A Study in Study
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
How to read the Bible responsibly.
To someone who has never sat down to study the Bible, the task might be a little over-whelming. Usually when people (who were not introduced to scripture at a young age) open the Bible, it is because they hear from a friend or co-worker that you NEED to read the Bible. "It could change your life," they might say. Or perhaps someone is really down. They are going through a really difficult time in his or her life and they know that religion has helped other people, perhaps there is something in that book for me. Regardless of the many reasons people come to the text, the result is usually the same. They open up a Bible and find themselves lost, quickly after they begin.
Understanding how the Bible is put together is very valuable information!
So what is it?
The Bible is a collection of 66 books. These 66 books tell two small stories that together form one large over-arching story. We call these two small stories, the Old and New Testament, and together they tell the story of God. The Old Testament closely follows the history of the Israelites. They are a people group graciously called out by God through a man named Abraham. They were graciously called because Abraham really did not deserve to receive the blessing God gave to him (but then again, when do we ever). Abraham and God cut a deal and the rest of the book is about God and his relationship with the descendants of Abraham.
The second story is called the New Testament. This story is about God's redemption of all man-kind through his son Jesus. With him, Jesus brings a new way of life, often referred to as The Kingdom of Heaven. This section of the Bible tells the story of Jesus, his life, and the lives of his followers.
So in the story of the Bible, who is the main character? It would be super easy to say, "Well, we are." The story is about us, and what we should do. The problem is, the Bible can not live up to an assumption like that. When we try and read scripture through this lens we find the text to be rather blurry.
The Bible is actually a story about God. He is the main character! As human beings we play a big role in the story to be sure. In Gen. 1 God creates humans and assigns them the role of being his image-bearers on Earth. That is a big responsibility, but we are still only made to be reflections of the creator. God is the main character of his story.
When reading the Bible there are three key questions to ask.
1) What does this passage say about who God is, or what is he like?
2) As a human, made to reflect God, what does this say about me?
3) How can I live out my calling?
For example. Gen. 1:1 says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
1) God is...the supreme creator of all things.
2) I am... a created being
3) I will...live my life subjected to the creator
The order matters! If I were to read Gen.1:1 and start with question #3, arriving at a good answer would be much harder. Lets begin with figuring out who God is, and once we know that, the questions about ourselves become much clearer.
Keep these questions in mind as you journey through the story of God!