First, I want to impress upon your minds the power and joy of discovery.
Second, I want to share with you a personal challenge I have undertaken.
Finally, I want to convince you to stop reading this blog.
And so as to hopefully aid in preventing any expected misunderstanding, this post is a bit lengthy. Fair warning.
I love to hear a piece of exciting news about a friend . . . from that friend. Secondhand isn’t quite the same.
How beautiful are snapshots of the Grand Canyon? And then there’s the Grand Canyon itself.
My point? I hope you can get a taste of the wonder of discovering what the Bible has to say . . . by actually reading the Bible.
This great thing we have called “direct access.”
Makes sense. But do we live like it?
In recent days, I have taken on the challenge of reading the Bible to discover what the Bible says. No devotional or inspirational reading, no systematic theologies, no commentaries, and no study Bibles.
Before you theology students promptly report and block me, allow me to elaborate.
The Bible is difficult to understand, no doubt. But I’ve learned it’s not as difficult as we might think, at least in some respects. Sure, there are great minds who know the Scriptures better than I do. But, what fun is it to read what someone else has observed? Why not aim to discover it myself?
Person A: (reads Scripture) “What does this mean?”
Person B: “Well, says it means . . .”
“I don’t know. Let’s look it up in .”
Think of the Bible as a mysterious treasure chest. Behind a locked door. Because I’m a pro at analogies, and mysterious treasure chests are always found behind locked doors.
The key that unlocks the door is not what someone thinks about it. Though edification and encouragement are important.
The key is not a word about the Word. Who says those words are correct?
And it’s not a study tool or personal perspective. Not an interpretation. Not your typical evangelical understanding.
The key that unlocks the door is the Bible itself.
What I’m not saying (in quotations):
“Don’t ever read any other book but the Bible.” Of course other books can be helpful and instructive. I have read many books that have greatly impacted my life in a positive way.
“What other Christians say isn’t important.” I want to learn from other Christians, which is why I actively pursue healthy, growing relationships with other believers. There is something quite amazing about the bond, unity, and fellowship that is possible between brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Any given person’s interpretation is likely wrong, so don’t bother to read or listen to it.” On the contrary, I want to share the joy of what another person is seeing in the Scripture, and I want to encourage them in their study of the Word. My interpretation is just as fallible as theirs.
“It is wrong to use other books and tools to study Scripture.” There is no biblical basis for that idea as far as I can see.
What I am saying (quotations and otherwise):
“When you’re reading the Bible and you don’t understand something, keep reading it.” You’ll be amazed at the clarity that will come. And you will have had the personal joy of unearthing it. It’s like seeing the Grand Canyon for yourself. A “wow” moment.
“Don’t resort to study helps right away.” Try to figure it out for yourself. Then maybe observe the findings of others. You’ll often come to the same conclusions as those who have gone before. But you’ll have learned from the journey as well.
“Just because someone says that’s what the Bible says, doesn’t mean it’s true.” The Bible is true. Human interpretation may be. Or it may not. When you read the Bible, you know it’s 100% accurate and reliable. You can’t have that kind of confidence about any other writing.
“Spend much time in Scripture.” And you won’t regret it. As far as I can see, there is plenty of biblical basis for that.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Then why are you writing this blog. Isn’t it just full of your own interpretations and study helps?”
Yes. So stop reading this blog.
The point of this blog is to drive people to the Word.
Go read the Bible. Dig deep. Search it out. Allow the Bible to teach you.
Person A: (reads Scripture) “What does this mean?”
Person B: “I don’t know. Let’s keep reading about it, and thinking about it, and talking about it.”
You think you know what the Bible says? Have you read it lately? Do you understand it? Or is it your favorite author or preacher’s interpretation and perspective that you have down pat?
These days, when I have time to read, I try to fill most, if not all of that time reading Scripture, simply because there’s so much I don’t know, and the Bible is the greatest book anyone could read and seek to understand.
Watch the Bible answer itself. It’s a sight to behold. And everything else suddenly pales in comparison.
“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.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“. . . but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
[image credit: deviantart.com, wikipedia commons, & journeyoftheword.com]