READ THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF
A. Introduction: We’re going to begin this year as we have the past several years, with a series on the
importance of reading the Bible. This topic is vitally important for a number of reasons. Consider one.
1. We’re living at the end of this age, and the second coming of Jesus Christ is approaching. When Jesus
was on earth, He told His followers that the years preceding His return will be increasingly chaotic. a.
Jesus warned that lawlessness will abound and that there will be widespread religious deception,
with false christs and false prophets who deceive many. Events that cause great fear will occur and
culminate in tribulation unlike anything the world has ever seen. Matt 24:3-25; Luke 21:25-28
1. The information recorded in the Bible will help us navigate through the chaos, lawlessness, and
religious deception that has already begun, and will continue to get worse and worse.
2. However, many sincere Christians struggle with regular Bible reading. They don’t know
where to begin. It’s boring. They don’t understand what they read and get very little out of it.
When they read, they often read ineffectively.
b. In this series I hope to inspire and motivate more people to read the Bible by explaining what the
Bible is, and what it will and won’t do for you. I intend to show you why we can trust the
information in the Bible. And, I’ll give you practical instruction on how to read effectively.
2. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. This doesn’t mean that when you read you’ll
have mystical experiences or supernatural downloads from Heaven. God reveals Himself in the Bible
by giving information about His nature and character, His will and works, His purposes and plans.
a. The Bible reveals that God created human beings to become His sons and daughters through faith in
Him. And He made the earth to be a home for Himself and His family. Eph 1:4-5; Isa 45:18
b. The Bible also tells us that humankind has chosen independence from God through sin. Sin has not
only damaged the earth, it has made us unfit for God’s family. But in its opening pages, the Bible
promises the coming of a Redeemer (Jesus Christ) who will undo the damage. Gen 3:15
1. Jesus came to earth the first time to pay for sin through His sacrificial death on the Cross, and
open the way for humanity to be restored to God’s family through faith in Him. I Pet 3:18
2. He’ll come again to restore the family home (the earth) by cleansing it of all sin, corruption, and
death. He’ll establish His eternal kingdom here and live with His family forever. Rev 21-22
c. The Bible gives us the big picture—God’s overall plan for humanity. When you understand this
big picture it changes your perspective, which then affects the way you deal with life.
1. The Bible helps you see that God has a purpose for your life. Almighty God desires that you
become His son or daughter and then live in loving relationship with Him.
2. The Bible gives you hope that helps you deal with this very difficult life. It assures us that we
are only passing through this world in its present condition, and that the best is yet to come in
the life after this life. It persuades us that our Father will get us through until He gets us out.
B. The Bible is actually a difficult book to read, in part, because we don’t understand why the authors wrote it,
the culture in which it was written, or the literary style and languages they used. Let’s begin this lesson with
some basic statements about the purpose and structure of the Bible, as well as why the authors wrote.
1. The word Bible comes from a Latin word that means books. The Bible is actually a collection of 66
books and letters (called epistles). The books were written by more than 40 authors, on three different
continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe), over a 1,500 year period (1400 BC to AD 100).
a. Yet these documents have a consistent theme. Altogether, they tell the story of God’s desire for a
family and the lengths to which He has gone to obtain that family through Jesus.
b. Every book in the Bible adds to or advances this story in some way. The content of the Bible is
roughly 50% history, 25% prophecy, and 25% instruction for living.
c. This collection of books has two major divisions—the Old Testament and the New Testament.
1. The Old Testament (39 books) was originally written in Hebrew. It is primarily the history of
the Jewish people (Israel), the people group Jesus was born into. It points to and anticipates
the coming of Jesus, with many prophecies about Him, as well as events that foreshadow Him.
2. The New Testament (27 books) is a record of Jesus’ birth into this world, His ministry, His
death, and His resurrection. It was originally written in Greek by eyewitnesses of Jesus (or
close associates of eyewitnesses), men who walked and talked with Jesus. They wrote about
events that they witnessed. I John 1:1-3; II Pet 1:16; Acts 4:19-20
A. The Bible is progressive revelation. It gradually reveals Jesus and God’s plan for His
family, until we have the full revelation of Jesus and the plan, given in the New Testament.
