4 Min Read

As a newly saved college student, I stumbled across Jeremiah 15:16 in my Bible reading:

Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
O LORD, God of hosts.

This vivid depiction of the happiness that springs up in the heart from taking in God’s Word deeply resonated with my newfound faith and my newfound delight in reading the Bible.

God’s Word is precious to believers. Yet because of the indwelling sin that remains in us, we can be tempted to do good things for the wrong reasons. What then, should be our motives and goals when we come to God’s Word? I’d like to suggest three. As Jeremiah ate the words of the Lord, so too can we as we approach Scripture for the purposes of awe, transformation, and endurance.

1. Awe

An encounter with the God of the universe can’t help but produce awe and wonder in those to whom He reveals Himself. He is glorious and majestic, unlike anyone or anything else:

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty . . . 
Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the LORD on high is mighty!” (Ps. 93:1, 4)

His greatness is unsearchable, and He is glorious, splendid, and majestic (see Ps. 145:3, 5). Holy Scripture is how we come to better know the God who has called us to Himself.

To be sure, our Bible reading won’t always evoke the degree of awe from us that is due Him. But through the work of the Holy Spirit, God can and does draw us into a deeper knowledge of Himself that results in true worship and greater love for Him. We marvel at His power and His wisdom (see Ps. 62:11; Rom. 16:27). We are comforted by His love and His sovereignty (see 1 John 3:1; Eph. 1:11). Therefore, one proper motivation for reading the Bible is to be drawn into a deeper knowledge of—and therefore deeper awe, appreciation, love, and gratitude for—its Author. In this sense, we can say that the Bible is a profoundly relational book, as it draws us into deeper communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Bible reading is meant to be relational in this way.

2. Transformation

In addition to drawing us into a deeper relationship with the triune God, another goal of reading the Bible is transformation. There are many brilliant, gifted, and disciplined people who enjoy studying the Bible, but studying the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean that one is a Christian. The Pharisees serve as exhibit A in this regard. Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39–40). Unless we see Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, they impart no life to us, for life is in Him alone.

Holy Scripture is how we come to better know the God who has called us to Himself.

In Christ, God is at work to make us fully human again, as “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18). Through the powerful working of the Holy Spirit, God uses the Scriptures to transform our desires, thoughts, attitudes, and actions (see Rom. 12:2) so that we become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Endurance

The older I get and the more suffering I experience, the more miraculous I find the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Chronic suffering wears us down over time and is often invisible to others. Life can bring deep sorrows, trials, and losses, some of which we must endure ceaselessly (as opposed to a painful season that comes and goes). Not only that, but we also have an enemy, Satan, who slanders and accuses us. Such suffering and opposition can chip away at our desire and ability to keep going, to keep trusting, to keep worshiping the Lord.

Thus, another motive for reading Scripture is to be strengthened with endurance that we might finish the earthly race the Lord has set before us. Scripture even tells us that it aims to help us in this way (see Rom. 15:4). We are kept by the power of God, and God uses His Word to encourage us. And the fact that we can make it through the treacherous obstacle course of the world, the flesh, and the devil shows the power of God at work in our lives much more than any impressive ministry or extraordinary gifting ever could. Endurance is a precious gift to believers from God. God’s Word strengthens us to keep going until He calls us home to Himself; our faith being preserved through every danger, toil, and snare (see Matt. 24:13; Col. 1:11; Heb. 12:1).


God didn’t give us His Word to make us prideful that we know more of it than other people do. Nor did He give us His Word to provide a path by which we can justify ourselves through adherence to His law, or to manufacture an external form of godliness that evokes praise from others or makes our lives run more smoothly. Let us not read God’s Word for self-promotion, self-justification, or self-improvement.

Rather, may we approach Scripture as those who love God and desire to know Him more, as those who desire transformation into the image of Christ, and as those who know that the Holy Spirit uses the Word to strengthen His people to endure to the end. Until then, may we, like Jeremiah, eat gladly of the words of life.