For our February newsletter, I started a series on Bibles. The February Pondering dealt with which is the best Bible for you. In March my Pondering looked at the history of our Bible. For this our third Pondering on our Bibles, I would like to look at how to use your Bible. When I was in seminary, one of the first classes as students that we were able to take dealt with how to study the Bible so that we might share what it contains with others. For me as a pastor this means first of all what does my Bible say to me. Secondly, how can I share what Scripture says with others in a Bible study class through discussion. Thirdly, as a pastor I must be able to prepare a message from Scripture for Sunday Worship or at other times when learning can occur.
If we want to know God’s Word then we must be able to read our Bibles in a way that we develop a yearning for a deep and abiding relationship with God. What we read in Scripture must develop into a Christian life which allows us to grow in our knowledge of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. God’s Word is to allow us to interact with God on a personal level, absorbing the message and letting God engage us in His truth as He places it on our hearts, in our minds and in our lives. This means that we must be inductive in our study, searching for truth for ourselves, discerning what is meant in Scripture and applying the Scriptures to our lives.
We first must be observant. To be observant we must ask what the passage says. Which means we must read the Bible with more than our eyes, we must read it with our mind. This takes quite a bit of time practice and effort on our part.
Secondly, we must begin interpretation of what we have read. This means asking the question: what does the passage say to me? There are two parts to interpretation of Scripture. First is the most basic and simple of observations. Secondly, when we put the passage with other passages we discover that there is more than just what is on the surface, but the overall meaning or direction in which the Scripture is taking us.
Thirdly, we must be able to apply what we have read and put it into action in our lives which means we must decide how to respond in obedience to what we have read. The basis for this application is found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 where it says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient and equipped for every good work.” When we know what God says, what he means, and how to put his truth into practice, we will be equipped as Christians for every circumstance of life.
To be successful as we journey with God through Scripture in reading our Bibles I would suggest trying the steps:
Choose a Book of the Bible (Choose a short book and then move to longer books).
Begin with prayer.
Read first the entire Book of Scripture.
Zoom in by first reading a chapter and then verse by verse.
Use tools such as Commentaries, Bible Study Guides and other Bible resources.
Be a doer of the Word; put it in to action.
Set your own pace.
When opportunities arise discuss what you have read and discerned with others so that you might get new and fresh perspectives on God’s Word.
God gave us his Word in Scripture so that we might journey closer with him and develop a more intimate relationship with Him in our living through Scripture as his blessed children.