Mining can be hard work. It can also be immensely rewarding. And unlike physical mining, where a vein can be depleted or not have much in it, Scripture will always have more gems to unearth. We never have to wonder whether we dig in vain, especially if we know where and how to look.
Over the past three posts, I’ve provided tools specific to the three steps of mining. But before we conclude this series, there are a few more tools that you should know about. These tools are ones to keep with you throughout the entire process:
The Bible is God’s book. He is intimately acquainted with every detail. He knows precisely what He meant in every passage. He understands how every passage ought to be applied, both generally and specifically. It only makes sense to consult Him at each stage, seeking His guidance in your study.Every time you dig into Scripture, take time to pray. Writing out the prayer can provide additional focus and help prevent flippancy in asking for God’s help. Click To Tweet
So every time you dig into Scripture, take time before you start to deliberately ask for His help. I often write out that prayer. It doesn’t have to be long. Some of my prayers are only one sentence. Others are a couple paragraphs. But writing out the prayer can provide additional focus and, at least for me, helps prevent flippancy in asking for God’s help.
Talking through a passage brings clarity to thought. It forces you to arrange your ideas logically and express them articulately. It compels you to untangled the muddled and solidify the vague. It requires precision to explain what you’re learning to someone who hasn’t been studying what you’ve been studying.
Moreover, discussion, especially with a mature Christian well-versed in Scripture, can keep you spiritually sound. It is easy, when studying on your own, to mistake your voice and thoughts for God’s. It’s easy to conform Scripture to your life and your desires, rather than letting the Bible conform your life to its truth.
Good discussion can offer a counterbalance. It implies a level of accountability, a willingness to hear and consider another perspective. It provides another set of eyes to watch for danger, for areas where you might have accidentally misinterpreted or misapplied. Positively, it can bring out facets or connections you may have missed, adding even more richness to your study.
3. More prayer
As I said, this is God’s book we’re studying. Only through relying on Him will you be able to find the gems of Scripture and avoid being tricked or deceived by fool’s gold.Don’t pray just before you study. Pray any time you get stuck or confused. Seek out His counsel and wait patiently for His answer. Then when He does provide, make sure to thank Him for His help. Click To Tweet
So don’t pray just before you study. Pray any time you get stuck or confused. Seek out His counsel and wait patiently for His answer. Then when He does provide—and He will—make sure to thank Him for His help.
4. An open but discerning mind
Sometimes we miss the gems of Scripture because they don’t come the way we expect. They may not mesh with a tradition we know. Or maybe they seem to contradict what we’ve always been taught. Other times, we walk into a passage thinking we already know what it means and miss extra layers because of that.
Therefore, it’s important to approach the Scriptures with an open mind and empty hands, receptive to whatever God has to teach us. After all, He can’t fill something that’s already full.
Moreover, we all have some preconceived notions that are wrong. We all have a few beliefs that are skewed, not quite aligned with Scripture’s teaching. That makes it important to set all that aside, as much as possible, when we start studying. The point is to learn what God actually says, rather than relying what others claim He said.
Still, you must exercise clear-headed caution. Scripture can be twisted and misapplied. Some parts are difficult to understand and confusing. It can be tempting to force an interpretation rather than to admit you just don’t understand it yet. It can be easy to make a passage say what you want it to say because you don’t like a traditional interpretation.
So hold loosely new and untried discoveries. They may be right; you may have connected dots that others in your circle have not yet seen. Or those ideas may be wrong and the first step toward heresy.
The key is to allow the idea to be challenged. If it is true, it will hold up under time and survive a thorough investigation and cross-referencing with other Scriptures. If it isn’t, clutching those ideas may very well skew your ability to study other parts of the Bible. So keep your discernment active as you study.
5. Even more prayer
I truly cannot emphasize this point enough. God is the ultimate source of all wisdom, knowledge, insight, understanding, and discernment. Without His aid, you might as well hang up your shovel. All your efforts will be in vain. As Solomon, the wisest man to live, noted, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
As has been frequently repeated, mining for the gems of Scripture is hard work. It takes time to learn the tools. It takes practice in order to use them skillfully.
But despite your best efforts, some days you’ll feel like you’re getting nowhere. There will be times you’ll wonder if it is worth the time and effort. You will be tempted to give up and go back to only listening to a teacher or pastor. After all, letting someone else give you the gems they mined is easier.
When those times come, persevere! Seek God’s guidance, maybe take a brief break, but then get back at it. God’s storehouses brim with so many treasures, more than any single person can unearth, and God might want to surprise you with a particular gem.
Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in Chawna’s four part series on Bible study. Read the first parts here The First Step to Effective Bible Study: Digging Into God’s Word – The Rebelution 5 Tips To Help You Really Understand God’s Word – The Rebelution