Having recently moved overseas, I have found my inability to complete certain basic tasks frustrating. What it has come down to is the lack of tools. When we moved, everything we brought came with us on the plane, which means a lot of things got left behind. Therefore, some basic home improvement jobs has taken much more time and effort than anticipated, and usually then it is only completed well enough to get by until I can get the right tools or find someone to help me. This experience is very much like studying the Bible.
Integral to the Christian life is a study in Scripture. From Old Testament to New Testament the study of God’s word crosses centuries of time and generations of people to be one of the fundamental Christian living principles to be drawn out of the Bible. The elevation of Scripture in our lives draws us together in church, small groups, and conferences. It causes individuals to ponder the deeper meanings of life and it brings families together for the discussions of the day. So much of what we do is, or at least should be, drawn together out of the need to be deeper in the Word of God.
Before he ever taught others, Ezra first studied for himself and then applied to his own life (Ezra 7:10). Paul’s last words were spent encouraging Timothy to be sure that he was faithful to the teaching of God’s Word, even when others may turn against it (2 Timothy 4:1-4). The Psalmist understands the need to meditate up on the law of the Lord and to keep it well maintained within one’s own heart (Psalm 1:1-2; 119:11).
Think about the importance of God’s Word a little bit more. What is the longest book in the Bible? Psalms. What is the longest chapter in that book? Psalm 119. What is the subject of Psalm 119? God’s Word. The longest chapter in the longest book of the Bible is an exaltation of God’s Word! It conveys in grand fashion, the significance of God’s Word in the life of a believer.
With its importance so proudly proclaimed and understood, why is it that believers have such a hard time drinking in the Word of God on such a regular and consistent basis? There are a variety of reasons given by people and many of them important enough to be addressed. However, I am of the mindset that at least one of the contributing factor is simply the lack of teaching, not on the need of Scripture study, but about the ability to study Scripture.
Discussions with fellow Christians will quickly reveal that most understand that it is important and necessary to be in God’s Word. However, I am convinced that one of the reasons for not following through is that people simply do not understand how to get the most out of God’s Word. Instead they are given a Bible and told, “Go ye and read the word of God.”
Some begin in Genesis, a logical thing to do. Some will go to the Gospels to see the life of Christ. Others begin at the end in Revelation to see what they have to look forward to. Whatever it may be, interest often fades quickly because readers have little understanding about how dialogue applies to them, or why the Old Testament matters today. For some the word pictures are hard to follow and application is not grasped.
In merely handing a Bible to a new believer and telling them to read, we have not done our part to disciple. I am convinced that God’s Word never returns void, and reading will always yield something. This concept though does not provide us with a reason to avoid our responsibility towards fellow Christians. We must press on in teaching, discipleship, and accountability.
In terms of helping believers to be faithful in Bible reading and study, what can we do to help promote growth? Teach them. Point them to the right tools so that they can do it in a meaningful way in order to get the most out of it.
Our time in Scripture should be a time we look forward to with great joy and anticipation of what God is going to reveal. We thus can cultivate a joy for the Word of God by providing the tools for the Word of God. Over the course of the next several weeks, that is exactly what I want to do. It is an opportunity for me to share the tools that I use in my own life and discover new ones as well as we learn together about how to make the most of our investment of time in the Word. If the output of our lives is dependent upon the input into our life, may we be diligent to pour Scripture into our lives so that what we pour out is also Scripture.
Join me right here next week as I take a look at the physical tools we can use in our Bible study.