Why read the Bible? I already know what it says!

Why read the Bible? I already know what it says!

I want you to picture a scene. A couple have been married for over twenty years. They have been through good times and bad and have remained together. Theirs is a long and happy relationship. One day, the husband says to his wife over breakfast, “Dear, we know each other really well. I love you so much. Because I love you, I don’t need to listen to you or ask your opinion on anything anymore, because I already know what you are going to say. From now on, we don’t need to talk. I’ll just fill in the gaps as we go and assume for you.”

Please don’t try this at home! It’s farcical, right? Who would ever draw that kind of conclusion and act in such a callous and unreasonable way?

Well, many Christians who have followed Jesus for a long time do something quite similar to this, though they wouldn’t put it quite this way. We believe that the Bible is God’s word and is where God tells us what he is like and how we should respond. Jesus describes the Bible as being like food, something we cannot do without. When we are newly converted, we cannot get enough of the Bible, reading it often and deeply, even though we don’t understand it all.

Over time, this passion for the Bible can drop off. We start to know more about God and the Bible. More and more Bible passages are ones we have read before. Honestly, some of the sermons we hear don’t teach us anything we didn’t already know! So we start to read the Bible less. And sometimes, we might stop reading the Bible altogether. We already know the main ideas, anyway, so why bother? The motivation we once had disappears.

But let’s go back to that long-term marriage illustration. If we love someone and have real history with them, we should be more interested in hearing what they have to say. We will learn new things and get new perspectives as we listen. We will never reach a point where we no longer want to listen to the one we love. And so it should be with God. God’s word changes us over time. Sure, we might come to understand more, but there is always more to understand. There is also more to do as the Spirit applies God’s word to our hearts. Even in a sermon that teaches us nothing new, we can be reminded of things, confirmed in things, encouraged in things, and challenged in things. Knowing it and doing it are not the same; having read it before and having it change your life are not the same.

I preach from the Bible each week, and often I preach from passages I know well already. I have never yet gone through sermon preparation and not learnt something new or had some new thing to think about and apply.

Don’t treat the Bible like you know it already. Treat the Bible as it is, the Word of the One who loves you and has saved you. I am sure you will find He will say something useful for you if you would listen.