Why We Should Read The Bible (8th in Series)

bible spotlit

Based on notes from  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-we-read-the-bible  published JANUARY 7, 2013

 Tony Reinke  Senior writer, desiringGod.org

Editing and additions: Stephen Newdell

Reading the Bible cover-to-cover each year is a resolution that is both noble and realistic. Today we have many apps and guides to help us with the process of our Bible reading. But at the start of our new year it’s helpful to look at the aim of our Bible reading. Why do we read the Bible?

In addressing biblical counselors in 2002, Pastor John explained it this way:

I have a burden for my people right now, just like I do for myself, that we get beyond propositions and Bible verses to Christ. I do not mean “get around” Bible verses, but “through” Bible verses to Christ, to the person, the living person, to know Him, cherish Him, treasure Him, enjoy Him, trust Him, be at home with Him. I want to count Him more to be desired than all other things — wife, husband, children, success in career, leisure, vacations, health, food, sex, money.

Bible reading is meant to deepen our personal relationship with Christ. He’s more precious.1

He is more precious than all our shallow Earthy pleasures and creature comforts. It amazes me that so many people never contemplate God enough, at least, to realize what their future in HIM is, and what they presently lack living here in the mud.

Don’t fear going to Hell because, at least in my doctrine, eternal Hell is reserved for the Devil and his fallen angels. The 2nd death is for those people who rejected God’s offer of salvation. The second death is a blank out. Non-existence. To experience the second death is to be deleted from this magnificent dream called “God’s Universe.”

Fear the second death at least because of all you’ll miss! God wants to raise you to be like one of his children, and finally you will be expected to mature to be like him!

Ideally, reading Scripture in communion with God makes it possible for our objective response to God’s word to merge with our personal response to him, as Pastor John explained in his article on Bible reading published in the back of The ESV Study Bible:

When we seek to enjoy communion with the Lord — and not to be led astray by the ambiguities of religious experience — we read the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s words and God’s deeds reveal God himself for our knowledge and our enjoyment.

Of course, it is possible to read the Bible without enjoying communion with God. We must seek to understand the Bible’s meaning, and we must pause to contemplate what we understand and, by the Spirit, to feel and express the appropriate response of the heart.

This is why Orthodox Rabbi’s write so much. They make contemplation part of their constant experience and then write about what they’ve learned, or realizations they have had, after the time of consideration. If we are not also doing some long term thinking about what message, lessons and thoughts to us God offers, we are glossing over The Bible but not truly studying it!

God communicates with us in many ways through the Bible and seeks the response of our communion with him.

  • If God indicts us (2 Cor. 7:8–10), we respond to him with sorrow and repentance.
  • If he commends us ( 18:19–20), we respond to him with humble gratitude and joy.
  • If he commands us to do something ( 28:19–20), we look to him for strength and resolve to obey with his help.
  • If he makes a promise ( 13:5–6), we marvel at his grace and trust him to do what he says.
  • If he warns us of some danger (Luke 21:34), we take him seriously and watch with a thankful sense of his presence and protection.
  • If he describes something about himself ( 46:9–11), his Son (Mark 1:11), or his Holy Spirit (John 16:13–14), we affirm it and admire it and pray for clearer eyes to see and enjoy his greatness and beauty.2

Reading the Bible from cover to cover in 2013 or 2019, 2020, or any future year always is a noble goal.

It’s a goal that positions us well to commune with God. Keep communion as your aim, and remember the words of Scripture are there for us to know God’s heart, to commune with the Living Christ, and to respond appropriately to his beauty and to his voice.

1 John Piper, “God’s Glory Is the Goal of Biblical Counseling,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling, 20/2 (Winter 2002), 8–21. This article is not online but will be added to the DG archive shortly.

2 John Piper, “Reading the Bible in Prayer and Communion with God,” in The ESV Study Bible (Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2570–2572. Bullet points added.

Tony Reinke (@tonyreinke) is senior writer for Desiring God and author of 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (2017), John Newton on the Christian Life (2015), and Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (2011). He hosts the Ask Pastor John podcast and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and three children.

Why Study The Bible (A Series)

  1. How To Navigate The Holy Bible
  2. Why Study The Bible? and How to: (#1 of a series)
  3. How God Preserved the Bible (Why Study The Bible 2nd in series)
  4. To Understand the Bible (Why Study The Bible 3rd in series)
  5. Why Study The Bible (4th in Series)
  6. How To Develop Devotional Bible Study (5th in Series)
  7. Part 6 How To Develop Devotional Bible Study (6th in Series)
  8. Part 7 Devotional Bible Study A Daily Practice 7th in Why Study The Bible series
  9. Why We Should Read The Bible (8th in Series)
  10. Part 9: Last of series:  Studying the Scriptures
  11. What Christians Should Know About The Old Testament First 5-Books
  12. Four Best Pieces of Marital Advice
  13. How The Flat Earthers are Chasing People Away From Salvation
  14. EASTER:   The Cosmic Significance of The Cross!
  15. TRUMP OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZES ISRAELI CONTROL OVER GOLAN
  16. Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
  1. How To Navigate The Holy Bible
  2. Why Study The Bible? and How to: (#1 of a series)
  3. How God Preserved the Bible (Why Study The Bible 2nd in series)
  4. To Understand the Bible (Why Study The Bible 3rd in series)
  5. Why Study The Bible (4th in Series)
  6. How To Develop Devotional Bible Study (5th in Series)
  7. Part 6 How To Develop Devotional Bible Study (6th in Series)
  8. Part 7 Devotional Bible Study A Daily Practice 7th in Why Study The Bible series
  9. Why We Should Read The Bible (8th in Series)
  10. Part 9: Last of series:  Studying the Scriptures