When we come to the Bible, we usually come with our own set of questions. What does God’s Word say about this or that? For instance, we might ask what the Bible teaches about marriage or parenting. And, generally speaking, the Bible does indeed have a lot to say on these kinds of topics. But there are two hidden dangers in this approach to Bible study.
1.When we are always bringing our questions to the Bible, we are setting the agenda instead of the Word.
Sometimes we go to a particular passage with a question in mind and then try to force that passage to answer said question.The problem is that the text may not be trying to answer our question at all. In fact, the original author may be addressing an entirely different situation. This tends to happen a lot with the book of Revelation.
2. The other issue is that in our sinful condition we almost never ask the right questions.
For example, man will not naturally wonder how he can be reconciled to God. Instead, he will wonder what he has to do to get God to bless him in a certain way. We want to bring our demands to God, but rarely will we want to know what God demands of us.
So how do we avoid this error in Bible study? A few quick tips come to mind.
First, study systematically through entire books of the Bible. When we jump around from text to text we don’t allow ourselves enough time to really hear what one author is saying or to understand his flow of thought. Consequently, we easily try to put words in the biblical authors’ mouths.
Second, read through the entirety of whatever book you’re studying several times over the course of a week or so. I promise that as you do, you’ll get a good feel for how the author has put the book together, formed his argument, etc. This, in turn, will help you to divide the book up into distinct blocks or units of thought.
Third, once you have understood the different blocks (or units of thought) which comprise the book, study those individual units carefully, seeking to observe and make note of every detail you possibly can from the passage. As you do, I promise you will begin to ask questions of the passage which it wants to answer!
Fourth, prayer each time before you get in the Word, that God would give you the humility to receive what He wants you to, instead of the other way around.
I hope these brief tips will prove to be a blessing to you in your study of God’s Word!