Do You Believe a Book You've Never Read?
"My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have
rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you
have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children"
(written by a college student)
"For my people are foolish, they have not known me" (Jer 4:22)
I grew up in a semi-conservative church. We were told to read our Bibles and we were encouraged to memorize Scripture. However, I did not learn the Bible very diligently. I read portions of the Bible almost every day and yet, I didn't hunger or thirst to know God more.
As newborn babes, crave the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby. (1 Peter 2:2)
I certainly did not desire the Word of God as much as a baby desires milk. As I observed others at church, I saw that they were just like me. Perhaps they read their Bibles, even daily, but they seemed to enjoy other things more than God's Word. That’s how I was. We may have devoted some of our time to learning more about God but it was quite clear that our affections and our deepest enjoyments were elsewhere. In the last several years, I have met many people like this. Let me reproduce a conversation for you between what I will call a real Christian who loves God deeply and a “religious person”.
Christian: Are you a Christian?
Religious Person: I sure am.
Christian: Would you say that the Bible is the most important book that you own?
Religious Person: It certainly is. No book is more important than the Bible!
Christian: Do you believe the Bible?
Religious Person: Of course I do. As I said, I am a Christian.
Christian: Would you be willing to die for the contents of the Bible?
Religious Person: I sure would. I would lay my life down for God's Word.
Christian: But do you believe every word of the Bible?
Religious Person: (very boldly) Absolutely! Of course I do!
Christian: Have you ever read every word of the Bible?
Religious Person: (nervously) Uh....well....um....no, not yet.
Christian: Oh, you must be a relatively new convert to Christianity then?
Religious Person: Uh...actually, I have been a Christian for several years.
Christian: Why haven't you read the most important book that you own? Why haven't you read every word that you say you believe?
Religious Person: I haven't had time.
Christian: Do you watch more television than you read the Bible?
Religious Person: Yes
Christian: Do you read the newspaper or magazines or novels more than you read the Bible?
Religious Person: Yes
I have had many such conversations with people and I think you can see where I am going with this. Religious people often make very bold claims, but their lives seldom match up to what they claim. Several years ago, when I examined my religious talk with my actual walk, I found that I lived in contradiction.
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matt 4:4)
I discovered that if I ate food the same way that I read my Bible, I would starve to death. In fact, I was already spiritually dead. I was dead even though I had been going to church for my whole life and I prayed daily and I even read my Bible almost daily. HOWEVER, that which thrilled me most was not God.
God loves us so much! While God was reaching out to me and hoping that I would reach for him, I was too busy enjoying other things. True Enjoyment—living for God—eluded me. I treated God like a subject in school. I learned about him “at church” and tried to “be good” all week long, but that was about it. Real LIFE is so much more!
How was I to answer a holy God? Could I honestly stand before God and explain that I loved Him and that I believed Him when, in fact, I spent more time being entertained than seeking him? I had no answer. I cried out to God and begged his forgiveness and mercy through the blood of Jesus Christ. Miraculously, God gave me a new birth I became like a "newborn baby" and began to crave the Word of God. I couldn't put it down. I wanted more of God!
Please note: reading your Bible does not save you. I’m not writing these things in an effort to make you feel guilty so that you will “read your Bible more.” NO! But I’m hoping… I’m hoping that IF you really don’t have a love affair with God going on that maybe you will recognize it and turn to him in truth. He loves you and LONGS for you. He has “gone the extra mile”… and even more… all for you.
God put a love for Him inside of me. I still WANT to know him more. I do not “live for God” to soothe my conscience so I don’t feel guilty. God promises that when we seek him with all our heart, that we will find him! Wonderful!
One thing that I wanted to do to get to know God more is to read the Bible. I found that I could understand the Bible much more than I had ever been able to. It did not require becoming a Bible scholar and years of formal study to be able to understand the Scriptures. No! I found that God gave me understanding when I yielded to him fully. Don't get me wrong. I do not understand everything in the Bible, but the Bible is alive to me as it never has been. I see how what is written applies to my life. Before, it was difficult for me to remember what I read let alone attempt to apply it to my life.
But God literally did this for me and he will do it for anyone: “I will give them an undivided heart and put my Spirit in them… and I will move you to follow my commands… you will be my people and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 11:19,36:26-28)
Do you neglect God's Word? Are you truly seeking him with all your heart? Do you indeed know what the Bible says or have you merely been told what the Bible says? I would implore you to repent of your ways if you are not living what you say. Get on your knees before God and begin seeking him. Begin craving his Word.
"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." (Heb 2:1)
"These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Cor 10:11-12)
God will help us if we are humble before him.