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: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God? - 2020/10/28
- Bible study: The need for the Bible and worship - 2020/10/28
- Bible study: Citizens of two kingdoms - 2020/09/28