When I study Scripture, I always study books of the Bible. I have gotten questions about why I study that way, and I wanted to talk about it a bit.
I want to say right away that my passion is for women to have a passion for Scripture, and to truly desire to know God’s Word with their hearts and minds. I think that women can often be very emotionally driven when it comes to Bible Study. We are often led by our feelings above all, and I think that the best way that we can combat that is to be knowledgeable about God’s Word. It is in the hardest moments of our lives, when we do not feel good, that we can truly lean on God’s Word, and what we KNOW, about God. When we study and memorize Scripture we are storing it away in our hearts and minds, so that it is there when we need it. On the other hand, when we pick and choose verses that we think will help us with what we are going through in that moment, we are not equipping ourselves for what we will face in the future. When difficult situations and suffering comes I want to be ready and equipped with a knowledge of God’s Word and who He is that will sustain me through the hard times.
Probably the biggest reason that I choose to study through entire books of the Bible, as opposed to just picking and choosing selected verses to study if for CONTEXT. Context is so incredibly important, and it is so easy for verses or even passages to be taken out of context. I love the illustration that I have heard several times about when you get a letter in the mail. You do not skip through to the second page of the letter, and choose a random sentence and decide what you should do with what the letter said. It would be so easy to misinterpret the authors intent this way. Instead, you look at the return address on the envelope to see who it is from, you look at who the letter is addressed to, and read the letter in its entirety to understand exactly what it means. You would also probably not mix a letter from your mom, and a letter from your mortgage company that are talking about very different things. We should use the same logical thinking when we study Scripture. We should know who wrote the book, who it was written too, who the book, and verses are talking about. We should not automatically assume that something that was written to the Jewish people applies to us in the New Testament church. We need to be diligent to know the context so that we can understand the purpose that God has for us in each part of Scripture.
There are many examples of taking verses out of context, but one that comes to mind is Psalm 46:5 that says, “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved:”) I have seen this verse on coffee mugs, and on Christian jewelry. It is a beautiful verse, but it is not referring to a Christian woman as is so often implied. The “she” is instead referring to God’s deliverance of the city of Jerusalem from the Assyrians during the time of King Hezekiah. We must be careful not to make the text say what we want it to say, but to be faithful to the Word, and the narrative of Scripture.
I think some topical teaching or study does have its place, as there are topics that need to be addressed, but I think that it is wise to have that as only a supplemental aspect of your walk with God. I fear that there are many topical teachers or preachers who bend the text which has often been taken out of context to fit the sermon that they wish to give or the point that they are trying to make. If we do not know Scripture, it will be so much easier to be confused by false teachings or to accept man’s opinion or standards as on the same level as biblical truth.
It is also so important that we are learning Scripture as a whole. I recently started reading the book of Galatians, and though I knew by memory many of the verses in the book of Galatians I had never done in an depth study on the book, or heard the book preached through. I found that I was discovering verses that I had known my whole life had a different meaning when read in their context. My concept of legalism and freedom in Christ was changed when I dug deeper into the entire book of Galatians instead of pulling verses out of their context.
We should not approach reading or studying Scripture as merely a way that we can feel good in the moment, or feel better about our circumstances, but instead as a way that we can know God, and know His Word better, because that is what will help us through this life.
If you would like to learn more about how I study the Bible, you can read this post.