It Takes a Whole Bible to Make a Whole Christian

My father could remove a lung with a butter knife and put it back better than before.

Maybe I’m exaggerating, but he was a brilliant surgeon. I stood beside him in the operating room a time or two (in pre-privacy protection days) with my eyes fixed on Dad—until the nurse handed him the scalpel. Then I studied walls, the ceiling, and the seams on my green shoe coverings until I heard the words, “You can look now.”

With my eyes locked on Dad’s skilled hands, I’d watch as he pointed out the delicate webbing of veins and nerves and the patient’s beating heart—mysteries few have the opportunity to witness. Everything looked like a mess to me, but not to Dad. After thirty years of practicing medicine with utmost devotion, he knew the inside of the body as well as the outside.

When it comes to performing surgery, we want a whole doctor—not his daughter who’s watched him operate a time or two or even a fourth-year medical student. When it’s our body lying on the operating table, we want a surgeon who knows the inside of the body as well as the outside.

Similarly, when it comes to living with continual peace, courage, and joy (especially in turbulent times), it takes a whole Christian. Not someone who just owns a Bible or has read some of it, but someone who knows their Bible inside out.

The Bible Is God’s Primary Vehicle for Knowing Him

God transforms His children into whole Christians as we read the entire Bible. Dabbling in Scripture or mastering portions of it, but ignoring the rest won’t do it. It takes a whole Bible to make a whole Christian.

The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.1
—A. W. Tozer

Just as Christ finished the work of salvation on the cross, God finished the work of divine revelation through the Word He inspired His chosen authors to write. When we hold our Bibles, we hold the divine words of God and the revealed mystery that angels and prophets longed to understand (Matt. 13:16–17; John 19:30; 2 Tim. 3:16–17; 1 Peter 1:10–12).

The Whole Bible Connects the Seemingly Random Pieces and Parts

The Old is the New concealed; the New is the Old revealed.2
—St. Augustine

Without the New Testament, the Old Testament can appear to be a confusing conglomeration of tragedies and triumphs with no ultimate victory. Genesis opens in glory and closes with a casket. If not for the victorious book of Revelation, Genesis could leave us with our hope deferred.

Likewise, without the foundational book of Genesis, Revelation is nearly impossible to understand. Even with Genesis and every other book of the Bible, Revelation is difficult. But it’s not impossible when we’ve been instructed by all of Scripture.

Every book from Genesis to Revelation reveals a vital piece of the puzzle in God’s glorious plan of redemption. It all matters.

Fortunately, reading the whole Bible is not required in order to become a true Christian. It’s not a prerequisite for salvation. Nor do we earn “gold level status” with reward points to redeem in heaven after we’ve read every page. Someone who’s never seen a Bible can still become a true Christian. It’s the gospel that saves.

The Difference Between a True Christian and a Whole Christian

The terms true Christian and whole Christian don’t appear in the Bible, but we see them beautifully modeled throughout Scripture.

  • A true Christian is someone who’s responded accurately to the true gospel. She’s turned from her sins and surrendered to following Christ as both her Lord and Savior. She’s sealed for eternity by the Holy Spirit, who lives and works in her, molding and shaping her into a whole Christian—a shining reflection of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29; 10:9–10, 13; Eph. 2:8–9).
  • A whole Christian could be defined as a true Christian who consistently rests in and delights in God and His sovereign will. She hasn’t arrived—none do this side of heaven. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). She may be afflicted, but she’s not crushed. She may be perplexed and persecuted, but she doesn’t despair or feel abandoned. Even when she gets knocked down, she knows she’s not destroyed. She gets back up (2 Cor. 4:9; Prov. 24:16; Psalm 37:24). Her soul is calmed and quieted by her confidence in the Lord (Psalm 131:2). She doesn’t use God to get what she wants. He is what she wants.

God’s Word Performs Surgery

A surgeon promotes healing by removing diseased tissues in various ways—with scalpels, lasers, or concoctions of drugs. Likewise, God has His ways of bringing us into whole spiritual health. His Word is one of His primary tools for excising our diseased thinking, poisonous pride, and destructive habits that hinder our trust in Him (Heb. 4:12).

Those who dedicate themselves to knowing God through His Word will eventually find themselves resembling Paul, one of history’s greatest whole Christians. 

Paul started out as the unbelieving Saul, clueless about Christ’s true identity, an enemy of the church (Acts 7:54–60; 8:1–3). But then God opened Paul’s eyes and transformed him, over time, from a blinded-by-the-light-but-now-I-see new Christian into a walking-in-the-light-and-worshiping-while-in-prison whole Christian (Acts 9:1–30; 16:16–34).

God does this same work in us. He must, because we can’t. If He doesn’t put the desire into our hearts, we’ll never care. Our sin nature wants us to ignore our Bibles and never give Christ a second thought (John 15:5; Rom. 3:10–18). Satan wants the same thing. He tempts us to disregard and underestimate the Bible because he knows God changes us from the inside out with every Word on every page.

Three Tips to Help You Enjoy Reading the Whole Bible

1. Look for Christ

If you’ve found it hard to get excited about reading the whole Bible, look beyond the 1,189 chapters and look for Christ. Look for the Savior of your soul on every page. Journal the exciting Truths you see from Genesis to Revelation.

2. Grab a Friend

Ask a friend to join you on this journey through God’s Word. Hold each other accountable not to give up or get distracted by the cares of the world. Ask each other what marvelous Truths God revealed through the pages you read. Pray for each other.

3. Set the Right Goal

Don’t set a goal to conquer the Bible. Set a goal to let the Bible conquer you.

Never Give Up—The Gentle Surgeon Is with You

It wasn’t easy for my dad (a C- student in high school) to become a renowned cardiovascular thoracic surgeon. He devoted himself to his studies because he was convinced the hard work would be worth it. His patients agreed. They and their families appreciated his perseverance.

Our hearts (and families) will appreciate our diligence in God’s Word. Let’s not dabble in it. Let’s dive in and let every page perform laser surgery on our hearts and minds.

If we devote ourselves to reading and studying the Bible, we’ll be rewarded with marvelous Truths few ever witness because most aren’t willing to gaze long and deep into the Scriptures.

At times, the journey will be tough. You may even want to look away from what you’re reading. Some of Leviticus is icky, sections of Judges are horrifying, and much of God’s Word asks much of us. But don’t give up. Pray and power through. The gentle Surgeon is with you (Matt. 28:20).


Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

— Colossians 1:28

1 A. W. Tozer, Of God and Men: Cultivating the Divine/Human Relationship (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2015), 67.

2 Loosely translated from Saint Augustine of Hippo, “QUAESTIONES IN GENESIM,” Augustinus Hipponensis - Quaestiones in Heptateuchum, accessed January 28, 2021,

About the Author

Jean Wilund

Jean Wilund

Jean Wilund is passionate about leading women into a greater understanding of the Bible and a deeper relationship with God. She serves Revive Our Hearts as a member of the blog team and a moderator for the Women's Ministry Leader … read more …

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