In a lot of ways, the Bible is a very unique book. For instance, its been banned in many countries, over its lifetime it has sold more copies than any other book ever, and it’s the only book that makes miraculous claims which are seriously debated at the scholarly level. Now, as cool as all that stuff is, one of the things which makes the Bible stand out the most is that its not particularly interested in giving you more knowledge, or a better education. Instead, it was designed to help you develop into a better soul.
John Piper, says it like this.
“God gave us the Bible not just to inform our minds, But also to Transform our Hearts.”
If you have been a Christian for some time, I’m sure you can relate to that quote. In this post, I want to share with you three tricks, which I have found helpful when studying the Bible.
The first tip is to ask questions about the text, while you read.
The Bible wasn’t designed to be taken in like you would a textbook, it was designed to be explored. Now, there are things in it that are straightforward like, there is a God, sin is bad, the 10 commandments, and so on. However, many of these straightforward things are just the tip of an iceberg, they are the places where you start learning; God’s wisdom runs deep. The biggest mistake I have ever made when studying the Bible, is reading over a familiar scripture and assuming that God has nothing left in there to teach me.
So, as you read ask questions to the text like, who is this person, why was that good or bad, what does this strange word/phrase really mean, or why did Jesus go to this place or say that. Many people don’t get much out of the Bible because they learn the storys but never ask, “what does this mean”. Asking questions, as you read, is important because it opens your mind for learning. You can think about it like this, if your mind was a house and God’s wisdom was standing outside, asking questions would be like opening the door so she can come inside and teaching.
The next thing that I have found helpful, is reading the Bible with Humility.
Now some people have a bad understanding about what it means to humbly read the Bible. They assume it means just accepting whatever they read at face value, or accepting whatever their church says about it. That’s a great way to misunderstand a passage and is, quite frankly, just being a lazy student. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we all need to become skeptics. What I’m suggesting is that when a follower of Christ sets down to read the word of God, he should not ask, “what do I want to read today?”, instead, he should wonder “what does my teacher (Jesus) want me to read today?” (Then he asks him in prayer). Rick Warren’s, in his book The Purpose-Driven Life, defines humility like this.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less,”
I think that this captures the heart of someone who reads the Bible with humility, their mind and heart are interested and curious about the writer and his writing. As they read through Leviticus, instead of fixating on how boring it is, they appreciate how much detail God put into it, when they read a familiar passage, they don’t ask “what can I learn from this?”, they ask “what is God teaching in this passage?”. When you’re not the point, you will find that you can then clearly see the point that the Bible is making.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2
Going back to our example of wisdom standing outside your door. If asking questions is like opening the door of your mind to the wisdom of God, humility (thinking of yourself less often) is like inviting her to come inside your house, as your a guest.
Finally, the last tip comes from James 1:22-24.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
Like we talked about in the beginning the Bible was designed to transform who you are. Because of this, unless you live out the things you learn you will find that all that time and study will have just been a waste of time. (Plus on a side note, many of the teaching, lessons, stories, parables, psalms, and truths, in the Bible will remain a mystery to you). James illustrates why enacting what you learning is so vital, with a mirror. Mirrors were designed so that we can learn to look our best, by seeing ourselves as we really are, messy hair and all. The Bible was designed to show us where our personal flaws are, through example and instruction, so that we can learn to be our best. If you don’t work on fixing the problems, which are brought to your attention by the Bible, then you defeat the purpose of reading it. Just like not fixing your hair defeats the purpose of looking into a mirror.
Just because you open the door and invite God’s wisdom in, doesn’t mean that her visit will benefit you. If you don’t take her advice, then her visit was just a waste of time, and because you didn’t take what she tried to give you, she will not be able to give you more in the future.
This is part of what Jesus meant when he said,
“For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Matthew 25:29 (read the whole parable, Matthew 25:14-30, for context)
In conclusion, when you set down to study the word of God, remember to be a good disciple, ask questions about what you read, be humble before your God, and practice the things he teaches you. I hope these three tips will help you in your Bible study because there is literally nothing better than the gifts, which God has placed in the Bible for us to discover.
I hope these tips will help you deepen your time in the word of our God. Like always, if you enjoyed this and want to see more content like it, follow above and like below.