“Need” is a strong word. There are lots of things we want and lots of things we would enjoy, but the list of things we need is probably far shorter than we would often like to admit. In light of that fact, is it fair to say that we “need” the Bible? Is it right to say that the Bible is “necessary”? It certainly is fair and right. While God’s existence – and some of His character – can (and are) known by all people whether they have the Bible are not, the only way a person can know the good news about Jesus and have certain knowledge of God’s will is through hearing the Word of God. In that sense, God’s Word – as given to us in the Bible – is absolutely necessary and essential for the most significant parts of life.
It may sound strange to hear that all people know of God’s existence since there are so many who deny that fact. But the testimony of the Bible is clear: God has made Himself known in the creation itself. The heavens themselves declare God’s glory (Ps. 19:1). Paul reminded the people of Lystra that God had given them proof of His goodness by sending rains and seasons to produce food for them (Acts 14:16-17). Romans 1 tells us that certain things about God – like His eternal power and divine nature – are clear even to unrighteous people who hate God (Rom. 1:19-21). Even more, Paul goes so far as to say that human beings know instinctively that certain things are wrong because they are contrary to God’s decree (Rom. 1:32). How can he make such a claim? It is because God has given every person a conscience – an inner sense of right and wrong that corresponds to His law (Rom. 2:14-15). Every single person in the world knows certain things about God whether they have a Bible or not.
Why, then, do people reject God? It is because all people are under the power of sin (Rom. 3:9). Instead of honoring and giving thanks to God, we exchange His glory for the glory of other things (Rom. 1:21-23). Instead of listening to our conscience, we harden our hearts and sear our consciences (1 Tim. 4:2) so that we justify sin and disobedience. When we refuse to believe, we are defiled, and our minds and consciences are defiled as well (Tit. 1:15). Because of sin, our consciences are “evil” (Heb. 10:22).
This is the reason Scripture is necessary. The only way a person can be redeemed from the sin that corrupts our minds and defiles our consciences is through belief in Jesus Christ. There is no other way (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5-6). And in order to believe in Jesus, a person must hear of Him (Rom. 10:13-17). Put simply: the Bible is necessary because a person must either read the good news of Jesus themselves or hear it from someone who also either got it from someone else or read it themselves. And at the back of that chain must be a Word delivered from God. Especially now – 2,000 years removed – the Bible is necessary so that we have an accurate record of Jesus’ work and identity. We need the Bible, so we can know the way of salvation.
The Bible is also necessary for maintaining and fueling our spiritual life. God uses His Word to give His people life, and then He uses that same Word to sustain and maintain that life (1 Pet. 1:23-2:2). God’s people do not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from their God (Deut. 8:3; 32:47; Matt. 4:4). We need that Word because it is the only way we can be certain of God’s will for us. We find blessing and blamelessness by hearing and heeding God’s Word (Ps. 1:1-2; 119:1).
This is a truth that we must not forget. Particularly in a world full of so much distraction and information – and a world full of so much teaching and sermonizing – we must remember that the Bible is absolutely necessary. If we are going to read anything, we must read the Bible. If we are going to make time for anything, we must make time for the Bible. If we are going to give our energy and brain power to anything, we must give it to the Bible. If we want to know anything with certainty, we must either know everything ourselves or have someone who does know everything tell us truth. In the Bible, we have the words of the all-knowing, all-powerful God. We need those words, so take up and read.