Louise laid her Bible on her baby-blue duvet cover, knelt and opened it to the bookmark. She read a chapter from Proverbs and a chapter from John, then set it back in her bookshelf. Day after day, Louise carried out this routine for three reasons:
- Her parents expected her to.
- She didn’t want to look silly in front of her youth Sunday School group.
- All obligations aside, the Bible had some seriously ingenious ideas for leading an honourable life.
Holding a Bible for the first time can be overwhelming, to say the least. It can make a person wonder how set about reading a book so set apart from other literature. We talked about that in this blog post.
However, it’s definitely possible to read the Bible if you’re not a Christian. Anyone with the necessary language skills can read the Bible just as they can read the words on the pages of any other book. Not only so, but you can learn about righteous living and what God is like, even without being a Christian.
…and that’s what we’re discussing today.
The Bible is God’s primary means of communication to us
Many people call it “God’s Word”, as in God’s message to all people of all ages. I’ve also heard people call it God’s love letter to us.
The fact is, God hasn’t left us alone in this crazy, chaotic world of natural and man-made disasters. He speaks to us in multiple ways, of which the Bible is arguably the foundational means.
To a certain extent, even people who reject God as their personal Lord – like Louise – can learn from His Word, and be inspired by it. However, the greatest treasures in it are only for God’s children.
The Bible is about the spiritual
Part of the Bible’s purpose is to tell us about what God did to save us from our sins and their consequences. Another part of it is to guide the person who has already trusted in Jesus to become more and more pure from sin and pleasing to God.
The second part is especially hard for us to understand because it is all about God’s thoughts and ways, which are far different from our own and which often seem strange to us.
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we [true believers] have received [the Holy Spirit] is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us [His Word, the Bible].*
-1 Corinthians 2:11-12
*My words in squares brackets, for clarity.
This verse tells us that God gives the Holy Spirit to every true believer to help us understand the things in the Bible that are hard to understand. But no one who refuses to trust in Jesus has the Holy Spirit.
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
-1 Corinthians 2:14
More than a tip book for moral living
The to a certain extent, non-Christians can read the Bible and learn how to live a better life. However, the Bible is not about human efforts to respect a list of rules or look good compared to “worse sinners”. It is about completely transforming sinners into saints based on what Jesus Christ did to save us. We can only access the full goodness in the Bible through the Holy Spirit, given to us who choose to trust Him.
Talk with me?
- Why might you (or others) read the Bible, if not to be completely transformed by it?
- What should we do when we don’t understand what the Bible is teaching?
- What is a moral life worth?
Resources for deeper digging
Psst! For more on:
- Understanding the Bible by the Holy Spirit: the Bible verses quoted above were taken from this passage. Click the link to read the rest of it.
- What a moral life is worth if you haven’t trusted in Jesus: see this blog post.