I came across this blog by Mark Driscoll, pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., and had to repost it because all too often we make it all about the reading/gleaning knowledge aspect alone, and don’t take into consideration other key elements. Also, he talks about how bible study encourages and commands us to be the church. As Alistair Begg is fond of saying, “The plain things are the main things and the main things are the plain things.”
An important point that we often miss as believers (in whatever stage of life transformation by the gospel) and that becomes discouraging is we tend to think because we’re limited in knowledge, etc. we can’t be affective or show Christ to others. There are things that you believe in Scripture that are true, but you just don’t fully understand why you believe them, nor can you adequately defend them. Your “ignorance” does not make your beliefs wrong, does it? You may need to grow deeply in your knowledge, but your beliefs are true and remain unchanged. Your conviction of their truth deepens, but the truth is the truth. You tracking with me?
Ok, here’s Driscoll:
When tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread after a 40-day fast in the wilderness, Jesus responded by saying simply and profoundly, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Paul, when writing to his protégé, Timothy, writes that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
David writes, “I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes” (Psalm 119:48).
The implications are clear: life and growth come from the study of God’s words through Scripture. We are not to read and study the Bible begrudgingly but rather view it as the source of life and, like David, love God’s word.
But the reality is that we all struggle at times to study faithfully or joyfully. So, it’s nice to have a few principles to help us refocus our love and study of Scripture. Below are seven principles that I’ve found beneficial.
1. Actively serve and participate in a local church to learn with and from other Christians.
Colossians 3:16 (NIV): “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
2. Be under the authority of Scripture to be interpreted by it, not over the Scripture to be interpreted by you.
Hebrews 4:12–13 (NIV): “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
3. Pick up the Bible for life transformation, not just mental information.
John 5:39–40 (NIV): “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
4. Pick up the Bible for relational purposes—not functional ones—so that you will love God and not just know or use him.
Matthew 7:21–23 (NIV): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’“
5. Don’t just get into the Word; get the Word into you.
Memorization, Psalm 119:11: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Meditation, Ezra 7:10: “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”
6. Take advantage of godly Bible commentators, your pastor, respected theologians in church history, and wise Christian friends to better understand Scripture.
Romans 12:7 (NIV): “If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach . . .”
7. Don’t think you need more knowledge. Often you need more obedience to the knowledge you already have.
James 1:22 (NIV): “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”