Most Christians do not read the Bible. At least not very much. Research supports this assertion (though the exact figures vary), and my anecdotal experience confirms it.
The Number 1 reason people give for not reading the Bible is (of course), “I don’t have time.” But that’s not really a reason. We all have the same amount of time each day. We all choose to spend it on what’s most important to us.
So why don’t people—particularly Christian people—choose to spend time reading the Bible? Here’s what I think:
1. We secretly believe reading the Bible doesn’t really matter.
Honestly, I think a lot of Christians put the Bible in the same category as other literary classics—it’s something we feel like we should read, but we don’t know exactly why. After all, it’s hard to prove whether reading the Bible does any measurable good—aren’t there plenty of nice, successful people who don’t read the Bible? And aren’t there plenty of jerks, racists, and annoying people who do? I think many Christians secretly wonder if the Bible does any good.
2. We would rather rely on professionals to read the Bible and explain it to us.
Whether it’s their own priest or pastor, or a celebrity theologian like Rick Warren or Joel Osteen, most Christians would rather be fed Biblical truths than feed themselves. And it’s true, religious professionals are probably better at gleaning, understanding, and teaching those truths than we ordinary amateurs. After all, they’ve had more practice. And if they’re better at it, why not just let them do it? As religion becomes more adept at packaging itself in entertaining, market-driven, user-friendly trappings, its adherents become more dependent and less self-sufficient.
3. We don’t have a support system for reading the Bible.
Even if Christians do resolve to spend more time reading the Bible (as many do each January), sadly, most will fail. And I think the biggest factor in their failure is the lack of a support system. Many American Christians believe that “personal devotions” should be, well, personal. So they try to go it alone. They don’t realize that not only is Bible-reading much richer in community with other people, it’s actually more accurate! Left to interpret the Bible in the privacy of our own hearts, we are likely to get it wrong. The Bible is meant to be read and understood in community. It’s more authentic that way, more effective, and more fun, and it’s far more likely to actually happen—because of the natural accountability a support system provides.
True for you?
Have you found any of the above three claims to be true? Are you willing to confirm or refute them in the comments below? Come on, let’s talk!
Then, if you want to spend more time reading the Bible, you can:
- Read these practical tips
- Check out the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan, shown here and mentioned in the comments below.
Related post: Churches, what kind of Bible study do you really want your people in?
Melanie Jongsma is a Christian who reads the Bible and genuinely tries to let it shape the way she lives. If integrity is important to you when hiring a writer for your business, ministry, political, or personal needs, contact Melanie.
151 thoughts on “Three reasons Christians don’t read the Bible”
I very much enjoy reading the Bible – however, I confess that I have a lot of work to do toward studying it “properly”, (rather than “just” reading). I do rely heavily on studies and pastoral input to help with this. (But that just makes me hungrier to read more).
That’s wonderful, Lisa. I don’t know if there’s an “improper” way to read the Bible. I think as long as you are hungry to read more, you’re doing something right. You sound like the “noble Bereans” (Acts 17:11)!
I think one reason Christians don’t read the Bible is because they have read it. I know that my kids, when in high school were “been there, done that!” I think Christian schools, in particular, should do a better job of helping kids see how much more there is in the Bible than the story about David & Goliath.
I struggle with this one myself. I grew up on the Bible and it is very familiar to me, so there are times when I have to work really hard to remind myself to dig deeper. That’s another reason I think it’s so important to do Bible-reading in community—hearing other people’s interactions with the Bible ignites my own.
I find that each time I read something in the Bible, I get new insight. The Holy Spirit guides and teaches us in the Word. We need to take time to slow down and listen to Him and meditate on the Word and not just read it.
That’s true, Mary. God’s Word doesn’t change, but we do! At different times in our lives, we’ll be more sensitive to different teachings. And as we gain different life experiences, we’ll have more of a framework in which to understand what God is saying.
I agree with Mary on this point, Prayer before reading and meditating upon the word of God is also essential.
Although we all may have “read it before” the Holy Spirit will bring forth what we need, when we need it.
II TIMOTHY, 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)
Having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace is one part of having on the full armor of God.
The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, will (by God’s Grace) give us the victory over anything that life puts before us.
Mary, great insight. I would like to also share my insight on the subject.
I appreciate Christians who address this most important topic. Next month (April) will mark my 42nd year as a Christian. I am going to make a soul searching statement for Christians to ponder.
After listing all the reasons why Christians neglect reading and meditating upon God’s Word, it all comes down to how much are we really hungry for God. If we are truly hungry for God, then we will be hungry for God’s Word. JESUS said “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” With that statement, JESUS cut through all the excuses and got right to the deep rooted inner core of our true affections.
THE SHOCKING TRUTH!
In a recent Gallup Poll, 41% of Americans who call themselves Born-again Christians said they “rarely read” or “never read” the Bible. 12% say they “read” the Bible monthly. 10% say they read the Bible less than monthly. Another statistical research showed that less than 10% of professing Christians have ever “read” the entire Bible. If these studies are even close to being accurate, it is a startling revelation of the “TRUE CONDITION” of the Church today in America!
Christians in other countries where religious freedom is greatly suppressed, and who do not have Bibles, fervently pray for bibles. If they are fortunate enough to receive a Bible, they count it as their most prized possession. It all boils down to the depth of our Spiritual hunger.
When our natural body is hungry, we feed ourselves. Likewise, when we are Spiritually hungry, we feed ourselves from God’s Word.
Sadly, the Churches today are filled with people who attend Church faithfully, but are greatly lacking in their hunger for God.
I am not sharing what I have just shared, without have a great deal of understanding on a very personal level.
Because of my hunger and great love for God’s Word, in the past several years, I have written 12 articles (which consist of 19 pages) on how “VITAL” it is for Christians to read and meditate upon God’s Word.
Also, I have personally discovered that when we are truly hungry for God’s Word and His truth, that God will open up the revelation of His Word to us with a continual degree of greater understanding.
Alan, thanks for adding to the conversation. I wonder, if so many Christians are attending church, and so few Christians are reading the Bible, what are churches training Christians to do? If a Sunday service is an hour long, and half of that is devoted to a sermon while the rest is spent on singing, announcements, offering, liturgy, and other traditional religious activities, what does that tell us about the importance of reading the Word for ourselves? I think our church services are sending a message that it’s more important to listen to someone else who has studied the Word than it is to study it ourselves. I submit that churches are, in effect, creating a hunger for preaching rather than a hunger for the Word.
Yes, people inside and outside the Church are hungering for spiritual things, but what spiritual nourishment are we offering them? And what habits are we teaching them about where to find proper nourishment?
Very true. It’s really easy to feel you’ve “read it” before, especially if you’ve gone to a Christian school. But you can be surprised at what’s in the Bible time and time again, even if you’ve read all of it before!
I schedule it in before bed, but I have to admit it’s not always the best time. Many people do it in the morning, but my brain doesn’t seem to function that way for some reason.
A guy I work with spends his lunch break reading the Bible, so that might be an option that works for some people too.
What I love about this, is it gives a re-focus for the day. Otherwise the workplace world can more easily influence words, thoughts & deeds.
When I left the church as a teen the Bible was just a book of stories.I read the Bible every night at the dinner table,as a child,but no one could make me”feel”what I was reading.I was born again at age 55,and the Word became alive.Reading a Bible verse can now make me emotional,or just being in the Word can calm me .
I agree with Melanie about reading in community.I recommend joining a group that follows the lectio divina type of reading, if you need help feeling what you are reading.The church I go to uses the NIV translation for most readings.I use the NLT study Bible for my personal reading as the explanatory notes are most helpful for me when I read alone.
I think I`m saying that, for me, what I get out of reading the Bible is directly related to where I am on my walk.
There are several ministries online that I enjoy getting a message on a subject or Bible verse. They are short and meaningful.
Yes, I think http://www.BibleGateway.com has a daily Bible reading program you can sign up for. I have not used that one myself, but I know other people who have. And here’s a link to an iCal calendar that will give you a verse each day: http://icalshare.com/calendars/5017
The Bible truly is a mysterious book…a living book that breathes life into the reader. If you’re not born-again the words will be dry and boring, but when you are born-again and the Divine Message has renewed your spirit, well, then the words become as though you’re reading something written directly from God to you. They become a life-giving source…the thing you run to whatever your need may be. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path,” so our personal journey is always dark if we don’t read his word!
I would consider myself more of an agnostic person and the parts of the Bible I have read in-depth were assigned to me in a college class, but I think anyone, Christian or not, should give it a serious look, just as we should read other religions’ holy books, in order to have a better understanding of society and build a more tolerant world.
Hi Sedera, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Your comment makes we wonder, Do other religions have the same problem Christianity has—that their adherents don’t read their holy book? And is that a problem? I mean, are Muslim Imams lamenting the fact that so many Muslims don’t read the Koran? Or is that not expected of the average Muslim? Just wondering.
I honestly have no idea if Imams feel that way. However, I think it is to some extent problematic to adhere to a religion and not have made the personal research into its basis, in this case, the holy book. Of course, there is a whole system that helps curate that information for us, but expanding that research and seeing this reading as a cultural endeavour rather than and/or as much as a religious one by including other holy books can only be beneficial, in my opinion.
I think you’re right that it’s generally more helpful to have an attitude of curiosity and willingness to learn, than to reach a point where you feel you have all the answers, or you’re just not interested in learning any more. Christians can be just as guilty of this as people of other faiths (or no faith). Thanks for the reminder!
