I think of study, any kind of study, like chewing food. Everyone imagines that you are just born knowing how to chew — but you aren’t. In the same way, students and teachers the world over think that once you enter a classroom you know how to study — you don’t. Both must be learned and a guide or mentor can help. That is the intended purpose of these blog posts.
So, if I may, let me continue with my chewing analogy for a little bit longer.
Did you know that you should chew a mouthful of food until it is liquified? Do you chew your food that well? If you do, you enjoy better health for a number of reasons that do not pertain to this article. Most people chew poorly, breath poorly, sit poorly, and move poorly because they learned by watching other people — who were doing the activity poorly.
So if these basic activities need to be taught, why do we imagine that once we become a Christian we will know how to study the Bible. Because we know how to read? Well . . . maybe you can imagine my response. Most people read poorly. Not that they read on a low grade level (e.i. have limited vocabulary and don’t understand complex sentence structure), but most people don’t read to learn. In fact a lot of people don’t read . . . I mean read — not a menu or the form you complete at the doctor’s office — but for information and application.
I began learning to study the Bible in public high school. That might surprise you. I took classes that required outside reading and writing essays to explained what I read/studied. In college this continued. My training intensified when I began to teaching high school. I had to be able to understand information (by that time, including the Bible) well enough to guide maturing minds. This was my training.
Now don’t image that you don’t have some training. The great preacher C.H. Spurgeon would work geometry problems before he would open his Bible to study. The math put him mind in the right groove to analyze the passages. Martin Luther had trained as a lawyer. Just because you haven’t had the same training I have doesn’t mean that you don’t have the skills to study the Bible well. It just means that we have different skills, and that enhances small group Bible studies because you will bring something different to the understanding of the text than I can.
I hope as I share with you week by week that you will learn what skills you have and how to use them to help you study the Bible better. I also hope you will recognize skills you don’t have but will seek to develop them so you can study the Bible better.
God warns us that “he [humans] shall die for lack of instruction, and My [God’s] people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Proverbs 5:23a, Hosea 4:6a) That doesn’t have to be you.