As we enter a new year, there’s no better place to turn for guidance than the God who knows, and orchestrates, the future. And perhaps no New Year’s resolution can have a greater impact on our lives than committing to study God’s word each day. Dr. Eric Bargerhuff says it’s not enough to settle for second-hand knowledge of scripture: God wants to relate to us personally through His word.
“Each one of us, in our own faith walk with Christ, has to have a commitment to reading the Bible regularly and to study it. The Bible really does have the power of God in it, and behind it, to bring forth a transformation of our life–a transformation of the way we view the world. What’s missing is hard-core commitment. “
Eric says biblical illiteracy has become more widespread, not because we don’t have access to the Bible, but because we haven’t made it the priority in our lives.
“As we start off the new year, we’re reminded of the commitment to the spiritual disciplines Christians ought to have: commitment to reading God’s word, to praying, to worship, to serving and giving yourself to the purposes of the Lord. I think that now’s the time to once again refresh, renew, or even maybe for the first time commit yourself to really reading through and studying the Bible.”
There’s no substitute for reading the Bible yourself, and discovering what God is saying in His own words. However, secondary aids, like study guides, can help you understand the Bible’s meaning more thoroughly.
“Your first book is the word of God, but second, there are other great resources that teach us how to study the Bible better in its context, without cherry-picking verses here and there that seem to meet to felt need or try to apply it without really studying the whole context. That’s where we have to begin. Even a Christian has been a Christian for a long time needs a refresher course in how to approach Scripture, how to glean what God’s plan for us is from Scripture, so that this word of God will come to life.”
To quote Richard Lints in his book, The Fabric of Theology, “the Bible is not merely a record of our redemption, it is actually the agent of our redemption as well.” Eric expands,
“The Bible has that transforming power within it that changes us. We really need to get into that, and tap into that transforming power. You can only do that if you learn how to study it. It takes time, it takes practice, it takes examples, it takes commitment and diligence, but it’s worth every moment of time and energy.”
Eric J. Bargerhuff, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Bible and Theology at Trinity College of Florida and served in pastoral ministry for over 22 years. He is also a Fellow in the Center for Pastor Theologians (CPT). He is the author of Love that Rescues: God's Fatherly Love in the Practice of Church Discipline, The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God's Word Is Misunderstood, and The Most Misused Stories in the Bible: Surprising Ways Popular Bible Stories Are Misunderstood.Better Bible study in 2018