This last week we began our new Tuesday evening class on how to effectively study the Bible. Thus, we have given the class its new name “Effective Bible Study.” The rationale behind this class is for us to learn and practice some disciplines that will make our personal time in the scripture more useful, meaningful, and effective. Praying for and about this new class has brought to my mind, again, just how important it is for each of us to approach scripture in very much the same way we would approach God in prayer, in humility, with reverence, and with expectancy. In this class, we will also be learning different linguistic and literary tools, approaches, and strategies all of which will help us to know with greater confidence what was said, what was meant, and so, how it can be applied to our lives today.
The more I study, pray, and help others, the more it has been impressed upon me that effective Bible study begins with our individual choice to “prepare our hearts” for the study of God’s word. Just as Ezra the scribe (Neh 12:36) and priest (Ezra 7:21) of God had prepared his heart (Ezra 7:10 KJV), so we too must humble our minds and hearts before God as we study. The Bible says: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Pet 5:5). Therefore, if we want God to grace or bless us instead of opposing us in our study of His word, then we must be willing to humble our minds and hearts before Him. The Bible also says: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb 11:6). Therefore, if we want to study the Bible in a way that pleases God, it will have to be done with the assurance and conviction, being sure and certain (Heb 11:1), that God will be rewarding us (Heb 11:6). God will reward those who humbly approach His word with reverence and are expecting God to bless them in ways that glorify Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through out all generations, forever and ever! Amen (Eph 3:21).
We should know that faith is a direct result of hearing the message of God’s own word for us in Christ (Rom 10:17), but we must also remember that everything we do that comes from ourselves instead of our faith in God is really just sin (Rom 14:23). Effective Bible study grows our faith in God, in part, because it demands we honor God and put our faith in Him. Jesus promises that those who are faithful with a little will be given much more (Matt 25:21, 23). God help us take the little understanding and faith that we have and be faithful with them, so that you can bless us in ways that glorify you in the church and in Christ Jesus! Amen.