The Bible is God's written communication to us. Apart from it, we cannot know the Lord or how to live for Him. If you want to grow in your faith in Jesus Christ, then you must read and study the Bible. As Christians, we need to understand what the Bible is, appreciate all that it can do for us, and practically use the Bible in our daily lives.
What The Bible Is
The Bible’s Author is God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16). At the same time, God’s Spirit employed human authors to communicate His Word (2 Peter 1:21). The words of the Bible are both the words of its human authors and the very words of God. The Holy Spirit so worked in men by a variety of methods that the words the human writers chose were precisely the words God wanted used to express His message accurately.
The Bible’s Message
The Bible consists of sixty-six individual books with many different kinds of literature—such as history, poetry, laws, and letters. Nevertheless, it has one major theme: the redemptive work of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:44-47). The Bible is divided into two parts: the Old Testament (containing 39 books) and the New Testament (containing 27 books). The Old Testament tells of God’s dealings with His people, Israel, in preparation for the coming of His Son into the world. The New Testament records the deeds and words of Jesus Christ and explains doctrines of faith in great detail—both theologically and practically.
The Bible’s Purpose
2 Timothy 3:15-17
15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Bible brings people to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (v.15). For Christians, the Bible is the standard for testing everything else that claims to be true; a safeguard for false teaching. It is our guide for how we should live and equips us to do good. God’s Spirit uses His Word in the Believer:
He teaches us: The Word instructs us about what to believe and how to live. He rebukes us: The Word convicts us of how we have failed to live according to God’s ways. He corrects us: The Word heads us back in the right direction of God’s ways through confession, forgiveness and the righting of wrongs. He trains us: The Word instructs us how to re-habituate God’s righteous ways into our lives.
The Bible’s Sufficiency
God’s Word is perfect. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” (Psalm 19:7a). The word “perfect” literally means “complete”. The Bible is sufficient for our every need. “Reviving the soul” literally means “transforming the entire person”. The Word through the Holy Spirit, conforms us to God’s character (2 Corinthians 3:18). God’s Word is reliable (2 Peter 1:16-21).
How To Practically Use The Bible
We should regularly attend the proclamation of God’s Word (i.e. church) so that we are strengthened in our faith (Romans 10:13-17), and are prepared for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). It is important to regularly attend a church where the Bible is faithfully taught. Come ready to hear, believe, and obey (1 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:22). But be careful—there are many churches where the Bible is not faithfully taught (2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Always check what you learn with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11).
We should daily pursue personal spiritual growth by relying on God’s Word. We can accomplish this by reading, studying, memorizing, meditating on, and applying God’s Word.
Reading God’s Word—By reading God’s Word, you can obtain an overall knowledge of the Bible. A few minutes each day and discreet underlining can be a great aid in relocating truths rapidly. To help you learn to navigate your way around the Bible, refer to An Overview Of The Bible.
Studying God’s Word—The careful study of God’s Word is necessary to correctly understand it and explain it to others (2 Timothy 2:15). As you study, keep in mind the following four key principles of correct interpretation:
1. What does the context of the passage say? The words surrounding the passage normally throw some valuable light on its meaning. 2. What is the purpose of the passage? How does it serve as a useful function? The point is that the Holy Spirit wrote specific passages for specific purposes. For example: Ephesians 5:22-6:4 is written to explain the roles of husbands and wives and the relationship between parents and children. What is the original meaning of a particular word in the passage? Use a Bible concordance or a Bible words dictionary for help on this. Is your interpretation consistent with the rest of the Bible? The Bible has one primary Author and, therefore, cannot contradict itself!
Memorizing God’s Word—Memorizing God’s Word equips your mind to effectively deal with sin and temptation (Psalm 119:11; 1 Corinthians 10:13). To memorize a passage, make sure you understand what it means. Then try to picture what it would be like to apply it. Finally, read it several times until you can recite it without looking.
Meditating on and Applying God’s Word—Meditation: Transforming God’s Word from mere head knowledge to concrete applications by enumerating and initiating steps for putting off old sinful habit patterns and putting on Biblical patterns leading to godly change. For my help on this, refer to Developing A Plan For Personal Bible Study.