We have already discussed What the Bible is, how is was written, and who decided which books were in (and out). Now we can get practical: What’s the point? Now that we have an ancient book, how on earth do we use it? Here are some best practices for how to relate the Bible to your world.
Consider historical context, timeless truth, and personal application.
The Historical Context: The Bible was written before we were born by writers that lived in nations and cultures that existed before ours. The original intended ancient audience of each of the 66 books in the Bible predates ours, and were often vastly distinct from one another. If you first consider the history, geography, and other culturally specific traits of the original audience when reading a particular book in the Bible, you end up with a more accurate picture of what the writers intended to communicate and why, and what the ancient readers understood. Turn an eye to the historical context when reading the Bible.
The Timeless Truth: What did the ancient writer say that is always true? The original audience is long gone, as is their culture, nation, and cities, but there are timeless truths found in the Bible that are always correct. What timeless truths are clearly presented in the Scripture you are reading? What is always true based on what these words are saying? Look and reflect on a passage to understand the timeless truth that flows out from the original, historical context.
The Personal Application: Move beyond the “timeless truths” aspect of it and get personal. How may this timeless truth be applied to your own personal life. What specific actions can be taken by you personally in what ways and in what time-frame? If God desires certain things from all humanity, how will you specifically respond with action this week? This afternoon?
Memorize it for Inspiration: It is good to remember what God thinks of you during the times where others may not share His opinion. Memorizing Scripture will not just remind you where God and some people you know have a differing opinion, but you’ll also be reminded that only one of those opinions matter. Memorizing Scripture isn’t just a pragmatic exercise; the Holy Spirit can use that to bring to mind those truths you need the most at the time you need it.
Read it for Knowledge: If all the words in the Bible are God’s words and are true, then it is important we know them. Knowing what the Bible says about topics can help you process your own experiences. Knowing what the books of the Bible are about helps us see God’s redemptive hand throughout history. Knowing the Bible isn’t complete without wisdom and action, but knowledge is still good.
Consider it to Reflect on Your Experience: What is happening or has happened in your life that looks different against the backdrop of Scripture? What must change or end? What must continue or simply begin? What does your life look like moving forward as a follower of Christ according to the command to “Make Disciples” in the Bible?
Share it in Hope: The message of Christ is about hope. It gives us hope for living out our lives each day, as well as hope in eternity that death is not the end. We have this hope in Jesus because it is laid out for us in the Bible. We weren’t there some 2000 years ago, but many were. They wrote down and preserved their experiences so that others would have this hope. We can share this hope not just in our own words, but through knowing and speaking the words of these 66 books. The Bible is a centerpiece to our hope; we can share it. We can only share what we have, and through God’s word, we can share our hope