“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” ~ John 14:25-26
Jesus, the great and marvelous Savior, Teacher, and first Helper (John 14:16, 1 John 2:1), would soon be leaving His disciples when He said these words to them. Yet, they would not be left alone when He departed. He would continue to be with them, help them, support them through the presence and work of another Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would be sent to indwell, grow, and guide God’s people. Know that the Greek word for “Helper” also has a legal sense to it, referring to something like a defense attorney, and also to one who gives us strength. This Helper, this Spirit of truth will wonderfully be with us forever. Praise the Lord!
What does John say is one of His important roles? Instruction. We lack knowledge. We have much to learn! No one is perfect, complete, or has arrived in their comprehension and practice of the way of Jesus. So, the Spirit’s work is to teach us all things, to convict us, to comfort us, pointing us to Christ, teaching and reminding us of His words and and instruction. Where do we find the Spirit’s holy and infallible words and lessons that He provides for us in Christ’s school? The Bible. Therefore, we must we must be diligent in our study.
Now, I know, some of you may think – “Pastor, I get the need to study the Bible. Done.” But, do you do it? Are you comfortable with how to do it well? How we read and study Scripture is important. Some of you may need help with the “how to”. Others maybe be more mature in their knowledge and practice. In either case, let me be like Peter and give you some helps and reminders in your Bible reading to be blessed in your study of it.
1) Be committed, start now, keep going – Often times, the largest challenge is getting started and being consistent. Effective Bible study will see longevity in your life, when you are committed to making reading and study a habit and regular practice. Start now. Never wait until you’re in the mood, for you’ll frequently find an excuse not to be. Set a time on your phone, reminder, and do it. Don’t skip it. View your time for Bible study to be of greater importance than any of your other daily tasks. If you have a family, teach them to do the same. Of course, Bible study is an essential piece of family worship as well. Reading Scripture together after a meal is a great habit.
2) Bible Reading Plans – There are many Bible reading plans out there to help you read through the whole Bible. These plans can be a blessing. However, if you get lost or overwhelmed with them, don’t let that derail your commitment and practice in study. If you need to work through books of the Bible at a slower pace, do it.
3) Begin with prayer – As we know that we cannot understand and grasp the truth of Scripture without the Spirit opening our hearts and minds to it, we ought to pray and ask the Spirit to do His illuminating work in us before we read and study.
4) Consider the text in context – When you start a new book of the Bible, if you have access to study reference tools, I encourage you to read more about the author, date of writing, what was happening then. Why was the book written? What are important themes, etc.?
If you need study reference tools, please let me know. I’m happy to help you! Further, know that it’s good to read 2-3 sections of Scripture, even chapters of Scripture in one sitting if possible. We should never grab a verse here or there out of its context as we seek to understand the truth the Spirit is teaching us. There are many wonderful things we will never see and understand unless we read God’s Word in large chunks.
5) Consider cross references – Your Bible likely has cross references (other Scriptures, noted in the margin, that teach a connected and supporting truth). Look those up in your study and be blessed by the connection, further light, and increase in clarity that they bring to the truth of your main text. Remember, the infallible rule of Bible interpretation is that Scripture interprets Scripture.
6) Close with prayer – Close your study time with thankfulness for the Word you have received, praising God for the things He has shown you in it, praying the Spirit would open and press it’s truths even deeper in your heart.
There are other things you can do for deeper study, but think about these 6 points. The aim of our study is know God, to know our Savior, and grow in knowing Him more. If you feel overwhelmed, thinking doing this will take a lot of time, consider this- knowing your God, His commands, the counsel of His Word is oh so worth the time! As the Holy Spirit is at work in you, He’ll show you more and more of how this is true. Be committed. Start now. I encourage you to start with 15 minutes a day. God will feed and refresh you, teaching and taking you to deeper places of awe, love, and adoration.