So, you want to study the Bible? Bible Study Basic will be an ongoing series of posts written to introduce you to the most basic concepts and methods for proper Bible reading and interpretation.
How you approach the Bible changes what happens when you read and study the Bible. Do you approach the Bible as an answer book to improve your life? Do you see yourself above it asking it your questions? Or, do you see the Bible as something greater than yourself, under which you stand, waiting to receive? How should you approach the Bible? The teaching of Jesus can help us here. Two disciples were walking down the road after the resurrection of Christ, yet they didn’t believe. Though they didn’t recognize him, the risen Lord came and explained how we should all approach the Scriptures:
25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24.25-27
It’s easy to miss exactly what Jesus teaches us here. All of the Scriptures are about him. The Scriptures aren’t primarily about us. They’re about God and his rescue mission in Christ. That means you and I should approach our Bible reading and study looking ultimately for Jesus.
No only does Jesus say that the Scriptures are about him. He tells us that all of the Scriptures, rightly interpreted, lead us to him. What does that mean, and why is it important? It means that anytime you have read your Bible or listened to a sermon/lesson from the Scriptures that didn’t culminate in Jesus you have not yet arrived at the final purpose for which God spoke his Word. Two examples:
- A Bible study on Joseph shouldn’t just encourage you to trust God when things go wrong. It should point to Jesus, the true Joseph, who though he was betrayed by those closest to him did not retaliate, but rather chose to rescue us when we were dying of hunger. That’s because the story of Joseph isn’t about you. It’s about Jesus.
- A sermon on David and Goliath should never leave you thinking that with enough faith you can face your giants. That story is about David acting as the representative of the people of God. His victory would be their victory his defeat would be theirs. Risking his own life, David struck down the enemy. Jesus, the better David, is our representative who went out to battle our enemies. His victory is given to us. He didn’t just risk his life as our representative, he gave his life up for us to strike down our enemy. David and Goliath isn’t about us, it’s about Jesus. It’s only because Jesus has faced down the ultimate enemies of sin and death and we have power to face our sins in this life.
You see, Jesus isn’t one branch in the river of Biblical understanding, he’s the main channel. All of our reading, interpretation, and application must flow from him or we aren’t taking the Scriptures seriously. This is lesson one of Bible Study Basic. As you read and listen to sermons begin to train your eyes and ears to find Christ on every page.
If you’d like a solid resource to help you do this check out Edmund Clowney’s wonderful book The Unfolding Mystery. Clowney walks through the entire Old Testament pointing the reader to Christ along the way.
You can also listen any Tim Keller sermon. Find his sermons at Gospel in Life.