What is Bible Study
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Bible study is the process by which we dive deeply into the text of the Bible in order to better understand what has been written in its pages and why it is there. Bible study is an in depth analysis of the Bible with the aim of allowing the Bible to teach us that we may be better able to know God and to do His will and is not so much our hearing a someone expound upon Biblical teachings as it our discovering those teachings on our own. The best and most productive Bible study is inductive, meaning that we come to the Bible as people who are willing to allow the Bible to speak to us rather than looking in the Bible for support for our own ideas regardless of if they are right or wrong. Bible study is for those who wish to think, not for wishful thinkers. Our attitude should be one that would say: "I want to hear what the Bible says" rather than: "I want the Bible to say this."
We must also remember that we do not just study the Bible and learn it to become experts at it or to prove ourselves right on some point of doctrine, we are to study the Bible in such a way that its teaching will make an impact upon our lives, changing us to become ever more what God desires us to become. If in our Bible study we do not allow God to speak to us by whatever means He chooses then we will have missed the best part of it. Bible study is not only an intellectual exercise to increase our knowledge (though this is always a part of Bible study), it is in addition a heart changing encounter with God through which we learn more of He who desires to be the goal of our lives and His perfect will for those lives. Bible study should always be wrapped in the prayer that we will be able to hear what God would say to us.
When to study the Bible
The best time for Bible study is when you have the time available to do it regularly and the attitude to do it properly. We may each have different times of day when it is better for us personally to study the Bible but in every case the Bible study cannot be profitable if we do not permit ourselves to spend the time required to make it profitable. It is recommended to set aside a predetermined amount of time for Bible study at regular intervals so that Bible study can become a part of your way of life. A definite place in which to study, where you can lay out your various resources and can study without interruption is also a very good idea. These are not absolutely essential and we understand that God will reward any who will diligently approach Him in order to learn more of Him and His desires for our lives. But every effort that is taken to ensure that the time spent in Bible study will lead us to a personal encounter with God will be rewarded by God. The following episode taken from the life of Daniel will illustrate the point:
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the offspring of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years about which Yahweh’s word came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years. I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and petitions, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to Yahweh my God, and made confession, and said, “Oh, Lord, the great and dreadful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments .... While I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before Yahweh my God for the holy mountain of my God; yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening offering. He instructed me, and talked with me, and said, Daniel, “I have now come to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of your petitions the commandment went out, and I have come to tell you; for you are greatly beloved. Therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision.
Daniel 9:1-4 ... 20-23
All the information we have about Daniel indicates that he was a man who sought after God and desired greatly to please Him in all ways. In the above passage he discovers, through reading the prophecies of Jeremiah that the captivity of Judah was to be of seventy years duration.
This whole land will be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. “It will happen, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,” says Yahweh, “for their iniquity. I will make the land of the Chaldeans desolate forever."
Whereupon he prays and God acknowledges his prayer and gives him an understanding of the events to come. God rewarded Daniel's diligence and He will do the same for each of us.