God taught me how to study the Bible years ago when I was a student missionary in India. I carried a small copy of the Gospels with me and read them over and over. Slowly, but surely, God expanded my understanding as I pondered the things I read. I began to see what the gospel writers were really saying, rather than just what I thought they were saying. Jesus’ words took on new meaning as I saw them in context. Connections I’d never seen before became clear. God was teaching me how to think biblically.
I believe Biblical thinking is a skill that each of us needs to learn. If we stop after simply reading the Bible (learn about how to read Biblically HERE), we leave the conversation before we’ve ever really listened to God. So, what does it mean to think biblically?
The next step in the process of Bible study is to read the chapter again with your highlighted verses as points of focus. Ask yourself these questions: What is the most obvious meaning of these verses within their immediate context (the chapter)? How do these verses reveal God’s thoughts, considering the context?
Pay attention to the questions that arise in your mind as you read. God is framing the conversation so that you can ask the right questions, from the right mindset. You are now praying your way through Scripture with the Lord of the Universe as your guide!
We often never get to this questioning part of our Bible study. We too often ask other people what they think the scriptures are saying. We hope they will have the answers. There is nothing wrong with talking to people, but it is important to go to God first with these questions. As the originator of the Bible, He has the answers you need!
If you have been studying the Bible for some time, you may find that God brings Bible passages to your mind that are outside the immediate context of your focused reading. God is broadening your context so you can have greater understanding.
Remember that every verse in the Bible has both an immediate context (chapter) and a broader context (book). These are found within the context of the entire Bible. The key is to understand how these contexts connect to create the framework for one complete divine thought. Take time to consider the verses God has pointed out to you within their immediate and broader contexts. Also, consider the whole Bible’s teaching on that topic. Is the biblical thought you’ve discovered supported in all these contexts? If so, you will discover that they enlarge and confirm the biblical idea you are studying.
Give Biblical thinking a try this month! I know your understanding will expand as you take time to think deeply about God’s Word.
Next month: What it really means to apply God’s Word to your life.