Some suggestions on why and how to study the Bible
2 Tim. 2:15 Study to show yourself approved by God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, who can skillfully teach the word of truth to others.
Mark 4:24 Jesus: The amount of thought and study you give to the word of truth you AMP(modif) hear will be the same amount of the knowledge of God that you receive;
Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed (by thoughts) for a lack of knowledge (of Me)…
Pro 29:18 Where there is no revelation (ongoing revealed knowledge of Me from My word) the people cast off restraint (the power of God’s word to subdue the wants of our human nature, eyes and brains, if not constantly replenished, begins to fade) But happy are those who keep on retaining My words.
What is my motivation to study my Bible – without this I just won’t do it
- For God to save my will and keep me free from my awful self-willed human nature
- For God to make me more like His good, loving, wise, peaceful, unchanging nature
- For my life to have purpose, fulfillment and fruitfulness in knowing and doing His will
- The means by which God daily reassures me of His everlasting love for me
- The only way for my spirit to become strong enough to overcome Satan’s thoughts
- For God to enable me to walk in love, forgiveness and fruitfulness towards all others
- For God to make personal promises to me to meet my every need, spirit, soul, body
- His words are righteousness, the righteous live in His presence, so to keep me in Him
- His words are faith, so to keep growing in faith and be able to trust Him at all times
- His words are His wisdom, to enable me to consistently make wise no regret choices
- Those who retain His words are happy, to give my life the happiness that I long for
- In order to make my eternity and that of others secure, and because He wants me to
Sadly to some, Bible study is a religious ritual. To those alive to God it is letting my good Heavenly Father love me, feed me, change me and grow me, by daily imparting to my heart, my spirit, more of the life of Christ. His own divine nature, through His words of truth, which He causes to come alive, speak, be understood and be written in my heart, by His Spirit. As my heart knowledge of and relationship with God grows, through each word He imparts to me, He then has more of Himself in me, to love and bless others with.
These recommendations are for my own personal private Bible study and assume I attend every meeting of believers at which the Bible is taught, but with my growing involvement.
How is the purpose of Bible study achieved – how does the Bible work?
- Merely by reading the Bible? If that’s all, then very little is accomplished. This would be the equivalent of reading a menu in a restaurant but never eating any food.
- By reading and trying to memorize scripture? If that’s all, I will have some head knowledge of the Bible, which will result in pride, but little more. This is like having a picture in my mind of how great food looks, and deceiving myself that I’ve been fed.
- By reading, memorizing and mentally agreeing with a scripture? If that’s all, the divine life of God’s word still won’t get in me. It would be like putting food in my mouth but not swallowing it, so it can’t change me and so I will hardly know God.
God says: A person by common sense or human wisdom cannot know Him (1 Cor. 1:21). He has given us a heart, a spirit, by which alone we can know Him (Jer 24:7)
Scripture, by which we know Him, has to be revealed by His Spirit to our spirits (1 Cor 2:10 &14) He reveals His scriptures to those who love Him (1 Cor 2:9).
So to our intellects the Bible is a closed book, deliberately so, for otherwise it would favor the brightest, whereas God has given everyone an identical heart or spirit to know Him. Many do try to comprehend the Bible mentally and this gives rise to the wide range of conflicting opinions on almost every subject. To the child of faith however, the Bible is the book of life whereby God communicates Himself through Spirit breathed words to all who have a spiritual ear and a heart hunger for Him. God’s Holy Spirit is the original author of the Bible and the exclusive teacher today of all of its truths (2 Pet. 1:21, 1John 2:27).
- Bible study therefore, or God communicating His very own life through living words to a believing heart, hinges on a person internalizing or taking down into their inner being a scripture personally given to them by God. This process, which may use reading, memorization and mental assent as initial steps, the Bible likens to some everyday natural activities – planting, hearing, eating, knowing and growing. But all of these are intended to portray my receiving, in my heart or spirit, God’s words:
Planting – “the Sower (God) sows the word” (Mar. 4:14) into the ground of a persons heart. When the heart hears and understands the word that God has planted (spoken) that word germinates, takes root, bears fruit and changes the person into the likeness of that word. …The word of God which works mightily also in you who believe. 1 Thes. 2:13.
Hearing – Today if you will hear His (God’s) voice… Heb. 3:7 & 8. Scripture while still on the page of a Bible is called the “letter” and is called dead (2 Cor. 3:6). But when the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, breathes life into a scripture, and it jumps off the page, it is heard by the heart as the voice of God – not audibly to the natural ear but as a still small spiritual voice to the spiritual ear. Jesus said we are to live…by every (such) word that comes (present tense, that is, today and every day) out of the mouth of God. Mat.4:4.
Eating – Your words were found and I ate them… Jer 15:16 Without eating, believing, digesting and assimilating a scripture, given to me by God, into my spirit, the words can’t become to me spiritual food, by which alone I can grow spiritually.
Knowing – …He has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him (knowing Him); So He has given us…promises that by these (words) we will partake of His divine nature. 2 Pet. 1:3 & 4. We know God only as He reveals Himself to our hearts, not our heads, through His word by His Spirit; so conforming us to the likeness of Christ – Rom 8:29.
Growing – Desire the…word so that you may grow thereby. 1 Pet. 2:2. All Christian growth, spiritual growth, that is our growth in personally knowing God, comes entirely from the entrance of God’s living words into that Christian’s heart.
