UP0015: What Advice Would You Give to Someone Who Struggles in Bible Reading?

  • UP0015: What Advice Would You Give to Someone Who Struggles in Bible Reading? 00:00

Dane Ortlund gives five pieces of practical advice for anyone who’s struggling with regular Bible reading.


Welcome to another edition of UP, the Union Podcast. My name is Dan Hames and I’m speaking for the final time, certainly, with Dane Ortlund, the Senior Vice President for Bible Publishing at Crossway. Dane, as we part, I wondered, do you have any advice for the person who really struggles each day to pick up their Bible and read? They know that they should, they would like to, but really deep down, they don’t really think that the Bible appeals to them. Do you have any advice for them?

Well, I feel full sympathy for them, Dan, and I think that question reflects Dane Ortlund, not only in his past, but also sometimes in his present. A couple things come to mind.

  1. Of course it’s a struggle. The Bible is a strange book.
  2. There is no one in the history of the world for whom it was never a struggle to read and understand the Bible. So you’re not weird.
  3. If you are struggling to read the Bible, and really not picking it up at all, what about this. What if starting tomorrow you got up one minute earlier than you planned to and read one verse. Maybe Ephesians 1:1, maybe 1 John, or something in the Psalms. Whatever you want. Now is not the time for grand plans, if you’re struggling to pick it up. Now’s the time for tiny, realistic goals. And do that for a week. Read a total of seven verses and enjoy seven verses, one verse a day. You cannot–discipline yourself–you cannot read more than that. And I dare you to see how you want to adjust that at the beginning of week 2. You’re not going to want to do less. You’re going to want to do two verses a day. So do that! Grow slowly, and give yourselves time, and then die, many years from now, a Bible-devouring, wise, rich, radiant man or woman.
  4. Just remember, reading the Bible is simply eating. That’s all it is. What would you say to someone who says, I just struggle to go every day to the kitchen and eat something. You’d say, you want to live, don’t you? You want to be strong, don’t you? Don’t you want to be nourished and enjoy life like you’re meant to? So, neglecting the Bible is self-starvation. Jonathan Edwards looked back at his own conversion, he said he found scripture to be, for the first time, a refreshing, ravishing food. And that’s what we’re growing into.
  5. And last I’d say, why don’t you just relax? You are clothed in Christ’s righteousness, and Christ, the radiant friend of sinners, is compassionately for and with you. His arms are not crossed. So, give yourself time to acquire the taste. Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture, it both widens and deepens with our years.” So let that happen. Ask the Lord, who is an ever-present help in time of need, to give you that. To let the book widen and deepen and become meaningful to you. And he will draw near to you, as you ask him to.

Thank you, there are 5 really good pieces of advice. I did wonder how long it would take you to mention Edwards. Is there any other advice you could pass on to him while you’re on the line? 

Oh, let’s see. He loves to speak of Scripture, Edwards did, as a treasure. In fact at one point he was preaching and said, if someone were to find a huge treasure of gold that was hidden underneath the ground, if they accidentally stumbled on it, he said, wouldn’t it make sense for that person to gather up as much of it as he possibly could while it lasted? And then he said, that treasure of divine knowledge which is in the Scriptures is a far richer treasure than any treasure of gold or pearls. And that’s how the Scripture talks: greater than gold, much fine gold, and so on. So that’s how Edwards viewed the Bible.

Thank you, Dane. A great bit of bonus material. It’s been so great to speak to you. And thank you listeners for tuning in. Make sure you tune in again to UP, the Union Podcast.

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UP0005: Does Understanding the Incarnation Change the Way We Share the Gospel? Peter Mead

UP0006: What is Our Starting Point for a Doctrine of Scripture? Andrew Wilson

UP0007: How Can Jesus Really be the Centre of Scripture? Andrew Wilson

UP0008: Wasn’t the Canon of Scripture Decided Really Late? Andrew Wilson

UP0009: Why Does the Bible Seem so Outdated on Issues like Gender and Sexuality? Andrew Wilson

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UP0012: How Can I Stop My Daily Devotions Being Legalistic? Dane Ortlund

UP0013: What Should I Expect From My Daily Devotions? Dane Ortlund

UP0014: How Has the Bible Been Important to You? Dane Ortlund

UP0015: What Advice Would You Give to Someone Who Struggles to Read the Bible? Dane Ortlund

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UP0017: Luther on the First Commandment 2: True Worship

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UP0019: Luther on the First Commandment 4: A Threat and a Promise

UP0020: Luther on the First Commandment 5: Reflect for Yourself

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Dane Ortlund

Dane Ortlund

Dane Ortlund is Senior Vice President for Bible publishing at Crossway Books in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. He is the author of A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards (Christian Focus, 2008), and Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (Crossway, 2014).
Dane Ortlund

Dane Ortlund

Dane Ortlund is Senior Vice President for Bible publishing at Crossway Books in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. He is the author of A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards (Christian Focus, 2008), and Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (Crossway, 2014).