There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all stories are telling one Big Story. It is the Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible
The Bible is not a book about God; it is God speaking to us.
1. Open the Bible. D.L. Moody prayed for faith and waited anxiously to receive it. He thought it may come one day and hit him like lightening. “But faith did not seem to come, “he said. “One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, ‘Now faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ I had closed my Bible, and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.”
God spoke the world into existence and He uses words still to engage human hearts. Today, God speaks. I used to pray, “God make Your Word come alive in me!” Instead, God awoke my dead heart to His living breath. The problem is not with the Bible or our study techniques. The problem is with our dead hearts. The Bible is already alive.
Will you pray that God will show you the power of his living Word? Will you commit to simply open the Word of God daily?
2. Pray. King David pleaded with God in prayer to help him love God’s precepts. His humble request reflects his dependency on God’s work in his heart towards the Bible. No Christian comes to faith on their own. Nor do they grow in Christ’s likeness by their own efforts. Why, then, would we expect to study and love the Bible in our own power? We need God’s work in our hearts to do just that. David prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Commenting on this, John Piper adds, “If God does not ‘give,’ we do not find.”
So, will you ask God to help you see inside his Word? Will you ask Him to give you the desire to study the Bible and the love to tether your heart to His words.
3. Read the Bible. An esteemed theologian was asked by one of his students how he finds what he finds in the biblical text. His answer: “Well, first I read it. And then I read it again. And then I read it again…”
The gospel is meant to be shared…and read. We often come across these exalting words from the biblical writers: “I write to you these things…” or “these are written that you may believe…” The eyes to see, the hands to hold, the Bible to read, the resources to explore, the words to use, the ears to hear—behold the blessing of God upon us, children of God! Bend them all, use them all, exert them all, work them better, sharpen them daily.
Will you commit to employ your efforts to reading and studying the Word of God? Will you pray for patience as you read, read again, and read some more of the Bible in the days to come?
4. Connect the text to God. The Bible is about God first and foremost. Connect it to God before you connect it to your life: you’re always the second string! The Author of the Bible intended to write this Book in order to be known and loved. Take time to know God as you read His Story. Or, as Jen Wilkin exhorts us, learn to “read and study the Bible with [your] ears trained on hearing God’s declaration of himself.” The task of reading the Bible is simpler than you may think. We are not reading in order to create new meaning; instead, we are reading in order to dig for the truth and unearth it.
John Owen described this divine truth in the Word with the metaphor of a “sacred light.” It is the kind of light that sinful people are veiled from beholding rightly. And yet, he writes, “the removal of this veil is the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit.” The presence of the Holy Spirit aids us in relating to God.
Will you resolve to read each passage as it relates to God first? Will you persist in your study while resting faithfully in the help of the Holy Spirit?
5. Learn the Story. Jesus Christ is the point of the Bible. From Old Testament to the New Testament—Jesus sums it all up. Without Jesus, the Bible makes no sense. “The Gospel is not good instruction, not a good idea, and not good advice. The Gospel is an announcement of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ” (Michael Horton).
Tim Keller argues that we must not only read the Bible with Jesus at its center to understand it. But we also must read it Christocentrically [with Christ in the center] for us to grow from it personally. “There are, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: is it basically about me or basically about Jesus? In other words, is it basically about what I must do, or basically about what he has done?” (Keller)
Will you read and study the Bible with Jesus at the center as the only way to new life and change? Will you rest in the freedom of what Jesus has already done for you? Will you make it your goal to learn the Story with Jesus at its center?