Study 7 HOW TO ENJOY THE BIBLE
What Every Christian Should Know
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Jeremiah 15: 15-21)
The prophet Jeremiah’s joy in discovering the Word of God, in receiving it and making it his own, was unbounded, as he tells us in Jeremiah 15:16 – ‘When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight!’ If we are to live for the Lord and serve Him successfully, we must give the Bible its rightful place in our life. It is not enough to believe the Bible, for it is possible to believe it and yet neglect it; neither is it enough to read and study it out of a sense of duty. The essential thing is that we enjoy it and delight in those flashes of illumination which the Lord gives us as we dwell deeply in the pages of His book. What immense benefits there are for those who delight themselves in God’s Word! What are those benefits? Look up the following: Joshua 1:8; Deuteronomy 11:18-21; Psalm 1:1-3; 19:11; 119:1-176; 2 Timothy 3:15-17. How may we really enjoy our reading and studying of God’s Word? Here are some practical suggestions:
1. IF WE ARE TO ENJOY THE BIBLE WE MUST KNOW AND LOVE THE ONE WHOM IT SUPREMELY REVEALS AND WHO FILLS ITS PAGES.
When we read the written Word we come to know the Incarnate Word – look up John 1:1, 14; and when we come to know Him He leads us back to the written Word – look up Luke 24:27. We cannot think of the one without the other. The Bible can be enjoyed as literature; but in order to enjoy it in its fullest sense we must know Him whom to know is eternal life – look up John 17:3, and compare Luke 24:32 with Jeremiah 15:16, and notice that it is the ‘burning heart’ that makes Bible study such a thrilling experience.
2. IF WE ARE TO ENJOY THE BIBLE WE MUST ACCEPT IT AS IT STANDS AND APPRECIATE SOMETHING OF ITS UNIQUE NATURE.
This is no ordinary book. It is God’s Word, fully and wholly inspired from Genesis to Revelation, and it is therefore entirely accurate and absolutely authoritative. If we entertain doubts about the Word of God we shall not really enjoy it or have the same thirst for it – look up 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21. What joy it brings us when we accept the whole Bible as the inspired Word of God, and how illogical it is not to accept the whole Bible as God’s Word when we have so many evidences that it is His Word!
3. IF WE ARE TO ENJOY THE BIBLE WE MUST NOT BE TOO TROUBLED ABOUT THOSE PORTIONS WHICH ARE HARD TO UNDERSTAND.
Of course, if this book comes to us from the Infinite God, we, whose minds are finite, will not be able to understand many of its mysteries. If we could understand the whole Bible then surely we would question its divine origin! Do not be disturbed about the so-called ‘discrepancies’ of which you are told. There are very many things ‘that are hard to understand’ – look up 2 Peter 3:16. In these uncertain days in which we are living there is a tremendous joy and satisfaction in being able to turn to a book where again and again we hear the words, ‘This is what the Lord says…’ – look up Matthew 11:25. Because He has spoken, we believe what He has said; and as we seek the help of the Holy Spirit, problems disappear, light is given and His truth shines out.
4. IF WE ARE TO ENJOY THE BIBLE WE MUST REALLY READ IT, STUDY IT, SEARCH IT, MARK IT AND MEDITATE UPON ITS TRUTHS, AND WE MUST DO THIS REGULARLY, REVERENTLY, PERSEVERINGLY AND METHODICALLY.
Yes, we must read, read and read again – look up Song of Solomon 5:1. We must study it seriously and exhaustively – look up 2 Timothy 2:15; we must search – look up John 5:39; we must compare scripture with scripture – look up Acts 17:11; and we must meditate upon it see Psalm 1:2. We must do all this regularly, like the Bereans – see Acts 17:11; reverently – see Hebrews 4:12; perseveringly – see Psalm 1:2; and methodically. Read your Bible every day with the help of some Bible reading notes, and study it in different ways: (1) by books; (2) by topics; (3) by doctrines; (4) by chapters; (5) by verses; (6) by characters; and (7) by words. Try to secure a good quality Bible and do not be afraid to mark it, and also obtain a concordance and (if possible) a Bible dictionary – and mark down your findings in a notebook.
5. IF WE ARE TO ENJOY THE BIBLE WE MUST UNDERSTAND SOMETHING OF ITS FORMATION AND ITS STRUCTURE, AND WE MUST BECOME THOROUGHLY FAMILIAR WITH ITS MAIN CONTENTS.
In the Bible there are 66 books – 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. These consist of history, typology, narrative, poetry and prophecies (in the Old Testament); and the Gospels, Acts, Epistles and Revelation (in the New Testament). Become so familiar with the Bible that you can find your way about it. Go through it and mark out the great chapters – for example: Genesis 3 – the Fall; Genesis 6 – the Flood; Exodus 3 – the call of Moses; Exodus 12 – the Passover; and so on.
6. IF WE ARE TO ENJOY THE BIBLE WE MUST BE WILLING TO LIVE DAY BY DAY IN THE LIGHT OF ITS TEACHING.
‘This book will keep me from sin; sin will keep me from this book.’ If, after reading God’s Word, we do not obey its teaching we shall certainly shrink from reading the book again, and we shall not enjoy it – look up James 1:18-21. To enjoy it we must obey its precepts – look up James 4:3, and we should study it in the attitude of Acts 9:6 and John 2:5.
7. IF WE ARE TO ENJOY THE BIBLE WE MUST ALWAYS RELY UPON THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK, TO INTERPRET ITS TRUTH TO US AND, ABOVE ALL, TO REVEAL THE LORD JESUS TO US.
How wonderful it is that as we study this book the Author is with us to open our eyes to ‘see wonderful things’ as He reveals them! – look up Psalm 119:18; Joshua 1:18.