This article was first published at Desiring God (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/bible-before-books).
The season for choosing a New Year’s resolution is upon us. Christians find this time reinvigorating; the potential ahead to grow in our faith is promising.
One area in which Christians frequently strive to grow in their faith is through the consumption of God’s word. Seeking to read the Bible more consistently has been a commonly sought-after New Year’s resolution for Christians. But as a result of the growing world of Christian publication, Christians are more often resolving to read Bible-based books heading into the new year. And this can be a problem.
Christian books are far outnumbering the Bible on bookshelves these days. The decision whether we will read those books before the Bible is one we must make entering 2018. For example, instead of reading through the Bible in a year, one might resolve to read three Christ-exalting books. These new reading resolutions can be rewarding, especially since Christian books are based on Scripture. But before we make our reading resolutions, let’s consider the weight of the books we will read.
God’s Word over Man’s
Christian books are being produced today at an extremely high rate for good reason. The reason that so many Christ-exalting books are being produced is because authors desire for the earth to “be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
However, despite the tremendous need for more Christ-centered truth in our fallen world, we ought to be wary of how much emphasis we place on books written by uninspired authors. If we’re not careful, the excitement over a Christian book can lead us to read or study that book before we read the Bible. This is happening too often today; people are exchanging the Bible with a man-made book for their first, primary source of spiritual food.
And this goes beyond just books; the same caution should be placed on articles, blogs, journals, and other resources that are seemingly everywhere due to the connectivity of modern technology. Thus, there is an abundance of written (and non-written) resources available for our spiritual betterment that are extremely God-honoring, Christ-centered, and gospel-driven. Resolving to study any one of these types of resources in 2018 would be beneficial to our souls. Yet none of them should be placed in a higher, more prioritized place than the Bible.
Why Bible First?
Why? Because of Scripture’s testimony about God’s word.
- It was breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16).
- It can cause new birth (1 Peter 1:23).
- It is wisdom that is higher than any human’s thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).
- It can pierce through and see all of our inner being (Hebrews 4:12).
- It is the word that no one can live apart from (Matthew 4:4).
- It lights our path (Psalm 119:105).
- It is eternal and will never perish (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35).
- It is tested to be true (Proverbs 30:5).
- It can lead us to faith (Romans 10:17).
- It helps sanctify us (1 Peter 2:2).
- It brings us heavenly hope (Romans 15:4).
- It is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).
- It is sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103).
What other book, apart from the Bible, can claim any one of these truths in totality? So, why do we not find more urgency in immersing ourselves in the beautiful, joy-filled, living word of God first? Why go to other books or resources besides the Bible to get our initial serving of spiritual food? Why replace our studying of Scripture with the studying of a book about some area of faith?
The answer is subject to the individual. Some might give up first studying the Bible for another book or resource because “the Bible is boring” or because “it’s too difficult to understand.” Some also might make this exchange because they “can’t relate to the Bible,” or because they simply crave the newness of a book they’ve recently discovered, whereas the Bible is always there.
Whatever the response to this question may be, when we do replace our first times of study or reading with a resource other than the Bible — for an extended period of time — we run the risk of developing a dependency on those other resources to primarily feed our souls.
First Things First
So, what do you desire to fill your heart with first in 2018?
Seek to find the most joy in your studies through the Bible first every single day. Set a New Year’s goal for the Bible to be second to none in your daily walk with Christ.
I invite you to give the Bible precedence over any other source to satisfy our longing souls. Let’s make Scripture our chief source this year and not replace God’s word with Christian books.
Let’s read it. Cherish it. Wrestle with it. Know it. Believe it. Love it. Resolve each day to seek his kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6:33).