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HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THE BIBLE

Copyright © Rosemary Bardsley 2004

STUDY SIX: BE GUIDED BY SOUND PRINCIPLES WHEN READING AND STUDYING THE BIBLE

We have already seen in studies One to Five that the Bible claims for itself:

From these attributes of the Bible we can establish a number of principles to guide us as we read and study the Bible:

A. TRUST WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

If the Bible is what we have seen it to be, then several attitudes to the Bible are outlawed:

If the Bible is the final, complete, inspired, authoritative Word of God, then the onus on us is to believe it and obey it – unchanged, without addition or subtraction – whether we fully understand it or not.

Task 1: Applying the principle of trust to this verse, write its meaning below: Ephesians 5:4

 

 

B. LISTEN TO THE MEANING OF THE TEXT

When we read the Bible we should listen to what it is saying, asking ourselves:

Only after having identified these three, should we then ask the personal question:

Task 2: Apply the three questions listed above to this passage, then write your answer to the fourth below: Exodus 12:17-27

 

 

C. RESPECT THE TYPE OF LITERATURE YOU ARE READING

The Bible tells us that its writers were borne along by the Holy Spirit to write the word of God. This means that when they wrote in prose that was the kind of literature God intended them to use; when they wrote in poetry, that was the kind of literature God intended them to use, and so on. To ignore the kind of literature they used is to overlook and despise God’s hand in the choice of writing genre, and to stand in danger of misunderstanding his message.

In the Bible we have the following literary genres:

As we read each book of the Bible we should acknowledge the kind of literature in which God moved the author to write it, and read and understand it accordingly. In this way we will not only get the meaning God put in it, but also avoid imposing on it a meaning far from his purpose.

Task 3: Apply the above information about different types of literature to your understanding of and attitude to the message of God in the two texts below:

Poetry: Psalm 32:1,2 -

Wisdom: Job 8:4 -

D. REMEMBER THAT THE BIBLE IS CHRIST-CENTRED

The Bible is not about ‘me and my life’: it is about Jesus Christ and what he did. It relates to me only secondarily, in such ways as:

Thus my goal in reading and studying the Bible should never be with myself and my affairs dominant in my mind, but with Christ in my mind, with my primary goal being to understand more and more about who he is and what he has done, and only secondarily to find out what he requires of me as the appropriate response to his person and his work.

E. LET THE BIBLE INTERPRET ITSELF [the self-sufficiency of the Scripture]

This principle recognizes a number of facts:

F. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR PERSONAL SIN AND IGNORANCE

When we read the Bible we must remember that:

G. TRUST GOD TO TEACH YOU FROM HIS WORD

Task 4: Discuss the relevance of these verses to reading and studying the Bible:

Psalm 119:18

Matthew 11:25-27

Matthew 13:13-17, 34-45

John 14:26

John 20:20,31

Romans 1:16-17

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

H. AVOID SUBJECTIVE AND MYSTICAL USE OF THE SCRIPTURE

Here are a few misuses/abuses of Scripture to avoid:

All of these, and more, treat the Bible with contempt, taking no regard for its own self-affirmed absolute, objective purpose and focus; they have more in common with superstition and post-modern relativism than with Biblical faith and obedience.

I. ADOPT A SYSTEMATIC READING PROGRAM AND STUDY METHOD

Some suggestions:  

 

Read the book right through, at one sitting if possible.

Read again, looking out for recurrent or dominant themes. Jot these down.

In an exercise book – write these dominant themes at the top of the page – allowing an appropriate number of pages for each theme.

Now go slowly through the book, looking at each verse or section, and noting what it says about each of these themes under the headings in your notebook.

Read the book right through at one sitting if possible.

Read the book section by section.

As you read each section, ask: What are these verses teaching me about who God (Father, Son or Spirit) is and what he is like? What are these verses teaching me about what God [Father, Son, or Spirit] has done or does? What do these verses teach me about salvation? Is there a promise that I must trust? Is there a command that I must obey?

Write all of your answers in a notebook.

Review each session [Scripture and your study notes] of study before you start the next.