Every scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. – 2 Timothy 3:16, GWT
The Bible is the “Library of Divine Revelation”. Why should anyone study the Bible when they have not recognized its authority, authenticity and purpose? The verse above is emphatic: every scripture passage is inspired by God. Secondly, all of them are useful. Every story, every city, every number, nothing was just written. They were all inspired by God and they are useful. You must have these as settled, indisputable facts in your mind before you embark on a study of its sacred truths. The verse above rightly says Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. John put it another way when he said the things that have been written have one overarching purpose: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” There is no other purpose for studying the Bible.
The Right Person
That the Bible is a book means that any literate person can pick up a copy and study. Many have done so but have not believed in Christ so their study has been a pointless mental exercise. In order to study the Bible properly, one has to meet two basic requirements: they must first be the right person and secondly, must have the right methods. Watchman Nee said “The study of the Bible is not merely a matter of right methods but a matter of right persons. A person must be right before he can adopt the right method to study the Bible. Methods are important because without good methods, one cannot study the Bible well. But the person must be properly calibrated before he can study the Bible well.”
The correct person must be a spiritual man. God himself is a Spirit therefore those who come to him must do so in spirit. Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). Only a spiritual man can comprehend the Scriptures. First, the Bible is written for the comprehension of those who possess the Spirit, because spiritual truths are interpreted to spiritual men (1 Corinthians 2:13). If you attempt to go by another route, the experiment will fail. Paul said, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). There are at the minimum two problems for the person without the Spirit when they approach the Word of God. Firstly, the things of the Spirit are foolishness to them; secondly, they are deficient in the capacity required to grasp what the Spirit says. They “cannot understand them.” No matter how intelligent, educated, logical, meticulous and analytical a man is, he cannot understand the Bible if he does not have the Spirit of God.
The Right Methods
When the person is right, they also need to employ the right methods of study to reap meaningful rewards from the Bible. Let me add that while this article is focused on studying the Bible, there is also room for just reading it. Read and get familiar with it as a whole. It is the work of the Spirit to use the word to do his work. In the revival that came during the reign of King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23), the book of the law was found and read and an awakening followed. So while you wait for your bus or your flight to take off, or to be ushered into an office to see the boss, you can pull out your phone and just read the Bible. That is one way to “Let the word of God dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16).
- Keys to study
- Search. Jesus told the Pharisees to “search the scriptures” (John 5:39). To search is to look into carefully or thoroughly in an effort to find or discover something. Ask questions like who, to whom, why, what and when.
- Memorize. When the Psalmist said “I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you” (Psalms 119:11), it includes taking Scripture to memory. All the “It is written” that Jesus used to wage war against the Devil’s temptations came from memory.
- Compare. Scripture explains Scripture. “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:21). It is in his light that we see light. You can compare the Spirit and the flesh; Isaac and Ishmael; the virgin and the virgins; the Gospel of Matthew with that of Mark, etc.
- Meditate. To meditate is to focus one’s thoughts on, reflect on or ponder. Don’t read a Scripture to just fulfil all righteousness. Keep it in your thoughts and ponder over it. Why an offence grows in your mind is because you spend time turning it over in your mind. Do that with Scripture and see what you will reap. Joshua was told to meditate on the Book of the law, day and night. Try it too.
- The Practice of Study
- Allocate Time. Why does a school that offers different courses, taken by different students and taught by different teachers have everything together? They have a time table that spells out what should happen and when. Do same with the Bible. While you can do study at any time in the day, mornings have been found to be the best.
- Get Tools. Get a good Bible. By that I mean one with cross references and a concordance. Some even come with commentaries. Get an English as well as a Bible dictionary, Bible Commentary and Concordance, pen and notebook. Luckily for us in this age, these materials are available for free on various app stores that you can download to your phones and tablets.
- Get plans. These are available from different authors.
Under this, you can decide on your own as the Spirit creates the interest in your heart to study:
- Main Characters: Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul etc.
- Types: Christ, Church, Redemption, Holy Spirit. The Old Testament is a photograph while the New Testament is the person. When you understand that, you see the link between what is in the Old and New Testaments.
- Prophecies: An example is to study the prophecies about the first coming of Christ and those of his second coming and see what can be expected of the second coming based on how the prophecies of his first coming were fulfilled. There are prophecies that concern only the Jews, some the Gentiles and others the Church. These can all be studied.
- Dispensations: God deals with man according to dispensations. His dealings in one dispensation usually differ from another. Dispensations include that of the patriarchs, the law, grace, and the kingdom.
- Topics and words: There are so many topics and words in Scripture. You can choose as many and study them. Topics like creation, man, sin, repentance, eternal life, sanctification, justification, election, predestination, eternity, judgment, Holy Spirit, Christ, etc.
- Numbers: What does the number one or three or seven or twelve stand for in Scripture? What does the number 666 mean?
- Parables: Jesus spoke quite a few of them. Some of his most powerful words came in form of parables. The parables of the sower, the mustard seed and the ten virgins are personally striking. What lessons did he intend to pass across?
- Women: There are several women in both the old and new testaments whose lives have valuable lessons. From Eve through Sarah, Lot’s wife, Potiphar’s wife, Hannah, Ruth, Jezebel, Deborah, the various Marys, Herodias, Priscilla etc.
- Doctrines: Doctrines of God the father, the Son, the Holy Spirit (Trinity), sin, redemption, justification, eternity, etc. They will enrich your faith when studied.
- Miracles. How miracles abound in Scripture. You can search them out and study them. You will know how God works and strengthen your faith.
Beloved, this topic can be a whole book. This is written to stimulate you to wholesome thinking; to cause you to appreciate the richness of God that the Bible places in your hands and to put in your heart a greater desire to plumb its depths. As you do so, the experience of your faith and walk with God will be enriched.