Interesting discussion, Melanie, and as usual– food for thought. Growing up in a Christian home we read the Bible daily. It has been a habit my whole life, but as I grow older it has become my Lifeline. Hope you don’t mind that I used that word. For the past 4-5 years I have been reading a Psalm each day and they have helped me so much. Whenever possible I insert my name or our family name in the Psalm. For example, yesterday, Psalm 130:7 “O Ann, put your hope in the Lord for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” I keep this verse with me all day, and repeat it as often as I remember. Guess what today’s verse is? I just love God’s reminders for slow learners! Psalm 131: 3 “O Ann, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.”
Sharing God’s Word with others has become more important too, whether that is done walking with a friend or in a formal Bible study. My suggestion if one is a Christian or not, and not reading the Bible: find a friend and commit to reading a psalm or another chapter a day and then just tell each other what verse spoke to you. I can guarantee you will be blessed.
If anyone wants to read the whole Bible in 4 years, reading just a chapter a day, let me know, since our church just started this program.
That’s a wonderful testimony, Ann—thanks for sharing your personal experience!
Thank you for this suggestion of making it personal. I will do that.
The Bible Gateway online reading plan has been a bless for me. Before that it was the small Gideon pamphlet which was marked off to keep track of the daily readings. Reading Old and New Testament in the same day has also given great insight, challenge and comfort. The Word is powerful without others explaining it – although, as a Bible teacher I see some value in also having it explained. :)
I think you’re right—the Bible is powerful without others explaining it. But I see the most value in “explanation” when it’s interactive. That is, we read the Bible in community, and then you explain what God has been saying to you, and I explain what God has been saying to me. I gain from your experience, and you gain from mine, and neither of us falls into the trap of totally relying on the other to meet our needs.
this (what you’re saying) is exactly what excites me about lectio devina – especially because the Word “says” or means the same thing always; but how it speaks to me from day to day or in my need may be a very different
Melanie,the lectio divina way of reading the Bible,at least at an adult class at our church,is done in community as you described.
You’re right, David. I think lectio divina is a method that really combines the power of God’s Word to speak for itself and the power of learning through community.
I believe reading and studying God’s Word alone and in some kind of community setting are both important!
I have been involved in a weekly Women’s Bible Study of one kind or another at one church or another for years. I love learning from and growing with my sisters in Christ,
I also love to read through the Bible each year on my own, but most of the Read Through The Bible in One Year plans with set dated readings everyday don’t work for me. I have created my own Read in Any Order, Monday-Friday, One Year Bible Reading Plan. I choose the order in which books are read. At the beginning of the month, I write the month and day in a space provided next to my selection(s) for that month. I omit all Saturday and Sunday dates. This month I am reading the Psalms. Next month? I’ll decide come February. (If anyone would like a blank, reuseable copy of this plan, I would be happy to share it.)
Wow, that’s creative, Pat! And thanks for sharing your personalized plan.
I don’t think you should dismiss the “I don’t have time” excuse by saying that we all have the same amount of time. In a given amount of time some people can accomplish much more than others. Those of us who take longer to do things really do have less time available. Furthermore most people always have more things to do than can be done in their available time. So adding Bible reading to the list may end up putting it with all the other things that should have been done but did not (like getting the oil changed, or changing the furnace filters, or doing the monthly test on the GFI outlets). To squeeze Bible reading into overflowing schedules requires that we really believe it is a high priority. And that is the rub for many people.
One reason I would add to the list of why people do not read the Bible is that they do not read anything. Some people just do not like reading. Add to that the people who are illiterate (there are many more than we literates imagine) or those who have reading difficulties (like people with dyslexia). These are people who for fear of being found out tend not to go to church, and for fear of being called on to read avoid Bible studies and small group meetings like the plague. These people really would need a support system – of a very unique kind.
What I have found most helpful for my own devotional life is to have a Bible readiing schedule that fits me. There are many Bible reading schedules available. The one I have used for more than 25 years was published in Discipleship Journal in the January 1983 issue. It has an option of getting you through the whole Bible in one year – a pretty heavy task. But for me it’s best feature is that it has 25 Bible reading days a month; realistically assuming that some days you just will not be able to get to it. That removes both the guilt factor and the feeling of being behind if you miss a day.
For people who really want to get into the regular Bible reading habbit I say, do not start at the beginning – you will for sure get bogged down in the second half of Exodus, not to mention Leviticus and Numbers. Start with the New Testament and read the four gospels, then read them again and again. Then maybe lauch out into the rest of the New Testament. After that you may be ready for the whole Bible starting at Genesis 1.
You raise some interesting points, Chris. There may be factors like ability or speed or literacy that influence Bible-reading, and it’s good for us to be aware of them. But I still think priority is the main issue. For most Christians, Bible-reading is simply not a goal they want to work toward, audio Bibles, video Bibles, and online resources notwithstanding.
I too have used the Discipleship Journal reading plan that you speak of, and I think it’s brilliant! In fact, I have a PDF of it that I will try to make available as a download on this blog post. Thanks Chris!
wow. i think these are sorry excuses to cover up laziness.
76 hours divided by 365 days = 12.5 minutes per day – is about how long it takes to read the whole Bible. There should be “I don’t have time”. Like you said, its not an answer. And its what I hear all the time when I ask. You can sit down read a newspaper, magazine or watch television but you can’t devote at least a small amout of time to read the whole Life Manuscript? which in my opinion is far more relevant that anything in this world.
its a shame how satan really has his way with people.
Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Keeping the Word alive in our lives is vital, so why wouldn’t he tempt us not to read it.
Might i add.. ‘lack of understanding’ should not be an excuse either.
There are numerous translation sites and study bibles…
Hi Cierra, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Do you have any suggestions for helping people overcome the laziness and lack of understanding you’ve identified as excuses? I mean, identifying the problem is only the first step. Now how do we overcome it?
Reading the bible and doing research on comparative religion made me an atheist. It’s just an ancient game of telephone, nothing more.
Anon, I agree that “religion” is enough to drive a person to atheism! Religion is really just our attempt to organize our understanding of a relationship that is often mysterious. Often, the rules and traditions replace the actual relationship, and we end up defending the religion instead of the relationship. I apologize for that. I know I’ve been guilty of it myself.
The “relationship” is just in the collective imagination of the believers. It’s basically self-inflicted schizophrenia.
I suppose you could say that about any relationship—it exists in people’s imaginations. Does that mean it’s not real? On the contrary, imagination is where things begin.
I have two books for reading the Bible everyday. Selwyn Hughes’s Every Day with Jesus and The Daily Devotional Commentary by Lawrence O. Richards. The latter helps me a lot at the start of the day and I have to get up early to read it as sometimes it takes 20 minutes. I alternate these books every year by the way not both in the same day.
Thank you for sharing these resources, Lee!
If you really don’t like reading or understand better from listening, there is a great site out there. It’s called http://www.bible.is and speaks out The Bible. They have that site and apps for iPod Touch/iPhone and Android. They have thousands of versions and languages. You can follow along with text and they even have some Bibles in dramatized form. Those really make you feel like your there! And they help me better understand and remember The Bible!
Thank you, Joshua. I’m going to check out those apps!
I do believe that reading the Bible is important, but I think another reason people don’t read it is that they don’t have many friends that are Christian. Maybe they would feel uncomfortable, because they know that their friend’s don’t read it. I don’t think it’s an excuse, but, in fact, another reason to read the Bible. Maybe you could tell your friends about God, and they could be saved. I’m just a kid, but, I don’t really feel close to God, even though I try to be. I’m striving to understand what the Bible says, but, I’m never completely sure that I get what it’s trying to say. Sometimes I feel bad, like, “Why can’t I make more time for God? Why can’t I understand what he’s doing, why can’t I feel saved?”
Thanks for your honesty, Jerrie. I think your experience just proves how important Christian community is. I mean, being able to talk about the Bible with friends is a great way to understand it more, so when you don’t have Christian friends, that does make it harder. (That’s kind of what I was saying in a blog I posted a few months ago: https://lifelinespublishing.com/2011/02/02/tip-3-the-bible-as-weight-watchers/)
I don’t know if this would work, but how would your unbelieving friends respond if you said something like this to them: “I’ve been trying to read the Bible, and it’s really confusing. Would you guys want to read it with me and see if we can get anything out of it?” I mean, would they think that’s lame, or would they give it a shot?
Sorry for the late reply
And, it honestly depends on the religion they have. For instance, if they were atheists, or they simply don’t have a religion, you might be able to try that on them. But, if they were Hindus, or Muslims, well, I’m not sure exactly what you should say to them. They may be weirded out by that idea. I mean, how would you feel if they wanted you to be a Muslim? I would defend my own religion. If the person is open minded, they may want to try something new, but a lot of people today are stubborn, and refuse to accept a religion
I think the key is, you’re not trying to get them to accept a religion. You’re just inviting them to read the Bible and see what it says. If God shows up for them while they’re reading the Bible, He’ll take care of the next steps. That’s not up to you.
The way I see it, you are just letting your friends know that (1) you think the Bible has some important things to say, (2) you want to spend some time studying it, and (3) you’d love it if they would join you. You’re not trying to convert anyone.
People have become great church goers, and are slowly evolving into a non-christian type of person…The Bible is a daily guide for Christ and God to feed my life….There are things in there I must abide by to be a true follower of Christ….Do not steal, do not boast, do not slander, do not be sexualy immoral….And to love our neighbors as ouselfs…If a person doesn’t talk about Christ on days that church isn’t going on then that is a real tell tell….Christ is my life not just part of my life…I do not understand a Christian that doesn’t read Gods word daily….We are supposed to be Holy but instead, tv, video games, fashion, and worldly things have take place…God is a loving God but even when Moses was punished by God it was for the rest of his life….And we will all be judged….! Pray hourly, and search for turning yourself into a Holy person….Church is not for entertainment, and good speakers can draw a crowd….Even an angel of Darkness can fool even the elect…So not everyone that says Lord Lord will enter into the kingdom….But please read the Bible and give your life to God on a daily basis…And don’t read the Bible just for knowledge….Read it for edification….
