Getting to Know the Bible

"If I were the devil," J.I. Packer writes, "one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible."

This sentence from the forward of R.C. Sproul's Knowing Scripture begins the book I have been poring over these last few days.

"Why should we study the Bible?" asks Sproul. After debunking myths and discussing practical value, ethical importance, personal edification, educational insights, and proven benefits, he writes,
"but ultimately the main reason why we should study the Bible is because it is our duty. If the Bible were the most boring book in the world, dull, uninteresting, and seemingly irrelevant, it would still be our duty to study it. If its literary style were awkward and confusing, the duty would remain. We live as human beings under an obligation by divine mandate to study diligently God's Word."
Not the most enticing answer to hedonistic humans, is it? But lately, I have been given such a desire for the Word of God. To know it. To know how to share it. To know how to edify others with it. To know how to teach it. I don't need to "make it come alive;" it already is alive. I just need to know how to point others to it. To know it so well that I know where to go when trouble strikes, when a friend is hurting, or when one of my children has a question.

We are so blessed that it is not required that we be a celibate Priest, or a silent Himalayan-dwelling guru in order to study
and understand these Words of God. We can just be an everyday American mom, sitting in a chair each morning, and God Himself will speak to us through this living and active word.

The problem comes in our flakiness, our laziness, and our acceptance of a mediocre (at best) understanding of God's written Word.
"We fail in our duty to study God's Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work."

As I've alluded to before, we have become too reliant on outside "study" sources; we want it to be already chewed up for us. We approach the Word of God with a consumeristic mindset, asking, "what can I get out of this? How can I get the most out of this with the least personal cost (time, effort, work)?" Though pre-packaged Bible studies can be a fine way to learn new things and encourage one-another-ing, they are not ideal for truly getting to
know Scripture. Flipping back and forth through the Bible at a quick pace, finding a verse from Romans, then a verse from Proverbs, then a verse from Colossians about a particular topic is a good way to be introduced to the overarching themes of the Bible.

But in order to get to
know the Word, we must study. "There is a great deal of difference between reading and studying. Reading is something we can do in a leisurely way, something that can be done strictly for entertainment in a casual, cavalier manner. But study suggests labor, serious and diligent work."

If I were a once-a-year Elvis impersonator, I might do a quick Google search to find a few websites or books about Elvis. I might read a little here, and a little there, and try my best to put together an outfit and "look" that was most Elvis-like. But if I was going to try to live as an Elvis impersonator, I would need to do more than glance here and there at things other people had written about him. If there was a book he himself had written, that would be my primary source for understanding how to live.

As Christians, a word meaning "little Christs," we are to live each day, letting Christ live through us. We are literally Christ-impersonators. "The Christian who is not diligently involved in a serious study of Scripture is simply inadequate as a disciple of Christ." It is not enough to read a little bit of what Bible study authors have written, and a little bit from a few blogs or challenging books. We must go to the source: we have a book breathed-out by God Himself, and we must study it diligently in order to live out the hope of glory: Christ in us.

Don't take my word for it; go see for yourself! Go to the source!

3 comments:

LisaM said...

Some great analogies. The Elvis impersonator is really good, and I like that line: "we want it to be already chewed up for us". Very well thought out. :)

Tracy said...

Very thought provoking. Thank you for your wellt hought out posts each day. I love the pictures of your children with the scripture, too. i may have to borrow that idea from you, if you don't mind.

Di said...

Thank you for sharing the fruits of your labours - it is encouraging and inspiring me to crack on with reading the Bible in a meaningful way.

Thank you!