How do you use the Bible and Bible knowledge in your spiritual life? [OPEN MIC]


This weekend, I will be teaching the last class in my six-week Bible Survey class at my church. I want to end the class talking about how to use the Bible (and especially the knowledge gleaned from the class) in one’s personal (and corporate) spiritual life. How does the Bible actually function in a believer’s life to cultivate a dynamic, deep, and intimate relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit? I have my own thoughts on this, but I want to hear from all of you. So here are some questions:

  • Do more Bible “facts” actually have a direct impact on your spiritual engagement with God? In other words, has studying the backgrounds of the Bible ever led to meeting God? How or why not?
  • What practical methods of immersing oneself in Scripture have been most fruitful to you spiritually?
  • How might people use the tools of Biblical Studies (commentaries, etc.) to treat the Bible formationally, rather than merely informationally?
  • For those that are oriented in such a way that they constantly want to know the context, background, history, date, etc. of Scripture, how have you been able to quiet all these questions in order to meet God?
  • Similarly, for those more “intellectually”-oriented, how have you been able to move beyond the intellect to engage other parts of yourself with Scripture?
  • How do we move beyond facts of Scripture to the Person of Scripture?
  • If (as I said in the first class, and other theologians have said) the Bible only “becomes” the Word of God as the Holy Spirit meets us during our engagement with it, what have been the most effective practical ways that you have invited the Holy Spirit into your Bible Study time?
  • In your experience, what have been some of the pitfalls in other approaches that are commonly endorsed by the contemporary church, or what are some of the realities that aren’t talked about often?
  • What would you say if you were me (haha)?

Feel free to respond below, in a Facebook comment, email, text, or phone call. Thanks.

About these ads

7 thoughts on “How do you use the Bible and Bible knowledge in your spiritual life? [OPEN MIC]

  1. To answer three questions: What practical methods of immersing oneself in Scripture have been most fruitful to you spiritually?… For those that are oriented in such a way that they constantly want to know the context, background, history, date, etc. of Scripture, how have you been able to quiet all these questions in order to meet God?
    …. Similarly, for those more “intellectually”-oriented, how have you been able to move beyond the intellect to engage other parts of yourself with Scripture?

    One of the greatest disciplines for myself (especially fitting in the latter two categories) has been reading large portions of scripture at one time in one sitting (I will occasionally use Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Plan for this). This has always served to remind me of a few things:

    1. The greater story of Scripture, namely God’s overarching redemptive plan.
    2. The character and nature of God which this can lead you to see.
    3. The Bible is the best tool in interpreting itself. Large readings like this have allowed me to see how scripture speaks to itself and often interprets itself better than anything.
    4. I pray before I read and pray often while reading. I do not pray for wisdom or even intellectual fortitude but rather that I would see God and my affections would be stirred for Christ.
    5. I recognize that my aptitude to be more “intellectually”- oriented is how God created me and my mind so I do not neglect to push into that and deepen my understanding of Scripture.

    The greatest thing these readings have done for me is increase my hunger for the Word. I have found that in my life the only answer for a lack of desire to read Scripture has actually been more Scripture. Jumping in the “deep end” as far as amounts of Scripture goes always reminds me just how much I love the water.

    So just my 2 cents. I have enjoyed following along as you have posted about your Bible Survey class and look forward to the post from this one as well.

  2. I’ll give my 3 cents for these two questions: 1. What practical methods of immersing oneself in Scripture have been most fruitful to you spiritually? and 2. If (as I said in the first class, and other theologians have said) the Bible only “becomes” the Word of God as the Holy Spirit meets us during our engagement with it, what have been the most effective practical ways that you have invited the Holy Spirit into your Bible Study time?

    1. Last year I read through Romans, and in order to let it better soak into me I read the same chapter, and the whole chapter, each day for one week. So Week 1, Monday to Sunday was Romans 1, Week 2 was Romans 2, etc. By doing this, I became very familiar with the chapters, and the Holy Spirit would illuminate different themes, emphases, etc. each day. But I also could retain the overall/big picture of it, since I would read an entire chapter at a time. I think that was one of the most fruitful ways that I’ve ever read the Bible.

    2. I am musically oriented, at least vocally, so I often will sing before reading the Bible, or whistle/hum before I sit down to read the Bible. This focuses my mind on God and is a big way that I “invite” the Holy Spirit into my times of reading. And if you’re curious, I sing one of two things: either hymns, or classic 90’s worship music. :) I also just need to slow down and pray. It’s very simple yet critical for me. Slowing down, and focusing my thoughts (which sometimes means praying out loud) is very important (especially in our digital, fast-paced world! mini-rant over.)

    Thanks for posting this. I’m interested to read what others have to say!

  3. I usually skip the bible stuff and go straight to daily self-flagellation for a spiritual discipline ;-) j/k. My daily discipline consists of the daily offices from the Book of Common Prayer (1979)–as much as the day allows: morning prayer, noonday prayer, evening prayer, and compline. As you know, the lectionary prescribes a OT, Psalm, NT, and Gospel reading everyday (noonday and compline have short selections to choose from). Because I am usually working on a sermon or homily, I rarely ever spend an extended time pondering the daily office lectionary (If I weren’t concurrently studying the Scriptures for something else, I would hope that I would spend more time in thought). However, as you also know, the liturgy for the daily offices are often derivative of Scripture, and the repetitive nature of daily liturgy itself is very formative.

