Reading the Bible is more than a form of entertainment. When we read the words of scripture with faith, they pass through our eyes and mind to plant themselves deeply within us. These words initiate an immeasurable growth and development, a cultivation that allows God to shape us into what He has dreamed for us to become: our happiest selves.
This process transforms our existence to allow us to live a Biblical life, producing the fruits of joy and peace. As Christians, we want this process of transformation within us to help the word of God, which is a seed planted deep within us upon our hearing it, develop within us a beautiful life. By understanding this, we recognize that the Bible is not an archeological reference to instruct us on how the Christian faith began in the past. Instead, the Bible is a deep communication of the Father that He uses to breathe life into us to help us see the faith continue.
The Bible is the word of God. This means that when we read the Bible, we are reading the words God wants us to read. These words allow us to not only discover what God wants to say to us but also to experience the power of God that is conveyed in the reading of them. When I read the Bible, I not only get to hear of the Lord’s promises being fulfilled in His interaction with His people, but I get to receive these promises as my own that I can trust the Lord will fulfill for me as well.
The Bible is not simply a story about a bunch of people who lived a long time ago. Yes, these people are the main characters of the stories. They are our spiritual ancestors, and their story is a part of our story, but the Bible is more about God. It is about how He acts, thinks, and wants for humanity, especially those who trust in Him and love Him.
God does not change, so we learn how He will interact with us. What’s more, we are receiving today the same promises from Him, and we will be able to see these same promises fulfilled by Him.
The Bible teaches us how to interact with God today. Essentially, when you read the Bible, you are preaching the Gospel to yourself. Even the Old Testament contains the basic principles of the Gospel. Reading the Bible is like reading or listening to a sermon from God Himself in which He not only teaches, but His words have the innate power to shape us if we read them with faith.
Reading the Bible is meant to literally give us life. It informs our minds and hearts how to live our lives with dignity, humility, trust, hope, and peace. Reading God’s word in prayer is a secure way to show God your faith in Him and in what you are reading. It also allows the words to sink in deeper than just your mind. This helps us to understand the importance and power that reading the Bible has in our lives, but how do we translate what we read into living a Biblical life for ourselves? Below are five steps that will help do this.
- Believe that Bible is communicating truth even if it is confusing. We need to accept the word is always telling the truth. Because we often don’t fully understand, if you find yourself tempted to doubt, try assuming that truth is being communicated in what you are reading, and you need to spend more time studying to grasp that truth.
Try looking into what others, like the Church Fathers, Bible teachers, or someone else you trust, have to say about it. I have done this, and sometimes it takes a while, but I have always arrived at an understanding.
- Read the Bible every day. I cannot stress enough how much power there is in reading the Bible often to allow its message to inform you of reality. Furthermore, you allow God to speak into your mind to personally instruct you by way of stories and lessons. While reading might not be as fun as watching a movie, start reading the Bible every day, and it will pay off!
- See through the stories to the promises. Learn to understand the stories on a deeper level than just what happens to each character. Look for symbolism, but also look at the deeper level of what actions and words mean. If God is leading Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt after promising He would save them, it means God is trustworthy, powerful, and good. We then can apply these truths about God to our existence, and we can live our lives accordingly. Living a Biblical life means that we believe that God is trustworthy, powerful, good, and loving in our lives today, just like He was for those in the Bible.
- Imitate the good examples you read about. The Bible contains plenty of good examples for us to follow. From David trusting in God to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17), to the tremendous loyalty that Ruth shows to her mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 1:16,17), to Jesus’ sacrifice of love for the world (John 19), to how the Apostles live out their faith in the Book of Acts. We see many great examples of how to live in the Bible that we should follow. Make it a goal to find a new one every day.
- Avoid the bad examples you read about. The Bible is rated “R”. There is much messiness that surely is meant to be taken as bad examples. It is easier for me to come up with these examples than it was for the good examples above. From Adam and Eve assuming that they knew better than God and disobeying Him (Genesis 3), to King Saul allowing his circumstances in battle to overwhelm Him, making himself priest in place of Samuel, and showcasing his lack of faith in God by offering a sacrifice himself (1 Samuel 13), to Judas and Peter both betraying Jesus. We have an abundance of things not to do that is exemplified in scripture. Just like step number four, make it a goal to find a new one every day that you can learn from in your own pursuit of living a Biblical life.