B. Because the New Testament is a record of events promised and predicted in the old, the
Old Testament is much easier to understand when it is filtered through the greater light of
the new. Successful Bible reading begins with understanding the New Testament first.
d. The Bible is unique. There is no other book like, because it is a book from God. The men who
wrote it were inspired by God: All scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Tim 3:16, KJV).
Scripture comes from a word meaning to write. Scriptures are the written Word of God (the Bible).
1. The Greek word translated inspiration means “God-breathed”. Another New Testament writer
stated it this way: The authors were guided by the Holy Spirit as they wrote (II Pet 1:21).
2. The men were not robots. They used their own expressions, but God providentially guided
them in a way that led them to choose words that conveyed His truth.
2. Almighty God wants to be known by the men and women He created. But He is beyond our
comprehension. God is transcendent (above all), infinite (no beginning and no end), and invisible
(beyond the perception of our physical senses). If He did not choose to reveal Himself to us, we could
not know Him. But He has revealed Himself to us through His Word.
a. Jesus is God’s clearest and fullest revelation of Himself to mankind. Jesus is God become fully
man without ceasing to be fully God. This is the mystery of the incarnation (I Tim 3:16). God
took on a human nature and lived as a man on earth for thirty-three years (Phil 2:5-7).
1. John the apostle (one of Jesus’ earliest followers, who became part of His inner circle and wrote
several New Testament documents) in the context of referring to Jesus as God the Creator,
called Him the Word made flesh. John 1:1-3; John 1:14
2. Made flesh refers to the fact that Jesus took on a human nature in the womb of a virgin named
Mary. The Greek word that is translated word (logos), among the classical Greeks in the
culture of that day, meant the principle that holds the universe together.
b. Paul the apostle (another eyewitness who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament documents) also
realized that Jesus was and is God in human flesh. He wrote: He (Jesus) is the perfect imprint and
very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe
by His mighty word of power (Heb 1:3, Amp).
c. Jesus is the Living Word of God revealed in the written Word of God—(Jesus said) the Scriptures
testify of me (John 5:39, KJV). The Bible was written to reveal Jesus and how He accomplishes
the complete restoration of God’s family and the family home through His death and resurrection.
3. The Bible is not a religious book written to promote its founder’s philosophies and ideas or his dreams
and visions. Christianity is based on a historical claim—that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and
then rose from the dead.
a. The New Testament is a record of what the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection saw
and heard. The question is, can this historical event be verified? The answer is yes. We’ll
discuss this in more detail in upcoming lessons.
b. For now, consider what John the apostle (an eyewitness) stated about why he wrote his Bible
documents: Jesus’ disciples saw him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in
this book (the Gospel of John0. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the
Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life (John 20:30-31, NLT).
C. A major key to understanding the Bible is realizing that it was written by real people to other real people to
communicate information about God’s plan. Everything in the Bible was written by someone to someone
about something. A good Bible teacher can help you learn those things (more on this in later lessons).
1. Keep in mind that the authors were not writing to us. They were writing to people they knew. Bible
verses can’t mean something to us that they would not have meant to the original readers and hearers.
a. The authors did not write in chapters and verses. Chapter and verse notations were added centuries
after the Bible was completed to serve as reference points and help locate specific passages.
b. We tend to skip around and read random verses. But the books in the Bible were meant to be read
from start to finish, just as books and letters are intended to be read today. If you take a verse out of
its original setting (read only a verse or two) you can seriously misinterpret it.
c. To rightly interpret a passage we must always consider who wrote it, who they were writing to and
why, as well as take into account the culture of that time (more on all of this in upcoming lessons.)
2. Let’s give a brief example of who wrote to who and why by looking at the verse mentioned earlier where
we are told that the Scriptures (the Bible) were (was) inspired by God. II Tim 3:16
a. That statement is found in a letter (epistle) written by Paul (an eyewitness of Jesus) to a man named
Timothy. Timothy became a believer in Jesus through Paul’s ministry, when Paul visited a city
called Lystra (located in what is today Turkey).
1. Timothy’s father was Greek, but he had a Jewish mother and grandmother who instructed him
in the Old Testament, which promised the coming Redeemer (II Tim 1:5; 3:15). When Paul
preached from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Redeemer, Timothy believed on Jesus.
2. Timothy eventually became part of Paul’s traveling team as he preached the gospel throughout
the Roman world. At one point, Paul put Timothy in charge of a group of believers (a church)
in the city of Ephesus (also located in Turkey).
