There are a lot of great reasons to read Scripture.
For a start, there is no book more popular than the Bible, which currently has some 7.5 billion copies in circulation, or almost one per person on the planet.
The Bible is also the world’s most translated book. Portions of the Bible are available in around half of the world’s 6,500 languages, making it accessible to 90 per cent of the world’s population.
In many ways, the Bible forms the intellectual and spiritual foundation for Western civilisation. When Australia’s founders drafted the Constitution, they described the Australian people as “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God”.
Still today, people who believe the good book make up approximately half our nation’s populace.
As we explain in our core values, the causes that Australian Christians stand for are ultimately derived from the Bible — whether freedom, honesty and integrity, hope, justice, moral law, respect or sacrifice.
So, as a new year begins, it makes sense for us to reaffirm our commitment to the Scriptures, including our individual commitment to read the Bible regularly.
Reading the Bible has many profound benefits which have been repeatedly confirmed through research.
One particularly large study looking at the Bible reading habits of Americans found remarkable personal and social outcomes for those who engage with the Scriptures four times a week or more.
Popularly known as ‘The Power of 4 Effect’, the study surveyed 40,000 Americans and found little benefit for those who read the Bible one, two or three times a week, but exponentially more benefits for those who engaged with Scripture at least four times per week.
Undertaken by the Centre for Bible Engagement, the study found that these benefits were found in at least four areas of people’s lives.
1. Better Mental Health
Those who read the Bible at least four times a week experience much better mental health.
Specifically, they were found to have 30% less chance of struggling with loneliness, and 32% less chance of experiencing anger issues. Destructive thoughts were also noticeably less likely for those with good Bible reading habits.
2. Better Relationships
People who engage Scripture at least four days weekly also reported better outcomes in their relationships.
They experienced relational issues, especially in marriage, 40% less than their peers. They were also much less likely to engage in sex outside marriage. Perhaps most significantly, they had 231% higher odds of discipling other people.
3. Better Behaviour
Those who spend time in the Word four days per week or more were also far more likely to live a morally upright life.
The study revealed that they were 59% less likely to view pornography and 57% less likely to get drunk. Rates of smoking and gambling followed similar trajectories.
4. Better Spiritual Life
Finally, people who read the Bible four days each week reported a much healthier spiritual life.
They were 60% less likely to feel spiritually stagnant, 228% more likely to share their faith with others, and 407% more likely to memorise Scripture.
One of the surprising discoveries of ‘The Power of 4 Effect’ study was that the lives of Christians who do not read the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-Christians.
In other words, what matters is not a profession of faith but time spent in the Word of God.
So, as 2024 begins, we at Australian Christians want to encourage you to be in the Bible.
The Bible is the foundation of our ministry as a political party; it is the original foundation of Australian civic life; and it is the only sure foundation for your life as an effective and joyful disciple of Jesus.
As Isaiah 40:8 declares, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”