Approaching the Scriptures for the first time with the intent to learn Spiritual truths from them can be a daunting task. Even or especially if we know the Bible is the word of God.
In fact, churches themselves and online sermons can often be a distraction from studying Scripture because someone else has already come to an interpreted conclusion; they've done the "hard" part. Now, instead of teaching you how to study the Bible and letting the Holy Spirit do his job, we skip right to making applications in life. Unfortunately (but actually fortunately), living out those applications is not what Jesus meant when He said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10b)
What is the Holy Spirit's job? Simple, but not easy, since we resist so much...
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13)
Let yourself be filled with the humility and curiosity of a child gently and sincerely asking one of his parents, "Where do I come from?" Other questions to contemplate while reading Scripture may include:
- "The whole Bible is so big! Where do I start?"
- "It's so confusing. What should I learn first?"
- "Is accuracy important? What translation should I use?"
- "Who can I trust to help me understand what I read?"
Should I listen to sermons, read other books about the Bible, such as commentaries, or follow guidelines to living out Christian applications, such as The Purpose-Driven Life?"
Wow! That's a lot to consider. First, don't worry. God knows where you are in life. He knows your heart, your humility, your eagerness to know Him and diligently seek Him. Coming to Him does not provoke anxiety. Rather, it results in peace, joy, and rest for your souls.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Second, don't stress about the end so much as just enjoying the journey. Think of it this way: God wants to work in you. You're job is simply to show up.
At the same time don't just randomly show up and pick a verse to memorize. Have a purpose and a plan for taking that wonderful journey. The more diligent your seeking, the more rewarding the experience will be.
To make some simple suggestions about getting started, I will assume your initial goals, or questions, may include ones like these:
- What is the 'Big Picture' of the Bible?
- Who is Jesus Christ? How can I know Him?
- What is salvation all about?
- What does it mean to go from lost to saved?
- How can I understand the job of the Holy Spirit?
- What is Christian living really all about?
Well, here are some simple guidelines I'd like to offer for getting started, plus a few areas of focus to keep in mind.
- Open the Scriptures; God has already spoken.
- Follow your heart's desire to know Him through the Scriptures.
- Seek to see things from His perspective and understand His thoughts.
- Get to know Jesus Christ as a Person, especially since the Father is well-pleased with Him.
- Desire to eventually understand God's eternal plan, but don't jump to conclusions.
Follow your heart's desire. My heart wants to dabble and dive. It wants to skim and inspect. Sometimes I read a passage for quick refreshment. Other times I study for a scheduled length of time on a particular area of Scripture or an a specific topic.
Please leave a comment if you would like to engage in a conversation about these and other 'Scripture Q&A' or 'Why Scripture' posts. Thank you!