By Kevin Cauley
A few years ago, the late brother Guy N. Woods told a story about a minister who called for the removal of the Bible from his congregation for a period of six months. Recently, I received an e-mail in which the writer expressed the view that the public reading of the scripture was boring and that he did not get anything out of it. Those who once simply ignored the reading of scripture evidently feel that they can now challenge whether or not it is read at all; apathy has become disdain. Moreover, it is a mark of apostasy that some in positions of leadership in the church desire to limit another’s reading of the scripture. At the high point of Roman Catholicism, Bibles were chained to pulpits and access was limited to few. Too many have forgotten the importance of reading the Bible.
The Blessings of Reading the Bible
Contrary to this attitude, a blessing is pronounced upon those who read the Bible. One such beatitude is found in Revelation 1:3
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
Here, the full spectrum of scripture reading is detailed: reading, listening, and doing. Those at Berea were considered
“…more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Such a singular blessing should encourage every congregation to follow the Berean’s example.
The Importance of Reading the Bible
Moreover, the Bible is replete with language that encourages not only reading, but intensive study of the scripture. Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us of the intensity with which God encouraged the Israelites to ingrain the scriptures into the minds of their youth:
“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
In The Pulpit Commentary, W.L. Alexander writes concerning this statement: “…literally, Thou shalt sharpen them to thy children, impress them upon them, send them into them like a sharp weapon.” This is the force of the word “diligent” in this passage. Psalm 1:2, gives us the intensity with which an individual is to study the scriptures:
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
The Hebrew word “meditate” connotes a sound that is deep, recurring, and constant. This illustrates the uninterrupted pensiveness of one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord.” Too, 2 Timothy 2:15 impresses upon us the importance of reading the Bible:
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The desired student is a worker–one devoted to a task–who has been tested and approved.
The blessings associated with reading the Bible do not come from a casual glance. Like anything, with hard work and dedication, comes an appreciation and understanding of that to which one devotes himself. And regarding those who would stifle the reading or studying of the scripture, whether public or private, it is no secret that ignorance breeds contempt.