We can study our Bibles for all kinds of reasons. We may want to teach a class. We may want to answer a question. We may want to prove our point. We may want to have a little encouragement to make it through our day. We may want some comfort. We may want to win a debate. At various times, these are all great goals for our Bible study. Sometimes, these are exactly the things we need to do as we study.
However, if these are the only things we do with our Bible study, we haven’t allowed God’s word to be all it was meant to be in our lives. You see, God didn’t give us the Bible so we could teach others. He didn’t give us the Bible so we could prove our point. He didn’t even give us our Bibles merely to comfort us. No doubt, we can use it for these things, and should at times. But God gave us the Bible to change our lives. He gave us the Bible so we might not be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of our minds (cf. Romans 12:2).
How should we use our Bible so it will change our lives? II Timothy 3:14-17 provides the pattern.
But as for you , continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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 competent, equipped for every good work (ESV).
First recognize three attitudes you need to have as you come to the word of God.
- The Scriptures are sacred and holy writings. The pages, binding and cover are not holy. We shouldn’t establish rules about how to treat the bound volume we call a “Bible.” However, the message within is holy and sacred. It deserves our respect as we read and study it.
- The Scriptures are a source of wisdom (perhaps “the” source). If I turn to the Scriptures to receive wisdom, I am admitting that I am not all wise and I need help. If I can’t come to the Scriptures with this attitude, then the Scriptures will never help me.
- The Scriptures are from God. We don’t like people telling us what to do. When we read the Bible, we are not reading what people tell us to do. We are reading what God has told us to do. We need to remember God is our creator. He knows how we work. We need to understand His way works. We don’t read the Bible to argue and bicker about every little nuance because we need to figure out all the rules in order to make the cut. But we do need to make sure we are simply submitting to the Word because God’s way works.
Life Changing Bible Study Questions
- What do I learn from this study? If the Bible is profitable for teaching, I should ask what I learnfrom every study I conduct. Whether I’m conducting a text study, a book study, a topical study, a character study or whatever kind of study, I should ask what do I learn. I answer this by asking all kinds of subordinate questions like who was being addressed, who was writing, who was speaking, what was the historical context, etc. Perhaps one of the best ways to answer this question is to study with the view to teach. If you were going to teach someone about this study and have to field questions about it, what would you say. Sadly, this is where most people end their study. This is a very important part of study, but it is not the end. It is not even the main goal. It is only the beginning.
- Where do I fall short according to this study? A reproof is a gentle admonition. A reproof is proving or testing something to bring about conviction. It really has the idea of admonishing because of error and proving the error so change can occur. If the Scriptures are profitable for reproof, they are profitable for convicting us where we need to change. If we are going to have life changing Bible study, we have to ask where we are falling short. I know we don’t like this. Most of us want Bible study that simply says where we are doing things right so we can be pumped up to move on with our day. However, we need something to expose where we are falling short so we can grow. If we want life changing study, we have to begin by seeing what we have learned says about how we measure up and where we fall short.
- What must I change because of this study? Now we are starting to let the rubber hit the road. If we are falling short, what must we do to correct it? I’m told the word for correct here carries a picture of taking something that is toppled over and setting it upright again. This is where we plan to change what we have been doing. This is where we figure out what needs to be adjusted. We can only have life changing Bible study if we ask this very hard question. What needs to change? How do I fix what has fallen over?
- What habits must I develop based on this study? Now we are getting to a life change, because we do not simply answer this question with a pencil and paper. We answer it with action. The Scripture can train us and discipline us. It can show us the habits and lifestyle we need to adopt to be right with God. Having figured out where we fall short and having made a plan to correct it, now we bring it into our daily lives by living out the habits Jesus is encouraging in His word.
When we have done these things, our lives have been changed. It is not an easy process. But it is a worthy process. Don’t just let the Bible be a decoration in your home. Don’t let it simply be something you carry around. Don’t even merely let it be something you use to convince others you are right. Use it first and foremost to be God’s tool to change your life.
I think this process is so powerful, I highlight in my book “Give Attention to Reading” a simple plan for studying through the New Testament in six months. In every reading, I encourage the reader to ask these questions so every reading can be as deep as you need it to be. Learn more about “Give Attention to Reading” at my daily reading blog. Or purchase the book to have a practical help in having life changing Bible study. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t just read your Bible, but you let it change your life.
Have a great week and remember to let God’s word change your life this week.