The Art of Bible Study
The apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV) The Greek word translated as “given by inspiration of God” can be literally translated “God-breathed.” The English Standard Version reflects this with the following: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV) Do you believe the words of the Bible were “breathed” by God? If your answer is yes, then you are a candidate for Bible study. You can study God’s word and understand the inspired message.
Many people do not understand the message of the Bible. In order for a person to know and understand God’s holy word, he must be willing to read and study the God-breathed message. Consider some simple suggestions to help you in your efforts to study God’s word.
The first step in developing a solid pattern of Bible study is to accept the Bible as God’s word. Let us return to Paul’s words to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV) Believing the Bible to be God’s word helps to create within a person the willingness to respect and accept the truths found within the Bible.
The second step towards meaningful Bible study is for one to expect to understand the Bible. All parts of the Bible are understandable, especially its teachings regarding salvation. However, there are sections which are much meatier and require many more hours of study. That being said, if you expect to understand the Bible, then you will open your mind to treasures of the Bible. Keep in mind the following found in Hebrews 5:12-13:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14, NKJV)
The third step in your process of studying the Bible is to develop a love for God’s word and a desire to study His word. A love for God’s word is essential. Without the love for the truth, a person will neither study nor obey the Bible. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10, the apostle Paul referred to those who will perish because they did not “receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” Without this love, some people will be susceptible to believing a lie. In 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, the apostle Paul wrote, “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
King David set a great example regarding one’s attitude towards God’s word. Consider the following quotes from Psalms 119:47-48, 97, 113, 119:
And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love. My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes. (vs 47-48) . . . Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. (vs 97) . . . I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law. (vs 113) . . . You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross; Therefore I love Your testimonies. (vs 119)
The fourth step in your growth as a student of the Bible is to study with the intent to learn God’s word. There may be times when you feel compelled to study the Bible to prove your belief, to prove your position. However, such an approach can prevent growth. Instead of studying God’s word to prove your belief, you should be studying to learn from the Bible, to improve your belief. The difference between the two motives is simple. When you study to prove your position, if your position or belief is wrong, then you may be unwilling to see your error. When you study to learn, to improve your belief and knowledge, if your position or belief is in error, then your mind will be opened to see your error.
Begin your path of Bible study by believing the Bible to be God’s word. Continue on your journey by believing that you are capable of understanding His wonderful message for man. With a love for God’s word, dive in and begin the process of studying and growing. You very well may be surprised at what you will learn and how your life will flourish as a child of God.