10 Things You Should Know about Reading the Bible

Bible-Public

By Matt Harmon, author of Asking the Right Questions:

1. The Bible is both a divine and a human book.

Every word of the Bible is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16). He spoke through the various human authors, using their unique personalities and writing styles to communicate exactly what he wanted to say (2 Pet. 1:20–21).

2. The Bible is a story.

The Bible is not simply a collection of religious sayings or an anthology of various people’s religious experiences. The Bible tells us the true story of the world, the way things truly are and should be. Understanding the basic plot of the Bible that runs from Genesis to Revelation helps us better understand every passage in between.

3. The Bible focuses on God and his plans for the world.

God is the main character of the Bible. He created humanity to reflect his image by ruling over creation as stewards under his authority. But Satan deceived Adam and Eve into rebelling against God, plunging all of creation under the curse of sin and death. The rest of the Bible gradually unfolds God’s plan to redeem his people from their sin, defeat their greatest enemy Satan, and transform creation for his redeemed people to enjoy forever.

4. The Bible is not written to us but for us.

None of us are ancient Israelites following Moses through the wilderness. None of us are eighth-century (BC) Israelites living through the decline of the northern kingdom of Israel. None of us are Jews languishing in exile in Babylon, wondering if God has completely abandoned us. None of us are first-century (AD) Christians living in Rome, Philippi, or Ephesus. But as God’s people, the Bible was written for us to instruct us, empower our perseverance in the faith, and produce hope in the fulfillment of God’s promises (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11).

5. The Bible is God’s tool to transform us.

Sin has warped our ability to clearly reflect God’s image. God’s Spirit uses the Bible to transform us to reflect the image of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives. As we read the Bible as individuals and with other believers, God grows us in godliness. God has given us other Christians to learn from and learn with as we take in God’s Word. As we hear the Word preached and taught, study it together in small groups, and talk about it with other believers, God uses his Word to transform us into clearer reflections of his Son, Jesus Christ.

6. The Bible shows us the glory of God and the beauty of Christ.

As we read the Bible we see God’s glory through his character, his conduct, and his concerns. We see the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit displaying their many perfections as they fulfill God’s purposes in this world.

7. The Bible reveals a basic pattern for the Christian life.

At the center of the Christian life is a pattern of repentance and faith, which are two sides of the same coin. Repentance is turning away from our sin and faith is turning to God in trust. They are not only the entry point into the Christian life. They are the air we breathe in our ongoing relationship with Christ.

8. The Bible shows us our sin.

God’s Word penetrates to the core of our being, revealing how our thoughts, intentions, attitudes, desires, and actions are out of step with God’s ways (Heb. 4:12–13). The Bible can even reveal hidden sin at work in our lives (Ps. 19:12; 90:8).

9. The Bible shows us the gospel.

The Bible doesn’t stop with revealing our sin; it also reveals how God addresses our sin through the gospel. God’s Word explains what Jesus has done for us as our great high priest (Heb. 4:14–16). Jesus can sympathize with our weakness because he too was tempted. But unlike us, he never sinned. Because of his perfect obedience and sacrificial death on the cross, we can receive mercy and grace in our time of need.

10. The Bible applies to our entire life.

God is not just interested in changing how we act. Since God’s purpose is to make us perfect reflections of Jesus, he transforms us from the inside out. He changes the way we think, what we believe, and even what we desire. There is no part of our lives that the Bible does not speak to.

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I am currently serving churches and colleges as a bible teacher, overseas and in the UK.