The Bible is God’s divine revelation to man. This is how God has spoken to us (2 Pet 1:19-21) and this is how we can hear his voice. It is verbally inspired in every word and absolutely inerrant in the original documents. The Scriptures contain the very mind and thoughts of God (Isa 55:8-9), as well as the will of God for your life (2 Pet 1:3).
The word of God itself testifies to its own importance. We are reminded of that in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
As a result, you can be confident that the word of God is the sufficient source of wisdom and practical instruction. It will guide and train you in your Christian life and provide you with truth leading to sanctification (John 17:17).
The Bible is not like any other book. It is unique in that it contains the divine wisdom of God and it requires the Spirit of God to comprehend it (1 Cor 2:1-16). Therefore, you must approach Scripture with the proper dependence and a right heart. You must have your focus on God and depend upon the Holy Spirit to teach you and to give you understanding.
Here are three things to remember as you prepare your heart daily to study God’s word:
- The necessity of prayer
Since you need the Holy Spirit to give you understanding, it is necessary to pray. The psalmist prays in Psalm 119: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (v.18),” and “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it (vv.33-35).” You need to realize your dependence and desperate need of divine guidance as you study God’s word.
- The requirement of purity
You cannot ever hope to understand the word of God unless you deal with and repent from the sin in your life beforehand. James 1:21 says, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness (first) and (then) receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Am I continuing to confess my sins (1 John 1:9)? Am I coming to the pure word in an unclean manner? “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16). God is holy and you must approach him with reverence, a holy longing, and pure motives.
- The mindfulness of perspective
Why am I doing this? What is the motivation? Studying is not an end in itself. There is a purpose for the study. You are not a spiritual cul de sac. Yes, studying is to learn more about God to be able to worship him more, but studying is also intended for the practical application of the things that you learn (Jas 1:22). In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 we are called to be servants and faithful stewards of the mysteries of God. In other words, we have a responsibility to pass along the truth of God’s word (2 Tim 2:2). Who can I encourage and benefit with what I have learned? Who am I going to share with today? You study to receive and to give. That is the perspective you are to have.
All of this takes place before you even open up your Bible to 1) observe what the text says, 2) to interpret what the text means, and 3) to apply what the text means. During the next three weeks, we will be looking at each one of these components in order to help us study God’s word.