James, I understand what you’re saying; I’m just not sure how helpful it is to people who are already struggling to read the Bible. I mean, it sounds like you’re trying to make people feel bad (or worse) for not reading the Bible, and I’m not sure that feeling worse really helps people change. Know what I mean?
I have read the bible and even though a part of me wishes I hadn’t I am glad I found the glaring contradictons.
Like Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the laws of Moses yet another passage he says that unlike the laws of Moses you should love your enemy and even bless him/her for if you bless your enemy God will bless your heart.
Now what I want to know is why did Jesus change the law of the old testmeans?
Not that I have any complaints about blessing the enemy as I have had a curse placed on me myself and realize it won’t do me any good to harbor hate towards my victims.
I know of other contradictions to like one about being slow to anger but it’s too late at night for me to post it.
I admire you for at least doing some investigation before you make up your mind about the Bible. A lot of people make assumptions about what it says, but it doesn’t always fit our assumptions!
I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say that Jesus changed the law of the Old Testament. He was usually pretty careful about keeping all the laws, which is what made it so hard for the Pharisees to figure out something to accuse Him of so they could have Him crucified.
The Old Testament laws sort of served the same purpose that rules serve when you’re in grade school. “No talking in line.” “No bullying.” “Keep your uniform clean.” Those rules are pretty clear-cut because kids need clear boundaries. The rules are about behaviors, and the hope is that by influencing the behavior, you’ll mold the child’s spirit. As you get older, you’re able to understand the “spirit” of the law, even if you don’t keep the “letter” of the law.
So, for example, one of the laws of Moses was, “No idols.” Jesus understood that what God really wanted was for His people to love Him more than anything else. Technically, you could own an idol and still love God more than the idol. But the Israelites needed the learn the right behaviors first, so God just banned idols altogether. When Jesus said, “You can sum up all the laws of Moses into two: Love God above all, and love your neighbor as yourself,” He was trying to help the Jews understand the spirit of the law. The Pharisees especially had become very good at technically obeying the laws, but they weren’t doing it because they loved God or people.
Know what I mean?
I love reading the Bible and learning it. I have been trying to encourage kids and adults alike in Sunday school to read and memorize verses each week and yesterday I was chastised by the pastor for what I said last week. I told everyong that I wanted to challenge them to read the Bible and learn the memory verse each week. I then said that we make lame excuses of why we can’t do it. I can’t believe that I was called on the carpet for this, but that is what happened. I was even told that I would have to apologize for offending the adults and berating the kids. I did not even know what that meant when it was said.
It is sad isn’t is how we have no problem with our children playing video games or watching tv for hours on end but we don’t encourage them to read God’s word. I believe that if we want to make a difference with our children we have to start with ourselves. We need to set the example so they know what they need to do. I guess that view was not to popular last Sunday when I made it known to the adults that I was concerned that none of them had been participating in learning the memory verses.
That is a sad story, Tina. It’s probably true that American Christians are not able to appreciate how important the Bible is because we have such an abundance of spiritual resources. We take it for granted. You might enjoy a book called The Heavenly Man, by Paul Hattaway and Brother Yun. (http://www.google.com/products/catalog?client=safari&rls=en&q=The+Heavenly+Man&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=8129482308230180835&sa=X&ei=8LhtT8jIItTpgQeqvb1r&ved=0CFAQ8wIwAQ#ps-sellers) It is the story of being a Christian in China, where Bibles are hard to come by. Chinese Christians really depend on God’s Word as spiritual food.
I’ve tried reading the bible many times…I’ve downloaded apps and printed out reading plans, but I get so confused. I don’t know if I should take it literally or how to interpret the metaphorical stuff. I want to read the bible because I want to, not because I have to, but I get so discouraged at times so I stop reading it altogether.
Bonnie, I have found it helpful to think of reading the Bible as having a conversation with God. Sometimes the conversation will be deep and difficult to understand. Other times it’s pretty straightforward. When people have commented here about praying before you read the Bible, that’s because they understand that it’s a conversation. When they pray, they’re essentially saying, “Hi God, I’m here. What do you have for me today?” Whatever they read in the Bible is God’s message for them.
If you’re feeling frustrated and discouraged, I would recommend starting with the verse-of-the-day calendar I recommended in the comments above. You might be surprised at how often that verse is just what you needed to hear! Here’s a link where you can subscribe: http://icalshare.com/calendars/5017
The Holy Spirit guides and teaches us in the word, there in lies the problem, I have not seen where reading the Bible has given me any guidance. I just trust that God will do what is best for me according to his plan.
Kenyon, the Bible is what God uses to let us know what His plan is. My guess is, He would like you to be more involved in the relationship than to just passively leave everything up to Him.
yes i agree with the comments i read the bible but right now i hit a dry spell i just can’t get into it i try and try and nothing has anyone had this before?? what too do??
You might try reading a different version of the Bible—The Message, for example, is a paraphrase that’s really interesting. Or you could try listening to an audio version. You could download the audio files to your MP3 player, and then listen while you go for a walk or something. Let us know how that works for you!
I’ve been guilty of not ever making the time to read the Bible ..I’ve just downloaded the Bible 360…it is wonderful…I recommend it to all. I used to sit on my computer and just surf the web…with this downloadable Bible I am reading daily…actually for hours and feel compelled to read every last verse written unto me.God Bless and hope anyone reading these posts will take a look for yourselves <3
Thanks for that recommendation, daisy—I’m downloading Bible360 now and will give it a try!
When my relationship with God through Jesus Christ began I could barely even read, let alone understand and properly pronounce most of the names and words.
College ?….. I didn’t even come close to high school graduation.
I was often referred to as a “burn out” because of my past life.
Then, my calling came.
Excuses, I tried all of them for nearly everything that “I” fell short of.
Then I read Gods message to the Apostle Paul, “in weakness My strength is made perfect”, it fit me like a glove.
I began by reading the four Gospels, after Prayer for Gods wisdom and understanding EVERY time I read the Bible.
Gods word is Spiritual, the carnal mind cannot understand most of it’s true meaning.
Our comforter, the Holy Spirit led me (still does), helped me to understand the Bible.
By Gods Grace I read the New Testament clear to Revelation, then, someone gave me a gift.
A Thompson “chain reference” KJV Bible, by then I hungered for Gods word daily.
Anytime that something stood out to me I used the chain reference, God gave me the understanding.
The only contradiction in the Bible is within ones own carnal mind, with God ALL things are possible, excuses do not work.
Twenty eight days after I was born again I Preached my first message under the unction of the Holy Spirit, that was twenty years ago.
Want to grow stronger Spiritually ? eat of Gods word EVERY chance you have, it is high quality, low calorie and it builds useful Spiritual muscle rather than fat.
Without Him, I am nothing, without Him, I can do nothing, without Him I am both hopeless and helpless.
If or when I feel led I may post my testimony or a link to it, our God is indeed an Awesome God.
That’s a beautiful testimony Jeff!
In my humble opinion, not reading the Bible as a Christian makes you become spiritually anorexic. A lot Christians undermine the value of reading the Bible. You will be easily devoured by false doctrines and become doctrinally unsound if you do not read the Bible. The more you read the Bible, the more you will hear God’s voice. I have to read the Bible everyday. I forget stuff if I don’t read it everyday, for my flesh is forgetful.
I agree, Emily. We need spiritual food as well as spiritual exercise; we need to feed our faith as well as put it in action. A huge advantage Jehovah’s Witnesses have over Christians is that they spend time studying the Bible (https://lifelinespublishing.com/2012/03/21/three-advantages-jehovahs-witnesses-have-over-christians/).
That is true and it is a pity that Christians aren’t as zealous. Despite the fact that their bible is a twisted version of ours (by obscurring the diety of Christ among many other things), they do take it seriously! Have you heard of the Way of the Master?
They have lots of exellent resources on evangelizing!
I had not heard of the Way of the Master. Thanks for these resources!
I hope I don’t sound boastful, but I have read the KJV Bible 65 times and am now on my 66th reading. I don’t skip around. I start at Genesis and read straight through to Revelation. This is the only way to do it, stopping along the way to think through various pertinent verses as they pertain to your life. Amen
Very impressive, Cassandra!
When I became a Christian, I read the Living Bible. It was written in a way that I could understand. I was very excited then. It was exciting to know that God was a living and working inside of me. Later on, I started to read the NASB. My problem is that I feel like I am familiar enough with the Bible so that I don’t really need to read it over and over. I know that it is wrong. I even have an associates degree in practical theology. When I do read the Bible, I have a tendency to read Psalms for comfort and Proverbs for wisdom. Sometimes when I do read the Bible, a verse will pop out at me. I will see a verse in a new light.
It sounds like you might appreciate reading the Bible in community with someone else, Juliet. Sometimes just being able to ask, “What do you see in this verse?” opens up new insights and fresh perspectives. When you’ve reached a point where the Bible seems too familiar to have anything new to say, inviting someone else to speak into your reading can be humbling and refreshing.
