4 Essential Keys to Life-Changing Bible StudyFebruary 28, 2014
I am often asked the question, “How do you study the Bible?” As a preacher, I approach the Word of God differently at different times. For example, I read the Bible daily for my personal walk and development. Then there are times I approach the text intentionally to prepare a sermon for the congregation. Other times I read the Bible because my soul desperately needs an answer for a particular issue of life. Sometimes I open the Bible as a pastor, other times as a father, and more times than I would like to confess, as a sinner.
No matter how I approach the text, I find myself engaged in a few practices. Although there are many ways to engage one’s self in Bible study, these four elements are essential:
If we flippantly read through a passage while watching old reruns of I Love Lucy, we will have a hard time discerning the voice of God. Isolate yourself from distractions. Read each verse slowly and methodically. Engage your mind and ask God to connect your heart with the passage. Consider the meaning of particular words; pay attention to the grammatical structure, process each paragraph through your intellectual gears. To study your Bible, you must concentrate and meditate on what is being said. Bible study cannot be limited to intellectual consent, but it certainly involves it.
I am sure you have heard it said many times, but it is worth repeating: context is king. Begin asking yourself questions. Who is writing this? Who is the audience? What is the big picture? What is the time frame? The culture? The customs of the day? Place yourself in that particular surrounding and draw from the wells of its historical setting. Read the chapter before and the chapter after. Sometimes it takes reading three or four chapters to properly understand the significance of just one verse.
Once you have a general idea of the particular emphasis, begin lining your life up with its meaning. Consider your ways, your attitude, your calendar, your relationships. Bible study is not just about gaining information, it’s about embracing transformation. As you read the Bible, allow the Bible to read you.
Make the changes. Yes, easier said than done; but this is the overriding goal of our biblical studies. Bill Hull said, “There is no deeper meaning inside what the author meant, but there is a deeper understanding as it intersects our life experience.” Allow the Word of God to intersect your life, yield to its life-changing power throughout the corridors of your soul. When this happens, we have made much use of our time in its pages. A life conformed to the Word of God will always resemble the Author.