MUST WE FOLLOW ALONG IN THE BIBLE?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Some Christians have told me that they do not need to follow along in their Bible when a man teaches and/or preaches from it. They supposedly “know what the Bible teaches” to such an extent that them flipping through Bible pages and reading along is pointless. (Evidently, they stand on some spiritual plateau that the rest of us are still struggling to reach!) How did they get to this “I-do-not-need-to-follow-along-in-the-Bible” point in their Christian life? Can we ever hope to meet them there? Let us see what the Scriptures say.
A primary example of someone actually reading the Bible text in the Bible is the Lord Jesus Himself. He knew the Holy Bible better than any mortal man will ever know it! Yet, He valued the Scripture so much that He actually held its Isaiah scroll in hand and read from it! For the benefit of His audience, He did not quote it from memory (although He could have very easily done so). To set the example, He requested a Bible scroll, held it, searched for the passage He wanted, and then He read from it. In those days of synagogue worship and limited writing media, not everyone had a personal Bible. The synagogues had their own Bible scrolls, and curiosity seekers had to go to the synagogue to read the “Old Testament” (Law of Moses, Psalms, and Prophets). How much more should we read the Bible, we who have a personal copy!
The Bible speaks for itself in Luke chapter 4: “ And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.  And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.  And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.  And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.  And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Moses was strictly commanded of God to write instructions about Israel’s king reading from the Old Testament Scriptures. We read in Deuteronomy chapter 17: “ And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:  And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:  That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.” There would never come a time when Israel’s king would no longer need to read the Bible. Verse 18 again: “he shall read therein all the days of his life….” “All the days of his life.” “ALL the days of his life.” “ALL the days of his life.” “ALL the days of his life.” Got it?
The Apostle Paul told Timothy, a young pastor, to read the Bible. First Timothy 4:13 says, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” Timothy knew the Bible well enough to become a pastor and even teach the Bible to others. Still, he was encouraged to keep reading it. If a pastor was urged to read the Bible, how much more should the common church member be?
Just before dying, in prison, Paul again wrote to Timothy. Second Timothy 4:13: “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” Were these “parchments” a reference to Bible scrolls? As others have commented, I agree that it is very likely. Paul evidently wanted parts of the Word of God so he could read them… even though he knew he would not be alive much longer! How much more should we who plan to live for decades more?
Paul himself had admitted years earlier in Philippians chapter 3: “ Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” This apostle, having preached God’s Word for 35 years at that point, and he still had not plummeted the depths of the Bible! He still had more growing, maturing, to do. He was still attempting to understand the Christian life. Paul had not yet grasped just why God had saved him on the road to Damascus all those years earlier! That was his motivation for reading God’s Word even more in his dying days.
SOME HARSH WORDS WRITTEN IN LOVE
Christians who say they do not have to follow along in their Bible when a man teaches and/or preaches from it, they are lazy. We need not sugarcoat it, dear friends. Christians who refuse to flip through the Bible and read it for themselves are deceived and lazy. They believe they can remember the Bible so well that they have no reason to actually appeal to it in written form. This is thoroughly unwise. Brethren, God never intended us to rely on our memory when it came to His Word. If He had, He would have never given us a written Bible at all. Memory fails; memory is not 100 percent reliable. You want to base your soul’s well-being on your memory? You go right on ahead—but count me out!
Timothy was a pastor and yet Paul encouraged him to give attention to reading the Bible in his own personal life. Jesus flipped through the Bible. Israel’s kings were to flip through the scrolls of the Law of Moses and read them all their days. I know pastors who have been teaching the Word of God rightly divided for 30, 40, or even 50 years. They still open their Bibles and follow along when someone is teaching or preaching. They are honest enough to admit that they have more learning to do themselves! I have been teaching the Bible for over 10 years, and yet I still like to follow along in the Scriptures when others teach from it. Personally, I think people do not like to read the Bible because the Bible “reads” them—it pricks their hearts and they resist its admonitions and rebukes.
Frankly, people who claim to “know” the Bible so much that they no longer need to open it and follow along in it, they know very little about what the Bible actually says. No one ever reaches the point of “spirituality” where they no longer need to read the Bible for themselves. What these people want to do is let the preacher, priest, or Bible teacher do all the work of flipping and reading. They, on the other hand, will just sit idly in an easy chair and bob their heads in acknowledgment. They sit in the pew and agree with everything said. Friends, the minister or Bible teacher is just as human as all of us. He will overlook letters or words. He may honestly misread the Bible text. Unless you are following along in your own Bible, you may miss subtle truths. Then, there are other ministers who are intentionally misreading verses so that their denomination/theology is supported. No one will ever check what these leaders say anyway because the audience never uses a Bible. These ministers have been to Bible College or seminary. They are expected to know what the Bible says so most will never question them. (This is the primary reason why the Body of Christ has been so deceived for so many centuries.)
Friend, indeed, follow along in the King James Bible for yourself. If you do not, you will have no valid reason to complain when religion deceives you!
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”
» What if I do not accept the Bible’s authority?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» I am new to the Bible, so where should I begin?
» Why do I get nothing out of the Bible when I read it?
» Has God’s Word failed?