After prayer, reading scripture is the next line of defense any follower of Christ should build. Many people wish and ask for a manual for life. The Bible is that manual. But God’s word is more than a manual, it is a love story to His creation, humans.
“So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. ” – Romans 10:17 HCSB
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 HCSB
God’s Word: The Ultimate Love Story
When we think of love stories, we think of romance novels and sappy stories of puppy love turned “true love’ within 300 pages of a writer’s imagination.
God’s love story to humans is the definition of true love. His love is unconditional, it doesn’t matter what we do, or say, or think. God loves us enough to chase us and give us direction and purpose.
Why Do I Need To Pray Before Reading Scripture?
Many non-believers I have spoken with or discussed my faith with have seemingly enjoyed bringing up “inconsistencies” in the Bible. These bits of “knowledge” they hit unprepared believers with tend to trip us up, and keep us from effectively defending our faith.
The truth is, if read separately and apart from the context around it, any verse can be twisted to say almost anything. In truth, any literary work can be twisted when taken out of context.
“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart. ” – Hebrews 4:12 HCSB
This is where the Holy Spirit supplements our knowledge. He guides and protects us, keeping our mind clear and our spirit open for His message. When we begin to research what others question us about, prayer gets us in tune with the Holy Spirit.
What about the contradictions in the Bible?
To someone who is new to reading scripture, it seems like God in the old testament is way more vengeful and angry than God in the new testament.
The truth is that God supplied a way to learn what sin was through the Ten Commandments (found in Exodus 20). He also provided a path to redemption when people did sin through the sacrifice of animals. He knew there would never be a way to reconcile people who did not seek His will.
So a plan was in place to save all those willing through the eternal sacrifice of his son Jesus. Before the time that was given for this sacrifice, God sent His people to warn and sometimes plead with people to turn from their sin.
Some people did not heed this warning, so he destroyed entire cities, and even the whole Earth. Eventually, the time came and His son was sent to the world, marking the beginning of the New Testament.
While these same events did not happen in the New Testament, Jesus held fast that the commandments were God’s will for man, and that sacrifice was necessary to atone for that sin.
With an ambassador on Earth, God revealed his ultimate plan through the life of his son. Jesus clarified His father’s will, and revealed that He was leaving a legacy for the world to carry on His father’s message. That legacy is the church.
Jesus paid the ultimate price for the world’s sin when he returned to Jerusalem, His earthly birthplace. Betrayed by one of His followers, he is arrested, accused of crimes, given little more than a posse trial, then executed.
His resurrection proved His message was true and that He was indeed the Son of God. Returning to His followers, He left a plan and a mission for all those who would follow after Him.
A Boring Book
I used to think of the Bible as a boring book with little to no application to my life. This assertion couldn’t be further than the truth.
Besides being a guide to a more fulfilling life, it is a book dealing with rape, divorce, murder, greed, power struggle, and politics. It has angels, demons, corrupt people, and innocent children for characters. It turns outcasts into heroes, people like prostitutes, tax collectors, murderers, liars, and thieves.
The best thing about reading scripture though, is that it reveals our creator to us. His love, His wrath, His joy, and His pain are laid out over 66 books, reminding us all we are created in His image.
Reading the Bible prepares you for the next step in studying apologetics. It is not enough to merely read scripture. It must be put into action.
“This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. ” – Joshua 1:8 HCSB