With biblical illiteracy on the rise, it’s more important than ever to be strategic in studying God’s Word. Not only for those who are in full-time ministry, but for all believers everywhere – of every age, nationality, and denomination.
A shocking amount of Christians have never read the entire Bible and very few are in the Word daily. It’s no wonder many Christians are easily swayed in their beliefs by secular arguments or worse, wolves in sheep’s clothing. We are largely unanchored in the historic doctrines of the Christian faith.
No wonder so many of us are shaken to our core with doubt that sucks the life from our worship. To replace doubt, we must have faith. And how do we get faith? Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17), i.e. reading the Scripture, studying the Scripture, and meditating over the Scriptures.
It is not enough to merely listen to your pastor preach once a week. Being part of a local church is good and necessary for your spiritual health, but it won’t sustain you to nibble on the bread of life once per week. We must eat daily.
If you have bought into the mentality that, “a Proverb a day keeps Satan away,” you need to reconsider. The enemy is actively seeking people to thwart (1 Peter 5:8-9) and even tempted Jesus to doubt God’s Word (Matthew 4:1-11), but Jesus remained steadfast. In part because He knew the Scriptures well from childhood and of course because He is God.
By being well-versed in Scripture, we can increase our faith, resist temptation, and grow closer to Christ. So what do we do to strategically combat biblical illiteracy? Well, here’s the obvious answer: read the Bible. But how and how often and which parts? What if I don’t understand it? Let’s address those one at a time:
1. Read, listen to, pray, or meditate on the Bible at least 4 days per week
Studies show that Christians who do this live transformed lives compared to those Christians who don’t. They are 30% less lonely, 59% less likely to view pornography, and 228% more likely to share their faith.
A key discovery from the CBE research is that the life of someone who engages Scripture 4 or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.Center for Bible Engagement
I get that reading the Bible through in its entirety may be intimidating, but listening isn’t. If you listen for 20 minutes per day (less than most podcasts) at 1.5x audio playback speed, you can easily listen to the whole Bible in less than a year.
2. Read the whole counsel of Scripture
So many people know verses like John 3:16 and Genesis 1:1, but how many know all the verses and chapters surrounding those? We must seek to understand the entirety of Scripture and its proper context, especially those passages which are difficult to wrestle through. Whether you read the Bible in one year or three, you will come away with a more thorough knowledge of God and the gospel.
Here’s the “Bible In a Year” reading plan and app I used this year: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/11791-bible-in-a-year. It helped me immensely. Don’t fall into the trap of guilt or shame if you fall behind, just listen to large portions at once to catch up while doing laundry or driving and take it as a delightful opportunity to saturate yourself with more of God’s Word.
3. Utilize your resources
If something is confusing to you, ask your pastor! He’s the shepherd of your soul and can help answer your questions. If not, perhaps he can at least point you in the right direction. If you’re a married woman with a Christian husband, ask him first. Not only does this follow the biblical pattern, but it will also bless him to know you care what he thinks and it will challenge him to be a better leader of your household by digging deeper into God’s Word.
Beyond your immediate context, we live in an age of information. There are bountiful resources available to aid you in your studies. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Bible Project is a phenomenal ministry that makes creative videos about the Bible.
- Ligonier Ministries, “exists to proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God in all its fullness…”
- DesiringGod helps Christians find their joy in God through articles, podcasts, and more.
4. Pray for Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth
Perhaps the most important part of studying Scripture is prayer. Holy Spirit’s power is far beyond what many of us even think to tap into, but the Bible tells us that God sent Him in Jesus’s name to help us and teach us all things (John 14:26).
Lastly, remember this: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12