One of the greatest gifts God has given to the world that He created was His own written Word. The prophets and apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote of the mysteries of God and the things He desired to make known. His glory has been revealed through His Son, and His truth lies in the Word that speaks about Him. God’s Word is part of who He is, what defines Him, and what speaks of His blessed attributes. There is a rich stream of knowledge that flows within the Scriptures, and it is the key to living a truly godly life in Christ.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV), Paul writes these words through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The Word of God speaks of the importance to study, and to meditate on the things that God commands, and has spoken. The Bible is important everyday, for everything, and everywhere. There should be no question among any believer that God’s word is perfect, sufficient, and profitable.
However, there are many good-hearted Christians who find it difficult to read the Bible. While we might be ready to pounce and blame it on the fact that they might not be dedicated or educated enough, we must recognize that the Bible is a very difficult book at first glance. In a culture where reading is not prevalent, and one that stresses entertainment, we must help people see the beauty of the Bible.
It isn’t enough to just read a Bible. Anyone can do that. What I am talking about is sitting down, reading the Word, and meditating on it’s truths while searching for the text’s message. A course of action like this is going to be difficult, and that is why I empathize with people who find it difficult to study the Bible because not only was it hard for me to study the Bible at one point, but also to read it. That is why I want to offer a few pointers to help initiate or perfect a believer’s study of Scripture.
1) Find Jesus in the text.
This would seem pretty obvious, but not many people can find the glory of Christ in “boring” place like Numbers, Leviticus, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. However, these “boring” passages actually contain more information about Jesus than we would actually believe at first. I would argue that there are actually more texts about Jesus and who He is in the Old Testament then there are in the New Testament. Before the New Testament was even put together, the apostles would teach about the truth of Jesus from the Old Testament. They were able to study God’s Word by finding Jesus in every text.
When Jesus had resurrected, he met up with two men who were discussing the future now that Jesus had died. Not knowing that the man they saw was Jesus, they were speaking of death of the Lord, and they were clueless as to what would become of the legacy He had established. They were also confused about whether the testimonies of the resurrection of the Lord were true. Then in Luke 24:25-27 (ESV) Jesus says, “‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
Jesus would think of us as fools and slow of heart if we did not seek to find Him in the Scriptures. All of the Scriptures point to Jesus Christ and His word of redemption. The whole point of the Bible is to foretell the coming of the Messiah (the Christ), to make known to the people who He is, and to show what Jesus of Nazareth has accomplished that makes Him the obvious fulfillment of Scripture. Jesus Himself says that He didn’t come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Jesus is the One who we should be looking for in every text and in every passage when studying Scripture.
2) Look at the context.
A recurring series I have done on this blog was the Misread Texts series. The reason for doing so is because there are far too many Bible verses that people quote, use, and preach from that are being taken out of context. Some of the most popular preachers today misuse the Word of God and take it out of context, but this shouldn’t be the case. We should always look any biblical passage from a historical, textual, and biblical context, so that we wouldn’t be misled into error, or even to be led to heresy by our own folly.
We must always remember that the very best Bible commentary is the Bible itself. We must remember to use Scripture to interpret Scripture. Only after learning this can we move on to the commentaries, history books, or literary analysis written by men. The Word of God is inerrant and inspired, but writings of men are not. Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to use commentaries to guide you as long as they point you to the context of the passage rather than their own thoughts on the passage (i.e. Calvin’s Commentaries, MacArthur Study Bible, etc.).
3) Recognize what the passage is saying.
Once one can recognize the context and background of the passage, we must then distinguish what is the text saying. What always helps is reading a particular passage until you begin understanding it. However, when you are doing this, you must try to stay away from non-literal translations. Proper exegesis is reliant on how close you are to the original language. That is why it always helps to go back to the Greek texts to get a better understanding of what the text is saying.
This isn’t a common practice, and it is not encouraged very often. Most Bible studies encourage people to read the text according to how they think, but we must always remember that this God’s Word and not our own. If we possess the Word of God, we must be sure to see what He is really trying to say. If we stray from His Word or His intended message, then we must be ready to give an account as to why we do that. We study His Word with fear, but also with joy knowing He will lead His children to finding truth.
4) Apply the text to your life.
Someone could memorize the entire book of Psalms…or the New Testament…or even the entire Bible, but if they don’t know how to apply that information then it all becomes useless. We must remember that God gave us His Word, but it wasn’t just to simply read it and leave it at that. He wants us to share His Word, meditate on His Word, and live according to His Word. In Philippians 4:9 (ESV) Paul says, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
God desires that His children would be good stewards of His Word, and that means that we must walk according to the truth of God. The world even understands this. Educators in universities everywhere stress that the most valuable thing that any person can do is to take the information that they have learned from a course and apply it. That same principle is applicable to studying the Word of God, and we know this because God says it Himself through the Scriptures. In James 1:22 (ESV), God makes it very known when it says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Don’t be deceived and apply the Word of God to your life.
I urge every believer to study the Word of God and reap of the rewards that are in store when doing so. The Bible is a great treasure that I hope more and more people begin to admire. The Scriptures are in so many places all over the Word. Some people ignore it, and some die for it. Some sleep beside it, and some people live by it. May we have a passion to study His Word, and may we be eager to learn more about God through it.
Soli Deo Gloria.