How Should Teens Read The Bible? – From the Cultivating Biblical Godliness series.
Joel R. Beeke – Reformation Heritage Books
Along with prayer, reading the Bible is one of the really important parts of the Christian life (see Two Way Communication). I’m sure you’ve often been encouraged to make regular Bible reading a priority, especially if you are from a church background. Most Christians though, to a greater or lesser extent, find reading the Bible hard work – they ‘get stuck, get lost, or get discouraged’. It is however very much worth it and if we persevere it brings much joy, help and encouragement – above all, the Bible is able to make us ‘wise unto salvation’ (2 Timothy 3:15).
‘It’s hard work, but it’s worth it‘
It is from this angle that Joel Beeke tackles reading the Bible in this booklet. Part of the Cultivating Biblical Godliness series that Reformation Heritage Books have been publishing over the last three or four years, it is short (only 26 pages) and is presented in an easy to read style without detracting from the seriousness of the subject matter. It ‘lays out wise guidelines for how to read the most important book in the world and not give up’, giving ‘many helpful tips on how to benefit from Scriptures with the constant awareness that our attitude is crucial’. (Quotes taken from the back of the booklet.)
The booklet is divided into six sections:
- Why Reading the Bible is Hard Work – It’s huge, it can be difficult to understand and it can seem irrelevant.
- Reasons for reading the Bible – It is God’s Word, it is the only absolute truth available to us and it is full of wisdom.
- Practical Helps for Reading the Bible – Firstly the author covers picking a time, picking a place and having a plan. Secondly he describes eight helpful things that should be part of our Bible reading, including diligence, preparation, meditation and prayer.
- Practical Helps For Studying the Bible – In this section, the author provides guidelines for how we can dig deeper into the Bible; moving from reading it to studying it. He gives a wealth of simple practical suggestions for understanding what the Scriptures are teaching us and also how to apply them to our lives. One particularly helpful part gives ten questions to ask about each chapter of the Bible as we read it. Also included in this section is advice to help us avoid some pitfalls and traps we can fall into when studying the Bible.
- The Joy of Reading the Bible – This is why it is worth reading the Bible – it brings joy. Firstly the author makes it clear that we cannot earn salvation by reading the Bible. This can only be found by turning to the Lord Jesus in repentance and faith. However, for the Christian, reading the Bible is then full of joy. Secondly, a number of reasons are given for this, along with various testimonies from the Bible itself and from Christians throughout the history of the church.
- Reading the Bible is Worth the Effort – In this final section the rest of the booklet is pulled together as follows:
We’ve seen that reading your Bible is one of the hardest things to do. You know it’s hard work, but I hope you also see that it is totally worth the effort. There are so many reasons to read the Bible. It’s the Word of God himself! Though the task is sometimes difficult, you can take these simple steps to make that task easier and to help encourage yourself to read even when you don’t feel like it. By the grace of God in Jesus Christ, you will find joy in that Word – a world of joy. So take the plan you’ve made for a special time, for a special place, and for systematic reading, and go, read your Bibles. It will be hard work, but it will be worth it.
This booklet provides a lot of useful advice. Of course, just reading it will not suddenly remove all the challenges with Bible reading, and indeed this is not implied. The author is not suggesting a quick fix, he is clear that Bible reading will always need effort, application and diligence. However, if even just some of the principles outlined are prayerfully implemented, it will surely be of benefit.
Whilst the title refers to teenagers, this booklet will be helpful to anyone, of any age, who is looking for help and guidance about reading and studying the Bible. Short and to the point, easy to read, and full of practical advice, How Should Teens Read the Bible? is an excellent place to start.[A00036 – 01/06/2017]