It’s the greatest book ever written. It is the foundation upon which all truth about life and the afterlife is based. It’s the highest selling book of all time. It’s God’s personally inspired word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible holds so much meaning in so many ways, both to Christians and to those who don’t even recognize it’s value.

While it’s important that we emphasize those key points about the Bible, sometimes it’s also important to discuss what the Bible isn’t. In a world with so much confusion, with so many people who are biblically illiterate, we as Christians have to be consistent in treating the Bible as God wants us to treat it. That means we shouldn’t ever try to make it into what it’s not, though sometimes Christians can be guilty of doing just that. Here are 4 particularly common ways Christians forget what the Bible is not.

The Bible is not:

Something for only scholars and preachers to study.

One of the things Christians do that frustrate their leaders and teachers most is implying that the Bible is over their heads. Just because the Bible has some difficult texts and hard to read names doesn’t mean it’s impossible to understand, or that you have to have some advanced degree to know what God wants you to know. Just look at history and see how many doctrinal errors were made when a select few people got to read, study, interpret, and teach the Bible and everyone else was left to hope that those few leaders got it right. So many of the important changes (largely found in the Reformation and Restoration movements) that have led to where we are today in the religious world all came about because people were allowed to look at the Bible for themselves.

So, not only CAN you read and understand the Bible, it’s both your duty and your privilege. Don’t let your preacher and Bible class teachers be the only ones who get that privilege of knowing God as He has revealed Himself in His Word. While so many come to their respective churches with the attitude of “just tell me what I need to do,” true disciples of Christ will want to grow in their knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:18) instead of leaving that up to their leaders alone.

A buffet

Buffets are great. You get to choose everything you want, and leave everything you don’t. But, despite how man treats it in today’s world, the Bible just doesn’t work like that. And thank God for that. With such a subjective standard, we would never be able to know truth. Any time a church, a preacher, or an individual Christian treats the Bible like a pick-and-choose buffet, the Word is devalued and respect for God is lost. When we take that approach, we put ourselves in His place, deciding which verses He really meant and which ones He didn’t care about as much. It doesn’t matter if we like God’s definition of marriage. It doesn’t matter if we like what the Bible says about heaven and hell. It doesn’t matter if we’re unhappy with a doctrine we might feel is particularly strict. If the Bible is wholly inspired (and it is), it’s not left to us to separate it out like a buffet. Instead, it’s the dinner our moms put on the table when we were young – you know, the ones where your options were to eat what you’re served, or you don’t eat at all. That’s God’s offer with the Bible. Take it all, or take none of it.

Your personal validation.

We live in a world filled with bias. Everything comes at us with some kind of slant. For example, sometimes news channels will search high and low until they find a poll that presents the numbers that confirm what they want to report. When we see that happen, or when that bias is exposed, it upsets us and leaves a sour taste in our mouth. That’s why we have to be very careful not to do the same thing with the Bible.

This one is difficult for me, and it can be for many people who have some familiarity with the Bible. When we think we know what the Bible says, we can often open it looking until we find the verse(s) that confirm what we believe. The problem is, the Bible was not written to confirm our beliefs. It was written to craft our beliefs. When an issue is in question, we have to come to the text with open hearts and open minds, because there is always the possibility that we may have misinterpreted a verse previously or misunderstood what God had to say about some particular issue. Let the Word determine what you believe instead of determining what you believe before trying to find it in the Word.


I’m sure you’ve seen the quote on Facebook – “The Bible isn’t cake for special occasions, it’s bread for daily use.” It’s so true, but with our busy lives (and with some people’s belief that it’s not their job to study the Bible), Bible reading and study can often fall by the wayside and become that things that occasionally makes it onto our calendar rather than being the foundation of every single day. There are plenty of people making that mistake already. Some leave their Bible in the car in between church gatherings. Some leave it on the pew where they sit, waiting to be used and left again each Sunday. I’ve even heard a Christian say “Yeah, I read it on Sundays” when asked about his Bible reading habits.

Read through Psalm 119 (yes, it’s lengthy, but it’s worth it) and see how the psalmist felt about what God had to say to Him. That fire and passion for the Bible should be in the heart of every Christian. Just stop for a moment and think about what the Bible is. The Creator of the universe spoke to us. He revealed Himself to you and me. He showed us what He wants from our lives. Just because we live in a time where accessing a Bible is no problem at all doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to be awestruck by how miraculous and world-changing that book is. Don’t let it become that cake you only eat on special occasions. Make it the staple of your life’s diet.

If we are going to hold the Bible up as the ultimate standard for truth and the solution to every problem mankind faces, we have to treat it with the reverence that it is due. The only way to do that is to take it only for what is and never for what it isn’t.

By Jack Wilkie

Jack Wilkie is the author of “Failure: What Christian Parents Need to Know About American Education” and is the speaker for Focus Press’s “The Lost Generation” seminar. To schedule a seminar at your church, contact