Some time ago I was invited to answer questions from a group of wonderful young people. They were invited to ask me any question they wanted. On about the third question, as they were discussing the background between them, I had my finger in a place in my Bible where I was going to start with my answer. One young man said, pointing at my Bible,”You know, it’s almost frightening the way you have somewhere to turn to in that thing.”
I say that not to boast, but rather to say this. You know what’s really frightening? That this surprised him.
When I try to answer Bible questions, I’m frequently asked just how one can get to know the Bible like I do. What it generally comes down to, however, is that they’d like me to provide them with something along the lines of a 5-minute-a-day plan. Now don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of Christians who could benefit from five minutes of Bible reading per day. It’s just that five minutes each day won’t get you to the point where you really know your Bible.
Very few of us would spend that little time keeping up with our professional fields, and I note that Bible study is a part of my work. But while claiming that the things in the Bible are of eternal importance, we are often mysteriously uninterested in actually knowing what they are.
Let me start with how I got to know my Bible as well as I do, and let me add that there are plenty of weaknesses in my knowledge of scripture. You see, it’s not my fault. I can’t claim superior spiritual reasons. I grew up with it. It all started with my Dad’s Bible.
Here are the key points:
- I saw my parents study their Bibles regularly, frequently, and for much more than five minutes at a time. It looked natural to me. Parents, if you want your children to read their Bibles, read yours. It will do you (and them) much more good than all the urging you can provide.
- I studied and memorized the Bible through church programs and in school. I memorized whole chapters. I read so much of the King James Version that I still tend to use a KJV concordance or do my #BibleGateway lookups in the KJV.
- I studied the Bible in college. I went out of my way to do extra reading either of or about the Bible. I took German reading and then did an independent readings course covering Old Testament textual criticism. I studied French and when it was time to write, I wrote about French translations of Hebrew poetry. I did a two quarter hour independent study of just the first chapter of Ezekiel.
- I asked myself what was important. If I claimed that God and my relationship with him was even moderately important in my life, I needed to spend time in touch with God through his Word.
- I continued reading. I even read for language maintenance while I was out of the church following seminary. When I returned, I was able to restart reading at the rate of a chapter a day in Greek.
Boasting? God forbid that I should boast save in the grace of God that led my parents to instill these habit patterns in me and let me take an honest look at myself as I would be without him!
My point is that if you want to know the Bible, there is no quick plan, no shortcuts, no easy osmosis method. You need to spend time with it. Prayerfully examine your priorities. If you are a parent, consider what you want to teach your children. Do you want them to think that Bible study is important? Study it. Let them see your priorities in action. Do you want them to grow up as praying people? Pray! Don’t be afraid to be spiritual and to talk about spiritual things.