Is reading the Bible worth it?

God never becomes less

Reading the Bible can be a lot of trouble.

  • We don’t understand its original language.
  • We’re far removed from the lands and peoples it includes.
  • It’s confusing.
  • It wasn’t even written directly to us.

And just because it says it’s true, that doesn’t make it true.

“It all seems very far away. It all belongs to that world, not to this world. We feel that we are, so to speak, on the outside of the Bible world, looking in.” – J. I. Packer

Packer sets up some of these arguments in chapter 7, “God Unchanging,” in Knowing God. Surely we’ve considered a few of these ourselves.

So why is reading the Bible worth the work?

It’s not because we’ll discover our own world there. It’s because we’ll find the same God there. The God spoken about in the stories of the Bible is the same God we can know today in our own time, in our own lives.

The link is God Himself. For the God with whom they had to do is the same God with whom we have to do.”

Our languages change. Our cultures change. Even people change.

But God stays the same.

Packer quotes A. W. Pink as saying,

“[God] cannot change for the better for He is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.”

What was true about God in Bible times is just as true of God today. Packer gives this list . . .

  • God is everlasting.
  • His character is always merciful and gracious.
  • His truths stand forever.
  • His purposes remain the same.
  • His Son Jesus is also the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The details of our stories will differ, the characters move in and out, but the Creator who guides us through the events never changes.

God is always love, always mighty to save. Read it in the Bible. But live it now.

* * *

Do you ever find the Bible hard to understand? What makes it worthwhile reading to you? Please share in the comments.

We’re reading through Knowing God via Challies. Grab a copy and read along.

Previous weeks:

Knowing-God-Packer-summary

26 thoughts on “Is reading the Bible worth it?

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      “Where would we be without Jesus?” starts sending several song lyrics through my head. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus….” for one. Yes, we would be lost without him. Thanks, Linda.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I do my daily Bible reading first thing in the morning too. And oddly enough, on my Kindle now. I’ve found that the fewer obstacles I put in my way, the more likely I am to read it before I even get out of bed.

  1. blankCeil

    Hi Lisa! A few years ago I led a group in the bible study “A Walk Through the Bible”. It was so illuminating! Beginning with Genesis, it traced the lineage of Christ.
    I think studies and groups for bible reading is just invaluable to understanding the richness of the message. It helps to understand the culture and customs of the time too. Again, it brings meaning to the words that we may not understand at first.
    Blessings!
    Ceil

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Sounds like that was a great study, Ceil. What an age we live in! We have so many great studies and opportunities to learn SO much about the Bible and its context, and yes, all such rich messages leading us to truths about Jesus. May we never take these resources at our fingertips for granted! Blessings to you, too, friend.

  2. blankJerralea

    Hey, Lisa! To me, bible study is essential. King David said he hid the word in his heart that he might not sin against God. I feel the same way.

    I believe all canonized scripture is the inerrant word of God.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I think about all the people through history (and even now in many parts of the world) who have never been exposed to the Bible at all, and it makes me even more grateful that yes, we here and now can hide so much of his word in our heart, illuminating more and more about who God is. Thanks for sharing this, Jerralea.

  3. blankBarbara H.

    I just finished that chapter this morning. 🙂 Enjoyed it very much – a good one to point people to who feel that a book written so many years ago in a different culture couldn’t possible speak to them. At first I couldn’t quite identify with his opening scenario because I haven’t felt that way in a long time (except maybe in the middle of places like Leviticus. 🙂 ). But I may have when I first started reading. I was just telling one of my kids recently that once I started reading the Bible regularly, I couldn’t stop – finding out about who God really was, seeing His love demonstrated for me, finding His grace and strength for every situation…it’s more than wonderful. I wasn’t always consistent at first, but I was “hooked” from the beginning.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I really liked chapter 7 too. Well, I also liked chapter 8 as well! ha. Too much good material from Packer to blog about it all. I’m thankful that I got into a Bible reading pattern years ago too. I’m not always super consistent either, but I think allowing myself slack when I need it has kept me from giving up altogether. I continue to learn something new each time I read through–God’s Spirit is definitely still alive and breathing today as we seek him through his words written back then and yes, also through the grace and strength he gives us in our everyday lives now.

  4. blankAngela Howard

    My favorite quote: “So why is reading the Bible worth the work? It’s not because we’ll discover our own world there. It’s because we’ll find the same God there.” I loved this post. My favorite part about reading the Bible is discovering the character God and getting to know Him personally. Sometimes we approach the Bible as a “how to” manual and that is somewhat unsatisfying. Thank you for your encouragement to recognize that in an ever-changing world God remains unchanged.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Angela. I agree with you that one of my favorite parts about reading the Bible is the same as yours–getting to know more of God’s character so I can understand how he continues to live in us now. It’s really quite amazing that we have a God who actually wants us to know him and makes himself available to us in so many ways.

  5. blankAnita Ojeda

    I’ve loved reading the Bible since I won a NIV Children’s edition Bible when I was in 8th grade. Winning it made it important to me–and the east-to-read translation kept my attention. Now, one of my favorite translations is the Message. I think that reading the Bible in words that make sense help us understand it better. I also learned early on to NOT read the Bible unless I first asked the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts as a I read.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      What a great story, Anita. 🙂 I’m sure whoever gave you that Bible you won in 8th grade would love to hear the impression it made on you. I really enjoy reading the Message too. I’m all for reading in translations that make sense to us, and there are great reliable ones out there that are easy to understand. I’m currently reading through in the CEV. Asking the Holy Spirit to guide you before you start reading is a habit I need to practice more. Thanks for sharing!

  6. blankfloyd

    Sound advice. What I find amazing is that God’s word is also the closest to the eyewitness history of the world. Since before we were born people have been trying to disprove it and the harder they try the more they fail. In the end it really is what God’s word calls, “Willfully ignorant”. Praying for the lost and those that use the very breath supplied by our Father to mock Him. That’s true love on His part. Got me thinking again, Lisa…

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      “closest to the eyewitness history” – Nice insight, Floyd. Being able to read the words of the stories in the Bible gives us clarity we wouldn’t have had otherwise…. May we never take that for granted.

  7. blankBeverley

    ‘Just because it says it true, it doesn’t make it true’ – what a very true statement. God remains the same, yesterday, today and forever. I have never read the whole of the Old Testament, so some time ago I set myself the task to do so. Now I am in Jeremiah. Have i understood it all? No, not at all! But, I know it is true, that is the word of God to his people then and now. I am grateful for being able to spend the time to read just a little bit each day. I may not remember everything that it contained, but I will always remember how it made me feel.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Good for you, Beverley! I just finished Jeremiah myself a week or so ago. And there was a lot I didn’t understand either. But yes, despite that, we will remember the confidence in God that it gives us. That counts.

  8. blankJen Ferguson

    For the past 5 months or so, I have been much better about reading my Bible and living God’s love – I can’t live without it – at least not the way I want to live. It is so refreshing to know that as the world changes, He does not. He is the only sure foundation I can stand on – and I want to know more about this foundation.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I draw a lot of security from knowing that God doesn’t change. In this world where things around us can go 180 degrees different in the blink of an eye, it’s reassuring to know that God will always be love, will always be our Rock of refuge. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Jen.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for following me over, Wayne. I just read several of your posts and appreciate where you’re coming from and the humility you bring with it. I think we all could agree with you that we’ve pursued knowledge for reasons less worthy than worship alone. The beautiful thing is when we realize it, then can turn it around in wonder and awe of our marvelous God.

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