Studying the Bible is a combination of common sense and a sense very uncommon. The common sense needed is found in any study:
These consist of :
*A dictionary for word definitions
*A concordance, which is a useful book both for finding subjects and locating verses It also gives definitions for the Greek and Hebrew words
*Paying attention to the context
*A desire to learn (this is not as obvious as it might sound)
The not-so-common sense? A relationship with the God who gave the inspiration for the book. You know, it is not as complicated as it sounds, since the requirement is simply to have a seeking heart-you just have to want to know.
This isn’t unlike all human relationships: meeting someone and wanting to know about them. It opens the door for you to understand them and what they think. The same basic dynamic is at work here.
Understanding God’s Word
It always helps me to keep these Christian presuppositions in mind:
- God is good
- He wants to give wisdom to those who ask
- That He is a person who can be known
The following comments are to address the problems some run into in their study of the bible. First, why is the written word of the Bible so important? What are its drawbacks? Then, what about seeming contradictions?
Here are a few more questions: why is the bible hard to understand? If revelation is a reliable source of information, why not just rely on it, instead of a written book?
Common Difficulties In Study
Many difficulties arise from accepting common hearsay instead of scripture for information on Jesus and what the Bible is saying. This is one reason why the written Bible is of bedrock importance to the Christian. It is why the Reformers laid down their lives to make it available in the language which people could read and understand. It is why Protestants, in particular, highly valued literacy. The Bible is a pattern, by which mankind may compare their experience and correct their behavior.
Church history illustrates some of the problems encountered by either too much or not enough emphasis on the written word of the Bible. As it says itself, “the letter killeth, the spirit maketh alive”, the words within it are guidelines and posts to understanding God, his nature, and the nature of our relationship with him.
Along the way it has quite a bit to say about our nature and that of the rest of the universe, and why some of it all has gone awry.
As Francis Schaeffer so succinctly puts it: the Bible’s information is not all encompassing, but it is true and trustworthy in the information it relays. In other words, when it speaks of “the circle of the earth” (in Job), it does not give an entire body of information on the earths shape, but its inference is true to scientific fact. When it speaks of angelic beings, we are not told whole volumes of their status, but those things which relate to our experience of their pertinent interactions.
We aren’t told everything, but we are told something. Without the ballast of the written scripture, men are prone to behavior contrary to the teachings of Christ and the prophets. And then we are not Christians, anymore, are we? We might be a religion of some sort, but not Christian.
So, this is the purpose of written scripture: to present a unified compilation of teaching and definition on which to base our faith.
This is also the basis for why over-emphasis of scripture is insufficient for a relationship with God, it is simply letters telling about the Person of God and the nature of our relationship together, not the living Person or relationship, itself.
It is also why Christians cannot be made by force or through heritage, or even through debate or instruction; they are people who must enter into a personal acceptance and encounter of the heart with the person of God.
Without a reliable source of information, how can they know how to go about this? That is where the study of the Bible comes in.
What is God’s Word?
Psalm 12:6 Jeremiah 23:29 Hebrews 4:12 Ephesians 6:17 Deuteronomy 30:14 Proverbs 13:13 Luke 8:11 James 1:22 Psalm 138:2 107:20 119:89 147:15-18 Jeremiah 15:16 Matthew 24:35 Luke 11:28 II Peter 3:5-7 Hebrews 11:3 Isaiah 55:17 John 1:1 Revelation 19:13
His word brought forth creation and maintains it (I Peter 3, Hebrews 11:3, Genesis 1)
He sends his word and it heals (Psalms 107:20) His words are pure words- tried seven times(Psalms 12:6)
His word is magnified above his name (Psalm 138:2)
His word is settled forever in heaven (Psalm 119:29)
His word is sweet-like honey to the taste (Psalm 119:103)
His word runs quickly-it accomplishes its purpose (Psalm 148:15)
His word brings joy and rejoicing (Jeremiah 15:16 Isaiah 55:11)
His word lives forever-it will never pass away (Matthew24:25)
His word is light and a seed with life (Psalm 119 and Luke8)
His word is quick (or living), powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword -it divides between soul and spirit, between joints and marrow; is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)
His word is a weapon: the sword of the spirit (Ephesians 6:17)
His word is like fire,it is like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces (Jeremiah 13:29)
Jesus Christ is this Word Revelation 19:11-13