There’s something else I want to add on my thoughts about how to read the Bible. When it comes to reading the Bible, what is the role of the Holy Spirit?
Give us understanding
Paul tells Timothy in one particular passage:
2 Timothy 2:7 “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
Previous to this verse Paul tells Timothy to put men in charge who will faithfully teach the message of Jesus Christ. Paul then exhorts Timothy by appealing to three different analogies. Then Paul says, “think over what I say.”
This is interesting because Paul purposefully gives Timothy some stuff that isn’t immediately understandable. Each is disconnected and not easily ascertained as to what Paul is saying. Paul knows this, and writes to think it over.
That’s where I want to pause. As Christians who ought to be reading our Bible, we must read, and read daily. Sometimes our reading will be poor and quick, other times it will be long and satisfying. Regardless, the Bible needs to be read, and if we can read it long, then we must strive for that. Why? Because Paul says to Timothy to pause, stare, reflect, think over what he had just said.
When we read the Bible, we must use our minds, not merely our hearts. We shouldn’t stop on a passage because it seems to apply to our lives right now. We shouldn’t read until something is applicable to you. We should read, and then pause, and reflect, and ponder, and think hard over what we just read.
Which is why I said devotional reading shouldn’t be the only type of reading we do. We ought to be wrestling with a book of the Bible, thinking about what is being said, who is saying it, to whom it is being said, and figuring out the mere facts of the Bible. The stuff that’s there in the text. Why it was written that way, and why it was said like that, and why certain words were and weren’t used, and what the whole passage or book is about.
We must be deep thinkers.
But why? Well, because Paul says, “for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
If we want to grow in understanding, we need to think. Reading can be thinking, and reading can also be done in such a way that we obtain nothing. We must be thinking along side of reading. We must be asking questions. Why? Because God will give us understanding.
It is the Holy Spirit who will teach us what the Bible says, but only if we think about the passage. We cannot pretend to think we have the Bible right just because we prayed about it and something seemed to fit. We shouldn’t mock God, like a genie. We must revere God, and we must treat His word respectfully. Which means, as I said before, understanding that these words mean something more than what I want them to me. These words mean something that the author intended them to mean and I need to figure out what he intended to communicate.
One of the roles of the Holy Spirit, then, when it comes to us reading the Bible, is to give us understanding as we think through what was said/written.
May we understand what we read. May we not abuse the text by believing the text to mean whatever we want it to mean.