The Bible is a mine whose treasures can never be fully and completely exhausted; I love the new insights to be gained every time it is opened! As followers of Jesus, we delight in the Word of the Lord, for from it flows help, health, encouragement, instruction, solution, challenge – and life from the Author and authority of life.
When we open the Word of God,
- we encounter the character of God;
- we see who God is and what He is like;
- we see how He personally interacted with creation and humanity over thousands of years of history.
To know how to rightly study His Word is to know how to rightly interact with His revelation of Himself to the world. It is a serious enterprise with eternal implications, and it is also as exciting as being an archeologist uncovering a treasure never before seen!
As a serious endeavor, we must approach God’s Word with reverence, humility, and submission. Starting with prayer, and not rushing to say “Amen”, we keep the communication lines with God open. We remain in a posture of active listening. When we open the Bible before our own eyes, we should at the same time open ourselves before it. Dr. Gary Cockerill has taught that it is not God’s Word that stands before us, but we who stand before it. From this place of reverent openness, we submit ourselves to God’s authority and what God has to say. The Bible is the authority on life – not us – and so in humility, we receive its teachings and direction, ready to obey, because the One who has spoken is trustworthy. Psalm 33:4 teaches us that “the word of the Lord is right and true; everything the Lord does is worthy of our trust”.
Also like an eager archeologist on an unprecedented dig, we must approach God’s Word with expectancy and joy! The Bible is the preeminent authority for all of life – and through it, God offers Himself to us to experience the abundant life of walking in constant fellowship with Him – with He who is life itself, who is joy uncontainable! With a heart of gratitude, we delight in listening to this gracious God who would so generously share Himself and His words with us. I could not state it any better than Jean Pierre de Caussade, when he summarized the right approach to Bible study in this way:
Read quietly, slowly, word for word, to enter into the subject more with the heart than the mind. From time to time, make short pauses to allow these truths time to flow through all the recesses of the soul and to give occasion for the operation of the Holy Spirit who, during these peaceful pauses and times of silent attention, engraves and imprints these heavenly truths in our heart.1
The same Voice that spoke creation into existence speaks into our lives today through His Word before us and His Spirit inside us. It is a gift, and we should receive it with both gladness and seriousness. The proper posture then – both mentally and spiritually – for rightly studying the Bible is one of reverent joyfulness.
1 Jean Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence (Dover Publications, 2008), 229.