By Robert Peters, June 2012
[Bob gave this testimony at the church he and his wife attend]
Like many in my generation (the “boomers”) I grew up “believing” that the Bible was the Word of God; but other than reading a passage now and then in Sunday school and hearing it at a worship service, I didn’t read the Bible on my own. Like many in my generation, I also fell away from the Lord while in college. After coming back to the Lord in 1972-1973 while in law school, I again “believed” the Bible to be the Word of God, but still didn’t read it on my own and didn’t see any need to!
That changed not long after I began going to a Christian coffee house in Greenwich Village run by Teen Challenge. The young Christian adults who helped out there soon “got after me” about not reading the Bible on my own. I didn’t see the need to do that, and I told them so! But when I was home during summer vacation in 1974, I decided to begin reading the New Testament; and to my surprise, I got interested in it – interested enough to read the NT through almost three times before going back to school in the fall. I should add that I used three different translations for that.
Despite finding the Bible to be exciting, I stopped reading the Bible when I went back to law school in the fall. Thankfully, that was soon to change. Not long after I began attending a Bible study at the law school, another law student talked about the importance of having a quiet time in the morning to read the Bible and pray. I must say that I did not find it easy getting up earlier so that I could begin each morning with a brief Bible reading and an even briefer prayer. But my fellow law student was persuasive, and I gave it a try. Going on 38 years later, I still begin almost every day of my life by spending about an hour or so mostly reading the Bible but also praying.
Now, for those reasons why I read the Bible and read it daily:
1) It is through faith that we are saved, and faith “comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Faith, however, isn’t just something we exercise or experience when we are “born again.” We “walk by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7); and if you doubt the importance of faith in a Christian’s daily walk (life), open a Concordance to the word “faith” and begin reading the passages where that word is found in the Bible. And as you read, remember that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by God’s Word.
2) I find the Bible to be a great source of comfort, encouragement, wisdom, correction and faith (trust) when a trial(s) comes my way. The place I usually go to in the Bible when a trial(s) comes my way is the Psalms; and what I do is read them, over and over if necessary, until the burden (whatever it is) lifts. Above all else, what the Psalms remind me to do is to trust in the Lord and “hope in his mercy” (Psalm 147:11). They also help me to pray as the Psalmists prayed. Not long ago I turned to the Psalms when a trial came my wife’s way, and I prayed the Psalms for her. The Psalms also remind me of my own sin and of my need to confess that sin and obey God’s word.
In conjunction with this point, Sam [Bob’s Pastor] asked me to mention that I had a “nervous breakdown” at the beginning of my second year of law school in 1973; and a key part of my getting through that awful experience was the help I got from reading the Bible. I hasten to add that reading the Bible is not a “talisman” – as in, “If I just spend enough time reading and memorizing the Bible, my problem will disappear.” But for me, Psalm 119:92-93 in particular became a reality: “Unless your law had become my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts: for with them you have quickened me (given me life).”
3) There is a wealth of truth, understanding, wisdom, counsel, and instruction in the Bible that helps us along life’s way and helps us to know more about God. One of my favorites is Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my way.” But also see, Psalms 119: 97-100, Eph. 1:15-23 and 4:13 and II Peter 1:19-21.
4) A fourth reason that I read the Bible daily is because doing so reminds me of my foolishness and sin. As the Psalmist wrote (119:11) and Robert Peters embellished, “Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sign against you, too much!” Those of you who read the Bible know that the words “too much” are not in the original. But there have been many times when reading the Bible has helped me to turn away from a course of action that was foolish, sinful, hurtful, etc.; and one good reason for reading the Bible daily is that doing so helps one not to go astray too often or too far. I hasten to add that I do not recommend Psalm 119:11, as Peters embellished it. We need to press forward towards the perfect mark as Paul admonished in Philippians 3:7-15.
5) A fifth reason that I read the Bible is because I find it to be an awe-inspiring, captivating, credible, exciting, and inspiring read. In this respect I am like David in Psalm 19, who saw both in God’s creation and in His word means by which God reveals Himself to us. To put it another way, one reason that I am a believer is because I don’t think life as we know it on Earth is the product of endless random happenings; another reason I am a believer is because I don’t think the Bible is the product of lies, serial delusions, and literary imaginations. This doesn’t mean that I never have a question or doubt. Nor does it mean that reading the Bible is always a joy. But for me reading the Bible usually is a joy, and I find it a wonderful way to begin almost every day of my life. When reading the Bible begins to become a dry experience, I either pray, asking God to quicken His word to me again, or I turn to one of my favorite parts of the Bible – namely, the Psalms, Proverbs and short Epistles – which always come alive to me.