I. The Problem
There is clear evidence that professed Christians are not reading and studying the Bible on a regular basis.
Study by Barna: “Bible reading has become the religious equivalent of sound-bite journalism. When people read from the Bible they typically open it, read a brief passage without much regard for the context, and consider the primary thought or feeling that the passage provided. If they are comfortable with it, they accept it; otherwise, they deem it interesting but irrelevant to their life, and move on. There is shockingly little growth evident in people’s understanding of the fundamental themes of the scriptures and amazingly little interest in deepening their knowledge and application of biblical principles.” (December 18, 2009 barna.org).
Report by American Bible Society: “If they do read it, the majority (57 percent) only read their Bibles four times a year or less. Only 26 percent of Americans said they read their Bible on a regular basis (four or more times a week).” (April 4, 2013, huffingtonpost.com).
Research by Lifeway: “While the majority of churchgoers desire to honor Christ with their lives and even profess to think on biblical truths, a recent study found few actually engage in personal reading and study of the Scriptures…When asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond "Every Day" (19 percent) as respond "Rarely/Never" (18 percent). A quarter indicate they read the Bible a few times a week. Fourteen percent say they read the Bible "Once a Week" and another 22 percent say "Once a Month" or "A Few Times a Month.” (September 6, 2012, lifeway.com).
Why do we not read and study Scripture like we know we should?
- Too busy to read (work, school, entertainment). Lack of priority (see Matthew 13:22).
- Too distracted to read well (particularly with use of electronic media). Lack of focus (see Matthew 13:20).
- Too confused to read with understanding. Lack of knowledge (see Matthew 13:19).
II. The Solution
We must understand how crucially important the regular reading of Scripture is.
- It is how we come to know God through Jesus Christ (John 20:30-31; 2 Timothy 3:15).
- It is how we come to know what it means to be Christ-like (Romans 15:1-7).
- It is how we learn the apostolic instructions (1 Corinthians 14:27; 2 Peter 3:1; 1 John 2:1).
- It is how we grasp the big picture of the plan of God (Ephesians 3:1-6).
- It is how we protect ourselves against false teaching (Galatians 1:6-9).
- It is how we learn what God desires in marriages and raising children (1 Peter 3:1-7).
- It is how we grow into maturity and ultimately have teachers, elders, preachers (Hebrews 5:11-14).
We must make the reading and study of Scripture a priority. Treat it as an appointment that you cannot break, and schedule other things around it. Some suggestions:
- Read first thing in morning (or last thing at night, if you can stay awake!).
- Read on lunch break or before meals with family.
- Listen to Scripture during a commute or exercise.
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” This is particularly tragic when what is not read is God’s word. We betray the claim to “speak where the Bible speaks” and follow only Scripture when we do not actually read the Bible but rely on others to tell us what it means (1 Peter 4:11).