A lot of Christians have questioned whether or not it is OK to listen to recorded preaching messages and Bible teachings as a full, or partial, substitute for reading the Bible itself. There’s no denying that anointed teaching and preaching from trusted ministers has an important place in the lives of believers. According to Ephesians 4:11-16, Jesus has given us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip us for the work of ministry and to build up the Body of Christ “until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”
Ministers are invaluable gifts from God to His children. They are given to help us mature in the Lord so we will not be deceived by every wind of doctrine and the tricks of deceitful men. Therefore, the teaching of your pastor and other ministries you receive from is very important to your spiritual growth. And listening to recorded messages and reading Christian books can be very helpful in your understanding of Scripture.
That said, as important as the insights of these men and women are, they do not replace the Bible or the importance of studying the Bible for yourself. As a Christian, you can receive empowerment from the Holy Spirit to read and understand the Scriptures yourself (John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16)! In this way you will grow in your ability to take the things you hear and compare them to the Bible itself, which is always without error (1 John 4:1).
Searching the Bible for yourself will do much to increase your knowledge of the Word and your confidence in what you believe! When you come across a subject that troubles you, just ask the Lord for wisdom from the Holy Spirit. As you give time to reading the Bible, you will find yourself understanding more of the Scripture (see 2 Timothy 2:15). And the great news is that we don’t have to do it alone. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher and Guide, and He is right there to lead us toward the truth.
We encourage you to not give up on personal Bible study—even if it seems difficult at times. We know that as you trust in the Lord, He will reveal Himself to you through His Word!