I always hear that I should be reading my Bible. I pray every night. Do I really need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
The natural knowledge of God isn’t enough
It’s true. We can know some things about God without the Bible. We call that the natural knowledge of God. When I look at nature and the immensity, order, beauty, and complexity of it, I can know that God is big, orderly, beautiful, and complex. When I do something wrong and feel guilty, my conscience tells me that God is just.
However, there’s a problem with this natural knowledge. It doesn’t tell me about Jesus.
The Bible tells me about my Savior
I need the Bible to tell me about Jesus. The Bible says, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). The way that the Holy Spirit works that conviction in my heart is through his Word: “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). Jesus said how important his Word is—it is life! He said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Perhaps you are thinking, But I already know what Jesus did. I don’t need to read about it more. Yes, you can know the facts about salvation and not forget them. But Jesus tells us that the demons know those things too (James 2:19). Christianity is not just about knowing facts; it’s about having a relationship. It’s about trusting the facts God tells us in his Word.
Imagine your spouse only talked to you once a year. You may still know many facts about your spouse, but you wouldn’t have that same strong relationship as when you talk every day. Hebrews 1:2 says, “In these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Wow! The Creator of the universe wants to have a relationship with you and talk to you through his Word! When you read his Word, he reminds you that you are forgiven, loved, and in the palm of his hand. In other words, he gives you exactly what you need for this life and the one to come. He doesn’t want you to forget that by not listening to him.
Regular Bible reading equips me for life
You mentioned that you pray every night. That is wonderful! However, it is only one side of a conversation. Prayer is your words to God. It’s not God talking to you. God speaks to us through his Word. Only praying would be like a child saying to his parents, “No, I don’t want to hear you talk. You just listen to me.” Every parent would respond, “I want to hear from you, but it’s important for you to hear from me too!”
Hebrews 3:13 says: “Encourage one another daily . . . so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Sin will harden us so we don’t listen to God. But God’s Word strengthens our faith and helps us see Jesus and his forgiveness. The Bible is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
So keep talking to God in prayer, but also remember to listen to his voice in the Bible.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 107, Number 11
Issue: November 2020
- Q&A: Why is Pontius Pilate immortalized in our creeds?
- Q&A: How does remembering my baptism help with the guilt I carry?
- Q&A: Do parts of the Bible teach works righteousness?
- Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?
- Q&A: How should I help my child struggling with same-sex attraction?
- Q&A: Should Christians pray to saints?
- Q&A: Is anger sinful?
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith?
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer?
- Q&A: Is God fair?
- Q&A: When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
- Q&A: How can I better manage what God has given me this year so that I glorify him?
- Q&A: What are ways to glorify God besides singing in church?
- Q&A: I have no special gifts, and I mess up all the time. Does God really need me?
- Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?
- Q&A: My friend died and was not a professing Christian. What do I say to the family?
- Q&A: How can my mother and I forgive my father for being unfaithful and causing my parents to divorce?
- Q&A: Why were demon possession, gifts of healing, and gifts of tongues more prevalent in biblical times?
- Q&A: Is Christianity the only religion that gives the certainty of heaven?
- Q&A: If people go to hell, isn’t it their fault because God gave them free will and they rejected him?
- Q&A: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
- Q&A: Can you explain Jesus’ words to the wailing women he met on his way to be crucified?
- Q&A: What if spouses don’t “love” each other anymore?
- Q&A: Is it wrong to have a cross with Jesus’ body on it?
- Q&A: Is our time of grace really unchangeable?
- Q&A: I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but how can it be that easy?
- Q&A: Are there degrees of glory in heaven as a reward for good works?
- Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible?
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us?
- Q&A: Why does it seem like Christianity is so negative?
- Q&A: How can I explain how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
- Q&A: Is it okay to live together if we are planning to get married?
- Q&A: How is the Bible God’s Word?
- Q&A: Were we “created to make a difference”?
- Q&A: Am I being judgmental if I point out someone’s sin?
- Q&A: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
- Q&A: Can a Christian vote for a political candidate who supports abortion?
- Q&A: Does God really care?
- Q&A: Does it really matter how God made the world?
- Q&A: Does God send people to hell?
- Q&A: Is death natural?
- Q&A: How can I forgive and forget?
- Q&A: Does God help those who help themselves?
- Q&A: How can we say that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament God?
- Q&A: Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
- Q&A: Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
- Light for our path: Does God hate us?
- Light for our path: What kind of comfort can you give someone when a loved one commits suicide?
- Light for our path: What does a submissive wife in a Christian marriage look like?
- Light for our path: Is it a sin to want to die from a terminal illness?
- Light for our path: What advice can you give about applauding in church?
- Light for our path: Can you please explain Matthew 5:20?
- Light for our path: What is karma?
- Light for our path: Can the devil personally be tempting me and a lot of other people at exactly the same time?
- Light for our path: Does the word Easter refer to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess?
- Light for our path: What role does emotion play in contrition?
- Light for our path: What does the white stone in Revelation 2:17 mean?
- Light for our path: Is the cross symbol now anti-Christian?
- Light for our path: Were Joseph and Mary engaged or married when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy?