Thursday, October 9, 2014

Digging Deep: Deep and Wide

Now that we've talked a bit about why we should study the Bible, I want to move to the how. For the next few days I will give some practical tips and resources to help you to dig into the Word. I know it can feel intimidating to study Scripture, considering the Bible is thousands of years old and over a thousand pages long, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. The Bible was written for you. God wants you to read it, understand it, and enjoy it. With a thoughtful plan in place and the help of the Holy Spirit, you can make reading the Word a daily part of your life and watch as God renews your mind and heart.

When considering how to approach the Bible, I think we need to go deep and wide {yes, this is a pun for the 80s and 90s Sunday School kids}. What I mean is that you should read the Bible both broadly and deeply. You should read the whole thing and you should also do in-depth studies of specific books and chapters. The good news is you don't have to do both these things at the same time.

Inductive Bible study markings
{via Doorposts}

If you have never read the whole Bible, I urge you to do it. The whole Bible is the story of Christ and to only know bits and pieces of His story is not only sad {because you are missing out on so much truth, goodness, and hope} but it also makes it hard to share the Gospel with others if the entire scope of Christ's story isn't firm in your mind. Did you know the first prophesy about Christ comes in Genesis 3? Did you know the Bible says Jesus created the world {John 1:3} and upholds the universe in His hand {Hebrews 1:3}, which means He was definitely around in Genesis 1? That's why you need to read the whole thing. The only way to understand God's commands, to comprehend His extravagantly loving salvation plan, and to share that story with  others is to know His Word... the covenant with Abraham, the Exodus, the importance of Israel's history and throne, the prophets, the genealogies, the parables, the apostolic letters, and the promises for the future. All of it. It all goes together. It's all important. You need to read every word.

But after {or before} your read the whole Bible, you also need to learn Bible study skills and methods so you can go deep into specific passages. Since the Bible was originally written in different languages and has been translated a number of times, even studying specific word definitions can be enlightening as to who God is and what He commands of us. Every verse is rich in meaning, so it's essential to go deep and study small portions of Scripture at a time.

Tomorrow, I will give you some resources for reading through the Bible broadly and then we will spend a number of days looking at how to study Scripture deeply. Personally, I've started alternating how I read the Bible on a yearly basis, meaning for one year I will read the entire book and the next year I will do a series of shorter, in-depth studies on specific passages. I will share my methods as a way to encourage you, but there is no one right way to do it. Make it a goal to know the Bible broadly and deeply, and pray to the Spirit for guidance and discipline  as you choose a plan that works best for you.

Read the rest of the Digging Deep series here...

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