Hi Melanie, I chanced upon your site, and wanted to drop you a line. I appreciate your thoughtful post about people reading the Bible. I am 57, and no longer a believer– used to be, but no longer, and no I’m not interested in returning to all that. My only purpose this morning is to confirm your point that many believers, and I would even say “most”, do not know the Bible or are interested in knowing it. They often claim the Bible as a symbol of something (often they don’t know what), but not as a document to be read; and many believers cling to Bibles the way they might hold to a good luck charm. In this age of “feeling it in my heart”, people in all walks of life, believers and non-believers alike, have lost the idea of a text held in common as a foundation for ideas, a common ground shared by others. Nowadays people would rather share their feelings than share their knowledge of a text, any text. I’m not denying feelings, we all have them, but communities of any kind require a common ground, and the surest common ground is a text of some kind which we all read and share even if we disagree about the meaning. Of course, the key word is “read”, which raises questions of literacy, but that’s another story for another day… Anyway, thanks for letting me stop by.
William, thanks for stopping by! You raise an interesting point about having a common text. Would you say that Christianity today is similar to US citizenship today, in that most Americans have not read the Constitution since grade school and are not really sure what it says?
I’m also curious about your own experience with the Bible—when you were a believer, were you also a reader?
Melanie, thank you for your response. The answer to your first question is: I do believe that Christianity has become something like U.S. citizenship in the sense that many who claim the text (Bible or U.S. constitution) know mostly hunches and hearsay, and only a smattering of text. To be clear, believers and citizens are still believers and citizens, even with their deficient knowledge of a common text. But a common text is a kind of “check and balance” even (maybe especially) when folks don’t agree on the meaning. I do not believe in once size fits all, sure-fire formulas for community success. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and I would never claim that a common text is superglue binding communities together forever. But few things will erode a community’s common ground faster than neglecting the common text and substituting private hunches, hearsay and “feeling it in my heart”. Concerning your second question about my experience with the Bible: I grew up steeped in the text, reading it and memorizing it. I still enjoy the language and stories of the Bible, as I do any of the classics, just not as anything divine or inspired. Concerning my unbelief, that short answer will have to do for now. Experience has taught me that longer answers often lead to unhappy conversations. However, I always enjoy talking about language and literature, even the Bible as literature, and you are welcome to email me privately.
For some reason, when I was reading your comment above, a thought crossed my mind about Bible studies vs. book clubs. Now, it’s not a fully formulated thought; it’s just a seed of an idea I’m beginning to wonder about, and if you have any ideas to add, I’d love to hear them. Here’s the trail so far: For one thing, I’m wondering if Christianity is the only religion that expects average people to study the common text, the Bible. That is, does the average Muslim participate in Koran studies every week? Do average Mormons gather in small groups to study the Book of Mormon? I have not heard of this, and I’m wondering then if the concept of “Bible study” is really quite foreign to new converts. That is, I wonder if Christians are assuming that new Christians “get” that they should be reading and studying the Bible, and we don’t realize that they don’t know how. I’m also wondering if the closest similar concept is a book club, ya know, where people choose a “common text,” they agree to read it at the same pace, and they gather weekly to talk about the section they just read. I have never been part of a book club, but it seems like they are more popular than Bible studies. So that makes me wonder if there are elements of a book club that could be transferred to a Bible study.
Just some thoughts.
I admire your respectful inquiries about those of the Islamic faith and Mormons—I do not know how they study their texts. Too, I am not clear how Hasidic Jews study Talmud, but I am fascinated by midrash stories. I wish I could be enthusiastic about the idea that elements of a book club might be useful in a Bible study group. The idea has appeal. But consider this: book clubs and Bible study groups are composed of people, and when it comes to reading most people don’t do it well. Also consider: Bible study groups have a complication which you usually don’t find in book clubs, i.e., divine inspiration. Point out an inaccurate or noncredible Bible passage to a true believer and you will probably have an argument. Inaccuracies in “The Help” seldom produce that reaction and might even be considered charming.
I am certain that you and I both have critical thinking and reading skills way superior to the average book club/Bible study reader. We study the text and we are discerning. Given my careful, deliberate reading habits, I doubt that I would fit in with a book club or a Bible study. I prefer one-on-one discussions about books of any kind.
I have to force myself to read the bible and I don’t know why. I try really hard maybe I don’t see how it is benefitting me. I do read the Psalms and kind of enjoy reading the Psalms because it soothes my misery but the rest not really however I force myself because the Psalms 1 says,” but his delight is in the law of Yah and he shall prosper but I don’t know why I don’t have a desire to read the word. I have accepted Christ into my heart maybe subconsciensly I feel like it is not working for me somehow because my life is still in the same predicament or maybe I need to have more faith
I don’t know all I know is the author of this article is correct with the first one for me that they secretly don’t believe it matters. That’s why when I do read the word, I just read like 5 verses or so and then put it away because I don’t see it helping my life is still in the same condition I feel I guess I don’t know I also feel like at the same time I don’t want anyone judging me because God did say that we should press our way and that is exactly what I am doing although I don’t have that desire to read the word, I DO PRESS to read the word even though I feel it is not helping but when I press, I only read like about 5 verses and thats it.
So again I don’t know why I don’t have that desire to read the word too much maybe also I feel like there is no hope for me or something. I don’t know BUT one thing is for sure, is that I do follow very closely this guy on tv called Pastor Arnold Murray http://shepherdschapel.com AND I LOVE TO READ THE WORD WITH HIM. He makes me want to read the word and he is very thorough when he reads the bible because he reads the bible chapter by chapter and verse by verse. So basically I read the word with him but on my own I don’t find it interesting at all I don’t know why I try though very hard but again I don’t know why but with Pastor Arnold Murray he always says at the end of his teaching he always says Hey you know our father loves it when you read his word, it is his love letter to you and you should always read his word it makes his day when you read the love letter he sent to you even on a bad day, You know why, because Jesus Yahshua he is the living word. He always ends it like this and it is through this man why I force myself to read the word
Hi Precious, just a couple of thoughts:
1. I hope you went on to read the next post in this series (https://lifelinespublishing.com/2011/01/19/tip-1-the-bible-as-vitamin/) because that is specifically written for people who feel like reading the Bible doesn’t make a difference.
2. The things you say about Pastor Murray make total sense, because the Bible is even richer when we read it in community with other people. For more information on that, see point 2 of this blog: https://lifelinespublishing.com/2011/02/02/tip-3-the-bible-as-weight-watchers/
3. Reading the Bible is key to the relationship God wants to have with us. I’m not saying that to make you feel guilty; I only mean that because it’s a relationship, it’s not easy. I mean, relationships require work; and sometimes they feel good, but other times they are frustrating or tiresome or confusing. That’s true of our relationship with God too. It’s not always going to be easy, and that’s ok. Just stick with it.
NOT to be rude or burst your bubble, but Arnold Murray is a false teacher and here are some of the things the Shepherd Chapel believe in.
Denies the Trinity and teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are really three offices held by the one God.
On its website’s statement of faith 1 it says “We believe in the God of the Bible (Exodus 3:6-14).” Unfortunately, this is completely insufficient as an explanation since it does not affirm the Trinity nor does it deny modalism or polytheism.
Denies the existence of eternal Hell.
This contradicts the Bible’s teaching.
Rev. 20:10, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Matt. 25:46, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Denies the doctrine of the rapture.
1 Thessalonians 4:15, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Denies physical resurrection of believers. We will be raised spiritually.
Teaches annihilationism: non-existence after death for sinners.
Teaches that certain Old Testament kosher laws regarding meat should be followed.
Teaches Serpent Seed doctrine: Eve had literal sexual relations with the serpent.
The offspring of Eve’s impregnation resulted in Cain, Satan’s offspring.
The Kenites are the tares of the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matt. 13.
Satan’s fallen angels impregnated women around the time of Noah.
Interracial marriage is wrong.
Being born again is to enter into this body from a spiritual body of another age.
America and Britain are the lost tribes of Israel.
People were alive in a pre-existence.
There was an earth age prior to Adam where a race of people lived.
The Rapture is a false doctrine.
Thanks for your reply BUT what does this have to do with the fact that I have to force myself to read the bible? I just started watching Pastor Murray for about 3 weeks now but before him, I had this problem with forcing myself to read the bible and even now after watching Pastor Murray, I still have this problem with forcing myself to read the bible. Pastor Murray does encourage everybody to read the love letter that God sent to us and study it for ourself. He encourages ALL to not take his word for anything but instructs all people to back up what he says in the word. I have backed up a couple things Pastor Murray has said in the word to be true but I haven’t backed up all of them as yet. Still studying however the reason I mentioned Pastor Murray is because HE is the ONLY one who has ever made me push myself to study Gods word for myself. No church I have ever went to has ever had this effect on me. NONE. And I have been to many churches. Pentecostal, Apostolic, Baptist, you name it.
Who is Arnold Murray?
by Matt Slick
Arnold Murray is the “pastor” of a church called the Shepherd’s Chapel which is based in Gravette, Ark, with over 200 television stations carrying his ministry. Mr. Murray presents himself as a Christian scholar, calls himself “Dr.”, and says he is an ex-marine who served in the Korean War where he was wounded. Unfortunately, proof of his doctorate degree is not available. He also refuses to provide any documentation regarding his scholastic achievements. In fact, getting any information on Mr. Murray is very difficult. He is rather private about his personal history and has refused to provide much biographical information about himself. Also, it isn’t necessary to have a doctorate to be a good teacher of the word of God. But since he refers to himself as “Dr.”, it would be nice to verify his credentials. No such verification has manifested from him.
