I once went to a church where the pastor did not like to offer Bible studies, because he said they were boring. This church was like so many modern churches–a kind of recreation center with occasional motivational speeches. People enjoyed themselves, and no one I knew ever died of boredom there, but nobody was changed.
The Bible has the power to change a life. Unfortunately, you cannot just rub the Bible on your head and expect that your life will be changed by mere physical contact with a Bible. Bible study involves actual study, which means reading, looking things up, and thinking through concepts.
Biblical illiteracy is very high not just in our society, but even in churches that reportedly believe in the Bible. For that reason, people who want to study the Bible need to be very careful that they do not take a course in which “the blind are leading the blind” (a Biblical expression, by the way). Some churches allow people with scant knowledge of Scripture to teach the Bible, if any teaching is done at all.
So how can the Bible change your life? The Bible says that it has the power to change the way we think and the way we think determines not only the course of our life but what happens to us along the way. For example, a person who values her integrity above her pocketbook is going to lead a very different life (and have different experiences) than a person who values money over honesty. The Bible teaches that forgiveness and the ability to forgive those who have wronged us can be life-changing. A person who forgives other people leads a very different life than the one who harbors grudges and nurses bitterness.
This may sound like a bunch of platitudes, but Bible study can be tremendously engaging. The Bible discusses issues such as rape, murder, incest, cruelty, war, crime, and punishment. It talks about a man who was wrongly imprisoned (Joseph), a teenage girl kidnapped into sexual slavery (Esther), and a man who was beheaded for criticizing a king (John the Baptist). The Bible does not present idyllic scenes and feel-good messages. It can be gritty, just like life. But at times it can be uplifting.
The best methods for Bible study are not to grab a Bible and attempt to read it cover to cover. The Bible is rich, complex, and dense. It requires some knowledge of the history and culture of the period. A great way to study the Bible is to embark on a Bible study of some sort, whether offered through a church or organization or even online. Books on Scripture should really be books on the Bible (and not a bunch of personal opinions of the author). Expository Bible study books are those that take a section or book of the Bible and analyze it line by line. Such line by line Bible studies offer the best insights into Bible teachings.
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