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The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns

Proverbs Geri Lavrov Getty Images. Galatians AleksandarNakic Getty Images. Christoph Wagner Getty Images. Heath Korvola Getty Images. David Niddrie Getty Images. Tom Merton Getty Images. Peter Zelei Images Getty Images. Arthur Machado Getty Images. These Gentiles were being harassed by Jews who said they needed to follow Jewish customs in order to be true Christians.

Knowing this simple fact sheds light on why Paul was so fired up about the seemingly weird subject of circumcision an important Jewish rite. The better you know your theology what the Bible has to say about a given subject , the better your overall understanding of Scripture will be.


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Understanding core theological doctrines can help you make sense of verses that seem out of place. For example, in James , it seems to imply that good works are somehow necessary for salvation. Knowing the doctrine of justification keeps you from making this interpretation error and forces you to think through this verse from a different angle. People forget that the Bible was originally intended to be heard. Hearing the Word read can give you new eyes or ears on particular passages and help you understand the Bible in ways never did previously.

Bible Gateway makes it really simple to listen to the ESV translation through their app.

I always recommend starting with a translation that is more literal word for word in its translation style so that you can get as close to the original meaning as possible. However, reading multiple translations of the same passage can unlock different shades of meaning that you may have previously missed.

The Holy Bible - Book 01 - Genesis - KJV Dramatized Audio

Use certain colors to highlight repeated words or themes. Come up with a series of symbols or shapes to put beside verses that connect them together. Underline passages that really hit you hard. When it comes to how to understand the Bible, few things help like this kind of intense engagement. But commentaries by really smart men and women can really help, especially when coming to stickier passages. Commentaries give clarity on word meanings, historical context, the biblical storyline, and more. They also help you see through the eyes of others, which can give you fresh perspective as you try to learn how to read the Bible.

Tim Challies has a helpful list of the best commentaries for each book of the Bible. But again, they can be very helpful as you work your way through different sections of the Bible.

Bible Verses About Children- 25 Inspirational Scripture Quotes

Sometimes it can be immensely helpful to immerse yourself in a single book for an extended period of time. I remember hearing pastor Mike Bullmore say that there was a lengthy period when he read the book of Psalms repeatedly for the health of his soul. Diving way deep into a single book allows you to pick up nuances you would never get on a single pass. It forces you to grapple with the logical arguments of the author and pushes you to a more thorough understanding.

Why did God want this particular verse included? Why did God want me, a 21st century Christian, to know the genealogy of Jesus? What hath circumcision to do with now? Push deeper.

Public Reading of Scripture

Go back and read earlier verses and following verses. Examine the bigger context. Yes, there are thousands of things that are incredibly relevant to you, but Jesus is at the start, middle, and end of the Bible. Reading the Bible and memorizing its verses had been impressed upon them so strongly that they could no longer read the Bible without also recalling the negative reinforcement and guilt that often accompanies regimented Bible-reading groups. The church has more Bible study plans, methods, groups, and techniques than we know what to do with.

On their own, Bible reading plans and verse memorization techniques are overwhelming—they take time and effort, and can leave you feeling guilty for missing a day, a week, or a meeting. Changing your diet takes discipline. The Bible is one of our greatest sources of spiritual food. But sometimes we still fill up on junk food. Blogs, social media, news, TV shows, books, and games.

When you have a sodium deficiency, your body craves salty foods. Many non-Christians have no desire to read the Bible. They want nothing to do with it. In those moments, losing sight of the value of daily Bible study is more like cutting caffeine from my diet. Or, worse, I get headaches. Reading the Bible is something you should do because you want to.

2 Peter 3:18

Woven throughout the book is a clear, underlying theme: they love you very much. Part of my job at Faithlife lets me write reflections on Scripture or dig into biblical topics. To do that well, I need to dig into the Bible daily. For Scripture to penetrate my heart and permeate my life, I have to read it just to read it, too.


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If you want to know who God is, he had 40 people write a whole book about him over the course of about 1, years. Now all you have to do is pick a Bible up off the shelf, read the Bible online , or download the Bible on your phone. Those can all be useful motivators to help you get on the right track and create healthy spiritual habits you want to have. I lead a small group of high school freshmen boys. Daily Bible reading plans , Bible study techniques , and external incentives are all tools designed to help you develop discipline and make Bible study part of your regular routine.

My wife started a diet because she wanted to. A group of her coworkers started dieting too, and together, they held each other accountable. She started because she wanted to eat healthier. After eating healthier for a few months, the reasons why she started were enough to keep her going. In the same way, those external factors that help us read the Bible regularly are not the reason why we read.

These tools, coupled with meaningful, personal reasons to read the Bible will help you have a far richer spiritual life. You could even read the Bible right now. Want help getting started? We have a free 10 day Bible study course that can teach you some of the same strategies veteran Bible readers use all the time. See how easy it is to draw fresh insights from the Bible, and start applying it directly to your own life. So what are you waiting for? Sign up.

Thanks for this post. A couple of months ago, I realized that with all of the electronic resources that I have about the Bible spinning on my hard drive, I had been reading more of the commentaries and other stuff rather than the Bible itself. I had read thru the Bible a few of times in a year using plans from our church and I thought that I should do that again so I set up a Bible reading plan to read the entire Bible before the end of the year so easy to do that in Logos.