As some of you know, one of my passions is memorizing the Bible. I do this by setting it to music. One day, quite a while back, a fellow pastor seemed puzzled by my obsession with Scripture. While he certainly respects and values the Bible, in his tradition, apparently, the “Word” with a capital “W” is more emphasized. For those who don’t know what this means, “Word” with a capital “W” refers to Jesus, as referred to in John 1:1, which says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Now, on the one hand, his question made me think. He’s right in emphasizing that Jesus is the reason for the Bible and not vice versa. The Bible is given to us, not primarily so that we can acquire good theology, or live a morally pure life, but to help us build a love relationship with its Author; with God. If we lose that perspective, the Bible can become a negative in any number of ways which, sadly, separate us from its Author instead of uniting us with Him. To some, for instance, it’s mostly a book of rules; very hard rules at that, which showers them with shame. To others it’s mostly an intellectual puzzle to be solved; a theological board game. But the Bible is meant to be chiefly a love letter which teaches us how to draw near to our greatest Love – One who has already accepted believers by His amazing grace.
On the other hand, knowing the Bible well is a critical part of building a strong love relationship with God. Biblical literacy is a wonderful spiritual advantage. To neglect or minimize it is a mistake. This leads to our first question:
Why is it so important to know the Bible as well as possible?
1. It’s important to know the Bible well because God thinks it’s important
God has gone to a great deal of work to deliver His Word to us and to preserve it. All efforts to eradicate it down through the ages have failed. So many ancient documents have faded away or are known only to a rarified group of scholars, but God has kept His book front and center for His people for thousands of years.
2. It’s important to know the Bible well because the Bible itself emphasizes its centrality
Over and over in Scripture we’re reminded of the value of knowing and following its teaching. Joshua 1:8, for instance, tells us, “Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night.” Paul tells Timothy that from infancy “you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). The Bible takes itself very seriously, seeing itself not just as one book of wisdom among many, but as the foundation and benchmark of all truth.
3. It’s important to know the Bible well because it’s crucial to spiritual growth and vitality
Paul says, in 2 Timothy 3:16,17: “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.” Strong spiritual growth and maturity are grounded in Scripture. God can teach us from other sources as well, but the Bible is the gold standard and the final word. It’s rare to find a mature believer who doesn’t have significant contact with Scripture. Scripture does so much for us. It enlightens us, strengthens us, heals us, guides, us, reminds us, and so on.
4. It’s important to know the Bible well because that protects us spiritually
Paul calls the Bible “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17b). We can use it to fight Satan. It’s also critical because, there are false teachers among us who “secretly introduce destructive heresies…” (2 Peter. 2:1b) as well as godly teachers who still sometimes make mistakes in their interpretation of the Bible. If we’re to sort through all of this we need to know our Bibles well.
5. It’s important to know the Bible well because it enables us to speak God’s truth with authority
When challenged by Satan, Jesus replied, “It is written. . .” When we know the Bible well we can quote more than just our opinion; we can quote God Himself. Whose voice is more authoritative? More powerful? Others around us need to hear this authoritative voice since it tells the way of truth and salvation.
6. It’s important to know the Bible well in order to hear God’s voice
I’m not a person who often hears the Spirit speak directly to me. And sometimes, when I think I’ve gotten a message, I’ve been mistaken. The Bible, although it too can be misinterpreted, is a clearer communication from God than mere logic, internal impressions or the opinions of others. That’s why I do most of my listening in Scripture; poring over its truths. Scripture also gives us a standard against which to measure other messages we receive internally or externally. If they contradict the Bible, then they’re not from God.
How well do you know the Bible? Are you packed with it or do you settle for an occasional dose? This leads to our second question:
How can I become well-steeped in Scripture?
1. I become well-steeped in Scripture by allotting regular time for it
As we all know, good intentions are a start, but follow-through is essential. It takes regular time to significantly know and interact with Scripture. How much time? That’s up to you, but long enough to really encounter a passage. Five minutes usually isn’t enough to do that.
2. I become well-steeped in Scripture by studying it
Don’t just whip through a passage, take time to consider it from various vantage points. Compare it to its context, to other similar Bible verses. Look up words you don’t understand. Use Bible helps where necessary, especially in dealing with difficult passages.
3. I become well-steeped in Scripture by meditating on it
Meditation is a deeper kind of study. You’re circling the verse to taste its flavor, to ask lots of questions, to consider various applications. You just relax in its presence and let it soak in.
4. I become well-steeped in Scripture by keeping it with me all day
While a daily study time is necessary, it’s only the starting point. The goal is to keep some verses circulating through your mind as you go through your day; if only in the background when you’re focused on work or other things. You want the Bible to pop in and out of your consciousness. The next suggestion makes this easier.
5. I become well-steeped in Scripture by memorizing it
It’s so much easier to “meditate day and night” when we’ve memorized some verses. They sit right there in our minds, easily within reach.
6. I become well-steeped in Scripture by using it
The Bible comes alive when it’s applied to real day to day life. Use it to worship, to witness, to make decisions, to give counsel, to counter temptation, and to do the right thing.
The Bible, well-known and practiced will transform your life and, through you, the lives of those around you. Are you taking advantage of this wonderful Gift?