Read The Book
So you are a Christian. The feeling of being a newborn believer is indescribable. You finally said the prayer, feel the much talked about inner peace and don’t seem out of place among other Christians. High score, yeah? You can pray now. This is so much more fun than they said it would be. Except, there’s the part where you have to read the Bible! That’s the one thing you don’t quite understand.
A lot of young Christians hit a common stumbling block soon after they’re saved. Praying is good. It’s incredibly easy to do and it really works, full credit to the Holy Spirit. But reading the Bible isn’t nearly as good. Especially when it isn’t Psalm 91, Psalm 121, Romans 8 or Philippians 4:19! A lot of us get that we need to “study to show ourselves approved” and to “make full proof of our ministry.” What we don’t get is how to go about it, or why we even need to read some stuffs — it’s the same things we whine about all session at school. But if Paul pressed for Timothy to study scriptures fervently, then it must be pretty important for young people and young believers too.
I’m going to address two key points in this article: why we need to read all of scriptures and how to go about it.
In 2012, about a few months after I got saved, I got into a major Twitter fight (before Game of Thrones or The Flash, that was what people looked forward to) with a self-proclaimed atheist. This dude had a pretty large following (about 30,000+. Remember that this was Twitter before PlayStation 4. I had a paltry 90+ followers and I was the cream of the crop in my neighborhood). Long story short, I tweeted about getting a haircut and one of said atheist’s followers asked me if I shaved off my side beards (which I did) and said that my Bible warned against it. To say I was speechless would be giving me too much credit. He quoted the verse immediately after and I was genuinely shocked that I had never seen that in the Bible until that day. It was a harrowing experience for a new believer. Here I was, bragging about going to heaven, and a “hell-bound” fella was obeying God’s commandment of reading the Bible (Joshua 1:8) better than I was.
The verse he quoted was Leviticus 19:7. Leviticus is one of the Pentateuch — Moses’ five books. For many young Christians, besides the stories in Genesis and Exodus, there’s nothing fun about those books. “Cubits this, span that, feet those, tons these” constitutes a large chunk of the books. And the very many laws about your neighbors sheep, oxen, asses, horses, wife etcetera. None of that even looks remotely relevant. Not in this age of supersonic jets and genetically engineered foods. But it’s all important stuff! The chronological (or history) books aren’t helping matters either. Nobody remembers the genealogy of Adam, Abraham or Jesus. “Adam begat Seth. Seth begat Enos. Enos begat Methuselah…” And we get lost playing ping pong in our minds. John’s Revelation is even feared as being too graphical by young people. It’s important though.
Remember my story? I had no answer to the brother’s reply to my tweet back then. (I do now, and I pray that he gets saved.) I hadn’t even encountered the passage. We need to read all of scriptures so that we can have a reply to doubters of our faith.
I had a problem understanding grace earlier too. I really thought all I was freed from was the grip of sin. I didn’t know the many hundred laws and commandments I didn’t have to commit to memory because of grace! I hadn’t read! When the author of Hebrews was talking about Jesus, and making references to the old covenant, I didn’t know what he was talking about. As a result, I couldn’t understand him. We need to read all of scriptures so that we can resolve the seeming huge disconnect between old and new testament and fully understand our faith while sticking up in our schools, neighborhoods or on Twitter.
How do we read?
I recommend getting a Bible plan. They’re printed everywhere — behind Bibles, in devotionals, in pamphlets and flyers — and are dotted all over the internet. Reading the Bible shouldn’t be seen as a chore. Recommending a Bible plan is the most contradictory action to that statement because I am encouraging you to read the Bible like it is a chore. But, in truth, that’s the best way to read. With Bible plans, you can be sure to read every verse of every chapter of every book.
Avoid looking for Greek words — koinonia, paracletus, Zoe, Logos, rhema etc — and all those fancy stuff everyone else is throwing around. You’re reading the book to know more about God, not to amuse your friends (or yourself) during youth group or prayer meetings.
Read Scriptures “as is.”
Use cross-references. Link prophecies to their fulfillment, parables to their explanation and actions to their justification.
Don’t use verses in isolation. Never do that. If it is there, there has to be a reason why it is there. Don’t pick one verse and throw it in everybody’s face without knowing what it really is used for. This isn’t a “Einstein said” competition. You’re seeking to know more about God.
It isn’t as easy as typing this article is (typing this made my neck hurt). It will make your neck hurt. You might see something you don’t like. Don’t draw conclusions. Pray. Read again. Ask your spiritual leader. Go back to the book. Check that their reply is okay. If it isn’t, ask someone else. Don’t build your knowledge of the verses on what other people said. You’ve got God’s spirit. He’ll help you. (John 16:13).
Read the book!