Picture the scene: you’re in the front line of a vast army, all around you men mutter to themselves, prayers, words, devotions, anything. In the distance you see another army so large as to dwarf yours. It’s coming closer, soon you can pick out the individual faces of the men opposing you, you feel a bead of sweat trail down your back, you stamp your feet into the hard ground, you feel the men around you shift and move, the call goes out! SWORDS! All around you men unsheathe their weapons, metal flashes in the sunlight, swords are pointed towards the enemy, you see a similar array of deadly weaponry being carried in your enemies’ hands. You swallow nervously and reach for your sword. It’s not there. You’ve gone and left it at camp. You’re a wally. A first class, top notch, imbecilic wally. You flush in painful embarrassment. You’ve made the most basic mistake possible. The only consolation you have is that you’re not going to live with the shame for much longer. In fact you’re not going to live for much longer.
Ladies and Gentlemen: that wally was me. What an irrevocable fool I was! There was standing on the front line without a bally sword to wield.
Er, you’ve not been in any battle
Wrong, I was and still am. You see the whole of humanity is engaged in a spiritual war where there are only two sides: Christians and everybody else. Christians have Jesus Christ as their Leader, their Lord and Saviour. Everybody else has the Devil as their slave master.
So I was on the front line of a spiritual battle. I was up against the forces of darkness. Quite literally. The unseen spiritual realties are just as real as the seen physical realities.
Right, so what’s this about a sword?
All Christians need one. To both defend themselves and attack back at the enemy. By our sword we live or die.
So all Christians need to buy a sword?
Nope, well maybe, but in all likelihood they already have a sword. They’re just not using it.
Look, I don’t have a sword.
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6 v 17
As Christians our sword is the Word of God. The Bible.
What’s so important about the Bible?
Everything! It is the foundation stone of our faith, the cornerstone of our salvation, by it Christians grow spiritually. That is why leaving my sword, leaving my Bible behind was so stupid. Christians need to read the Bible and they need to do it regularly. In past years I haven’t: I’ve gone days, weeks without reading it. I’ve been too ‘busy’, I’ve ‘forgotten’, it just wasn’t a priority for me.
Because the Bible is God’s Word! His direct and holy revelation of himself. You see, Christians live in a world of lies and deceit. Overtime we can come to start believing in these lies and falsehood. We can become down and discouraged. Yet everytime we read the Bible it sweeps these lies from our minds. The absolute truth of the Bible is the only effective way to combat the lies of this world. And we need to remind ourselves of the Truth constantly because we are being reminded of the lies just as constantly.
As Jesus says:
"It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4 v 4
When Jesus spoke those words do you know what happened? The Devil fled! God’s word causes the Devil to flee from us! In the same way that not eating would mean we starve; not reading the Bible means our spiritual life is starved. We become led astray, we become weak and helpless. Our souls don’t burn as brightly.
I know this to be true! For all of 3rd, 4th, 5th and most of 6th year at school I rarely read my Bible, I rarely prayed and I suffered for it. Looking back on it now I can’t believe how low my spiritual life was. What’s worse was that I was blind to my own inadequacy. I was blind to my own failure. But in the mercy of God I was challenged. I was on a weekend away with the CU and each talk the guy made hit home with painful, shameful accuracy. When I returned home I made sure that reading the Bible was my top priority. And God kept me reading it!
Any other reasons why?
YES! The Bible allows us to glimpse the glory of God, it reveals his character, it reveals his will, it sings his praises, it tells of his grace, love and wrath. It contains a thousand promises from God to us today. It is always up to date, it is always relevant, it is always scientifically accurate. It sets down God’s law, it tells of the glorious salvation that all men need, the Word is Jesus and Jesus is the Word. When we read God’s Word we are reading God himself!
It is used to bring people into the Kingdom of God, it judges the wicked, makes humble the proud, it saves lives, it saves sinners. It enlightens, encourages, challenges, builds up, tears down, it is in places beautiful, it can be terrible, it is the absolute truth in this lying world. It is more powerful than any nuclear weapon, it can withstand any attack, it is the best selling book on this planet, it outsells Richard Dawkins, it is the Christian’s comfort, our compass through life, it contains everything we need to know, it will never go out of fashion.
It is perfect, holy, all powerful, all knowing, all loving, all just, all glorious, in short the Word of God represents the very God that wrote it!
After all, why do I quote it so often? Because it is God’s word. My posts are only accurate in so far as they are aligned with God’s word. The minute I stray from the truth of the Bible is the minute in which I could fall into error.
What benefits does Bible reading bring?
As Psalm 1 says:
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.”
Psalm 1 v 2 – 3
Here the law of the Lord is just another name for the Word of God. As Christians our delight should be in the Word of God. For when we read it and mediate on it we prosper. Fact.
What other benefits does reading the Bible bring?
In the same way that prayer is a two way conversation between man and God so is the Bible a two way conversation between God and us. Reading the Bible is not a passive experience. It speaks not just to our minds but directly to our souls. The Holy Spirit with Christians confirms the truths of the Bible and applies them to our lives. As we read the Bible God speaks to us!
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”
2 Timothy 3 v 16
God-breathed! God permeates the entire Bible. All of it useful. All of it helpful. All of necessary to get anywhere in the Christian life.
But more than that: reading the Bible refreshes the spirit. If God in his mercy hadn’t revealed my depths of folly in not reading the Bible then I would have never discovered the encouragement of Psalm 91, I would never have fully appreciated Romans, I would never have been challenged by Timothy, learned from the life of David, had my views corrected on the power of grace! If I hadn’t started reading the Bible in earnest I shudder to think what I would be like now.
I find reading the Bible hard
Join the club; there are times when it seems like the last thing I want to do in the world. My advice to you is to get into the habit of reading the Bible regularly. Bible takes top priority, set aside a time each day when you WILL read the Bible. Personally I read it over and just after Breakfast (and when I’m blogging!). I do this because I have breakfast everyday so I read the Bible everyday. Obviously you’re life is different from mine – the key thing is to make sure that nothing else gets in the way of reading the Bible.
Isn’t reading the Bible everyday legalistic
No, it’s just wise. Sure, reading the Bible everyday won’t make you more saved than you already are. But it will make you grow spiritually; you will grow in righteousness for God’s word has God’s power in it. A power to transform our lives: to break down our masks, to uncover our sin and force us into repentance. And to build us up, to teach us God’s ways, to bring into the light what would otherwise be dark.
I find the Bible hard to understand in places
Yes, the Bible contains difficult passages, Revelation for example but the truth is we have been given the Holy Spirit – God in our hearts. Through the Holy Spirit we can reach a level of understanding we alone would never reach. We’ll never fully understand the Bible but this shouldn’t surprise us we can’t fully understand God.
Yet in saying all this the most important truths of the Bible are simple to understand. We’re sinners, we need a Saviour, Jesus’ death on the cross provided that salvation. Oh yes, and as Christians we NEED to read the Bible.
You can be a Christian and not read the Bible but you’ll be like the man who forgot his sword – dead. We’re in a battle people! The forces of darkness would just love to get their hands on a weaponless Christian. If we don’t have the Word of God how can we fight the Devil? How can we resist lies? How can we grow closer to God? If we aren’t reading the Bible we’re useless. As the Children’s song went:
“Read your Bible and pray everyday and you’ll grow, grow, grow.”
It really is that simple.
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