    Other than the daily offices, from time to time I practice contemplative prayer. There are various expressions of this practice, but I have found that of the Eastern Churches to be most helpful. Sometimes I will just use the Jesus Prayer; other times I will use a verse(s) of Scripture.

    The most common pitfall for me is time. Without adequate time, I rarely fail to benefit from scripture or liturgy. Also, without repetition (as in scripture contained within liturgy or the theme of a liturgical season) I usually fail to benefit from, or retain, the thrust of the lesson.

    The main way for me to move beyond informational to formational, and thereby spiritual experiences, is approaching scripture through liturgy. The liturgy forces me to prepare to hear the lessons as well as respond to the lessons (especially when I dont’ feel like it!). Also, the liturgical seasons of the year serve as a helpful narrative through which I can [usually] understand the assigned readings.

    That’s all that I have time to write for now. Hope it helps, and I hope you are well my friend!

  4. A few scriptures that come to mind:

    “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4

    Actually, I was gonna write some more, but too many to list here…It’s amazing how much insight you can get here just by doing a Bible search for the phrase “It is written…” Certainly I think the way Jesus used and applied the writings of scripture can provide tremendous insight as well…

  5. 1. Do more Bible “facts” actually have a direct impact on your spiritual engagement with God?

    Understanding the overarching theme of the Word being the redemptive plan of God has been absolutely transformative for me in my spiritual engagement with God. If the Bible is simply a collection of “stories” meant to illustrate the sinfulness of man and easy steps for how to defeat giants, level cities, and raise the dead, I’m missing the essential story of God—and in danger of missing the centrality of the gospel in the whole of scripture. So yes, absolutely. Knowing facts helps me to put God at the forefront of the story.

    2. What practical methods of immersing oneself in Scripture have been most fruitful to you spiritually?

    I have never been one to read mass portions of scripture in a short amount of time (ie. read the bible in a year, etc.). I find that I’m too much of a skimmer to really ingest the words, nuances, and life offered there. The best method of immersing myself in the word has simply been to commit to memory what I read. I do this in various ways: lots of notecards floating around my life, using this method (http://www.thevillagechurch.net/the-village-blog/scripture-memorization/), lots of repetition in my reading, spending long periods of time in the same chapter or book.

    3. How might people use the tools of Biblical Studies (commentaries, etc.) to treat the Bible formationally, rather than merely informationally?

    Eeek, this is probably the hardest question for me to answer. I traditionally have avoided most commentaries because I get lost in the verbiage and lose sight of the overarching message. I’m about to start a ten month discipleship class at my church (OT, NT, Theology) and we’re about to hit the commentaries hard, so I’ll let you know how that goes =)

    4. For those that are oriented in such a way that they constantly want to know the context, background, history, date, etc. of Scripture, how have you been able to quiet all these questions in order to meet God?

    I’m more bent toward trusting God these days. There have been times when I have had a thirst for context, history, etc. so deeply and badly that it went poorly for me when I actually wanted to be still and hear and know God. It is infinitely easier and better *for me* to simply go palm up these days and say that I don’t understand some things, press in to the Helper and Comforter, and trust.

    5. Similarly, for those more “intellectually”-oriented, how have you been able to move beyond the intellect to engage other parts of yourself with Scripture?

    I’m grateful that Matt preaches exegetically through the Word for the most part, and since we use suplemental material in our homegroups that go along with what he’s preaching, it helps me to delve into the parts of the word that I might not naturally go toward. For instance, we spent the better half of 2011 going through Habakkuk. Who DOES that? Haha. It was GOOD.

    6. How do we move beyond facts of Scripture to the Person of Scripture?

    I think it’s ironic that the way we move beyond the fact to the person is actually through the spirit. But I think the Holy Spirit is absolutely crucial to our growth in this area. Too often I read dogmatic treaties on scripture void of the Spirit or the *fruit* of the spirit and I’m likely to either check out completely or dismiss everything else said on that basis alone. We need to get back to a desperation for the HS in all we say and do.

    7. If (as I said in the first class, and other theologians have said) the Bible only “becomes” the Word of God as the Holy Spirit meets us during our engagement with it, what have been the most effective practical ways that you have invited the Holy Spirit into your Bible Study time?

    Ask. Ask. Ask. I mean ask often and ask deeply. I groan with my asks. I’m the persistent widow with my asks. I spent too many years of my faith thinking that the Holy Spirit was my guru or my genie and it wrecked my love for the spirit at all. Now I know He is comforter and helper and I ask, Oh God, be my helper, be my comforter. Often.

    8. In your experience, what have been some of the pitfalls in other approaches that are commonly endorsed by the contemporary church, or what are some of the realities that aren’t talked about often?

    Honestly? I really think the Holy Spirit. It could be my background in the charismatic church makes me sensitive to the handling of the HS in our handling of scripture and life in Christ, but now, even at my church which elevates the characteristics of God head and shoulders above anywhere else I’ve been, I still feel the lack of a passion and communicated need to press near to the HS. We love the HS there, I know, but I find in regular everyday conversation that in the practical everyday life, we’re not asking for more, naming the HS as our helper and comforter, and knowing that along with the Father’s love, salvation through Christ, we need the HS.

  6. Pingback: Using the Bible to Meet with God | the long way home

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s