Understanding the Bible comes with a lifelong process of learning and studying. Many Christians think it is a mountain too tremendous to summit. It is often thought that studying the Bible is reserved for those pursuing full time ministry or those who have time to take a few years of their life and go to a Bible college. But the pursuit of God is essential if not for the act of salvation, but the endurance of salvation (Philippians 2:12). In a day where many Christians are crippled with doubts, overcome by sin, and living an unfulfilled life it is apparent that the cause and root of all of this is a lack of devotion to knowing God.
Knowing God is not a lofty dream. It is a present reality that captures the heart of the redeemed to love and pursue their creator. No Christian has ever started out with a complete working knowledge of God or even the most practical methods of seeking Him. These things are learned over time. But they don’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. Starting with a basic method for reading the Bible will help in the beginning process of growing in the grace and knowledge of our LORD.
So to piggyback on the what Trevor mentioned on Thursday about Mastering the Bible, I want to add my own basic practice for studying the Bible. My strategy includes three questions – though they are similar to what Trevor has already mentioned in his article.
The Bible is the only source of definitive knowledge of God. God wants to be known and he wants to be understood. Starting with this question requires that we look at a passage to develop our theology (knowledge of God). To understand the overall message of the Bible is to know that it is describing God. Many people feel they already have a working knowledge of God and are content with what they already know. But God wants to be pursued as if we were pursuing any other relationship (better even). When a husband doesn’t take the time to pursue his wife and just assumes he knows enough about her, it is inevitably followed by a strained relationship where communication is broken down, intimacy is lacking, and unity is divided. It’s not much different in the life of believers when they assume that what they know about God is enough. Soon their prayers will seem hollow, their fervency will be squelched, and their love for fellow believers will be lacking.
Question #2 – What Does This Passage Say About Myself?
Too often our quite time is quick to get into the text and out with no regard to how it is applicable to our own lives. Where the purpose of the Bible is to teach us about God, it also shows a contrast of where we are different. The depravity of mankind is evident if by nothing else than the very character of God. In this question we relate to the work of Christ where He came to engage mankind. Here we are able to preach the gospel to ourselves and be impacted by the weight of our own sin and the propitiation of a wonderful Savior.
Question #3 – How Can I Respond?
Most people don’t turn their time of Bible study into worship. This is a mistake. It’s not enough to simply fill our head with knowledge of God. We must internalize it and express it. I’m afraid that today in our evangelical circles we have relegated God to the brain and heart without allowing Him to control our mouth, hands, and feet. We have become consumers of the gospel, but not proclaimers. We have become satisfied with the sermons, entertained by the music, and encouraged by the fellowship without fully expressing the meaning of God’s glory in our lives. We have regulated the expression of worship so as to not express emotions that would make those who were not moved to feel uncomfortable. Worship is so much more than singing a few hymns or praise songs. If you find that you can’t turn your quite time into worship, it is a quick sign that there is something missing in your devotions.
God is a person who seeks to be known. He has made Himself evident to us through His Word and desires that we pursue Him. To do so, we must cultivate a hunger for knowing Him. I challenge you to practice these three simple questions and see how your spiritual life deepens.
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Psalm 34:8 esv