July 06, 2010

How Do I Study The Bible Part 2

Studying the Bible. What does that mean? Some people sit around in a small group and read a portion of Scripture and then ask each other what they think of that portion of Scripture. Does that Sound like Bible Study? Or how about this? A group of people get together and read a Bible story out of a book about Bible Stories, and then proceed to discuss the spiritual insights given by the author of that book. Without ever actually opening the Bible, they complete their "Bible" "study". Notice that both words are in quotes because both words, in this instance, are ill-represented.

God's Word is a very precious and Holy gift. Think about that. If we truly want to understand Gods will for our lives; if we want to be drawn closer into fellowship with Christ Himself; if we truly want to experience the regenerated life of the sanctification journey, then we need to approach the living, active Word of God with a little more respect than we would a book club. This is meant to encourage growth, not demean and shame you. If you are reading this, then I'm assuming this is your desire in the first place, but for the sake of understanding where we begin, articulation of vague presuppositions is important. It's good to know why we do what we do.

Well, yesterday, I wrote about the worldview you approach Scripture with regarding Scripture. In other words, what do believe is the point of Scripture. This "lens" will filter everything you read in Scripture, so it really is of paramount importance. Now I can't claim to be an expert on Divinely inspired text (because I haven't had secret council with God), so I can only offer my best seminary-educated opinion. Some will disagree with me, but the point is, you need to know what you believe so that you can somehow guard against "study" that really flies in the face of true Biblical guidance.

Look at yesterdays post to see what I think God's main agenda is in giving us the Bible. That is where I start from.

Today, I give you what I believe to be the second most important Study tool for the lay disciple with simply their Bible, and maybe some friends. One of the most important questions you can ask and answer with simply your Bible in hand is, "who is the text written to?" Sounds simple doesn't it? You won't believe the problems this has caused in history by people who simply don't pay attention to the whole story.

Remember, most of the Old Testament was written specifically for the Jewish Nation (Israel) to have as a guiding and empowering moral, historical and litigious reference. Most of the New Testament is written specifically to the Church. Even the books named Timothy and Titus were most likely written to the entire local church in order to establish authority for the person it was titled to. It makes a big difference at times to realize that a particular command in scripture was given to a group of people rather than a single person, or that a particular command or rebuke is written to Christians and not unbelievers. Be aware of this.

Secondly, but along the same lines, it is important to understand, when reading a story, who is being addressed. Is the passage of Scripture you are reading a story that Jesus is telling in response to the Pharisees or is it to the inner 12 disciples. The point of the story would be very different depending on who the audience in the story is.

So ask the questions, "Who is this written to?", and "Who is the audience in the story that would be listening to this and receiving the point of the story or communication?" Check it out. Open your Bible tonight and start reading. Then ask yourself these questions and find the answer. It may make a significant difference in your "Bible Study".

Tomorrow, we'll talk about "themes", and why this is second instead of first. Hope this is helpful or at least a launch pad. Let me know if you have thoughts you would like to share.

With You for His glory