I promised in my last article that I would share with you some practical instructions on how to study your Bible. Since I’ve already made the case of the importance of study in that article, I won’t be redundant here.
However, I would like to explore some misconceptions and some contrasting truths about what in-depth Bible study really entails.
Bible Study Misconceptions
#1 – I don’t have time for Bible study. I know, I promised the absence of redundancy in this article. But this one bears repeating. This statement simply is not true. We all have the same amount of hours in a day. Within the average 16 hours that we are awake, there is ample time to devote to study of the Word. It’s all about priorities.
#2 In-depth Bible study is hard. It is not. It requires commitment and diligence. But it is not, by any means, “hard.” Hear this one more time. In-depth Bible study IS NOT HARD TO DO.
#3 – In-depth Bible study is only for pastors and teachers. We are all called to know the deep things of God and every believer is capable, invited, and expected to discover the depths of truth the Word contains. Peter tells us in his first letter that we are to “long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2) All true believers have the Holy Spirit. We can all know the deep things of God. (1 Corinithians 2:10) We are all expected to grow up in all aspects (Ephesians 4:14-15).
#4 – I need a good commentary or sermon to really understand what the Word means. All you need is the Word. That’s it. The Bible itself is its own best commentary. The Bible itself will interpret itself. There is ONE meaning in Scripture with many personal applications. The Bible says what it means and it means what it says. When the text of the Word is approached in its context (I’ll detail the importance of context when I get to the “how to” section), it is completely understandable through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
— Do not misunderstand. I am not saying that pastors, teachers, and commentaries aren’t valuable. They are. Pastors, specifically, are incomparably critical to spiritual growth. I am simply saying that the average believer is able and responsible to understand Scripture for herself. Any respected teacher of the Word, including your pastor and trusted commentary authors, will urge you to know the Word for yourself and not simply take what they say at face value. No matter how educated or godly they are, humans are human and will not be right 100% of the time. You need to know the Word so you’ll know if you’re being fed the whole truth or not.
#5 – My daily “quiet time” is enough. Morning quiet time is great. Essential to setting the tone for the day. It jump-starts your spiritual motor and gets you focused on the Lord. But it’s not enough to sustain us through the very real, very crippling trials and temptations we will face on a daily basis. It’s not enough to write the truths and character of God on your heart so that you face your walk with endurance. To really understand the beauty of our relationship with the Lord, we must know Him well. We get to know Him well through the pages of His Word. We must develop a lifelong pursuit of the treasures of Scripture so that we can draw nearer to the God of the Word.
I used the analogy of daily “quiet time” being a jump-start of our spiritual motor. Let’s take that idea and think of a car that needs jump-starting. When I was growing up, we had this mini-van that had a bad alternator. We would be in parking lots everywhere and need to “get a jump.” The battery is what actually gets the shock when you jump-start a car. But the alternator is the thing that keeps the battery charged while it’s running. The alternator is the part that keeps the electrical current going to the battery so that the next time you turn off your car and start it again, the battery has the power to start the car. If the alternator is bad, your battery will eventually die, too.
Bible study is our spiritual alternator and quiet time is the battery. If we aren’t studying to keep that spiritual current going, eventually, the “battery” of quiet time will die off just like the alternator did. Bible study is the electrical current of our spiritual lives. We must feed it with the power of the Word so that our battery of quiet time doesn’t have all the energy sucked out of it. A car can’t run forever off the battery without a good alternator. Neither can a spiritual life run the race on quiet time alone without the current of deeper Bible study to supply the source of power.
There are 3 main elements of Bible study. They are Observation, Interpretation, and Application. In my next article, I will overview the steps and the method I use to study. In the meantime, take these misconceptions before the Lord and ask Him to reveal any areas that need correction in your heart and mind. Ask Him to change how you approach His Word so that you can get the most possible from your time spent with Him. He can and will change your heart, your mind, and your schedule so that you make His feet your dwelling place.