“All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3.16
The whole Bible may be the divine written word of God, but does that mean that this is the only book that we are supposed to read for spiritual growth? What about other books or essays that have been written about the content of the Bible? Are they worth looking at?
I think there is a great benefit to reading other works alongside the Bible to help us understand the great complexity of the Bible and how to live out the convictions of Jesus. I’m not saying that a commentary or a popular Christian book should ever replace the Bible. But there are benefits to using other materials to work with your personal devotion with Scripture.
Here are my 3 reasons why you should use other materials besides your bible for your personal devotions, sermon prep, or theological work:
1. Scripture is not always easy to understand.
The Apostle Peter was a special guy. He was handpicked as a disciple of Jesus. If that wasn’t enough, he made it into the inner circle of friends that Jesus took even further into relationship with him. He showed this inner circle His transfigured self and numerous miracles the other disciples did not see. After Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus said that it was on this rock that the Church would be built. Whether Jesus means the man Peter or the kind of faith he had is another discussion. But Peter stood out among the characters of the New Testament. You might think that he had it all figured out. But that is far from the truth.
In his own letter, he wrote,
“Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” – 2 Peter 3.15-16
Even someone as special and close to Jesus as Peter didn’t understand everything that would become part of the Bible. Chances are that you nor I will not be able to understand all the mysteries of God and the Scriptures if even authors of the Bible are baffled. That isn’t a shot at you or myself or your intelligence, but a reminder of how deep and profound the written word of God is. Even those that walked with God in the flesh needed help. Today, we can find help in other books, sermons, podcasts, lectures, and classes so that we will not be “ignorant and unstable people”.
2. You can glean from the wisdom and experience of others.
It takes a humble heart to admit that you do not know something, or that you don’t know everything. But it is the humble heart that is also ready and willing to learn. While you may not be the smartest, there are other Christians, throughout the ages that have done much of the difficult work so that you can glean from their knowledge and wisdom.
All one has to do is look at the vast number of books that are written about the Bible, the topics the Bible covers, and topics that the Bible doesn’t address directly but has principles that we can apply. Thousands upon thousands of books, letters, essays, responses and retorts have been crafted by men and women that have done the research, learned the ancient languages and traveled to the far off places so that you can know what they came to know. What they experienced you now may experience without the pain of trial and tribulation. You may know what they have learned without the stress and agony of pouring over old manuscripts. Their insight and ideas can save you from your own trials and temptations. Their knowledge can help you to express the things you believe better than you know how to.
Having others’ knowledge and wisdom at your disposal so that you may understand what the written word of God is telling you reminds me of the words of King Solomon.
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” – Proverbs 1.5
“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4.5-7
3. You will be edified by your brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit…” 1 Corinthians 12.7-8
The wisdom and knowledge that God has given to different Christians throughout the years are not to be held onto for their own purposes. God did not give them revelation for their own good all the time. Sometimes God shared things with certain individuals that needed to be shared with the world. They needed to be written down. They needed to be preached. Because the body of Christ needed to be educated, edified, corrected, or rebuked.
Brothers and sisters that have written down what the Spirit has stirred in their hearts shouldn’t be ignored. It should be welcomed. To hear what the same Spirit that is in them as is in me has to say is something that we should be excited about, not turning away from. That means that we should gladly grab a book or listen to a sermon to help us understand the Bible, to make sense of the mysteries that we find there. We need to be eager to be sharpened by our brothers and sisters, the things that they have been shown, like iron sharpens iron.
I am not saying that any revelation that someone has automatically makes it one from God and must be listened to. Not every sermon truly honours God. Not every book reveals and exposes the Gospel that Jesus taught. But that should not deter us from using these tools for our spiritual growth and maturity. Nothing should ever replace the Bible and its place in our devotional lives, but we should not be scared to find other materials to help us understand the complexity of the Bible.
Be sure to check out the first half of this discussion,
All Scripture references provided by Biblegateway.com
Be sure to check them out if you are looking for a verse, some commentaries to help you understand a passage, or a devotional to keep you in the Written Word every day. Or for those on the go, check out their app, available at the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Fire.
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