When reading the Bible what do you want to “get out of it”? There seems to be two different popular paths to go down when answering this question, but we need to look to Scripture for the correct answer.
The first popular path is to gain information about what the Bible talks about. It is studied to learn about such things as who did what and when it occurred or to learn about what verse speaks about a particular topic. Don’t get me wrong, there is much value in learning about Scripture, but I think by itself this path is limited in spiritual value to us and our children.
The second popular path is to read the Scriptures not so much to gain information but to get an experience. The Bible is read not to understand what was written but to understand how a person relates to the words. The goal is to connect emotionally with the Scriptures to create a personal experience rather than to increase ones knowledge. I don’t want to come across as speaking against emotion or personal experience, because I believe that there is an important place for it in our lives. In fact I think that we should want to experience what we have knowledge about. The problem with this path is that emotion without truth comes and goes without lasting change.
The better path is what Scripture would have us follow and is a blend of the two popular paths but with a proper focus.
In John 10: 27, Jesus says “my sheep hear my voice…” which teaches an important truth that will help answer the question of what we should get out of reading Scripture. The sheep are believers that hear the voice of God speaking to them. First, we need to be listening for a specific voice, not our own voice, but the voice of God Himself. Second, we need to understand what His voice is saying to us. This means that we need to carefully learn what Scripture is saying, without opinion interfering. Furthermore, His voice will be leading us to follow Him, just like sheep follow their shepherd.
After we hear the voice of God clearly, by understanding what He is saying and are willing to follow whatever He is telling us, we need to realize that our purpose for reading the Bible doesn’t stop there. In 1 John 2:13, it says “I write unto you, fathers, because you have known Him that is from the beginning”. This verse teaches us another truth about what we are to “get out of” studying the Bible. The goal is not just to learn what the Bible says, but also to “know Him that is from the beginning”. This means that our goal to is know God – to fellowship with the one who actually spoke the words, not just to know the words themselves. We can read many biographies about a person we respect but we merely know about them, we don’t know them personally. If we become friends with this person and spend time with them then we will start to really know them.
What we should aim to “get out of” studying the Bible, is to know God more, to fellowship with Him until we really get to know Him (which will take an eternity). Out of this relationship with Him, He will guide us just like a shepherd does for his sheep and apply His Words to our hearts and cause us to walk in them.
May we purpose to seek the Lord with our whole heart that we may know Him more each day!