Yesterday’s post generated some interesting discussion. Those who read the article, by a very large majority, appreciated the words. However, some people ripped into me for suggesting that people should stop reading the Bible. When I asked these individuals if they had read the article, the universal answer was, “No.” I’m troubled by that – no, not so much that people failed to read the article and some of those urged my repentance; I’m troubled because that’s how many people read Scripture – just reading a few lines and making up in their own minds what God has revealed. We dare not do so.
Scripture is not a book to skim; it is the Word of God. The Bible is not a book with which to disagree; it is the Word of God. Holy writ is not to be discounted; it is the Word of God. Scripture is not to be forgotten; it is the Word of God. The Bible is not to be ignored in times of temptation; it is the Word of God. Holy writ is not to be discounted in the face of death; it is the Word of God.
But, how? How do we make appropriate use of Scripture and study the Word of God for ourselves? There are many suggestions which could be given, but here are five:
- Pray before you start.Ask for God’s wisdom; that’s a prayer He will most surely answer – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). Ask God to remove the cares of the world from your heart. Ask God to help you make necessary application to your life. Ask God for the strength to carry out His will.
- Context, Context, Context.Many errors have been taught because Scripture has been taken out of context. Allow God’s Word to speak to you in the context. Do not ignore what comes before or after a passage. Do not ignore who is speaking to whom. Do not ignore the special situation which necessitated the passage you are reading.
If we take passages out of context, we can come up with all sorts of wild ideas. For example, the Bible actually does record that God is a liar. God had told Adam that in the day he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would surely die. Yet, we read, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). God lied to Adam and Eve – they would not surely die. We know, of course, that Satan, the father of lies, declared God to be a liar. But, if we take passages out of context, we’re apt to make the same foolish mistake as one who would say God is a liar based on Genesis 3:4.
- Look up words you don’t understand.Don’t know what Ebenezer means? Look it up in a good Bible dictionary available at any Bible bookstore.
- Look to make application to your life.As you read Scripture, look for principles by which you need to live your life. Examine yourself in light of Scripture – Where are you failing to live up to the Word of God? Where do you need to work harder to be what God wants you to be?
- Seek to apply Scripture to your life.Studying the Bible without applying it to the way you live makes absolutely no sense. “If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:23-25). Be a doer who acts, not a hearer who hears.
Spend time in the Word of God. Study – really study – that you might be approved by God.