What books have influenced you? Most smart Christians would first answer, “The Bible.” But I’ve rarely heard Christians go on to explain why the Bible is their most influential book.
Rather than assume the Bible is our most influential book (and move on to “more interesting” titles), we should stop and consider what parts of the Bible have influenced us. In my early Christian years, I was guided by specific phrases or verses, often memorised in AWANA, church or school. For example:
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) As a child, I learned that salvation was given by God’s grace, not obtained by my works.
- “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28) As a young man, I found assurance in Christ’s promise to keep me secure.
- “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:6) As a young adult, this verse helped me to value God’s word over other interests that would not last.
In my twenties, I began benefiting more from whole passages, i.e. from the Psalms and the epistles. I also read through the Bible multiple times, tackling books I had never read before. Books like Isaiah and Ecclesiastes opened new insights into the rich glory of God and the poor state of my own soul.
With help from teachers, I began seeing the Bible as one story with various genres, all pointing to Jesus Christ as the hero. No other book reveals Jesus like the Bible does. The Scriptures are also the light by which we discern all other influential books (and movies and TV shows!).
So as a Christian, you should be able to point to specific Bible verses, passages or books which have affected you by increasing your understanding, or correcting your sinful thinking/unbelief, or showing the right way ahead. Here’s a quick test to ask yourself: in the past week, what specific Bible text has influenced you? If the only sound in your mind is crickets chirping, then it’s time to open the Bible.
Writing notes in your Bible is a great way to record its influence in your life. Assuming your Bible has space for notes, you could write down a helpful explanation during a sermon, or write how the verse may apply to you. Over time, your Bible will look like a personal travel map, showing landmarks in your journey through the word.
Next time, we’ll discuss about other influential books. But the Bible is always the best place to start.