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Beyond Bible Study

beyond-bible-studyThe Bible is truly an amazing book that offers us a rich source of knowledge about God, wisdom, history, prophecy and right-valued living. In fact, when studying the Bible it’s easy to become lost in the depths, intricacies and mysteries cached there. The words of Scripture are aesthetically beautiful, intellectually stimulating and timelessly relevant.

One time Jesus was speaking to a group of zealous Jewish people of whom he acknowledged, “You diligently study the Scriptures . . .” On the surface this sounds noble and good. Yet in the same breath Jesus said to them, “You have never heard [the Father’s] voice . . .” (John 5:37 & 39) How is this possible? How can one read, let alone diligently study God’s Word without hearing his voice?

Certainly one can study the Bible without coupling that activity with faith in its Author. But I’ve also found that we can get so caught up with the grammar, context, word choice and all the other mechanics of the written Word to the extent that we forget what brought us there in the first place.

Jesus told the church in Ephesus that they held to the right doctrines (teachings from God’s Word), but they had forsaken their first love—their love for Christ and each other (Revelation 2:4).

If you are a student of the Bible, keep it up! Don’t be discouraged by the above. Instead, let me offer three simple principles to focus on as we come to the Word.

First, always come to the Bible expecting to meet with God. If we are not going to the Word to hear from him, then we’re going to it for the wrong reasons! The Bible is God’s Word. He speaks to us through his Word. The Holy Spirit will speak to us as we meet him there. So meet him there and listen.

Second, as you study the Bible allow his Word to penetrate your heart. Applying principles of Bible study and hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation) require diligence and hard work. We do that hard work and close the Bible satisfied that we’ve studied well. But few of us realize the work is not finished, but barely begun.

In order to take God’s Word into our hearts and let him transform us we need to meditate on it (or reflect on it, mull over it, ponder it). Sometimes this takes moments, but often it takes days, weeks, months or even years. Actually, God indicated to Joshua that meditating on his Word is a lifestyle (see Joshua 1:8). After walking with the Lord for over 50 years, I am in awe over the things he continues to reveal to me from his Word that are fresh and life changing!

Third, as you study the Word and let God speak to your heart, align your life with his Word and character. James urged us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) Simply hearing, reading or even studying the Bible will not necessarily change you.

In John 15 Jesus speaks of our relationship with him as analogous to a branch remaining in the vine. He is the vine, we are the branches. There he urges us to remain in him and to let his words remain in us (John 15:7). Recognize both your dependence on Christ and diligence in remaining or living in him and his Word. In this way we get beyond mere study of the Bible to cultivating our living, growing relationship with its Author!

©2009 Rob Fischer

2 comments

1 Heath { 11.12.09 at 5:12 pm }

Thanks Rob, a good reminder for me to be more diligent in reading the word. I loved the line “always come to the Bible expecting to meet with God.” How comforting to be reminded that God is here right now 🙂 God is everywhere when we need Him, God is everywhere when we don’t (or behave like we don’t) 🙂 Thanks again.

HM

2 julie { 11.18.09 at 4:42 am }

Thank you for your article which is so encouraging… to continue my v.early rises to study His Word and anticipate Him coming to meet me… read recently though that if we don’t share with others, ie all He offers/promises, He may not come in, knowing we will not let Him out!
(This spoke to me because of the times I have closed The Book some mornings, a little flat, wondering if He was “there”opening my heart to grasp every conceivable blessing /because of my mouth not being used nearly enough -ie spreading the News)