Thursday, 9 August 2012

Do You Read Your Bible?

While speaking to some of my Christian friends, I realized eventually that they do not read their Bible - while some regretfully blame a busy schedule, there are others who don't feel they need to! Although they consider themselves to be Christians, they do not regard the Bible as God's word, as God inspired, as infallible or as inerrant! 

It's just a book written by a bunch of men right?
Men are flawed, thus so are the words and claims it makes.
Those men lived in ancient times, they wrote for their culture, not ours, thus it is irrelevant.

It saddens me that those who belong to the Christian family, hold such views! They have certainly missed the point!

What is the Bible?

The Bible is God's word.

It is His manual to us on how to have a relationship with Him; a manual to find the purpose of our life. The God who loves His creation, who is responsible for our existence and the existence of the world, will surely not leave us - the masterpiece of His design - in ignorance of His purpose, our purpose and laws that'll bring us peace, joy and everything good that we've been striving to acquire as mankind! He wants us to know His plans, He wants us to learn and find what this world is all about, what better way than to leave a tangible 'instruction book' - a divine revelation of the 'basic needed knowledge' that man is incompetent of finding for himself?

It was not written BY men but THROUGH men, BY GOD. Men were merely the 'pens' or 'instruments', if you wish, that God used, to convey and record His word. It's a compilation of 66 different books of various genres - covering a vast spectrum of literature like history, science, poetry and so on. It was written over a period of 1500 years, obviously differing in cultural practices, by over 40 different writers - each from different walks of life, from doctors to tax collectors! To baffle and amaze you further... It was written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, in three different continents!

Although these authors differed in so many ways - they addressed many controversial issues - from sexuality to atheism, yet they provide EXACTLY THE SAME advice, moral values and laws on these - NO CONTRADICTIONS. How harmonious! This is firm evidence of its divine origin and nature - only if the author was the same, could these diverse selection of writers agree on such controversial matters.

It is a book that contains numerous scientific facts and truths, from physics to biology - it has been at the forefront of modern discoveries and advancements, however scientists seldom recognize it or fathom the truth stated. In addition, it is a historically sound and accurate literature with numerous accurately fulfilled, detailed prophecies - the one book that predicted in advance, the rise and fall of specific nations and governments, and reveals the destiny of humankind. 

If that doesn't convince you of its inerrant nature, its infallibility and the fact that it is GOD BREATHED...I don't know what will!

No mere humanly inspired book could have revealed these amazing events. Such prophecies must have been divinely inspired. It is the book that has changed and touched the most lives, yet is the least understood and most misunderstood! A universal best seller, a book owned by more people than any other, yet one that sadly, NO BODY KNOWS!

Why bother reading it?

If the above section failed to convince you to pick up your Bible and read it, let me reiterate its importance!

While many dismiss reading the Bible, on the basis of cultural irrelevance, they fail to realize that the Bible is not about 'culture'. It is a book about OUR LIFE and not an ancient culture! Yes, it contains stories and records of a variety of cultures and societies, however that isn't the basis - each story or account is designed to help us learn about how we can get closer to God, it serves as an analogy for a greater purpose, we seldom grasp. 

There are many who feel God is harsh or unjust, yes I mean Christians! I've been there! Shocking right! This is purely due to the fact that they have not known God or what He is like; they've never really begun to understand God's word. I have learnt that just because you struggle to understand it, it doesn't make it false or irrelevant!

I hear it being read at church every Sunday, why read it again?
The priest or minister has dedicated his life to understanding and teaching it, I cannot know more than him! 

As I mentioned before, the Bible is the most misinterpreted book - it has been misrepresented and twisted - sadly, by those who profess to hold it dear. Instead of teaching and expounding the obvious, simple, intended meaning, we now have throngs of human interpretations, numerous of which are 'compromised' versions of the truth. Instead of acknowledging the truth, men justify their own ways by perverting it. They fear what people say instead of what God's word says. Cutting a long story short, they yield to the fear of man, to guide them, instead of the fear of God.

If you speak to those who have concentrated their lives with God's word, they would honestly tell you about something truly remarkable! EVERY TIME you read a passage, you gain a different understanding - something that no other book offers! The words don't change, but the message they carry is far beyond our competency to fathom; it is filled with enigma! By restricting yourself to Bibles on Sundays, you're only exposing yourself to the preacher's interpretation - what they've understood. Sadly, that is not enough! God wishes to commune with YOU, INDIVIDUALLY! He wishes to speak DIRECTLY to you. 

How will you ever know what He wants to reveal to you through His word, if you don't take the time to pick it up and read it?

Furthermore, there are many misinterpretations lurking around in our society - each possessing a fraction of the 'real thing' but totally manipulated. How do you expect to know if you are being fooled? How will you know if you are really fed the truth, or if you are dedicating your life to something that'll merely assure your peril? Like the Berean Jews, God wants us to 'receive the message with great eagerness and examine the Scriptures everyday to see if what [was being] said was true' (Acts 17:11). We are called to test what we hear; we are called to have a speculative approach to God's word.

How to start?

I know that starting off isn't easy! There is always a confusion as to where to begin reading. For more than five years, I was stuck to Genesis chapters 1-20...I never got past them because I never understood them. I would read it, then realized I understood nothing and would rewind back to 'In the beginning...'

I would suggest starting off from the Gospels, preferably John - they're not only easy to understand but contain the key to life, thus the most important part - the first step in beginning a relationship with God. Once you are comfortable with the New Testament, begin to explore the Old - although tricky, it is still applicable and as important as the New. Most importantly, I would strongly encourage you to start your Bible reading with a short prayer, asking God to guide, lead and speak to you. I was amazed by the difference that made! 

While I completely agree with the King James version being the closest to the original, it can at times confuse a person and even bore some! Thus, I recommend reading the King James alongside a credible modern translation, such as the New International or the English Standard, to help you relate to the text. Also, I personally benefit from having a Bible commentary, to help me dig deeper into scripture, especially while reading those head-scratching Old Testament passages where you lose track of what is happening! Finally, remember to read each verse in relation to the chapter, the book, the whole Bible, the culture and then to your life; this will help you discern well and avoid common misinterpretations.

The Bible will mean more to you if you fully fathom its vital relation to your life and its direct connection to current world events, by viewing its history, teachings and prophecies from the vantage point of your current life.

While most people consider reading the Bible as a dull, irksome and uninteresting task, I challenge you to take the first step - read it out of a real desire to learn more and a love for God. Once you begin, and start to understand the Bible, you will find it the most fascinating, the most interesting, as well as the most profitable and enjoyable study of your life! Come on, let's get cracking into God's word! You don't want to miss out do you?

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