These past couple weeks we've been focusing on the importance, the motivation, and strategies for reading and meditating on God's Word. While it is good to have motivation and strategies in place, they cannot be what we ultimately rely on. Nigel Benyon and Andrew Sach give some helpful insight from their book Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God's Word.
We Can Understand the Word of God Only by the Spirit of God. Consider the following:
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him—” these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Cor. 2:9–12).
We need to continually express our dependence on God for a right understanding of him and his ways. He is the one who grants insight (2 Tim. 2:7; Phil. 3:15). And so we must pray. Pray before you open the Bible. Pray when you get stuck and don’t understand. Pray again when you do understand it—say thank you! Pray, pray, pray!
Paul’s point is clear: we need God’s Spirit to understand God’s Word. Given that it was the Spirit who inspired it in the first place, that comes as no surprise. There’s another implication, though: The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). Someone who isn’t a Christian (i.e. the “natural person”) won’t be able fully to understand the Bible, no matter how many qualifications or degrees in theology he or she may have.
So while we may employ strategies to do our part (meditating, praying, using Bible study tools, etc), God is the one enabling us to actually understand. Learn more about Dig Deeper. It's an excellent resource for Bible study principles.
- Don't Miss the Point: Questions to Ask While Reading Scripture (Stephen J. Nichols)
- Tactics for Reading the Bible (Stephen J. Nichols)