Reading the Bible vs. Reading Religious Books

I was talking to my friend Ryan last night about the comparable levels of people’s knowledge of the Bible and he said that he thought the problem was that people read lots of books about the Bible instead of reading the Bible. Now he’s got more knowledge of the Bible in his little finger than I’ll acquire in the next decade so his comment rattled around in my head all night.

Those of you who know me know how I admire C.S. Lewis. I think every Christian or aspiring Christian should read Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Great Divorce.

However, we have to put these resources and people in their proper perspective: they can often have interesting, and sometimes very helpful things to say, but they aren’t God, and their books aren’t the Bible. Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1 (ESV):

10I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Ryan is also a big C.S. Lewis fan and he and I have joked “I follow Lewis”, and the kernel of truth that is in most such statements clarified the danger for us.

A similar danger can be found in following our preachers in whatever they say. However wise they may be, remember that they are people just like you and can and often will be fallible. So what’s my point? Just this:

Pay attention to your preacher, read helpful books about scripture, but always remember that it is better to be like the Bereans (Acts 17, ESV):

11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

If you will read the Bible every single day for the rest of your life, even if only briefly, you’ll gain more knowledge more quickly than you can imagine. The key is consistency – every day, no matter what. Not so you can check it off your list and say you do it, but so that the Holy Spirit will show you the truth. My experience is that it works like this.

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