By Tyson Thorne

December 12, 2013


Some readers of last week’s article, The 72, let me know that they thought I was belittling the importance of reading the Bible and of prayer in favor of experiences. Certainly this was not my intention. In fact, daily time with God in both His word and in prayer is foundational in our relationship with God. My point was that it was time we started building on that foundation through experiences that help us create connections with God. To clear up any confusion, I offer up a study on the importance of Bible study and of prayer that will take us to the end of the year.

It is my belief that among the most important disciplines a believer can have is reading the Bible every day. Yet how many of us struggle with that? I’ll raise my hand alongside yours. Why is that? Most of us understand that the Bible is the map book of life. We know that if everyone is lost, the Bible can show us the way. That’s its purpose! To show us the way, to be our map. So why do we struggle to read it regularly?

Because we have a different purpose in reading it.

Some of us started reading the Bible because we knew we were lost. We read it so we could find our place and set ourselves on the right path. Once we’ve done so, we put it in our backpack and let it settle to the bottom. We know where we are now. The purpose for reading the Bible is fulfilled.

Some of us, and this is the camp I fall into, began reading the Bible to develop a right theology. We may study it and read it faithfully for years! There comes a day, however, when we have good theology. We know what we believe, and why, and can cite the appropriate Scriptures to prove it. I know where I stand, so the map book isn’t necessary any longer. It gets set aside, because my purpose for reading it has been fulfilled.

Still others of us began reading the Bible because we had questions that burned deeply within us. So we opened its pages and searched for answers. Sadly, the day came when our burning questions were all answered. The Bible is shelved next to the Aitkens Diet book, because our purpose for reading it has been fulfilled.

There are many this holiday season who will read the Bible not because they are looking for spiritual guidance or because of traditions, but because the Bible is the most incredible book of all history. I know that sounds like a big boast, but I have the facts to back it up. Here are only a few:

• Written over a 1,600 year time span (over 60 generations!)

• Written by 40+ authors from every walk of life, in different locations and under different circumstances and moods

• Written on three different continents

• Written in three different languages

• First book ever translated (about 250 BC)

• Most translated book (over 1,200 languages)

• First book ever printed

• Most expensive book (for a copy of an original Guttenberg Bible)

• First book ever read in space (December 24, 1978)

Isaac Asimov read the Bible for this very reason, not because he was a believer (he wasn’t), but because of its remarkable impact on civilization. He even went so far as to write his own commentary on both Testaments. But when he was finished writing about it he left its pages and teachings behind, because his purpose for reading it was complete.

To the man lost in the jungle a map is his best friend. He guards it with his life, because it is his life! He knows without the map he will never find civilization again. What happens when he stumbles across a friendly tribe? Maybe he stays with them a while, and even marries the chiefs daughter. Suddenly, civilization doesn’t seem so important. The map is placed in the bottom of a trunk and forgotten. Does the man know where he is? Has he found civilization? No. He’s still lost.

Owning a map book, owning a Bible, doesn’t mean you're not lost. You have to study it, and follow it. Only then are you truly found!

So what ought our reason be to read the Bible, if it isn’t one of those mentioned above? It is to know God. To know God is to know what he thinks, what he feels, what is important to him, what his priorities are – and we gain all that insight from the Bible.

When I suggest we strike out to experience God in ways that build connections with him, I don’t mean to suggest that any experience will do. Jesus sent the 72 out on a very specific mission, one that met with his objectives and goals for the salvation of mankind. We want to make sure our activities are ones that meet with God’s approval and that our experiences are based upon our obedience.

There is a group within Christendom called Renovaré that also teaches about the importance of building experiences with God. The difference in their message and mine is they approve and encourage the use of experiences found nowhere in Scripture and that may even lead people astray. By reading and studying the Bible we learn the boundaries of our mission, its priorities, and how best to begin a new adventure in the name of our King. And those are lessons that will keep us returning to God’s word every day for the rest of our lives.

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