Mr. Murray stated that when he was young he attended many different churches and that he has incorporated some of the teachings of these different churches into his current theology. Again, these different churches are not mentioned anyone on his website. Were any of them non Christian cults? What is their denominational affiliation? We want to know because we want to find out what his theological background is since it might explain where he got some of his aberrant theological ideas.
Mr. Murray, or Pastor Murray, as his followers call him, teaches a brand of theology that has many problems. Mr. Murray denies the doctrine of the Trinity, denies the existence of hell and the rapture, and states that Eve had sexual relations with the devil and that this union produced Cain.
When watching his television show it becomes quickly evident that he is a bit condescending to those whom he claims are misled, something that seems to have rubbed off on his followers. He justifies this approach by stating that he was in the Marines and learned how to “teach his troops” with discipline. It seems his approach is lacking the humility and grace of the Holy Spirit which is demonstrated in this brief audio clip where Murray threatens someone with a 9mm handgun. In addition, it seems that he has made a false prophecy as is documented by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, a secular religious analysis organization.
Mr. Arnold Murray also frequently refers to the Christian identity movement which teaches that the British and, therefore, the Americans and Canadians, are the true descendants of the ancient Israelites the 10 lost tribes. Jews in Israel are really descended from Cain who was the result of sexual intercourse between Eve and Satan. Murray also teaches that all people had a pre-existence in spirit-bodies before they were born here on earth.
Mr. Murray supports his off-base theological positions by interpreting verses in light of his pre-conceived ideas, sometimes stripping biblical verses of their context. He also selectively appeals to the Strong’s concordance, cites what Greek and Hebrew words mean, and weaves his theological positions into the text. In reality, all he has done is justify his ideas through his unsound interpretive techniques.
I recommend that you stay far away from this man and the Shepherd’s Chapel.
Thanks for that important information, Emily. You are demonstrating another reason it is so important for Christians to (1) be in community with each other (even online communities!), and (2) study God’s Word—so that we can discern truth and keep each other from being led astray.
You’re wrong about the hell thing, because just today, I heard Pastor Murray on the broadcast say Yes hell is real and eternal so you are wrong about that theory. He did say hell is real just today
It doesn’t matter if he gets one doctrine right, it only takes one wrong biblical doctrine wrong to become a heretic. I recommend pastors like John MacArthur, Steven J Lawson and R.C Sproul. They do great expository preaching and they preach verse by verse and are absolutely sound in doctrine. If you do not have a hunger for God’s word I recommend you to cry out to god for that thirst. While it is good that Arnold Murray motivates you to read scripture, if he espouses false doctrine I am not going to sit there and not say anything. For, “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.” Acts 24:16.
May grace and peace be multiplied to you by God, our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Thanks for your reply Emily but I was only pointing out that Pastor Murray has encouraged me to read the word which is a good thing however not that I am agreeing with Pastor Murray about everything he teaches BECAUSE I am still comparing what he says to the word but YOU DO KNOW that the word rapture is not even in the bible right? The word rapture is not even scriptural. If you can show me the word rapture in the bible then I will stand corrected. It is the return of Christ or the second coming but the word rapture is completely made up by the church and that in itself is false
If you recall, Point #2 I made above is that we too often rely on professional Christians to do our Bible reading and Bible study for us. We have to find an appropriate balance between depending on the Christian community and taking personal responsibility for our spiritual growth.
So let’s not let this conversation turn into a debate over Arnold Murray or any other well-known preacher. The purpose of the post is to spur one another on to more personal Bible reading.
I can see your point, but “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17. I will also not tolerate false teachers, they ought to be exposed for the sake of our Lord. The point of reading the Bible is to develop a closer relationship with the Lord. It is true that no teachers can read your Bible for you and if you do not study the Bible yourself, you will not be able to discern between sound and false doctrines. I personally love Precept ministries Inductive Bible Study. It is a bible study that you have to do yourself and find answers in the scripture yourself. Reading your Bible shouldn’t be forced on you it should be something you thirst for.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
I motivate myself like this, in praying, I speak to the Lord, and the Lord speak to me through scriptures. ” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I motivate myself to read the scriptures like this: Christ gave up everything to purchase me with His blood, to not read the Bible is denying Him and not putting any value in what He has to say. I can deny my petty excuses and do this for Christ and reading the Bible profits me in the end because it keeps me in righteousness, it disciplines me into sanctification. This is how the Lord revealed Himself is through scripture. Do I want to know Him? Is He worth my time? Christ is worth EVERYTHING. Also, I think about the persecuted Church abroad who would die just to read God’s word and we have the freedom to. People actually cry when they receive Bibles there. They rejoice and hunger for God’s word so severely to the point of death. How would my brothers and sisters in Christ feel if I have all the freedom in the world to read the Bible and don’t while they risk their flesh and blood and get tortured for the word of God. I’ve heard stories where our bothers and sisters in Christ beg their persecutors for just a page of scripture. Here we seem to brush it off as such a trivial thing. When persecution and trials do come, how well equipped are you? And persecution will come, it already is here. Moreover the Bible you now have is bound by the blood of Christ and of our martyrs. Many have died just to preserve the word of God.
You are correct and I agree with you let’s stick to the original topic. I agree that we should find a balance however when I force myself to read the word on my own, I do lots of times I do not understand what I am reading. So that’s when I have to go to a tv pastor for clarity and understanding. The pslams is self explanatory and most of the proverbs but other parts is hard for me to understand what it is saying
Precious, do you have a calendar program on your phone or computer? If you email me at [email protected], I’d like to send you an iCal calendar that will give you one Bible verse each morning. You read the Bible verse, and then there’s a one- or two-sentence comment on it, and then there’s a question that can help you think about that verse and get some meaning out of it. If you’d like to try it, send me an email, and I’ll email you the file.
I never said I believe in the rapture, but that depends on whether you hold a premillennial view, a post millennial view or amillennial view of eschatology. But to say the rapture is a false doctrine because the word is not in the Bible, I can also say the trinity is a false doctrine because the word isn’t in the Bible. The word Bible isn’t even in the Bible. So that is a pretty weak argument.
I thank you for your replies but I think now it is time we just stick to the topic and peaceably agree to disagree on this subject as I am still learning myself. God Bless
Ok, as interesting as this discussion is, it’s veering farther and farther from the point of the original post. So I’m going to delete any further comments that mention Arnold Murray or false doctrine, or that contain links to what other people say about these topics.
The topic you are welcome to comment on is “Why don’t Christians read the Bible” —and I would especially appreciate any tips, offered in a kind and gentle tone, that might encourage people to do more Bible-reading.
Although I would never consider Gods word as a game, this is a small helpful hint.
Find yourself a good Bible quiz / puzzle book, many companies make them, they are very economical.
“Crossword” or “find a word” to each his own.
Carry it, or several (in your vehicle, different rooms, etc.).
While waiting for an appointment, family member, etc. get it out and begin working the puzzles.
It may seem silly at first, yet in time it will perk your curiosity, test your Bible knowledge and give you a “hunger” to know more about Gods word.
I think that’s a great idea, Jeff! Thanks!
@William Holmes, I wasn’t able to reply directly under the comment about Bible studies and book clubs you left above. I think the comment conversation we were having reached the maximum number of levels allowed! But I wanted to add this thought: One of the things I like about the concept of a book club is that, as I understand it, there’s no “leader” who has all the right answers. It’s just a bunch of people who read the book and share what they got out of it. They all learn from each other. I wish more Bible studies were like that. I wish we Christians were more willing to learn from other people—other Christians, but also nonChristians.
I should clarify that comments on this post are not closed. There is no limit to the number of comments you can post. It’s just that there is a limit to the number of times you can “reply” within a comment thread. Those replies appear as comments indented under the first comment, and after 5 or 6 indented replies, the “reply” button disappears, and the only way to add a comment is to start a new thread by posting a new comment at the end of all the comments. Let me know if you have questions about that.
Well,the things is not only read the bible , god says we have to be doers of the word not listeners only,and the problem is about the own appretiation and not in the true of the each assumption analized.
You are right, Jose. We have to know what the Word says SO THAT we can DO it.
Dear Melanie, here in central america we have the same problem and also bible study attending is very low. I think our excuse in Costa Rica is the price of the bibles, dictionaries, and commentaries. But of course, people know how to find the money or the credit to buy TVs, phones and other stuff.
Can we say that our faith is diminishing more and more because of our bible illiteracy? Regards.
Greetings Lorenzo! Yes, I think it’s accurate to say that our faith is diminishing because of our Bible illiteracy. If we don’t know what we believe, it is hard to stand firm when trials come, and it’s difficult to discern truth from falsehood.
I am a devoted Christian and attend church and my community group regularly. I love having quiet time and spending personal time with God. I love listening to worship music in my car and at home or wherever its played! But probably pick up the bible and sit and read it about 3 times a month. I do some months more than others but usually around 3. I understand that there are great stories and life lessons in it but I dont feel anything. I dont feel God I dont feel alive, I just say to myself, ohh, well that was a nice story or that was a great thing Jesus did. I understand that you should apply these things in your life but they are things that i usually already know! like be kind, dont angry easily, be patient, dont be stubborn, dont be quick to judge, constantly be God fearing, go to church, get involved, be active and many others! I just dont feel a connection with what i read, so in turn, i just dont feel the need to pick it up and read.
Rob, I too have felt the way you do—bored with the Bible. And I’m sure other Christians have too (whether they admit it or not). To me, Bible-reading is like exercise—if I do it only when I feel like it, I might never do it! But I make the commitment, and I work at it, and eventually I see the benefits.
