From Craig Swanson…
My last two blogs (Part 1) (Part 2) have established you can trust that the Bible is a unique, supernatural book authored by God Himself. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) The question is, now what are you going to do with it?
As you can see from these verses, the word of God is profitable for many things, but verse 17 is the goal they are leading to – that the man of God may be adequate. Now the way we have come to view the word adequate is “good enough”. But this Greek word means fitted, complete, perfect. So what does the word of God fit us for – being “equipped for every good work”. God saved us for good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) God didn’t redeem us to save us from hell so that we could go on our own merry way. His will is for us to be servants in His kingdom. We are fitted and equipped for that service by His word.
So don’t treat the word of God as a devotional guide. It is the very word of God meant to teach us who He is and what He wills – to reprove us of how we error – to correct our ways and our thinking – to train us in righteousness, or in other words, a life set apart for God. This process of the word of God transforming our lives doesn’t happen with a surface reading of the Bible. We must “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you”. (Colossians 3:16) That means we must be in it richly for it to be in us richly. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)
Let me give you a game plan for digging in to the word of God. Begin with a small book of the Bible like Colossians or 1 John and read through it every day for a month. When you get to a larger book like the Gospel of John with 21 chapters, divide it up into 3 or 4 parts and work through those chapters that month before progressing. You will begin to see themes and principles and understand the author’s intent. As you progress through the month, you will find passages and verses that you either don’t understand or you would like to dig deeper into. A great aid that I was introduced to is blueletterbible.org. You can use it to cross reference or look up any verse or words in a verse. If you don’t understand a verse you can click on tools for that verse and you can find what the original Greek word was and it’s meaning or find a commentary on that verse. Try it, you’ll like it.
As you work through “what does the Bible say” and “what does the Bible mean”, you should end your study of the book by asking “What does this mean for my life and how can I practically apply it?” It is at this point that we begin to be equipped for every good work.
As I write this I can almost hear you groaning at that type of time commitment. But let me put it in perspective. Most of us spend the week chasing our kids or grandkids around at their activities. We think nothing of spending two hours at a basketball game or three hours at a track meet, but to think of spending the same amount of time studying the word of God seems like a gargantuan task. What does that say about our being servants of the living God? I’m not saying that activities are a bad thing, they’re not. The Bible is full of daily human responsibilities that we must be concerned about. But stepping back and looking at the big picture, here are some questions to ask: What is true? Why are we here? What is God’s purpose for our lives? All of these questions are answered in the Bible. Let’s commit to dig in.