“The Bible contains light to direct us, armour to protect us, food to sustain us, and comfort to cheer us!
It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s stay, the pilot’s compass, the builder’s plan, the soldier’s sword, the shepherd’s staff, the sailor’s anchor, and the Christian’s charter.
It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet.
…Christ is its grand Subject, our good its design, redemption its plan, and the glory of God its end. It is given to us here in this life, it will be opened in the judgment, and is established for ever… It is a mine of wealth, a storehouse of food, a paradise of glory, a rose of rare fragrance, a river of joy, a life-giving fountain. The Bible reveals the mind of God, the state of man, the way of Salvation, the doom of the ungodly, and the happiness of believers. Its teaching is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, its prophecies are certain and its decisions immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practise it to be holy.”
So went the words on the inside cover of a small New Testament I received from representatives of Gideon’s International who visited my school when I was in the Fifth grade. I don’t know who first penned these insightfully beautiful words, but they greatly moved me then and continue to inspire me now (I wore that little Gideon’s New Testament out years ago and had forgotten a great deal of this little introductory poem; I wish to acknowledge the website for the St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Clapham, U.K. where I was able to locate them for use in this post :) )
Few Christians would deny the importance of effectively studying the Bible for themselves, but how exactly do we go about it? So many well-intentioned believers set out every day to undertake a Bible reading/study plan (especially at the beginning of the year when a lot of Christians resolve to read through the Word of God in its entirety, often with the help of a “One-Year Bible reading plan”) only to become frustrated and discouraged after a few weeks. How is it that so many gifted preachers and Bible teachers can seem to make the Bible “come alive”, extracting such depth of meaning and richness of spiritual truth from the very same text that leaves others confused, full of questions, and maybe even bored?
Fortunately, there are some very wonderful tools and resources that every Christian can employ in their own independent or small group Bible studies that will make their time spent in God’s Word much more rewarding. While I do not really believe that there is a specific, rigid formula for effective Bible study, I do think that there are some basic guidelines that can be used in our approach to understanding the Bible, guidelines that can help each of us experience the joy of God’s Word as it comes alive for us personally.
Over the next several days, I would like to take a pause in our studies of the books of Romans and Exodus on this website to look at the topic of Bible Study itself. I have wanted to write a series on this subject for quite a while, and a comment I recently received on a previous post reminded me of this. I hope that you will find these steps to effective Bible study useful in your own study of the Word or, if you have previously found personal study to be a difficult and daunting undertaking, that these steps might serve as a starting place for beginning your own new journey deeper into the Word of God.
Next time, Lord willing, we will look at the first step: Prayer.
Until then, may the Lord, to Whom goes all glory, richly bless you. In service to Him,