What are your goals for 2018?
With the new year just begun—and a new semester starting soon—most of us have some sort of goal in mind. Maybe you plan to read a certain number of books. Maybe you want to start running, biking, or working out. Maybe you’re just looking forward to starting school again refreshed and rested.
But what are your goals in relation to God’s word?
As Christian teens, our top priority is not reading, exercise, or even schoolwork. Those things are important—but our relationship with God is essential.
Christianity isn’t just a lot of rules to follow. Nor is it merely a ticket out of hell into heaven. Christianity is a relationship with the God who made us—a relationship where our all-powerful Creator loves us and cares for us. The most important goal for our lives is to know Him better.
And that only happens through the Bible: the eternal, unchanging words that He communicated to us.
Because of this, a lot of us will make some kind of goal to be in God’s word more this year. Maybe you’ll start a reading plan, or set up a schedule that gives you an extra half-hour for Bible reading. And those are some of the most important “New Year’s resolutions” we can make.
But what if we went further than just reading our Bibles?
What if we made a commitment to study God’s word? What if we purposed to dig deep into our Bibles, spending time with each chapter and verse, discovering what God has to teach us through them?
This kind of deep, intensive study may sound intimidating. It may even seem unnecessary. But here are five reasons you should make it a habit this year.
1. It Takes You Below the Surface
Reading the Bible is important. It brings us face-to-face with God’s truth, convicting, comforting, and transforming us. Reading through the whole book can give us a broad overview of God’s plan for salvation and help us see connections between the Old Testament and the New.
But if we stop there, we’re missing out.
Reading the Bible is like getting an aerial view of New York City. You get the big picture. You get to experience the beauty of the skyline and enjoy a stunning view.
If you go down to ground level, however, you’ll see so much more. You can go inside buildings and museums, get lunch at coffee shops, or just walk around the streets.
When you study the Bible, you interact with it on a much deeper level than when you just read it. You ask questions—who’s involved? What’s happening? Why is this important? You can write down everything you learn about God from the text. You mark words that are important. If you want to go even deeper, you can find out what key words mean in the original language or look up other verses that help you understand the text.
By putting this kind of time and energy into observing and understanding the Bible, you’ll discover beautiful truths you might have missed otherwise. You’ll notice things you might have brushed past before. And in the process, you will know God better.
2. You Gain an Intimate Knowledge of the Text
We can never know and understand the Bible completely. If we spent all our lives studying it, there would still be more to learn.
However, even though we can’t know it completely, we can still know it deeply and intimately. By digging into God’s word with perseverance, you gain truths you can treasure in your heart (Psalm 119:11). By spending time with it, searching out each verse and chapter, you can let God’s word dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16).
Just like your weekly commute is different from driving somewhere new, studying your Bible is different from reading it over once. The one drive you might enjoy, but on the other you know every curve, every building, every pond or fountain. When we spend time studying God’s word we become deeply, intimately familiar with it.When we spend time studying God’s word we become deeply, intimately familiar with it. Click To Tweet
3. You Remember It Better
Have you ever sat through a lecture? Chances are, even if you took notes you don’t remember much of what the professor or speaker said. Just hearing something once isn’t usually enough to remember it, unless it’s highly interesting—and sometimes not even then.
But what about the times you discovered something for yourself? Maybe you finally worked out a math problem, or you researched a specific issue that interested you. When we discover something ourselves, it’s often easier to remember.
Bible study is the same way. When we’re doing research and making connections ourselves, the things we discover tend to stick in our minds.
In addition, just spending time with a passage as you study it can help you remember it better. For most of us, reading something once isn’t enough to memorize it. But reading it over and over—as tends to happen in Bible study—will make it much easier to remember. Even if you can’t remember the exact words, the ideas will remain.
4. You Understand the Story Better
Sometimes we forget that the Bible is a story.
We focus on individual chapters and verses, and we forget that every chapter and every verse is part of a larger narrative. The metanarrative of redemption. The epic, cosmic, true story of how a holy and infinite God chose to save the creatures who turned against Him.
Because of that, the different books and chapters of the Bible are interconnected. Isaiah foretells the story of Luke. Peter quotes Psalm 2. The Passover lamb of Exodus foreshadows the Lamb of God, and Revelation remembers Genesis.Don't forget that every chapter and verse of the Bible is part of a larger narrative. Click To Tweet
Studying the Bible helps us to see those connections. Cross references—other passages that relate to a text—let us understand how the verses in front of us relate to the whole story. And if you have an intimate understanding of one passage, then when you read the rest of the Bible you’ll start seeing how it connects to everything else.
5. It Is Possible
I used to be scared to study the Bible on my own.
I was scared to ask questions and find answers for myself, because I might get something wrong. Serious Bible study was only for pastors or experienced, mature adults—right?
Oh, so very wrong.
God’s word is for everyone—including teenagers! He has given us everything we need to understand it correctly and apply it to our lives. We have human resources, like commentaries and older Christians we can ask for help. We have personal resources, like the minds and intelligence He has given us. And most importantly, we have divine resources. We have Him. We have the Holy Spirit working inside our hearts, and we have the promise that He will give wisdom to whoever asks (James 1:5).
Maybe you’re concerned about the time it will take. Trust me, I understand that struggle! It can be hard to fit one more thing in with everything else on the schedule—and during some seasons it might just not be possible.What if we thought of Bible study not just as one more thing, but as the most important thing? Click To Tweet
But what if we thought of Bible study not just as one more thing, but as the most important thing? What if we intentionally structured our lives and schedules to make room for reading—and studying—our Bibles?
God’s word is more powerful than we can imagine. Let’s make it a habit to study the Bible this year.