The Bible is a peculiar book. Words crafted in another language. Deeds done in a distant era. Events recorded in a far- off land. Counsel offered to a foreign people. It is a peculiar book.
It’s surprising that anyone reads it. It’s too old. Some of its writings date back 5,000 years. It’s too bizarre. The book speaks of incredible floods, fires, earthquakes, and people with supernatural abilities. It’s too radical. The Bible calls for undying devotion to a carpenter who called himself God’s Son.
Logic says this book shouldn’t survive. Too old, too bizarre, too radical.
The Bible has been banned, burned, scoffed, and ridiculed. Scholars have mocked it as foolish. Kings have branded it as illegal. A thousand times over the grave has been dug and the dirge has begun, but somehow the Bible never stays in the grave. Not only has it survived, but it has also thrived. It is the single most popular book in all of history. It has been the bestselling book in the world for years!
There is no way on earth to explain it. Which perhaps is the only explanation. For the Bible’s durability is not found on earth but in heaven. The millions who have tested its claims and claimed its promises know there is but one answer: the Bible is God’s book and God’s voice.
As you read it, you would be wise to give some thought to two questions: What is the purpose of the Bible? and How do I study the Bible? Time spent reflecting on these two issues will greatly enhance your Bible study.
What is the purpose of the Bible?
Let the Bible itself answer that question: “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
The purpose of the Bible? Salvation. God’s highest passion is to get his children home. His book, the Bible, describes his plan of salvation. The purpose of the Bible is to proclaim God’s plan and passion to save his children.
This is the reason why this book has endured through the centuries. It dares to tackle the toughest questions about life: Where do I go after I die? Is there a God? What do I do with my fears? The Bible is the treasure map that leads to God’s highest treasure— eternal life.
But how do you study the Bible? Countless copies of Scripture sit unread on bookshelves and nightstands simply because people don’t know how to read it. What can you do to make the Bible real in your life?
The clearest answer is found in the words of Jesus: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
The first step in understanding the Bible is asking God to help you. You should read it prayerfully. If anyone understands God’s Word, it is because of God and not the reader.
“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”John 14:26
Before reading the Bible, pray and invite God to speak to you. Don’t go to Scripture looking for your idea but go searching for his. Not only should you read the Bible prayerfully, but you should also read it carefully. “Seek and you will find” is the pledge. The Bible is not a newspaper to be skimmed but rather a mine to be quarried. “
If you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”Proverbs 2:4–5
Any worthy find requires effort. The Bible is no exception. To understand the Bible, you don’t have to be brilliant, but you must be willing to roll up your sleeves and search.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth”.2 Timothy 2:15
Here’s a practical point. Study the Bible a bit at a time. Hunger is not satisfied by eating twenty- one meals in one sitting once a week. The body needs a steady diet to remain strong. So does the soul. When God sent food to his people in the wilderness, he didn’t provide loaves already made. Instead, he sent them manna in the shape of “thin flakes like frost on the ground” (Exodus 16:14).
God gave manna in limited portions.
God sends spiritual food the same way. He opens the heavens with just enough nutrients for today’s hunger. He provides “a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there” (Isaiah 28:10).
Don’t be discouraged if your reading reaps a small harvest. Some days a lesser portion is all that is needed. What is important is to search every day for that day’s message. A steady diet of God’s Word over a lifetime builds a healthy soul and mind.
It’s much like the little girl who returned from her first day at school feeling a bit dejected. Her mom asked, “Did you learn anything?” “Apparently not enough,” the girl responded. “I have to go back tomorrow, and the next day, and the next . . .”
Such is the case with learning. And such is the case with Bible study. Understanding comes little by little over a lifetime. There is a third step in understanding the Bible. After the asking and seeking comes the knocking. After you ask and search, “knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
To knock is to stand at God’s door. To make yourself available. To climb the steps, cross the porch, stand at the doorway, and volunteer. Knocking goes beyond the realm of thinking and into the realm of acting.
To knock is to ask, What can I do? How can I obey? Where can I go? It’s one thing to know what to do. It’s another to do it. But for those who do it— those who choose to obey— a special reward awaits them.
“Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it— not forgetting what they have heard but doing it— they will be blessed in what they do.”James 1:25
What a promise. Blessings come to those who do what they read in God’s Word! It’s the same with medicine. If you only read the label but ignore the pills, it won’t help. It’s the same with food. If you only read the recipe but never cook, you won’t be fed. And it’s the same with the Bible. If you only read the words but never obey, you’ll never know the joy God has promised.
Ask. Search. Knock. Simple, isn’t it? So why don’t you give it a try? If you do, you’ll see why the Bible is the most remarkable book in history.
Max has many different Bible studies and one that would be a great next study is his 40 Days through the Book of Romans study. Throughout the study, you’ll explore the book of Romans with Max to gain a deeper understanding of its context and content, focusing on central truths of the book. The six-session video study includes a reading plan for you to read the whole book of Romans in 40 days and has personal devotions for each day.