Why use a plain text Bible first?
Sometimes it is more helpful to let the Bible speak to us directly.
It is actually a much more rewarding experience to read the Bible for yourself and to make the discovery that you really can understand it! That is why I invite you to make the plunge and read the Bible for yourself.
If we go to the Bible directly, we can learn what it teaches without its message being filtered or distorted by another source or authority. This is most important.
There are some teachers, and some churches and religious groups, which frown on independent personal Bible study. Are these teachers or religious groups or organizations actually teaching the truth themselves? Of course, they may say that they are. But what if they are mistaken? The Bible itself declares:
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12)
As I read this statement in the Bible, I take it to include the idea that we will not one day get away with the excuse “But I believed what my church, favorite author (or other authority) taught me.”
Now don’t get me wrong.
I am not against churches, authors, study Bibles, and good teachers. But we do need to verify what we are being taught with the Bible itself by means of our own careful study. This is directly in line with what the Bible itself commends:
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
The Bereans were commended for checking up on the teaching of the Apostle Paul by consulting the Bible for themselves to verify the correctness of Paul’s teaching!
A further word of caution: often, false teaching is based upon a very elaborate and extensive carefully devised set of truth claims. Such claims can be very convincing.
The Bible gives us some very clear and direct instruction about this. In Proverbs 18:17 we are told:
“He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.”
Sometimes it helps to read a verse in more than one English translation. The New Living Translation reads this way for the same verse:
“The first to speak in court sounds right–until the cross-examination begins.”
It is most important, when determining what the Bible teaches, that we take into careful consideration everything it says that pertains to the subject in question. For most people, this requires an on-going study of the Bible itself, with a willingness to learn something new each time the Bible is studied. Sometimes, what is newly learned requires that we adjust our former thinking to conform to our new learning.
Another way to think about this is to imagine ourselves stranded on a habitable island away from all distractions with only a plain text Bible in hand.
In great literature, we read of just such a situation in Daniel Defoe’s famous story, Robinson Crusoe.
If Robinson Crusoe could not come up with a given teaching, even with time and his “three good Bibles” to read and study at length, then such teaching is not likely to be true.
I call that the “Robinson Crusoe Desert Island Test” for Biblical truth.
We must read the Bible for ourselves, the Bible alone and in its entirety.
If what we are being taught, or what we have been taught, by others meets the test that the teaching conforms to the teaching and worldview presented in the Bible itself, then we know our belief system is in line with the Bible. The only way to find out is to read the Bible seriously and independently for ourselves.
That is why I recommend starting your Bible reading with a plain text Bible first.
Jesus told us:
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
No form of error will produce the freedom of which Jesus speaks!