The Bible is like no other book. It is written by men but it is also written by God. And as God does not make mistakes, his word is also without error. And as no other book can make such a claim it is all too easy for us to dismiss all other writings as junk and read only the Bible. So today I want to start a new series on commending the reading of Christian books. And the first thing I want to do is challenge a false assumption.

One of the reasons people dismiss the reading of other books is because they say they only want the Bible to influence them. They assume that if they read other books interpreting the Bible, e.g. commentaries, the commentaries will influence them instead of the word of God.

The problem with this idea is that it fails to recognise you are already under influences before you pick up the Bible. You have presuppositions from your parents, your teachers at school, your peers, your television set.  And if you have been a faithful church-attending Christian for any length of time, you have presuppositions about the Bible from the teachings of the church.

So to claim that you read the Bible alone without any helps, fails to recognise that you are already being helped. As soon as you pick up the Bible and open it, your mind has kicked into gear and is interpreting the text with whatever you understand certain words, phrases and sentences to mean. And when you come to familiar verses you might only read these in light of what your Sunday School teacher, Bible study leader or minister taught you. Influences are already there in your head. And while many of them may be good, many of them can be bad influences. Particularly because those ideas have arisen from either your own sinful brain or the sinful brains of others.

How does this point help encourage you to read Christian books? Because it challenges the false idea that when you read the Bible alone, you are indeed reading alone. You are not alone. There is a whole host of people there in the room with you. This excuse simply is not an excuse for ignoring Christian books that help you understand the Bible.

Next week I will look at how God gives us other people to help explain the Bible to us.  But this week I want to ask you whether you recognise that you already have presuppositions when you read your Bible?

Joel Radford.