Another thing that helps me is hearing from people who ARE excited about reading the Bible. When I hear their enthusiasm about what they “got” from a Bible story or passage or verse, I think, “Wow, that’s cool. I should look at that more closely.” Or if I’m in a group, and we each have to share something we noticed in a particular Bible passage, I’m always fascinated by the variety of responses—everyone gets something different, and they’re all right!
Here’s one more idea: Read “The Heavenly Man,” by Brother Yun. When I read this book, I became embarrassed at my lack of enthusiasm for God’s Word. Brother Yun’s story gives some dramatic examples of why it’s so important to study the Bible on your own, rather than only depending on the teachings of others.
Anyway, I wish you the best on your spiritual journey! And if you have other thoughts along the way, please feel free to post them here. :)
There are two reasons I have found that, people doesn’t get any mean to read the bible because all things are happenig all right or not all right then they should have another way to make all right rather studying bible. for example; people need medicine if they sick rather bible. If people feel like this then no mean to study bible.
Second is, most of christian doesn’t have any basic ideas to read and understand the bible. They don’t have idea to hear the voice of God and meditate and apply the God’s word in their life.
the bible is scary!!! did you read the old testament??? I can’t even sleep now. the new testament makes everything peaceful and sugar coats things compared to the old testament.
Yeah, there are some scary things in the old testament. There are some funny things too. And some poetry. And some love stories. I’m not sure what you mean when you say the new testament sugarcoats things—do you have an example?
I used to read the Bible every spare moment I had…along with any commentaries I could get a hold of….My kids were little then and I had the comfort of knowing that if anything happened to them, they would be with the Lord. My Oldest son is now 23. He is following the world. So now reading the Bible is not all that pleasant – most every verse has him thrown into the fire. Yes, I have prayed for him, day and night. I have given him the word whenever God has lead me to. I have talked, prayed, pleaded, etc….Its hard to be thankful for my own salvation when my own child does not have that. It feels like eating at a banquet table while he sits far away eating crumbs…I just can’t praise or rejoice that I have something my own child doesn’t. Just being honest. So, for that reason, I rarely can bring myself to read it.
Deanna, that is certainly understandable. And I’m going to say something, fully aware of the risk that it may sound trite, though I don’t mean it to be: God does understand your pain. He is a Father, and your son is His son too. I think He agonizes about how the Enemy has deceived your son, and He is actively working to get him back. The process may be painful, and slow, but He is at work.
I had an uncle who left his faith as a young man, breaking his mother’s heart. His sisters, his wife, his children all prayed for him for more than 40 years. Finally, in his 80s, he began attending a Bible study with me. We would read Bible stories and spend hours talking about the hypocrisy of the church, and the hurts he had suffered, and the meaning of life. Gradually his anger began to dissolve. He and his wife started attending church with me, and he was surprised to meet people there who weren’t interested in judging him. They enjoyed his sense of humor, and he enjoyed re-experiencing many of the traditions he had given up all those years ago. He died a few years after he joined that little church, and his only regret was that it took him so long to come back.
In a similar way, your son may need some space to make his own decisions, his own mistakes, his own discoveries about God and church. But yes, that can be difficult for a mother to stand by and watch.
I often get started reading, and stop after a few days. Or make reading plans, and then don’t follow through. I’m afraid this is happening because I’m not a true believer. I’ve invited God into my heart, but wonder if he never really came because he knows I’ll never truly believe. It’s frightening to want to be a sheep, but feel like a goat.
Hi Tony, thanks for stopping by!
I think a relationship with God is like any relationship—it goes through phases. A lot of times, when people first meet Him, they are eager to get to know as much as possible as fast as possible. For other people, the relationship is more gradual and less emotional. And sometimes, people get bored with the relationship, and they start drifting away.
When your marriage is in trouble, if you want to stay together, you start to be more intentional about spending time together. This can be difficult because it means you have to change some habits you’ve developed, change your schedule, change the way you speak to each other, etc. It’s hard work, but if you both stick with it, the result is a deeper relationship.
The Bible is one way to spend time with God, but there are others too. Spending time with other Christians is another way to encourage your relationship with God. Talking to God is another way to work on your relationship. None of these things is the only way to deepen your relationship, but they all help. And even when you’re doing everything, the relationship will still go through phases.
I hope that helps!
@ Tony, pray for God to give you true assurance. Assurance of salvation is a blessing. Read the book of 1 John. In it, it contains the marks of a true believer.
Also Tony, inviting Him into your heart doesn’t save you, that is found nowhere in the Bible. The verse Revelation 3:20, when read in context is talking about churches, not unbelievers.
And if you know and feel that deep down you are not born again, what will you do if you stand before a just and holy God on judgement day?
Below is the 10 Commandments that shows His holy and righteous standards. And to break anyone of these commandments is to break them all. And if you are not made right with Him, when you die you are going to be cast into hell for all eternity because you transgressed against a just and holy God who must punish sin. But, there is good news and a way to be saved. 2000 years ago, God the Father in His lovingkindness sent forth His Son Jesus Christ in the flesh, born of a virgin, born under the law to redeem those who are under the law. He knew no sin all His life. He never sinned once. Then He went to die on the cross on your behalf. He bore the curse, the penalty you so deserved and the wrath of God you deserved on that cross. Then He rose on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. Once you let go of your righteousness, knowing that there is absolutely nothing you can do to be saved, repent and you solely put your trust in the finished work on the cross, then you will be saved. You will be legally justified before a holy and righteous God. Christ’s righteousness will be imputed to you, your sins imputed to Him. That does not end there. You will be spiritually adopted into God’s family and will be His son. Then when you die physically, you will spend eternity in Heaven with Him and you will enjoy Him forever.
1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2.You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3.You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
4.Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
5.Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
6.You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8.You shall not steal.
9.You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10.You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Don’t stop crying out to Him until He gives you assurance.
Emily, thanks for giving such a complete answer. I want to caution you though about using fear and judgement as a motivator. That’s a common tactic that would-be evangelists use, but I don’t think it’s very effective. After all, the root word of “evangelist” means “good news,” not “hellfire and damnation”!
And I’m not sure you’re correct to say that “inviting Christ into your heart doesn’t save you.” In Acts 16, Paul and Silas tell the prison warden, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” And Paul tells us again in Romans 10: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I think it could be argued that when Tony talks about inviting God into his heart, he’s talking about believing in Him.
Also, I’m not sure why you are listing the 10 Commandments here for Tony. I suppose it’s helpful to know what they are, but I almost get the impression that you’re telling Tony, “Here are the rules you need to follow in order to earn salvation.” And that’s just not true. When we have a real relationship with God, we will automatically want to do what He likes. But without that relationship, following the rules is empty ritual. That’s what the Pharisees did, and Jesus condemned them for it.
I do appreciate you participating in the conversation; I just want to encourage you “do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) I actually am planning to post a blog about evangelism tactics this week, and I hope you’ll join me in conversation on that one! It goes live Wednesday morning.
I listed the law because, “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7
Furthermore…Jesus mentioned hell more than anyone in Bible, are you saying that you are more loving, gentle and respectful than He is?
Jesus speaks on Hell and Destruction in Forty Six versus in the Bible.
22But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
[27″You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’ 28but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. – editor]
29If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
13“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. …
19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
12But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
30Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
40Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.
42and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
8“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.
9And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
13Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
30And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
41“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
46And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
29but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation
43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched
44Where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”
45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched
46Where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”
47And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire
48Where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”
17His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
5But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
46the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
47And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
29and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
6If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son. But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Also, I did include the gospel. Good news isn’t good news without the bad news, is it?
And about Romans 10:9 it’s in the present tense which means salvation is not a one time event. It’s not one time you made a confession, but are you still confessing Him as Lord? I am talking about works based salvation, because we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. And read it in context to see who and what Paul is referring to.
I am not trying to be mean spirited but I do care about people’s souls.
I also listed the law to show His holiness and righteousness, and if we are believers, like you said, we would love His law. My conscience is clear, I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful unless you say mentioning hell and judgement is not gentle and respectful. If I do come across as that, then I am sorry, but there is a sense of urgency when it comes to the gospel and snatching people out of the fire. So was Jesus an ineffective evangelist and Paul as well, since they mention hell? What about the prophets?
I’ll be interested to hear your response to Wednesday morning’s post, which will be titled, “Why street corner evangelism doesn’t work.”
Thank you for your gracious reply, and I look forward to our article.
I know it’s good to read the Bible and all, and I find myself reading Psalms and a few other chapters most often than others. But honestly, I think that some pastors and “Christians” tend to twist certain passages around and they preach out the wrong meaning, like they take the Bible too literal. And then those so called “Christians” are quick to say “You’re going to hell”. Which is why most people choose not to be Christian, because they feel a need to try and be some perfect saint. The truth is most Christians don’t even understand what it means to be a Christian. Christianity is a religion of love, and a good Christian is someone who is willing to show God’s love to EVERYONE, whether they’re gay, lesbian, fighting an addiction, or whether they have another religion. If more Christians were to have a better understanding of God’s love, I know that more people would be willing to follow him as their lord and savior.
Sadly, I think you’re right about how Christians don’t always seem to act out of love. Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, we are often arrogant and angry. I think that’s one reason it’s so important to read the Bible. By going directly to the source, we can see that Jesus was loving, and funny, and gentle—and the better we get to know Him, the more we can be like Him. If all we know about Jesus is what other people tell us, we might get a distorted view, and we won’t recognize it when people twist the truth.
I have never had a successful relationship I only talking to somebody 20 minutes week. Nor have I had a successful relationship with another person by asking somebody else to explain them to me.
I think a lot of Christian people do not read the Bible because they go to church once a week.
I also used to go , but at one point I wanted to feed myself..