A suggested plan for my daily Bible Study, for my growth in knowing God
A paper Bible or software on a computer is way better for study than a distracting phone. I must decide if convenience or multi-tasking is more important than getting to know God.
WHEN Our bodies typically require three meals a day and then continue to feed off that life sustaining food. Our spirits similarly need regular meal times and then will feed off that life sustaining food. The person who has a happy heart has a continual feast (Prov 15:15). Our spirits should at least be fed twice every day, morning and evening. The earlier in the day we make contact with God the better off we will be. Often when we awake the first thoughts that come crashing into our minds are thoughts of worry, care, condemnation and anger thoughts. That’s why God invites us to …early will I seek you… (Psa. 63:1). He promises that in the morning His words (the Bible) …when you awake they will talk to you (Pro. 6:22). His words are light and darkness flees (Psa. 119:130).
But our spirits have a further need: Questions arise, about God, His salvation, His will and His doctrine, sometimes inspired by His spirit, over which our hearts yearn for answers. This will take setting aside, at least twice a week, extended quality quiet time with God for in depth studies. These beautiful seasons of spiritual learning often become breakthrough times in which long standing questions about God and His ways are settled with finality.
Learn how to let the Holy Spirit be in charge of your Bible studies, and guide you into all truth (John 14:26, 16:13) even give you chapter and verse, and for your heart to know it.
MY STATE Bible study can be a total waste of time unless I am, right now, walking in the light of both of the following two truths: My Father…forgive me my sins as I forgive those who sin against me… (Mat. 6:12 & 15). Uncovered sin, which includes un-forgiveness towards others, separates me from God, hardens my heart and makes hearing His word impossible. To connect with a righteous God I must now be righteous.
MY APPETITE The desire of my heart ought to be My Father…give me this day my daily bread… (Mat. 6:11). Jesus, the Living Word, said …I am the living bread … from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread they will live… (John 6:49 & 51). The equivalent of Israel eating manna daily is me eating the word of God daily, the bread of eternal life.
MY EXPECTATION It is essential, as I pick up my Bible, that my expectation be that I am going to seek and to make contact with God. Jesus promised that Those who (truly with their whole heart) seek (Me, always) find (Me) (Mat. 7:8). He also said According to your faith be it unto you (Mat. 9:29). When I come to God I must believe that He is.
MY WILLINGNESS Finally, I must have the attitude up front that if during my Bible study God tells me to do something, my heart is already settled that I am going to do it. Jesus said: If anyone is willing to do His will they will know of the teaching… (John 7:17). In other words being willing to obey God is a condition to God making the Bible real to me.
HOW LONG For our twice daily studies, twenty quality minutes would be good. For AND WHERE our twice weekly deeper studies at least an hour or two will be needed.
A quiet place, away from noise and interruptions, with the door closed.
DISTRACTIONS We will learn how to cut off mental distractions such as day dreaming, fantasizing and drifting off by turning our thoughts back to the scripture in front of us – remembering this is for ne, the words God is about to speak are my life, Jesus said.
WORDS that are TRUTH Pay attention to verses that are statements of God’s truth (e.g. Faithful is He that calls you who also will do it 1 Thes. 5:24) rather than verses that while being true statements are part of the narrative (e.g. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss).
Be alert to words that speak to you, don’t rush to continue reading, pause, think about them 2 or 3 times. As you do understanding is likely to come. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. God doesn’t speak through paragraphs, He speaks through a line or a word at a time (Isa. 28:10). Only one verse may come alive, or a portion of it, or just one word.
STUDY HELPS 1. Read slowly but expectantly – remember it is not a race, the goal is to make contact with God, for God through the book to speak to your heart and to know it.
- Develop the habit of writing on a notepad the words and specific current meaning and application that God reveals to you concerning them. Beware of looking to your own understanding and not getting God’s. Later transfer the notes to a journal then file them.
- Slowly reading a section from an “inspired” Christian book, devotional or truth paper can be an effective lead-in to Bible study. An inspired writing is: One that speaks to you, that you discern God was leading the author, and that includes many references to God’s word. Check scriptures in your own Bible. Inspired Bible teaching CD’s can do the same,
and constant listening to audio messages will train our thoughts to become stayed on God.
After Bible Study, be on guard, the devil wants to get Christ out of you
· God has gently breathed life into a scripture and the words have contacted your heart. Those words are the life of God in you (John 6:63). In the parable of the Sower and the seed (Mark 4) Jesus warns that the devil will now challenge us for those words. First, if we didn’t get God’s understanding of them, they will now be stolen from us (Mat. 13:19).
· Then at some point we will be put under pressure, for the words sake, through a circumstance or a person or a thought that directly conflicts with the truth we have heard. If we believe the lie and are offended at the word, it will wither and die (Mar. 4:17).
· Our hearts are fertile soil for any thoughts planted in them. The devil will try to sow thoughts in us that stimulate the desires of our flesh, that cause worry, or to deceive us into trusting in material possessions and not God. His intent is to kill God’s words in us.
- God has spoken to you, loved you and revealed more of Himself to you. It would be wise, unless so led, to not tell others yet what you’ve received, for they may not be right with God and could sow seeds of doubt in you. It may take time for the word to take root in your heart before it bears fruit into other lives. Then what today was bread for you to eat will tomorrow become seed for God to sow into the hearts of others (Isa 55:10 & 11).