The Bible, sixty six books of Old and New Testament, is God’s inspired word through human words in history. The unity of Scripture, across thousands of years and many authors, is a testament to the inspiration it contains. It is revelation within particular circumstances and events of human history. It records the who, the what, and the why of creation. It records the story of salvation, as we are saved by actual events and not ideas. The Bible records God’s interaction with man. The Bible points us towards the living Word, Jesus. He is the pinnacle. It gives us the essentials of our faith. It pronounces the Kingdom of God and what life in it is, as in the past, the present, and in the future.
The Bible is an essential cornerstone of the Christian faith and life. Followers of Jesus Christ should spend time in Scripture to read, study, meditate. The aim of Bible study is the plain meaning of the text. Though some modes of interpretation take us beyond that, this is the aim and most often the end. This interpretation is guided by the Holy Spirit as he continues to guide us in all truth (John 16:13). No one just reads the Bible and does what it says (ie the sacrificial system of Old Testament), there is always interpretation involved. The aim of interpretation is not to come up with a unique interpretation. The Faith has been handed down to us, we do not make things up as we go along. The Bible is not full of hidden meanings and codes. It is written, in its forms and genres, to convey specific things to specific people. Not everyone is a theologian or one who communicates as a teacher of the Word, but, everyone is to be a person who is in Scripture to allow the revelation of it to change their life.
Reading the Bible is not to be a chore. It’s not check-box of a spiritual to-do list. The stories of the Bible are to be immersed into. Again, we re not saved by ideas but by actual events. The Bible tells that story, as it is the big picture story it reveals. It is not to be rushed through. It is not to be simply searched for a handful of moral principles. The revelation it reveals and the story it shares is to be lived in, salvation and the life thereof.
How to’s of Studying the Bible:
- Always pray for the Holy Spirit to bring illumination to Scripture as you read, study, and mediate on it.
- Do not rush through the Bible, read in small chunks (and re-read).
- Topical study is ok for certain uses, but the basis of Bible study is to read in context of the bigger picture (think chapters and books).
- Be a stickler. Do not make Scripture say what it is not saying.
- The Bible has certain genres (narrative, poetry, wisdom, epistles, apocalyptic, etc) and has a context of culture and intent of author. Interpretation starts with these things. While not overthinking this, do a little extra study of these.
- Take notes, ask questions.
- Use tools available. Reference these tools. Good resources are like bumpers in a bowling lane- they help keep you on course and out of the gutter for the meaning of Scripture. Ask someone you trust for some advise on good tools.
- Form a habit of taking time to read the Bible. A block of time each day will help ensure busyness does not keep you from time in Scripture.
- Where to start? Begin in Genesis chapter 1 and Matthew chapter 1. A chapter each day in the Old Testament and New Testament is a simple plan. You will adjust as you go.