Why have you not read the Bible more?
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”
John 5:39-40 NKJV
According to numerous surveys, 93 per cent of Americans say they own or have access to a Bible, yet most admit they rarely read it or have never even opened it. In 2016, Lifeway Research surveyed 1000 people who were representative of the U.S. population and asked: “Why have you not read the Bible more?” The results are below:
The survey respondents were able to choose all that apply with their answers. The top two reasons really tell what I feel are the biggest obstacles most Christians face when it comes to scripture reading: we don’t make it a priority and we don’t set aside time to do it. Surprisingly, 35% of the respondents claim that none of the reasons stated in the survey applied to them. In other words, they really don’t have a reason why they don’t read the Bible more.
When Jesus walked the earth, the everyday person did not own a Bible. Most people were poor and most could not read. Their faith was passed down verbally and with symbolism. The ones who owned the scriptures were the scribes and the religious leaders. It was to this group of people that Jesus confronted with the above verse.
The Scribes and Pharisees were criticizing Jesus for healing people on the Sabbath. To them, He violated scripture. Their problem was not that they were disengaged from Scripture. The NIV translates the first part of verse 39: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life….” Their problem was they missed the point. The NLT finishes the verse: “But the Scriptures point to Me!”
They thought that studying, knowing, and keeping the laws of Scripture were enough for salvation. They continued to miss the point because “eternal life” is not found “in them”. Salvation is found in the One they point to: Jesus.
Salvation is not in reading, memorizing, studying, learning, preaching, teaching, or obeying the Bible. These are all good things and as believers we should do them. But there are many atheists, agnostics, and unbelievers who make their living teaching, lecturing, and writing about the Bible. The most important reason to engage the written word is to engage the Living Word, Jesus Christ.
These religious leaders of Jesus’ day and ours face the same problem. According to Jesus Himself, in verse 40 “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” The NLT states it: “Yet you refuse to come to Me to receive this life.”
At Rose of Sharon, we love and teach the Word of God. We don’t do so to change behavior. We do it to change lives. When we open our hearts and minds to Christ, Bible reading becomes a joy. It’s not about obeying rules; it’s about obeying Jesus and learning how we can better relate to Him.
Search the scriptures, but in doing so, make sure you find Jesus.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.