The first step in committing to regular Bible study is to understand it’s purpose. We discovered in Part 1 that this is approval before God (2 Tim 2:15). The question that logically follows this commitment is, ‘how do I study my Bible?’ This could be further defined by two follow up questions; ‘what should my attitude be?’ and ‘what methods are available to me?’ Let’s consider the first of these now.
This is a matter for the heart. When opening any book we might legitimately ask, ‘what do I want to get out of this?’ But we have already established that Bible study is about what God wants us to get out of His book – His approval! So how might we regulate our hearts so that we are able to achieve that purpose?
Firstly, we should do so prayerfully. Step one is to ask God to reveal Himself in His word to us, and to confess that we can’t do it on our own. This is what He intends, so this prayer is according to His will (1 Jn5:14).
Secondly, we should do so humbly. We are engaging with something that is eternal. It belongs to another realm, yet God has deigned to intersect the time-space continuum not only in flesh and blood, but also in paper and ink! We should not suppose to know what God intends, but allow Him to speak to us. Nor should we try to fit God within our conception of sound logic. God is outside of us and cannot be limited to human intellect. We should be conscious of the fact that although we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, our minds are fallen and corrupted, and liable to conclude something that sounds right by our standard of righteousness. To fail in this regard is to commit a fatal error: we assume that we have all the knowledge available to us that God has available to Him, and that we have infinite powers of comprehension. This is patently untrue.
Next we should do so carefully. Many errant doctrines originate from a lack of attention to detail in the text. We should compare scripture with scripture (precept upon precept) and where a verse appears to say something that is contrary to that subject in the rest of the Bible, accept that it must mean something else, and wait for God to reveal it to us. He might do this once we understand the context of the passage, or He might do so once we understand something of the truth practically. Or not until we are glorified!
Finally we should do so enthusiastically. Often we show enthusiasm and dedication for the most banal of subjects and pursuits. How much more should we have an appetite for God’s word?
These four principles for the heart will help us enter the right frame of mind to achieve God’s purpose in studying His word; His approval, and our greater devotion to Him.
by Mervyn Hall