Don’t Study the Bible…

A few suggestions.

1) Don’t study the Bible until you’ve read it. Get a general overview of the overall picture given throughout scripture before trying to find deeper understanding of small parts of scripture.

2) Don’t study the Bible through commentaries and study-bible notes. Tackle scripture for yourself before you even think of looking for another person’s opinion. See what YOU can understand without referring to what others have to say. Trust the Holy Spirit to do the teaching job He came to do.

3) Don’t study the Bible with a predetermined agenda. Don’t use scripture as a tool to “prove” an opinion or a favoured doctrine. Let scripture speak with its own message, don’t try to speak your message through scripture.

4) Don’t study the Bible according to proof texts. Merely checking the verses quoted by a preacher isn’t bible study. Just because a verse is quoted in a sermon it doesn’t necessarily mean what the preacher says it means. Consider how each text relates to the whole chapter, the whole book and the overall message of the whole bible. (And that takes time and patience).

5) Don’t study the Bible in total isolation. Maintain fellowship with other believers, listen to sermons, read books – but NEVER make the word of others your primary authority on scripture and ALWAYS test everything with scripture. When hearing something new, if in doubt, DOUBT. And when something sounds right, doubt anyway. Be cautious. The Bible’s warnings about deceivers are there for a reason.
Accept nothing, no matter how appealing and right it may seem until your own study of scripture(refer again to point 2 above) gives YOU insight.

6) Don’t study the Bible expecting to know and understand everything NOW. Foundations need to be built. Basics need to be grasped.
Understanding of complex mathematics needs to start with a knowledge of basic arithmetic. Likewise some aspects of scripture will remain puzzling until the required background knowledge has been attained.

7) DO study the Bible with diligence and patience, knowing that the Holy Spirit will work with those who seek and trust His help.

7 thoughts on “Don’t Study the Bible…

  1. One of the best things I ever did to help my understanding of the Bible was to read it as quickly as I could. I think I took one month. I got a great sense of the flow, the overall context of God’s points, repeated themes. I tell ya, it was cool.

  2. Hi Jeff,
    My wife isn’t a strong book reader, so she uses a bible on DVD where she can follow along with the text on screen as it is read aloud. By spending a couple of hours a day doing this has completed the whole bible already this year and is now halfway through again. Her knowledge and understanding of scripture has grown incredibly in a very short time.

    For myself, getting that “sense of the flow” and the “overall context” was one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had (although I’ve never read through the lot in a month as you did). I’ve also found it valuable to read (as far as possible) according to the order books were written instead of the order they appear in our modern day bibles. To me reading Chronicles towards the end of the OT makes more sense (and is easier to handle) than reading it straight after Kings.

  3. Excellent article, Tim!
    And well done Jeff reading the whole Bible through in a month!
    I take a year, three to four chapters a day–have done that now for 25 yrs–a tremendous blessing!

    I understand what you mean by the dangers of proof-texting. “A text taken out of context is a pretext” 🙂 However there are plenty of excellent texts that sum up whole topics pretty well. John 3:16 is just one of many.

    In fact there is one proof-text the world more and more wants to see removed from Scripture: “No one comes to the Father except through Me” sd Jesus in John 14:6. Modernist and liberal churches have already removed it from their thinking and effectively from their Bibles. Even Billy Graham in old age commented publicly via phone to Schuyler’s Crystal Cathedral that other religions legitimately have their own name for God. No way! “There is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved!” Amen?

  4. Maybe John 3:16 doesn’t so easily sum things up the way most Christians tend to think.

    How many know of the preceding context where the God who loved the world also sent poisonous snakes (that killed many) among a disobedient Israel – and then He declined to remove the snakes when they repented?

    However, in His love he did provide a way for the effects of the snakes to be nullified. And in the same way He loved the world through the giving of His Son, so that whoever believes in that Son (and continues doing so) will not perish but will have everlasting life.

    John 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

    (see also Numbers 21) As for Jesus’ statement about no one “coming to the Father except through Me”. I recently saw a clip of Oprah interviewing Joel Osteen where he came out with one of the most evil and deceptive statements I’ve ever heard.

    He said that Jesus is the only way to God – but there are many ways to Jesus.

  5. My mom likes Osteen. She has a very basic kind of belief, the most prominent verses of which involve reciting “one baptism” and “one faith” and so on. She told me recently she didn’t like a place (which I already knew she didn’t) because, she said, it was too intelligent or something like that for her taste. They related Hebrew scripture and writings of apostles, who Y’shua is. She said it wasn’t religious enough. I asked her what she meant by religious. She talked about being uplifting or positive, “you know, Christian,” and mentioned Osteen. I said she means she likes motivational speakers. Yeah, she said, she supposed that is what she means.

  6. There is little difference between many “christian” preachers and motivational speakers. In fact a preacher I knew in the late 1980s is no longer a chrisitan minister – he runs his own motivational speaking business, holding courses and seminars for businessmen. I can imagine him recycling a lot of his sermons and just dropping the name of Jesus from the vocabulary used.

  7. On intelligence or being “intelligent” — this is the same woman I know who is prideful about having a college degree and who looks down on people without such.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s