Why Read the Bible? formerly at

"devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture"
- 1 Timothy 4:13

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This web site is not meant to be critical of church sermons or Christian books--after all, I speak in churches myself, and I have authored twenty books. Rather, it is an admission that these can never substitute for reading the Bible itself.
- David A. Reed

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." - Heb. 4:12

"He must always keep this copy of the law with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God..." - Deut. 17:19
Blessed is he who reads aloud ... and blessed are those who hear ... - Rev 1:3

"Taste and see that the Lord is good." - Ps. 34:8

Bible reading protects against half-of-the-Word heresies.

A girl in the Fifth Grade class my wife taught at a Christian school exclaimed indignantly, "Why have I never heard that?", when the class read "'I hate divorce,' says the LORD God of Israel" at Malachi 2:16. Evidently the church she attended failed to preach what the Bible says about divorce, no doubt to avoid offending divorced people in the church. The church didn't say that God approved of divorce; rather, it simply failed to say what the Bible says on the subject. This is a half-of-the-Word heresy.

Publicly reading the entire Bible from cover to cover helps guard against this. Half-of-the-Word heresies don't thrive where the whole Word is read.

The Apostle Paul could say, "I did not keep back from declaring to you all the counsel of God." - Acts 20:27

Scripture sandwiches don't give the full flavor of the Word.

Great sermons in church are of encouragement to believers and newcomers alike. Good Christian books contain helpful teaching that all of us need. And Bible study classes that probe deep into the Word of God help us gain understanding. But none of these should ever be allowed to take the place of reading the Bible itself.

The reason why is that sermons, books and Bible studies give us "Scripture sandwiches"--a verse or two sandwiched between the author's or speaker's discusssion, followed by another verse or two later on, again sandwiched between someone's interpretation or application. There is nothing wrong with that. But we also need to feed on the Word itself.
Scripture sandwiches
have their place
but are no substitute
for the Word itself.

Smothered with spicy arguments and enclosed between layers of interpretation and theology, verses imported into such a "scripture sandwich" taste quite different than when found in their own native context in the Bible.
An Extreme Example
Jehovah's Witnesses give the impression of knowing their Bible. They flip back and forth to their favorite "proof" texts with the greatest of ease, "proving" their points and defeating your arguments -- or at least stirring up enough dust to cloud the issue. But, in reality, most JWs don't know the Bible.

What they do know is those few dozen "proof" texts, taken out of context by their organization and re-assembled to form arguments far afield from what the Bible actually says.

The Witnesses are taught to believe they "study the Bible" more than other religions, but their study material actually consists of Watchtower Society publications. Bible verses are quoted, but out of context.

Not only is the context omitted, but the verses are actually placed in a different context, namely the context of the Watchtower material.

To grasp how this can change the meaning, think of the entire biblical passage as a cooked turkey breast. Someone cutting into that turkey breast and eating it will know what it tastes like. However, someone who is given just a thin slice smothered with mustard between layers of rye bread will know only what the sandwich tastes like -- not the taste of the turkey itself.

Similarly, the original flavor or meaning of a Bible verse can be completely lost or changed when sandwiched between introductory words and concluding application in the pages of a Watchtower book.

Feeding on steady diet of such "scripture sandwiches," Jehovah's Witnesses never really come to know the Bible. But they do learn the Watchtower Society's teachings, along with the proof texts the Society uses to make those teachings appear to be "Bible-based."

When discussing matters among themselves, JWs will reference and turn to Watchtower publications to prove a point or to determine what they should believe. Turning to a Bible verse is never sufficient, because they know their beliefs really depend upon the Society's interpretation of the verse.

In fact, JWs routinely search their publications for the Society's latest interpretation, if they have been in the organization long enough to see "the light get brighter" on various matters.

When the Society revises failed prophecies or reverses doctrinal positions, it often uses the very same verses to support the new teaching. The old interpretation is simply discarded and a new interpretation supplied as the official meaning of the verse in question.

Yet, through a process that George Orwell called double-think in his futuristic novel Nineteen Eighty-four, JWs actually believe that their teachings come directly from the Bible, and the Bible alone, while at the same time knowing in their hearts that everything depends on the current interpretation coming from Brooklyn headquarters.

Occasionally, however-- such as when some internal upheaval in the organization frightens the leadership into using strong language to keep the members in line--a statement is published that betrays their real attitude:

"Jehovah God has also provided his visible organization, his 'faithful and discreet slave,' made up of spirit-anointed ones, to help Christians in all nations to understand and apply properly the Bible in their lives. Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do." --The Watchtower December 1, 1981, page 27

When speaking with outsiders, the Witnesses are trained to quote and cite only the Scriptures--not the Watchtower publications that form the real basis for their beliefs.

For more information, please visit our other sites on this topic:
Read the four Gospels with corresponding passages side-by-side, using the modern language World English Bible
THE ORIGINAL BIBLE for Modern Readers - a copyright-free modern-language Bible in the public domain, available as a printed book and as a free PDF to download or read online

for Modern Readers

A copyright-free modern-language Bible in the public domain, available as a printed book and as a free PDF to download or read online

THE ORIGINAL BIBLE for Modern Readers - - book cover

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