I am sometimes asked… “how can I get the most out of my Bible study time?” or “how can I understand the Scriptures fully?” I must admit…I am still in the learning process myself. It takes time and we all need help along the way. It did and still does for me. But I want to be able to help others along the way…So Here goes.
First of all, I believe that to gain a greater understanding of the Scriptures starts with God and the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). Only those that truly know and seek to know God…will truly ever experience the awesome beauty and power of His Word…the Scriptures.
Secondly, for those that are followers of Christ…this is still not just an easy task. We must remember that the Scriptures are what we call “special revelation” from God. Meaning this…the same God who spoke the universe into all its existence…specifically shared special revelation of Himself in Words that were penned by men that were divinely inspired to write what God desired them to write.
Knowing this helps us to understand the context by studying the how, when, and why God delivered these messages. It makes an immense difference on how we can fully apply these messages to our lives as followers of Jesus.
So…to gain understanding from the Scriptures in their context that brings the greatest applications and the relevance of God’s Word to our lives…I encourage people to ask & answer 4 major questions…
- What do the Scriptures say?
This is important so that we don’t lose the details of each intentionally inspired word. My personal opinion is that this is one of the reasons for seeking a close word-for-word translation. (BTW…No English translation is perfect.)It is also helpful to look at thorough (and reputable) commentaries and/or a good Bible Study software when difficult or confusing scenarios arise. (multiple ones if available).
- What were the results of this revelation in their specific time and place?
God specifically chose the time, place, people, language, and circumstance in which He revealed His Word for a reason… If we are going to understand the relevance of His Word today, we can’t skip out on what it meant then. That is because these are inseparable for how it still applies (and is still very much just as relevant) to us in our present circumstance.
Once again… thorough commentaries and Bible study softwares are quite helpful in this cases. It is also useful to have a a group of Bible believing, Bible seeking, & Bible studying friends to grow with in your understanding of the Scriptures. This is also one of the reasons why I believe a Bible-teaching church and growing through small groups is so essential to maturing as a disciple.
- What applications are carried forward from then to now?
This is where the living and active nature of God’s Word gets planted in us not for mere entertainment, enlightenment, or encouragement…but to transform our lives in every arena. This can be tough to grasp and we will need others to help us walk through this process.
Please see again the reasons for being connected to a Bible-believing & teaching church and why resources such as commentaries, Bible-study software, and small groups can be of such help.
- What am I willing to do about what God reveals?
This means responding to who God is, what God says, and what God does. Worship is the appropriate responding of man to God. We have not truly worshiped until we have responded to Him as He is. True worship that honors God and is the type of worship that He honestly seeks (John 4:23-24) is that which is of spirit and truth.
It must originate with God, respond to God, and be honest with all that God which also exposes the truth of who we are and the motives behind how we approach Him. Worship is very much both a collective and individual response.
It starts with the response of the individual soul to what God divinely reveals about Himself, but it was never meant to be done alone. It becomes even more beautiful and glorious when connected collectively with other individuals whom God has transformed through the revelation of Himself in and through His Word.I don’t want to be over simplistic. But these four questions have influenced me greatly as I seek to know God more, to grow more as a disciple, to serve more as Christ’s ambassador, and to worship God more with the life He has given me.
I pray that they will both encourage you and challenge you in your faith as you hopefully choose to know & #FollowJesus.
By His Grace. Through His Gospel. For His Glory.