In my previous post Did I read that? You may recall that I have become increasingly concerned and passionate about the Bible being read and studied by ordinary Christians like myself.
We all expect those on stages with titles like Pastor, Vicar, leader etc to have completed some formal theological education.
What about the rest of us? Those who show up to church each Sunday, perhaps we serve on various types of teams, even lead a small group.
Is the study of the Bible just for those preaching on a Sunday?
Why study the Bible anyway?
Well firstly and probably the most obvious, we study the Bible because it’s the Word of God.
How many times do we question a decision we are about to make, agonising over the options, or perhaps we want to be certain about a specific issue.
If you want to hear the voice of God read your Bible aloud says John Piper and I obviously agree with him.
The thing that I have noticed though from various Bible study groups, both online and in person as well as various preaches and teachings is we are so quick to read the Bible from the vantage of What does the Bible tell me about me, how does that passage apply to me.
We haven’t even grasped the fundamentals of who, what, where, when, why before we jump into the me, me, me.
Often these chats start off with the “I don’t know where you are right now but (insert promise of God” it’s not that any of the statements aren’t correct, just totally devoid of any context.
Perhaps when we first started out with God our time spent in the Bible was simply reading a verse a day, a psalm, perhaps we read the New Testament or a couple of chapters. Then we might have a devotional to help point us in a more structured format, or try out a topical Bible Study and we grow from there. The main point is we are supposed to grow, we are not to grow stagnant in the Word, but we are to fan the flame we have been given by seeking God and we do that through the Bible.
My second point is no one can read the Bible for you, leaders, pastors, teachers, bloggers even they are all human. Their hours spent studying and their explanation is a helpful commentary this is not however a substitute for spending time in God’s Word for yourself.
Ultimately all that you accomplish by any preach or teaching by others is listening to what someone said about what they read in the Bible.
What is worse a lot of these teachers like to research their point and will often find quotes of others to back up their point of view, so as you listen to these quotes and you don’t study the Bible for yourself, your understanding of a passage will be;
what someone said, about what someone said, about what they read in the Bible.
Are you confused yet? Well so am I! Nothing can substitute time spent with the Holy Spirit helping you to read and comprehend the Bible.
Finally, any speaker, the most gifted narrator and those who have spent years in seminary they are human, they will make mistakes.
I have always appreciated our Senior Leader who has always stressed don’t take my word for it, read the Bible.
This is where the spiritual gift of discernment is strengthened as you spend time in the Word, hearing God’s voice, you can pick up on subtleties that stray away from the text.
It is unlikely some huge heresy will occur, but a little here and a little there with those who don’t read their Bible, could be misunderstanding huge realms of scripture on the slight errors of others. Like the whisper game you played at school it starts off great but by midway through the group the point has changed slightly until at the end the message is so devoid of any truth or context, you can’t understand what it means.
This is what happens when you don’t read the Bible and study it for yourself.
When Paul was sat in yet another prison awaiting his death he asked for a few things, his cloak no doubt to keep himself warm, books, but above all he stresses the parchments. What was Paul asking for when he was cold, and lonely for only Luke was there with him?
He wanted his parchments, He wanted His Bible.
The man had preached like no other, had written huge realms of the New Testament, witnessed miracle after miracle and was sat in prison inspired by the Spirit to write even more. Yet Paul knew what he needed more than sustenance and shelter, more than prayers to get him out of prison. He needed his Bible.
As true as it was for Paul then, it is for me now. Whatever circumstance I am in, whether I am in a church setting or not, if I have listened to twenty podcasts that week or none, I need to read my Bible, so I can hear, and see, and learn from God, not about myself but about Him.