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The Only Bad Bible

It's Not What You Think!

I came across this idea from Pastor Blake Laberee, who had a really nice take on this. I borrowed three lead-in ideas and provided my take on each. And I added a final one.

Be sure to do the devotional reading on Psalm 119. It is the single greatest chapter in the Bible about God's WORD.
I have Bibles everywhere. At the desk where I do much of my study and writing, I have my main Bibles. I use the NIV, ESV, NRSV Spiritual Formation Bible, and The Message translations. I also have my Greek New Testament and my Hebrew Old Testament there as well.

At my church office I have other translations within reach. And on my Bible App, I have another dozen translations I can look at from time to time.

The problem is not a lack of Bibles.

Every year, there are 95 million Bibles printed in the United States. We have Bibles everywhere. The problem is when they collect dust. Your Bible should be well used, like the one below.
For the first 10+ years of being a follower of Jesus, my habit was to read through the Bible in a year. First I read through the Bible in the Living Translation, then I did it several times with the New American Standard Bible, and after that, I would pick a different translation to read through in a year.

Regular Bible reading keeps you familiar with the entire Bible. Repeated readings and the words of the Bible seep into your mind and linger. Continual reading renews your mind and shapes your view of life.

One of the reasons we provide weekly devotional readings is to give some structure and assistance for you to develop Bible reading habits and routines.

So, it is not a bad Bible, but it is bad when you DON'T READ the BIBLE.
Reading the Bible is a start, but just the start. You must understand what you read. That is the question Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:30-31. "Do you understand what you are reading," Philip asked. "How can I unless someone explains it to me?" he said.

The Bible is a marvelous book. It is also a complex book. It was written over 1,500 years (or even more). It is made up of 66 books and over 40 authors of those books. It is written in three languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic). It is written in a great diversity of historical situations and cultures that are far removed from our own. And its theme is God and the ways, will, work, plan, and purposes of God. In other words, themes that are BIG, NOBLE, and COMPLEX.

And the Bible is not arranged in constant chronological order. It is organized with some concern for chronology, but mostly by genre (or type) of book. Therefore, when we read the Bible, we don't know how one part is connected to the next (see my suggestion below).

If you don't understand something, don't be dismayed.

That is why the teaching ministry of the church exists and why pastors/teachers are trained in interpreting the Bible. We have many people on our staff who have spent long years in theological and ecclesial (church) education. We study hard to teach well (see James 3:1 and 2 Timothy 2:15).

I also have a recommendation. It will be worth the investment to have a good study Bible. A study Bible has introductions, study notes, and other helpful tools that advance your understanding.

I have been recommending the NLT Chronological Life Application Bible to people. Everyone who has obtained a copy LOVES IT. (CLICK HERE to see a nice demonstration of this Bible.)

Not only does this Bible arrange things in a very likely chronological order, it has the best study notes and supplemental tools to help you understand the Bible.

I recommend you get a copy of this as soon as you can and make it your plan to read from beginning to end, including EVERY NOTE that is provided.

So, it is not a bad Bible, but it is BAD when you DON'T UNDERSTAND the Bible.
And maybe, even worse, is when you do read and you do understand, but you don't obey the Word of God.

The Bible is the truth of God, the will of God, the ways of God, and the purposes of God for your FLOURISHING.

Jesus wants you to know and LIVE the truth. Be sure to read Matthew 7:24-27; 7:21-23;  John 14:23-24; and James 1:19-25 on obeying the words of Jesus.

So, it is not a bad Bible, but NOT OBEYING the Bible that is bad.

And finally... 
It is bad when you don't pass on to others the words of life, light, and truth you have received.

Yes, the church needs and has people who spend long years in preparation and study so they can be faithful teachers of God's Word.

At the same time, the priesthood of all believers means you have responsibilities and opportunities to pass on to others what you have been learning.  Jesus gave the command to go make disciples throughout the world and that included teaching all that Jesus said (Matthew 28:18-20).

The author of Hebrews suggests that his readers should by now be capable of teaching, but they are not because they have not learned the core teachings of the faith (Hebrews 5:11-14).

It has been said that you don't really understand a truth until you can explain it to another person. One of the great benefits of teaching is your own growth in understanding truth, while the other person grows as well. These are iron sharpening iron conversations. This should be your regular experience in our LifeGroups and mid-size communities.

So again, it is not that the Bible is bad. It is bad when we don't pass on to others the beautiful truth of God.

I hope you have been motivated to read, understand, obey, and pass on God's Word.

And again, be sure to read all of Psalm 119.

Pastor Brian Rice 
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