The Bible is a library of books (scrolls) from ancient times up to the beginning of the formation of the Early Christian Church. It is foundational to our Christian faith and heritage.
How should we study it? She we try to read the entire library in one year? Perhaps, it would give us an overview of God’s dealing with humankind. But that is certainly not the best way to understand its messages. Every one of the books is dense with meaning. They are so dense that a lifetime of study of any one of the books would not exhaust all of its meanings.
Surely we need to read the Bible. We need to meditate on its words. We must prayerfully read it, asking the Holy Spirit to help us interpret what we read. Our faith depends on the Word of God:
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)
To live as a disciple of Christ we need the Word:
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the person of God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
One of the biggest turnoffs to embracing the Bible is the word “study.” The study does not always invoke enthusiasm in many people. The study is hard work and time-consuming. People live in a busy world with numerous responsibilities. Not everyone needs to study the Bible. Indeed preachers of the Gospel do. The Apostle Paul wrote Timothy:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)
In the Early Church, the apostles had trouble keeping up with the daily administration of the ministry. They delegated qualified people to perform the necessary tasks:
And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, brothers and sisters, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” (Acts 6:2-4)
Bible study is all-important for leadership and should never be neglected. What about Christian disciples in general. Many churches will have weekly Bible study, but only a small group usually shows up. Why? These studies run too long. They are taught in large spaces rather than in smaller venues. They involve study sheets with questions for the listeners to fill in the answers. They are often dull. They do not encourage personal Bible reading.
Rather than Bible study, let us think about Bible fellowship. People get together in small groups. There may be designated leaders but they encourage personal sharing. Not just facts about the Bible, but how the Bible has given us valuable insights. Let the Holy Spirit have a chance to lead the direction in which the discussion is going.
There are excellent daily devotions that include scripture. The best one takes from the Psalms, the Old Testament, the Epistles, and the Gospel. These devotions are not time-consuming. They are life-giving.