I chose to practice the spiritual discipline of Bible study because few things awaken and revive my soul like studying God’s Word. There’s simply nothing like it!
As I participated in this discipline for Self Talk the Gospel, I was fascinated afresh with the God revealed in the Bible—the God who spoke creation into existence (Gen. 1), who breathed life into mankind (Gen. 2:7), who pursued humanity after the Fall (Gen. 3:8-10), who promised a coming Messiah (Gen. 3:15), who came to us in the person of Christ (John 1:1-18), and who is working out all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). It seems unbelievable that every day I can open my Bible and encounter this God.
Yet, it’s true! The astounding claim of Scripture is that God speaks to us through His Word. He has chosen to reveal Himself and His plan of redemption through the inspired Word. This means that when we read the Bible, we are reading the very words of God; we are actually hearing God speak.
This reality should inform our perception of Bible study. Ultimately, we make a habit of Bible study because we long to hear the voice of God. We believe that in the Bible we have the opportunity to hear the one voice that speaks absolute truth. We know that despite all the competing voices in our world (our own voiced included!), we can go to the Bible and hear the very voice of God.
Do we truly understand the magnitude of this?
I’m not so sure many of us do. I fear the biblical reason for doing Bible study has often been lost in the clutter of Christian culture. It becomes another thing we have to do so we can go to bed with a clear conscience. But this discipline cannot be reduced to something we check off on our spiritual “to do” list in an attempt to feel good about ourselves before God. Doing your Bible study like a “good little Christian” will never draw you near to God. The truth is, there aren’t enough Bible studies in the world to atone for your sin. The only work that can make you acceptable before the Father is the work of His Son Jesus. It is Jesus’ work, not yours, which saves you. And in the end it will be Jesus’ work, not your Bible study habits, which preserve you on that final day.
When we read the Bible, we are reading the very words of God; we are actually hearing God speak.
When you truly understand the radical nature of the gospel, you will be set free from trying to manipulate the spiritual disciplines as a means by which you earn brownie points with God. Instead, you will be free to genuinely pursue God through His Word. You will begin to enjoy the fact that Bible study is actually a confrontation (in the best possible way) with the living God. And isn’t this what we need more than anything? Amidst a demonic culture consumed with false spirituality and a Christian subculture permeated by legalistic undertones, don’t we desperately need to be confronted by God’s own Word?
Look at what Psalm 19:7-9 (emphasis added) says the Word of God does:
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
This month I became more aware than ever before of how desperately I need this. I need God’s Spirit to revitalize my apathetic heart. I need God to speak life into my dead bones. I need God’s Word to make me wise among a foolish generation. I need God to teach me how to rejoice in my cynical spirit. I need God to open my eyes to His goodness and His glory instead of focusing on my self and my shame. And I need this on a daily basis! I daily need to hear the transforming truth of God’s voice as He speaks life and peace into this otherwise chaotic soul.
Don’t you need this?
As a matter of fact, if you could totally disregard the sense of guilt so often attached to the discipline of Bible study (or lack thereof), wouldn’t you actually want this? Wouldn’t you want to encounter the living God on a daily basis and be revived in your soul?
I daily need to hear the transforming truth of God’s voice as He speaks life and peace into this otherwise chaotic soul.
I believe you do and so I’m going to propose an idea to you. What if, from the overflow of the grace you’ve received in the free gift of the gospel, you made a month-long commitment to hear from God in His Word? I challenge you to make a habit of setting aside time every day over the next month to encounter the living God through His Word. For now, forget about doing the discipline “perfectly” or having it all figured out. There is always time to learn more about Bible study and the best part is it just gets better with time! The important thing is that you start somewhere and begin to build this discipline now. Eventually, hearing the voice of the Lord through His Word will become an essential piece of every day.
If your heart is screaming, “Yes, I need this!” but you feel unsure of how to proceed, I’ll close by suggesting the following Bible study helps.
- Ask someone to make this commitment with you. God’s Word is best interpreted in the context of godly community. By doing it together, you’ll have accountability and encouragement as you both seek to hear rightly from God in His Word.
- Pick a book of the Bible (such as Colossians) and decide on a consistent time. Choose a daily time when you’ll study on your own and then a weekly time to get together and discuss one of the passages you both studied.
- Decide on a Bible study method. There are a variety of ways to study the Bible, each possessing their own strengths. It could be as simple as reading the text and asking, “What does this teach me about God and what does this teach me about man?” Or you could choose something a bit more involved like an inductive study method—my personal favorite/recommendation.
- Start working your way through the book one passage at a time. Every day take a small passage from the book and study it until you’re finished with that particular book. Go prayerfully into this time believing God speaks through His Word and when He speaks we change. Therefore, allow His Spirit to bring alive the truths of each passage and utterly transform you.
Interested in learning more about how to study your Bible? Whitney created an awesome resource to give to our community…FOR FREE! Check it out below and let us know what you think. Thanks Whitney!
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Image Credit: Brett Jordan, Creative Commons