I love to read and study on my own. When I find a church that encourages people and excites them about reading I will probably go to the church… But going to church when the message goes in one ear and out the other and you can’t tell the difference once every church I’m not interested in that….
Hi Tracey! I think you’re right that too many people believe that going to church is a “replacement” for reading the Bible on their own. And too many churches believe that the pastor’s job is to read the Bible “for” people. But I think this results in weak Christians, stagnant churches, and exhausted pastors!
A church is a family of people who are on a journey together, trying to learn and remember and live what Jesus teaches us in His Word. We can’t do it on our own. And we can’t let someone else do it for us.
I think the primary reason Christians don’t regularly read and study the Bible is that they are not really Christians at all! I mean, what kind of soldier stationed overseas in a war zone would receive a letter from a loved-one back home and not even bother to open it, or if they did bother to open it, simply skim it over once quickly and put it away?!?
I’m not sure you’re making a fair comparison. You’re blaming people for not being eager to read the Bible, when in fact many of them don’t know that it is a letter from God to them!
Similarly, I could blame people for not being eager to read Shakespeare—after all, if you speak English, you should love reading the greatest English writings in history! You can’t really call yourself a good citizen if you don’t even bother to open the classics, can you?
I might feel justified in making that claim, but that may be because I’ve forgotten that I had to learn how to appreciate Shakespeare. I took classes in high school and college that explained his plays and poems to me and made them accessible. Now I appreciate them, but someone had to to teach me.
It’s easy for Christians to judge people for not reading the Bible. What’s harder is demonstrating why it’s worth reading. If you can’t see God’s love in my life, I have little chance of convincing you to open the Book He wrote.
I agree Tony.
We should also remember that people all over the world get saved and still may not have the Bible in their language yet. Does that mean they are not saved? Of course not!
Hi Gabe, thanks for stopping by. You are right that it is possible to begin a relationship with God even if you don’t have a Bible. But in order for a relationship to grow and deepen, the people in it need to continue to learn more about each other. For people, the best way to learn more about God is to keep reading the Bible. That’s why many Christians feel so strongly about translating the Bible into all the world’s languages—they want all the peoples of the world to be able to understand as much as possible about the God they may have just met.
I have a hard time seeing how someone who has truly been saved wouldn’t want to read it. I always believed in God and Jesus little did I know I was an ‘agnostic’ (loosly speaking) Christian until I absolutely KNEW He had acted upon me and was Known Unto Him after ‘Struggling/Wrestling with God”. as being fully Owned. It was all in Spirit and through Revelation. How can one come to Know Him better without Taking in their Daily Bread, His Word, “I Am The Bread of Life” and remain strong in The Faith of God? It would indicate where one’s MIND is for the most part if not and what that place as first importance in their lives. Only a thought (and their are extenuating circumstances as well that God is well aware of). From another source regarding lack of bible reading with other information
Gives us this Day Our Daily Bread. “I am The Bread of Life” In the beginning was The Word.
You do not receive because you do not ask. “Give Us The Bread for our Daily Need.
27 And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR “MIND”; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does The Will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”
22″MANY will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
23″And then I will declare to them, ‘I never KNEW you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAW-LESS (NESS).’ (why would that be? He never sprinkled them with His Blood because they never went to the cross and were Baptized into His Death, which is that of our selves. Let alone Repenting which is seldom spoken of or understood fully).
And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11″Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12″But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not KNOW you.’… If you loved Me, you’d do as I say”
How can we say we loved Him if we do not Follow The Word? Nor even want to? To Grow in the Knolwedge of God, being transformed by the renewing of the mind so that you will Know the Perfect Will of God.”
. A total of 2,930 surveys were completed, with churchgoing respondents being defined as those who attend a Protestant church at least once a month.
“Bible engagement encompasses more than just Bible reading. It measures the extent to which individuals INTERACT with The TRUTH of Scripture and allow it to permeate their thinking and influence their actions,” said McConnell.
How can one defend The Faith if they Know Nothing about “It”?
“There is a widespread desire among churchgoers to please Jesus, but much less interested in daily WRESTLING with what pleases Jesus. Instead of Christ being preeminent in the lives of every churchgoer, He is often only the preamble to lives lived apart from biblical truth.”
We might all agree that Christians “should” read the Bible more. But simply saying “you should” is about as motivating to the un-Bibled Christian as it is to the teen who doesn’t want to clean his room. If he doesn’t see the value in it, if he doesn’t feel the value of it, he won’t do it. Perhaps the Scriptures you’ve cited here will provide the motivation someone needs. Thank you, Stephen John. :)
I’m a youth leader at my Youth group, I study ministry at College, and I’ve been a Christian all my life but I don’t even own a Bible. If I need a verse on a topic I will just google “what does the Bible say about ______?”
Interesting! I too use Google to find things in Scripture, and I appreciate the convenience of the digital research tools we have today. I find, however, that I’m able to define my searches because I’m already familiar with the Bible through years of reading it. But perhaps more important, I know how to evaluate the results Google gives me, because I have a context to put them in. For example, I could Google, “What does the Bible say about killing?” and I would get a lot of results, some of which would conflict with others. I’m able to make sense of those results because I have the context that reading gives me.
You can probably learn a lot about Shakespeare by Googling, “What does Shakespeare say about ____?” But can you really say you “know” him if you’ve never read one of his plays or poems?
Another important thing you might be missing out on: What if God wants to say something to you, but you aren’t Googling that? What I mean is, when you are Googling, you are directing the conversation (which is ok sometimes but can be selfish if you do it all the time). When you read a whole chapter or two or three of the Bible at a time, you’re letting God direct the conversation while you just listen and learn. In fact, you learn things that you wouldn’t have even known to ask.
The Bible is not just a research resource; it’s a conversation. It’s not only an ancient text that is conveniently online now; it’s a living connection with a living God.
I have to say that I’m a little worried that you are in a leadership position at your church and you’re setting an example that limits God to what you can think to ask Google. Don’t you want your Youth Group to go deeper than that? There’s so much more!
I grew up as a Christian and was absolutely convinced that everything in the Bible was the inerrant Word of God. Then I started reading it for myself. The more I read the Bible, the more I realized it can’t be true. With all the violence and hate that God condones and in which he plays an active part in the Bible, it seems like he has some serious mental problems. He is seems like a spoiled child who throws a fit when things don’t go His way. He tells us to be loving, kind, patient, compassionate, and tolerant, but sets an example of hatred, vengeance, retribution, selfishness, jealousy, and cruelty.
And then there’s hell. Would you, or anyone you know, throw gasoline on someone and strike the match that burns them to death, just because their faith in God was not strong enough? But God’s love is so many more times greater than ours, yet he would ignite a human being to burn and suffer FOREVER, just because of weak faith.
The different books in the Bible were written by different men at different times in order to control people by using fear. It’s really just Old World politics. Create fear by telling people what to be afraid of, and then tell them that YOU have the key to escape what they’re afraid of. That way you create a following to achieve your political aspirations. It’s strewn throughout the Bible from Abraham to Moses to Jesus to Paul and all the great ones in between. It works well. Every religion uses it. It’s the way advertising works, too.
This creation of fear also gives the followers an excuse to belittle, shun, humiliate, assault, and kill people who get in the way of their political or “moral” agenda (homosexuals, Jews, communists, other races, etc.). The Bible is most useful as a tool for oppression. Same with the Q’uran.
I believe there is a God, but I haven’t found Him in the Bible. I’ve heard it said, “The best way to become an atheist is to read the whole Bible for yourself.” That may be true, but I’m still not an atheist. I just want to know whom to be grateful to.
Hi Geoff, thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts. I’m curious about your last sentence—why is it so important for you to be grateful to someone? Could you say more about that?
The reason I want to express my gratitude is because I know I have been blessed in so many ways. The most joy I ever experienced was when I could tell God all the things I was thankful for, great things and small things. Now that I don’t believe the Bible, I am searching for the One to express those feelings to. Gratitude, for me, is the pathway to happiness. So I really need a God, but I don’t want one invented by the men who wrote the Bible.
Unfortunately for me, I would have been better off reading the Bible less, and blindly following my “faith”, because I really do long for that joy I experienced. It’s similar to finding out there is no Santa Claus, I guess.
I suppose I can still pray to God, whoever He is. I’ll try that for awhile. Who knows, maybe He will lead me back to the Bible. Then I’ll believe in miracles!
Maybe it really is like finding out there’s no Santa. Maybe the cartoon caricature is not quite true or real, and maybe it’s been distorted and commercialized by people who had ulterior motives. But maybe the goodness and selflessness that Santa originally represented are still there and very real. I think God is real, but many churches misrepresent Him, and sometimes they use the Bible to do so. This makes it tricky for you, because if you can’t trust the church and you don’t believe the Bible, it’s hard to find God and recognize Him when you see Him. Talking directly to Him (by praying) is a good idea, but you probably need a good way to hear directly from Him too, don’t you?
I believe the reason that most do not strive to read the Scriptures is because they are not Biblical Christians, the term ‘christian’ is a very loose term these days. Those who are committed to follow and know the Lord Jesus, above all else, will want to study His Word, because He is The Word, the Word of God is living through the power of the Holy Spirit. The devil will do everything to distract us, we must pray, persevere and overcome, the Christian life is a battle, a spiritual battle.
The good news is, ALL of us can grow in our relationship with God, and the Bible is one tool for doing that. God doesn’t judge us for not mastering the tools right away—He starts where we are and encourages us to keep trying. The Christian life is not only a battle; it’s also a journey, and God walks with us along the way.
