The Bible is often hard for me to read. When I read the Bible, it reads me, examines me, and studies me. The Holy Spirit carries me through many emotions as I am confronted with the unvarnished and unwavering truth of God. The Spirit convicts me, crushes me, searches me, saddens me, grips me, chastens me, and humbles me as He brings me to my knees in utter dependence on the gospel. Then the Spirit comforts me, assures me, exhilarates me, comes to my aid, and reminds me of the glorious inheritance secured for me by Christ, with whom I am seated in the heavenlies. What’s more, the Bible is hard for me to read because when I read it, it is often difficult for me not to stop and examine a particular text, a particular phrase, or a particular word. It is hard not to turn to one of my commentaries and carefully ponder the rich beauty of the truth of God’s Word. It is hard not to stop and pray at every turn, at every point of conviction, and at every point of mystery.
If we want a special word from God, we need only open the Bible and read it, and if we want to hear a special word from God, we only need read the Bible aloud.
Anyone who says the Bible is boring isn’t reading the Bible with a heart of faith, and anyone who says the Bible is easy to read isn’t really examining the Bible. The Bible never actually calls us simply to read it. It calls us to study it, examine it, search it, meditate on it, hide it in our hearts, and let it dwell in us richly. Yet many Christians seem to read the Bible as quickly as they can so that they can tell everyone they have read it. We do indeed need to read the Bible—sometimes multiple chapters and entire books in one sitting—yet we are also called to study it so that we do not simply allow the sacred Word of God to pass before our eyes without properly considering its manifold splendor. Not only that, but many professing Christians don’t read the Bible much at all. Many are looking for a special word from God while their Bibles sit on their shelves gathering dust. If we want a special word from God, we need only open the Bible and read it, and if we want to hear a special word from God, we only need read the Bible aloud. For the Bible is the special revelation of God, and it is our only infallible rule for faith and life.
God calls us to study His Word, and He also calls us to be not merely hearers of the Word but doers of the Word, to apply and proclaim His Word to the end that we might glorify God in all that we do. For the world doesn’t read the Bible; it reads us. Therefore, we are called to immerse ourselves in the Word as we shine as lights of the world, proclaiming the glory of the gospel of Christ.
Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is cotranslator and coeditor of A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin.