Getting Into the Word
By Greg West
A good part of the first twenty years of my life was spent attending church. My family was there at least three times a week and sometimes more. I appreciate the church I grew up in mainly because of the emphasis on teaching the Bible. From Sunday school as a toddler up through my high school years in youth group, I was taught the scriptures, and the great stories and heroes of the Bible. I still have the first Bible I ever owned, a pocket King James Version New Testament (with pictures). It was given to me by my dad as a Christmas gift in 1970. I was five years old at the time and not even able to read yet. I did however, find the pictures fascinating and looked at them often.
As a matter of fact, this little Bible is sitting on the table next to me as I write this. The text is almost too small for me to read, even with glasses, but I can still see the pictures ok. I find it ironic that when I first got it, I couldn’t read it because I was too young, and now I can’t read it because I’m too old. This little Bible has become quite a treasure to me, and I am glad I managed to hang on to it over the years. It came to mind when I gave my son his first Bible at Christmas when he was five. That was a couple of years ago now.
Now I haven’t talked it over with dad to find out for sure, but I have a strong suspicion that this was no ordinary Christmas gift. I don’t think my dad was out Christmas shopping and thought, “Hey, this little Bible would be a great gift, Greg will really enjoy this.” I believe that what he was really thinking was “Son, I want you to know Jesus Christ, and this will get you started on the right track. This is your road map for life and I hope you will come to know what this book says and means in an intimate way.”
I’m pretty sure that is what he was thinking, because that’s exactly what I was thinking when I bought my son his first Bible. Over the years I would memorize scripture (which could possibly lead to getting candy from my Sunday school teacher as a reward) and read the stories that we were being taught. As I got older, I would underline favorite passages, go to Bible studies, and even did some on-my-own devotional reading. But even reading, studying, and being taught so much scripture, I never managed to read through the entire Bible from cover to cover, Genesis through Revelation.
Now let’s fast forward a bit to Christmas, 1987, when I received another Bible from dad as a Christmas gift. This one didn’t have any pictures, but what it did have was the Bible divided up into 365 daily readings. For each day of the year it had a reading from the Old Testament starting in Genesis, a New Testament reading starting in Matthew, and also a daily reading from Psalms and Proverbs. If you read each day’s reading, by the end of the year you will have read through the entire Bible in about ten to fifteen minutes a day.
I was in the US Army at this point in my life and I wasn’t doing a lot of Bible reading and my church attendance was sporadic. The One Year Bible I received that Christmas in 1987 sat on my shelf virtually untouched until 2004. I had rededicated my life to Christ in 2000, and I began a quest to know what I really believed. I began reading a lot of books about the truths of Christianity. I wanted to be an educated Christian who knew the what, when, hows, and whys of my faith. I was even back to using my Bible (I had acquired several by this time) on a regular basis. But I still had never read it all the way through.
I slowly began to realize that if I claimed to believe in the Bible as God’s special revelation to mankind, then perhaps I should read it all the way through. I remembered that I still had the One Year Bible that dad had given me, perhaps to remind me in my young adult years, “Son, this is your road map for life, you really need to read it.” I began reading my One Year Bible on my birthday in 2004 and finished it the day before my birthday in 2005. I have read the Bible through at least once each year since then, and have even managed to read it through several times in a year. I am currently reading the Bible completely through for the thirteenth time.
Once, when I was between jobs and had some time on my hands, I managed to read the entire Bible in less than a month. A while back, I led a small group from my church in reading through the entire Bible in 90 days, and guess who came and attended my classes… my dad. Both of my parents are lifelong Bible readers and have read through the Bible many times, but since attending my Bible in 90 Days class, my dad now reads through the entire Bible once every 90 days. This is in addition to his annual Bible reading. So since attending my class, my dad has read through the Bible four times a year. He’s retired now, so he does have the luxury of time to do this. My wife and I are currently reading the Bible through in 90 days together. We read for about an hour each night and have about another 40 days to go before we finish.
Now that I’ve given you quite a bit of background on my Bible reading experiences, I actually have a point to make. And my point is this: If you are a Christian who is not reading your Bible on a daily or nearly daily basis, you are missing out on everything that God has to offer you. What is not important is how many times you read through the Bible, or how fast you read through the Bible, or even how much Bible reading you do. What is important is that you read it!Read it, study it, learn it, and memorize all that you can. And once you’ve read through the entire Bible, do it over again and again until the day you die.
This is a tall order, but once you get into the habit of regular Bible reading, you won’t want to stop. Especially when you discover how God will speak to you through the reading of His Word.
I could site verse after verse about the importance of knowing and living by the Word of God, but I’m going to leave that up to you to discover for yourselves. I will site one passage in particular though, and that is Psalm 119, which is nearly smack dab in the middle of the Bible.
There are two more points I’d like to make before wrapping this up:
1.) Did you know that the Bible says in Ephesians chapter six, when the apostle Paul is talking about the Armor of God, that the Word of God is listed as the only offensive weapon we have; “The Word of God which is the Sword of the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:17)
2.) Did you know that besides God, the only thing in this universe that will never change is His Word? (Matthew 24:35)
Finally, I would like to leave you with some famous quotes about the Bible:
I mean to assert that the Bible is utterly unlike all other books that were ever written, because its writers were specially inspired, or enabled by God, for the work which they did. I say that this Book comes to us with a claim which no other book possesses. It is stamped with Divine authority. In this respect it stands entirely alone. Sermons, and tracts, and theological writings of all kinds, may be sound and edifying—but they are only the handiwork of uninspired man. The Bible alone is the Book of God. – J.C. Ryle
The existence of the Bible is a book for the people. It’s the greatest benefit the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity. – Immanuel Kant
I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. – Abraham Lincoln
The Bible is no mere book, but it’s a living creature with a power that conquers all who oppose it. – Napoleon
The Bible is as necessary to spiritual life as breath is to natural life. There is nothing more essential to our lives than the Word of God. – Jack Hayford
So great is my veneration of the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens in their country and respectful members of society. – John Adams
The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty…students’ perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands. – Thomas Jefferson
The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed. – Patrick Henry
Bible reading is an education in itself. – Lord Tennyson
There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history.”…. "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily. -Sir Isaac Newton
The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world. – Charles Dickens
Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your heart, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this Book we are indebted for the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look as our guide in the future. – Ulysses S. Grant