Last night, my family had a get together and they started praying. And they accuse me for being satanic, well I use to be. And the also say that the demon lives in me just for not accepting lord Jesus Christ as savoir and don’t accepting Jesus as my god. And they forced to say jesus is god and I started to cry and feeling upset. I felt dishonored by the trinity, I don’t have a problem with Christians but I do have problems with the trinity. I also feels like the trinity dictate us to worship jesus as god, Im not those Christians gonna accept jesus as god, but jesus is my savior. I know Jesus’ father name.
Hi Ronnie, thank you for sharing some of your thoughts and feelings. I don’t understand everything you’re saying, and I apologize for the parts I misunderstand. It sounds like your family wants what’s best for you, but maybe they don’t express themselves very lovingly. And it sounds like you believe Jesus is your Savior, but you do not believe He is your God.
Would it be possible for you and your family to read the Bible together? Maybe you could sit around a table together and read out loud the stories of Jesus and God. Maybe you could talk about what you’re reading, or ask each other questions. Maybe you could pray for each other. I don’t know.
Since this post is about reading the Bible, I just wonder if reading the Bible might be the answer to some of the stress and disagreement within your family. Maybe it’s unrealistic, but it might be an interesting experiment, don’t you think?
I’ve known many Christians who haven’t read the Bible, and in my experience, the three reasons you provided are indeed at the top of the list. But there are other reasons too.
One is that “Christian” isn’t always defined the same way, by everyone. Many people call themselves Christian but do not believe the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God; rather, they see it as a collection of stories and guidelines, perhaps tainted by humans during many years of recopying and translating (and the years before it was actually written, when much of it was transmitted via oral traditions).
Another reason is that they get hung up on parts difficult to reconcile with other parts. Even the staunchest Bible-believing Christians I’ve known have trouble explaining the morality of some stories — just as one example among many: the slaughter of first-born Egyptian children (and animals) before Israel’s escape from Egypt (it was Pharaoh and his officials who refused to let the Israelites go; the children weren’t at fault, right?) In that same story, readers might also be confused about the Lord “hardening” Pharaoh’s heart, without which those hundreds of thousands of children and animals wouldn’t have had to die. Many of us read right past that, giving God the benefit of the doubt (who are we to question, right?) but I can certainly imagine other people stopping after four or five — or dozens — of these difficult questions, afraid their questions will lead them astray.
You make some good points here, Wil. Thanks for joining the conversation! Probably when I first wrote this post, the “Christians” I envisioned myself referring to were people like me—Christians who were raised in a faith tradition that taught Bible stories in Sunday School, in Christian grade school and high school, in Vacation Bible School, and in Bible story books that were used around the dinner table at home. But I think you’re probably right when you say there are a lot of people who consider themselves “Christian” though they are not very familiar with what Christ taught. To them, “Christian” might simply mean “good person.”
I’m not sure that these people are the ones who get hung up on some of the tougher Biblical stories, but you might be right. I have more often heard such criticisms from atheists or other forms of former Christians. In fact, I have met several atheists who are far more knowledgeable about the Bible than many church-goers! And they have used their knowledge to make a compelling case against a loving God. You’re right that we Christians do tend to read right past certain phrases in these Bible stories, and we might be correct to give God the benefit of the doubt, but we’ve forgotten specifically why, and we aren’t very good at verbalizing our thought process. Even worse, we aren’t always willing to engage in conversation with people who ask those questions, as if we consider it immoral to express such doubts.
But I find those questions so important! I find it important to take on a posture of realizing we don’t know everything. And I find it good exercise to wrestle with not knowing, to put forth different theories and try to tear them down, to wonder, to be willing to learn from people who believe differently, and to know in the end which truths are non-negotiable and which ones we just might be wrong about.
I asked Jesus into my heart in 1998 and still made plenty of mistakes and errors in choices and decisions. I’ve read over and over that if I don’t have a hunger for God and his word that I’m not really saved. I know in my heart of hearts that Jesus died for me and my sins. I know with all my heart that Jesus and God love me. Yet I struggle. I cannot seem to be able to just sit down and study the Bible. I was raised with so much condemnation and guilt and fear that I take the “I’m not worth of being saved” to a larger degree than what is normal. I am so scared that I’m not saved and I fear God’s righteous judgement for all the things I’ve done. I have no home Church as I have no car. I don’t have fellowship- I have no friends to discuss things with. I feel a little bored when I try to read anything other than the new testament and Psalms and Proverbs. I try and apply what God is saying while all the time I pray for God to give me ears to hear and eyes to see what his word means in daily application. I feel guilty for my doubts and fears and wonder why I have no real hunger for God’s word. I do but I don’t. I see myself as a fraud and a fake as a Christian as I have no heart on fire as I long for. And all the time I’m scared senseless that I’m going to hell. And even sort of ashamed to be putting this in words as I just wonder who is going to judge me. I just want to be able to have a heart for Christ and want to know God’s word and feel it’s significance.. Thank you
Hi Bob, welcome! Ya know, when I saw you had posted a comment, I went back and read this blog. I first wrote it five years ago, and when I read it now, it sounds a little harsh and judgmental to me. So I apologize for that.
It sounds like you and Jesus are friends. That’s good. You know some things about Him, and you made some kind of commitment to Him in 1998. It sounds like not only are you reading the Bible, but you’re also trying to do what it says. You’re talking to God, and you’re listening to Him. That’s the basis of any relationship.
So is there something that makes you feel like God is unhappy with your relationship? Because I don’t get that sense at all! I think God loves it that you are willing to read the Bible sometimes even when you don’t feel like it. I think He’s thrilled that you pray about what you read and try to apply it. He loves you!
And there’s nothing you can do that will make Him love you any less. Reading the Bible more won’t make Jesus love you more. Reading the Bible less won’t make Him love you less. He already loves you as much as He can, and nothing you do will change that. It’s solid.
When you do read the New Testament, you’ll probably read a lot of stories about Jesus being nice to people that others thought were “unworthy.” That’s just the kind of God He is—He loves people anyway! He loves people who are judgmental, and He loves the people they judge. He loves us all.
So maybe you can just relax in that love for a while. Don’t work so hard to earn it. Just accept it. Believe it. Enjoy it!
yes it is true we need to study. We have to be ready to tell people our believe (1 Peter 3:16).
You waht, after studying the bible, I realize my pastor is incorrect in some of his teachings, oh boy :(.
Pastors are important for helping us understand the Bible, but they should never replace the Bible in our lives. It’s good that you’re studying the Bible, and it’s good that you have a pastor that you can discuss it with. Maybe you’ll be able to learn from each other!
I would like to ask a question on behalf of my adult grand daughter. She asked me, and I don’t have an answer for her because my experience in bible reading and walk with God is different. All my life I have felt that no matter how much I read the Bible, to me it is a bottomless well. There are times, many actually, I struggle to read it. But when I discipline myself and just do it, I am again basking in its delights and blessings.
We are also two polar opposites in temperaments, I lean heavily on the artistic side, she on the logical.
We both enjoy reading novels but she remembers almost word for word what she reads, I can reread them with as much enjoyment at the first reading, second or third reading, and pick up different things. She never re reads them as she gets bored.
She finds that by re reading the bible her thoughts wander more and more and with all the discipline in the world she is reading less and less. But she does say she has a very good grasp of it and is able to practice it.
She has tried many “aids” read the bible in a year plan, read a chapter a day plan, the scripture union reading plan i.e. pray first, then diagnostical questions such as what does this passage teach me about God, myself, others etc. Reading Christian articles and books and testing these against what the word says.
With such a good memory (I don’t) I am a bit stumped as to how to help her.
What should I say to her? How can I help her?
Hi Jenni, thanks for stopping by!
It sounds to me like your granddaughter is doing a great job of reading and applying the Bible. Her approach is different from yours, but that’s not bad. In fact, maybe she would appreciate it if you would ask her for help. This would demonstrate that you believe that learning is a lifelong process and that we should never be too proud to ask for help. And being put in the position of “teacher” might give her a chance to put some thought into why she does what she does. I have often found that having to explain something to someone else helps me to understand it better myself.
At the very least, your granddaughter might simply appreciate the respect you show her by wanting to learn from her. Give it a try, and let me know what happens!
I have..and still am reading the bible (with me praying to our creator to gradually open my eyes to his word as he sees fit), and I’ve come to the conclusion that most humans do not want to live following the true word of the lord, they choose to be lead into darkness by the “blind” leaders they call preachers, pastors ect, no one will ever truly understand the bible without the lords blessing, the lord took the power of “teacher” out of the hands of “man” and is doing it himself, and if one has truly read the bible then there is no need for me to put chapters and verses down to corroborate what I am saying..its all there
I think a reason could be is that their study bible is so huge that you look at it, and you dread pulling it open. To read the Bible, pick apart every word for its meaning, and let’s not forget to know the history of the time period this scripture is being recorded, and now studying has become tedious, not fun, as you don’t want to get the wrong interpretation. It’s a lot of work to understand one sentence let alone one passage. I don’t have to do this much work to enjoy a fictional novel at all. I can just immerse myself into what I’m reading and it’s understandable “on its face” without so much analyzing. Even if I go out and buy a smaller Bible, I will still have the same issue, and as my love language is quality time, reading in general does not fill my love tank. I rather be doing some type of engaging activity as I’m an extrovert and like interacting with live people.
To me, reading the Bible might be more like reading Shakespeare—it takes a little more work than what we’re used to, and sometimes you have to take a class in order to get the most out of it, and sometimes a movie version is easier to understand than the written word! But it’s worth it. :)
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