn something there relevant to his spiritual condition and the salvation of sinful man, himself included.
Like our young seminarian who soon learned better, it is easy, when reading God’s Word, to slip into a mindset that says, “Oh, I already know all of this!” And then to skip over it. Or, when pressed for time, to skip one’s daily reading. After all, “I know what’s in there.” True, good Christian, you do know what’s in there. That’s why you are a Christian — the Spirit taught you from that God-breathed, without-error Word about your Savior. But how do we suppose that we shall continue to know what is in there? How do we expect to grow in the faith that leads to eternal life? How do we expect to ” . . . always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you,” (1 Pet. 3:15) unless we continue to read that Word, study it, and learn it?
What can be written about the Bible that hasn’t already been written? Most likely there’s nothing that you’ll read in this article that you haven’t already heard or thought of yourself. This is because all that has been said by confessional Christian writers of years past concerning God’s Word still holds true today.
Spirit And Life!
Why read the Bible? First and foremost, because it is God’s Word by which He would reveal to sinful man everything that is necessary for man’s salvation. It is the Bible that shows us our sin through the Law of God. Each of us daily sins much. We are in need of having our sinfulness regularly pointed out to us. But the Bible also shows us our Savior Jesus Christ from the blessed Gospel of the forgiveness of sins apart from the Law. Each one of us needs regularly to receive the assurance of God’s forgiveness and the assurance of eternal life.
Why read the Bible? Because it is through that Word that others will be brought to faith. By knowing that Word we will better be able to instruct our children and grandchildren concerning their Savior. Furthermore, if we study the Word and know it we will be prepared to speak that life-giving Word to unbelievers as God gives us opportunity. Rather than saying to others, “This is what my church teaches . . .” we will be equipped to answer, “This is what God’s Word teaches . . . .”
Why read the Bible? Because, as Jesus says: “The words that I speak, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6:63). It is God’s Word by which He would speak to us and by which the Holy Spirit would work and strengthen faith in God our Savior; that Word is life, spiritual life, the power for a God-pleasing life; and that Word is eternal life for us and for those with whom we share it.
–Pastor Joel Fleischer