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Real Bible Study
For many Christians reading the bible is boring, difficult to understand, and can appear irrelevant to actual daily life. Some see in it rules that can seem obvious like don’t kill or steal. Others see sort of cartoon images of bible stories like the animals going in a parade into Noah’s ark. It can help to start with a better understanding of what the bible actually is.
It is the word of God (Prov 30:5). It is sent with a purpose (Is 55:10-11). It washes and purifies (Eph 5:26). It is used to separate his people from the world (John 17:17). It trains and equips (2 Tim 3:16). It is life itself (Luke 4:4).
Some read the bible as a chapter a day or set out to read the bible in a year. Some even attempt memorization in an attempt to demonstrate devotion to God and his word. However, these methods can be static and stifle the dynamic influence the bible can have in our lives. We can read the gospels and learn what Jesus said and where he went and what he did. However, we begin to infuse the word into our lives and understanding when we draw from it more than narrative or description, but truth that transforms.
One might read that Jesus was asked by the temple officials to explain by what authority he did his works. Jesus asked them to first answer if the baptism of John was of heaven or men. Their reluctance to answer was the basis for Jesus to refuse to answer them. The truth that can be drawn from the story is that those who have no interest in truth have no claim on those who are of the truth.
Jesus said to those who believed in him that if they continued in his word, they were his disciples and they would know the truth and the truth would set them free (John 8: 31-32). Conversely, those who do not believe find the bible foolishness (1 Cor 2:14).
If we approach the bible as a gold mine looking for nuggets we can take for ourselves, we often find more value in our study. If we look for answers to questions like, “How can I know I am going to go to heaven”(Rom 10:9), “How can I live a less sinful life” (Gal 5:16), or “How can I have a better marriage” (Eph 5:33) we can begin to see value for our daily life.
As we begin to see that the bible is more than just a collection of things that are true, but the source of truth itself, we are increasingly more able to direct this flow of truth into our own lives. With a growth of truth comes the freedom to be found in discerning that which entangles and harms. For example, an offer of casual fornication can be tempting to someone whose vision is limited to immediate sensation. To someone who has grown in truth the consequences are more discernable and therefore temptation is more easily avoided.
Bible study can start with a children’s bible that describes the various bible stories that are so often highlighted in Sunday School. However, even children are benefitted from moving as quickly as possible into a study that establishes the bible as not only useful, but essential to daily life.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a
light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105
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