The Path of ObedienceLuke 6:46-49Theme: Profession and practice.This week’s lessons teach us how to both study and live God’s Word.
LessonWe are focusing on how to do systematic study of the Bible, and another aspect is the study of key words. Begin by looking at other passages in the same book in which the word occurs. You can find these by your own reading or by using a concordance in which verses containing a given word are listed. Simple concordances are in the back of many Bibles.
We also need to study the Bible comprehensively (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Alongside studying one book or section of the Bible, we should attempt to become acquainted with the Bible as a whole. This means reading it comprehensively. True, many parts of the Bible will not appeal to us at first. This is natural. But if we never make an attempt to become acquainted with them, we limit our growth and may even warp our understanding. Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Jesus will speak to you and tell you what to do, not only in the red-ink portions of those Bibles that indicate his own words in that fashion, but in many portions of Scripture.
We also must study the Bible devotionally (Ps. 119:11). There is a danger, when we speak of daily, systematic, and comprehensive study of the Bible, of encouraging a person to think that such study is therefore mechanical and can be pursued in much the same manner as one would study a secular text in a university. That is not the case. In other books we study to become educated. In reading the Bible, we study to know God, hear his voice, and be changed by him as we grow in holiness.
And there is this too: If we really want the Bible to become a part of us so that, by this means, the mind of Christ, which is expressed in the Bible, becomes our mind–at least in part, then we must memorize important sections of Scripture. Our educational system does little to stress memorization today. But those who were educated a generation ago will testify that what they memorized then, whether simple verse or more complex passages from Shakespeare or another distinguished writer, have remained with them and have thereby become a part of what they are. That is what we need as Christians. We need to allow the Word of God to become a part of us. To have that happen we must work to memorize it.
I have a friend who has an extremely busy schedule and who is under great pressures in his job. Nevertheless, he faithfully spends twenty minutes in a day in uninterrupted Bible study and in addition to that spends whatever time is necessary to memorize one verse each day. He has memorized a verse each day for five years, and he testifies that this is the single most important factor in his discipleship and spiritual growth.
We must also study the Bible prayerfully (Dan. 9:1-3). It is impossible to study the Bible devotionally without praying, since we are coming to God in Scripture and must communicate with him verbally if we do. But although prayer is a part of a devotional study of Scripture, prayer is worth stressing for its own sake, if only because we so often neglect it. The best way to study the Bible is to encompass the study in prayer. Before we begin, we should pray. We should say, “Lord God, I am turning to your Word. I cannot understand it as I should. I need your Holy Spirit to instruct me and draw a proper response from me. What I understand I want to obey. Help me to do that for Jesus’ sake.” We must then study the passage for the day, and as we find something that pertains to us, we must stop again and acknowledge that prayerfully.
Without regular, personal Bible study and prayer, we are not really walking with Christ as his followers, and we are certainly not obeying him in specifics.
What does 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teach us about Bible study?
How does Bible study differ from how we study other books?
Further StudyRead Daniel 9:1-19. After a careful reading of Daniel’s prayer in verses 4-19, write down the spiritual insights Daniel acquired as a result of Bible study.
Key PointIn reading the Bible, we study to know God, hear his voice, and be changed by him as we grow in holiness.