In my last Journey post we looked at Bible reading as a prayerful way to explore God’s Word in our journey of personal discipleship. Today, let’s take a quick look at Bible study.Please recall that our thesis for this journey of self-examination is that we can only share with others from the overflow of our own relationship with our Lord, thus we examine our spiritual practices to determine our levels of growth. While our discussion of Bible reading was headed in a spiritual and prayerful reading of Scripture, we now look at the more conventional study as a discipline of learning.
Most new Christians have much to learn about the Bible, and quite honestly this is a quest in itself that few of us will complete fully in this lifetime. As a result, it is particularly important for a “younger” Christian. Since we are to share our faith with others, doesn’t it make sense that we should have a good working understanding of the Bible?
Having a good working understanding of the Bible is not the same thing as being an academic expert; in fact the academic approach is not at all necessary to a good understanding, for it can easily become bogged down with details and lose sight of the prize that is in Christ. So, how do we get started?
First and foremost, we need to be planted in a solid, growing and vibrant church family, one that has multiple opportunities for learning, growing and understanding. A Bible study is extremely important, particularly if it is a small relational group environment that helps us to develop relationships with other more mature Christians who can mentor our development as disciples. If your church has a Sunday school, you should be in it. If your church has other studies available, you need to attend. I have so often been amazed when people tell me that they don’t know the Bible well enough to share their faith, and yet attend nothing that can help their knowledge and understanding increase!
We should also read good books or even blog posts that can help us to gain a greater understanding of God’s Word. Of course, we should also be careful to ensure that what we are reading is getting the message right, and this is where a mentor is so useful. This blog has many posts (including this post) that can be helpful in this area.
Finally, taking time each day to carefully read God’s Word is a habit that all of us need to develop. If you don’t know where to start, read over your pastor’s sermon text during the week. Here’s an idea: Take his text, and if it is quite long, divide it up into smaller chunks and carefully read one each day. If it is shorter, then carefully read the entire text each day through the week. Jot down notes of any questions that come to mind and ask your pastor those questions. To gain even better understanding of those texts, make it your goal by the end of each week to be able to tell the story of that text as though it was a story in your own life, using your own words to describe what is going on. Think about what happens when you read a book or watch a movie or television program that you really enjoy. You tell your friends about it. You don’t need to memorize anything, you just tell the story.
What would happen to the amount of Bible knowledge that you have if you approached Bible study in the same way? By making the narrative of the text become your own stories that you can tell to your friends, you will gain more knowledge of the Scripture more quickly than you ever imagined possible.
Simple, effective, and oh by the way, it’s also the way Jesus taught His disciples.