How to Engage the Bible: Between Scanning and Scholarship
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Protestant Christians are often encouraged by their pastors to get into God's Word. For some, this is more than an encouragement, it is a requirement. "If you seek identity in Christ," the preacher says, "you must be in Scripture on a regular basis." Joshua 1:8 is often cited as proof of this admonishment. For other Christians, a pastoral encouragement to read the Bible may come only infrequently and as a mild suggestion.
Bible Reading Check-List
Whatever the level of prompting, for those who decide to open the Word of God, there arises a question about how to engage with Scripture. Should the individual set a strict reading plan to read through the Bible in a year? If so, the goal would apparently be to read a certain number of verses each day and to check the box when each selection is completed. While well-intended, a disciplined reading plan can be done with little comprehension or retention. One can simply scan one's eyes across the page from verse 1 to verse 38, for example, and be done.
On the other end of the continuum are those Christians who approach the Bible as if they are studying for an upcoming college exam. These individuals aren't simply reading through the Bible, they are engaging in textual analysis. Pouring over commentaries and study Bibles, these believers are amateur theologians. There is no page scanning here, this is entering the realm of scholarship. Christians should take a high view of the Bible and should desire to understand it more fully. But, as Jesus told the Jewish people in John 5:39-40, you can study Scripture to find truth, but if you do not commit your life to its teachings, it will do you no good.
Purpose of My Bible Devotions
The purpose of this website is to avoid these two extremes. My hope is to steer you away from the spiritual ditch of scanning verses while also avoiding the other spiritual ditch of theological controversies. Theologians have an important role to fill within the church, but this website is not intended as a place for knowledge duels or to settle longstanding disagreements on tertiary issues. Instead, I have created this website in order to encourage people to engage with Scripture in a way that impacts their life. This is my desire. And I hope that as you use the Bible devotions here, they will help transform the way you think, how you talk, and what you do. This is the desire of the Holy Spirit for each of us (Ephesians 4:23-24).
Joshua 1:8 "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." (NASB)
John 5:39-40 "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." (NASB)
Ephesians 4:23-24 "Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." (NLT)