A. Paul wrote two letters to Timothy with instructions to help him effectively steward the
church: I Timothy (AD 62-63) and II Timothy (AD 67). Paul didn’t write religious books.
He wrote to his son in the faith and his ministry partner for practical and personal reasons.
B. When Paul wrote his second letter, he was imprisoned in Rome and knew that he would be
executed soon. Through his letter, Paul let Timothy know of his situation and gave him
some final instructions. II Tim 4:1-9
b. Part of Paul’s instructions related to Jesus’ second coming. The first Christians expected Jesus to
return within their lifetime and had no idea He would not be back for at least two thousand years.
1. One of the last things Paul wrote to Timothy was a reminder that there will be perilous times on
earth prior to Jesus’ return, and gave a detailed list of how people will behave. II Tim 3:1-7
2. Paul warned Timothy that: Evil people and imposters (false christs, false prophets, and fake
Christians) will flourish. They will go on deceiving others, and they themselves will be
deceived (II Tim 3:13, NLT).
3. Paul then told Timothy how to deal with these difficult times: Continue in the things you have
been taught—the Scriptures. (Remember that we started this lesson with the statement that the
Bible will help us navigate through the increasingly difficult times ahead.)
c. Paul reminded Timothy that he could trust what he knew from the Word of God since he was taught
the Scriptures by people he could trust (his grandmother and mother), and because the Scriptures
were inspired by God Himself. Paul then restated what the Scriptures do for those who read them.
1. II Tim 3:14-15—You must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know
they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy
Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that
comes by trusting in Christ Jesus (NLT).
2. II Tim 3:16-17—All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to
make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do right. It
is God’s way of preparing us in every way for every good thing God wants us to do (NLT).
3. The Bible reveals Jesus the Savior, and the salvation He provides through His death and resurrection.
Salvation is the complete restoration of human nature to our created purpose as sons and daughters of
God, who are holy and righteous, and like Jesus in character (attitudes and actions).
a. The Bible is a supernatural book because it has come to us from God. (Supernatural means of or
relating to an order of existence beyond the observable universe.)
b. Because the Bible is a supernatural book, it works or produces change in those who read and believe
it. God, by His Spirit, through His Word, restores us to what we were created to be—His sons and
daughters who are fully glorifying to Him.
1. II Cor 3:18—And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the
Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His
very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this
comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit (Amp).
2. I Thess 2:13—And we also [especially] thank God continually for this, that when you received
the message of God [which you heard] from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men
but as what it truly is, the Word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe—
exercising its [superhuman] power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it (Amp).
c. Jesus compared the Bible to food: Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4, Amp).
1. The Bible is like food in the sense that you must take it in. You don’t have to understand how
it works in you to change and transform you, but you must eat it in order to experience its
effects. You eat it by reading it. This is the reading system that has worked for me.
A. I would set aside a 15-20 minute period every day. I began at the start of the first New
Testament book and read as much as I could in my allotted time. I didn’t stop to look up
words or worry about what I didn’t understand. I just kept reading
B. I left a marker where I stopped and picked up there the next day. I repeated this until I
read each book all the way through. I did this over and over, until I became familiar with
the New Testament. I found that understanding came with familiarity.
2. I did look up words that I didn’t understand or take time to thoughtfully go over verses that
stood out to me. But I did it at times other than this specific reading time.
D. Conclusion: We’re living at the end of this age and deception is everywhere, just as Jesus said it would be.
We’re living in a time when so called prophets abound, a time when people are claiming that they go in and
out of Heaven at will, and can teach you to do it too, We have churches that profess to be Christian but teach
doctrines that are completely contrary to what Jesus said and did. How do you know who’s right?
1. The Bible tells us who Jesus is, why we’re here, and where we’re headed. It shows us the standard for
holy, righteous living and tells us how sons and daughters of God act. The Scriptures reveal truth in an
age of deception where everyone has a different idea of who Jesus is and why He came to earth.
2. The Bible is our protection against deception and our guide as to what is ahead for this world. But it
won’t help you if you don’t know what it says. If ever there was a time to know for yourself what the
Bible says, it’s now. As we begin this new year, I urge you to become a regular, systematic reader of the
New Testament. You’ll be a different person a year from now. Much more next week!!