I was having a discussion with a friend about a spiritual topic a while back. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I remember a question arising out of the discussion. Neither of us knew the answer to the question, but my friend did remember what a certain christian preacher had said about it. I had heard the quote before too. It sounded good. And it probably was right. In fact, both of us had always just assumed that it was right because the preacher who said it tends to be very biblical. But this time we both thought, “I wonder where he gets that from Scripture. Is it possible that it’s not biblical?”
I find it amazing, and a bit sad, how eager we are (including myself) to go first to fallible human authors and preachers to get our nourishment and understanding, when we have the very best source—the Word of God—available to us all. There are so many times when I know what certain people I respect would say about a given question or spiritual topic, but I don’t really know what the Bible says. Often what these people say does come from the Bible, but I don’t always know where they get it from the Bible.
What is our typical solution to this problem, when and if we realize that it is a problem? We go ahead and read the human author, tentatively take the same view as the author, and then go to the Bible to check it . There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but doesn’t it make a whole lot more sense just to go to the Bible to form our theology in the first place?
And then there are those times when we do go to the Bible, but we don’t understand what the Bible is saying. So we pull out a commentary or read a book on the topic. (Or we just shrug our shoulders and forget about it.) I’m not saying that reading a commentary is bad, but doesn’t it make sense to at least try to understand the Bible from the rest of the Bible first? I’m sure you’ve heard people say that the Bible is the best commentary on itself.
I really believe that now.
More than once recently I’ve had a question about a topic come to mind. Instead of reading a book on the topic, or asking someone else for their opinion like I usually would, I just kept looking for the answer from the Bible. Prayer played a key role as well. And what do you know? Not only did the Bible contain the answer, but I was sure that that the answer was Biblical. And also, since the answer came right out of the Bible I’ve been able to share it with others from the Bible instead of just passing on (in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of fashion) what So-And-So said in such-and-such book. It’s leaps and bounds better!
And you know what? The Bible is my favorite book anyway. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a christian and the Bible should be my favorite book.
It really, honestly is.
I’m more sure of that than ever now. The more I read it, the better, sweeter, and more wholesome I have discovered it to be.
So I ask again, why would we ever want to read another book when we could read the Bible? It’s possible that I will feel differently about this later; I may rediscover the value of christian books at some point. But I do know that I will at least finish reading through the whole Bible (there are still some parts of it I’ve never read, believe it or not) before I read another christian book. And really—if you think about what I’m communicating by the fact that I’ve never read the whole Bible through, but have read a number of christian books—I think I’ve been rather foolish.
Our Heavenly Father is not silent! I hope this post encourages you to read and love your Bible more, as I have been encouraged to do.