Christians must be Bible people.
Over the years, I have spent many hours pleading with people to see that sentence as true. Sadly, it strikes many as novel, edgy — or worse, irrelevant.
Maybe it’s because those three words ring of one of the final taboo ideas left in our culture: fundamentalism. Immediately our postmodern minds go to the stodgy, three-piece-suit preachers of our grandparents’ generation, wagging their fingers with the “Good Book” in their hands.
Ours, we say, is an organic faith, not a rigid one filled with to-dos. Our Christianity is not a religion — it’s a relationship. We aren’t anti-Bible per se. There are many things in the Bible that have helped and inspired us over the years. We are against that earnest, rigorous, dirt-under-nails, restless consumption of the Bible. But what remains in a Christianity that doesn’t seriously engage God’s word? Sadly, a fluffy, pithy sentimentalism — a religion who’s entire belief system is more fit for a coffee mug than a catechism.
I want to give you five good reasons to find your life in the Bible for the rest of your life. Before you get into God’s word, remember that becoming Bible-literate is not about being smarter, or beefing up your spiritual resume, or lording your knowledge over others. It’s about looking through the pages to the Savior on the other side. Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39–40). It’s about seeing and savoring Jesus Christ through his word. We don’t worship the font. We worship the Father.
1. You cannot love God, and not listen to him.
When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37–38). You cannot love him with all your heart, soul, and mind without a steady diet of Scripture.
Just as our heart must be engaged in treasuring God supremely, our mind must be equally engaged in thinking of God rightly. Wrong thoughts about God produce wrong love for God. As Jen Wilkin says, “The heart can’t love what the mind doesn’t know.”
The apostle Paul routinely connects our love for God and others with a growing knowledge of him. “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9–11).
We only come to love God more by knowing more of him. And we learn more about our God — his attributes, his nature, and his promises — by listening to his word.
2. Your faith needs promises to survive.
When Paul sought to encourage his sheepish son in the faith, Timothy, as he was pastoring the church in Ephesus, he used the strongest weapon in his arsenal to do so: the gospel.
Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:8–10)
Commenting on this passage, John Piper says, “The cure for wimpy Christians is weighty doctrine.” Paul provides rich truth as the cure for Timothy’s timid faith. And his cure is our cure: sound doctrine revealed to us in the Bible. Watch your trust in him grow as you anchor yourself to a thousand of his promises by hearing his voice daily.
3. We become like what we behold.
My 5-year-old daughter looked at me and my wife last week and announced, “When I grow up, I wanna be a singer and a mommy!” Now where on earth did she get such an ambition? Could it be that the two adults she spends most of her time with just happen to be a singer and a mommy? Here lies a truth as old as the Bible itself:
We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
We become like what we behold. Gazing at God in his word, by the power of his Spirit, has a transforming effect on our heart, mind, and life. In time, those of us who do as David does and “set the Lord continually before” ourselves will find our interests become God’s interests (Psalm 16:8 NASB). We’ll find that the sinful things we formerly loved are suddenly less attractive. We’ll find holiness beginning to bloom in our lives. We’ll find that we are starting to look more like Christ. His means for your Christlikeness is his word.
4. You will only find the joy you want in words.
Jesus spends a chapter and a half in the Gospel of John instructing and exhorting his disciples. In the middle of his sermon, he says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Jesus tells his disciples that what he’s telling his disciples is for their joy!
Every word of Christ is meant for your eternal happiness. There is nothing that motivates a person more than their happiness, and we find it here in black and white. Your forever happiness is directly tied to what Jesus has to say to you.
We should hang on every word. And he has given us so many words — words of promise for our joy, words of warning for our joy, words of encouragement for our joy. Words, words, and more words, all for our joy in him, forever.
5. There is work to be done.
Paul tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
So many modern (especially young) Christians have a desire to go and do for God over and above knowing God. With so much injustice and inequality in the world, it’s hard for many of us to justify lingering for an hour over forty words a dead author wrote two thousand years ago. But Paul’s words couldn’t be clearer: If we want to be about the work of God, we must first be about the word of God.
God’s word reveals to us his priorities and values. It shows us what breaks his heart and what makes him sing. It shows us what he is doing in the world — throughout history and right now today.
The Bible teaches us that God loves the forgotten and the misfit. It shows us the value of shepherding our families. It introduces us to the generosity of other Christians (2 Corinthians 8:1–7), and calls us to be openhanded with what God gives us. It heralds the sanctity of every human life and inspires us to fight for the unborn. It declares that race should not be a barrier to Christian unity, but a beautiful occasion for it. We become equipped for every good work in the Bible.
There is gold here for us if we will only press in while we read. There is so much more to be had than the comfort offered in Coffee Mug Christianity. If you want to live for Christ and enjoy him for a lifetime, and then forever in eternity, soak yourself in this Book.