There are two Greek words in the New Testament that have to do with trying to figure things out. One of them leads to less knowledge, and one opens the way for greater learning. Not surprisingly, Jesus never used the first way, but He confronts people who try to.
The first Greek word is defined as learning through self-calculation. In other words, I try to get at the right answer by either teaching myself, or by talking with people who don’t know any more than I do. This way leaves me in the dark.
For example, notice the phrase “discussed among themselves” in Matthew 16:7 and Mark 11:31. These are people who wanted to try to get answers without going to someone who could teach them. So that leads to four terrible ways to study your Bible—
- Approach your Bible with a know-it-all attitude.
- Try to figure out what the Bible is saying all on your own.
- Try to be your own Bible teacher.
- Grade your own tests as to your answers being right or wrong.
These are not only terrible ways to learn, but they are the exact opposite of what God desires. God says things like, “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), and “Call to Me and I will tell you things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
There is another Greek word which means to learn by having a conversation with someone more knowledgable than myself. So that means four great ways to study your Bible are—
- Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate Scripture to you (John 16:13).
- Study the Bible in a daily systematic way (Acts 19:9).
- Don’t take anyone else’s word for what the Word says (Acts 17:11).
- If you’re confused, ask God to make it clear to you (Jeremiah 33:3).
Luke records an important story for us that took place on the day Jesus was raised from the dead. Two men were walking along “discussing these things with each other,” but not consulting the Scriptures. The result: they were sad and confused. Jesus join them on their journey (although they didn’t recognize Him at first), and took them to the Scriptures that showed them the answers for which they were yearning. They even said, “When He talked to us from the Scriptures, that’s when our hearts burned within us!” (see Luke 24:13-32).
You can try to figure life out on your own, and you will probably end up stymied like the religious leaders in Mark 11, or downcast like the disciples in Luke 24. Or you can ask the Holy Spirit to show you truths from the Scriptures, and have your eyes opened, like the two disciples after Jesus met with them. I think the choice is obvious!
Join me next week as we continue our series How To Study Your Bible.