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Can I Study the Bible? August 19, 2009

Posted by TJ Friend in General Principles.
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Yes. If you are reading this, you already have the most important skill in studying and understanding the Bible, the ability to read. The Bible after all is a book. I know that seems blatantly obvious, but the implications may not be. People read things everyday and for the most part understand what they read, but for some reason the Bible seems like a mystical book that defies interpretation. You may think that you are not smart enough or spiritual enough to understand the Bible, but this is not true. The Bible was written for you. It wasn’t written just for pastors or teachers or people who have gone through years of college or seminary. It was written for the average person. God wants to speak directly to you through His word. The system we have now goes like this: The pastor or teacher spends time and studies the word then imparts the revelation he (or she) receives to others. There is nothing wrong with this picture, but it is incomplete. It is like a mother bird hunting and finding some worms for her chicks. She finds the food and chews it up, regurgitating into the mouths of her hungry chicks. Eventually, the chicks need to learn how to find and chew their own food. In the same way, we can’t rely on our pastor as our only source for food. We need to take time on our own to study for ourselves.
So, what exactly does it take to study the Bible? The concepts needed are fairly simple to comprehend, but it is definitely not natural or easy. There are four basic traits that are needed to study the Bible. Read through these and see if you have what it takes to be a student of the word.

Basic Reading Skills: You need to be able to ask questions, look for main ideas, follow an argument, and understand different genres. This is a lot of what I will be going over later, so don’t discount yourself if some of this sounds foreign.

Self-Confidence: You need to believe that you actually can understand the Bible. Like I said before, the Bible was not just written for scholars and God desires to feed you directly through His word. And just like anything, the more practice you get the more confident you will become.

Humility: The Bible is God’s word to you. You need to come with an open ear to hear what the text is saying. If you come to the Bible assuming you already know what it says or looking for proof texts for your own ideas you will not be able to hear what God wants to say to you.

Perseverance: Studying the Bible takes time and consistency. You can’t expect to reap the rewards without putting in the effort. The Bible is filled with jewels and treasures that you can only find if you dig for them. I hesitate to use the word perseverance, because it can have some negative connotations. Just to clarify, reading and studying the word is not some sort of trial that you need to endure in order for God to speak to you. The journey toward revelation is just as exciting as the outcome. God has placed inside of us a desire to study and observe and figure things out. He would be robbing us if He just placed things out in the open. It is like an Easter Egg Hunt: How fun would it be if all the eggs were out in the open? What makes it fun and exciting is the search…the “treasure hunt”. That is what studying the Bible is for us, a treasure hunt.

Pick a chapter out of the Bible. Read it over and over until you understand what it is saying and ask God to speak to you. If you come to Him with an open heart and don’t give up too soon, God will speak to you.

Just because someone has been a Christian for many years doesn’t make them mature, in the same way a new believer can grow and mature rapidly. What determines your growth is understanding truth and drawing closer to God. The main way you grow and mature is by spending time daily in the Word. If you were to give yourself an “age”, not based on how long you have been a Christian, but on how mature you are, how old would you be?



1. Robin Aurelius - August 30, 2009

Great idea. Like to get something like this for Sacramento Friends Church
an Organist.
I’d also like to make some mp3s from the Quaker hymnal, and contribute to the movement overall.

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