Getting to know the Bible better
In May, we published something unusual – a quiz made up of 50 quotes from the Bible entitled “Who said this to whom?” compiled by Frank DeVries of Abbotsford, B.C. After several requests for extra copies we’ve made it readily available on our website christiancourier.ca/columns-op-ed/entry/quick-quotes-quiz-how-well-do-you-know-scripture.
The following guest editorial complements that quiz.
Most of us would like to know the Bible better, but how can we do that? Perhaps you have gotten into a Bible study or tried to use some books that explain Scripture’s meaning. But after a while, you realize how big Scripture is, how much there is of it, and how many books and studies there are on it – and the task can seem overwhelming.
A number of years ago, I learned from two godly men a couple of ways that helped me get to know Scripture much better; they can almost certainly help you, too. Neither approach takes more than about 15 or 20 minutes a day, neither takes a huge expenditure of effort and neither requires anything besides your Bible as supplies. But in only a few years of using these approaches, you can become familiar with all of Scripture – and even memorize large chunks of it.
You reply, “Years? But I’d like to have that now, as soon as possible.” Have you tried that approach with learning to play the piano? It takes time and some commitment to “keep at it,” to develop proficiency at almost anything worthwhile, including developing familiarity with Scripture. It’s understandable but short-sighted that Christians so often opt for the devotional “quick-fix” that rarely leads to lasting spiritual growth or deepened insight. Besides, aren’t you planning on serving the Lord for the rest of your life? Then don’t reject an idea about how to get to know Scripture better just because it may take a while to produce its full fruit.
The first way to get to know Scripture better is simple – read it: all of it. Do you realize that if you read four chapters a day, seven days a week, you will read through the Bible in less than a year? (At three chapters a day, it takes a little more than a year.) If you do that, two or three or four years in a row, you will be amazed at how much you learn, and you will develop a sense for the emphases and balance of Scripture that will enable you to discern whether what someone says is in keeping with Scripture or not. That is valuable. It will also help you recognize what ought to be important in your life. That is also valuable.
The second way offers help for something we all recognize would be good but find very difficult to do – memorizing Scripture. Oh, sure, we’ve heard about the benefit of doing it, but memorization seems to be so much hard work that it gets left undone, and with our busy schedules, we somehow never really commit to it.
Many years ago, I heard an aged and well-respected Bible teacher explain how we could do it. He even told us that, with this approach, we could “go big,” memorizing whole chapters and books of Scripture.
He said that, if you wanted to memorize Philippians, for example, you should simply read it through every day for a month – not trying to memorize it, but just reading it alertly. (Once a week, read the book in a different translation, so that you still hear the message of the book, while your mind is storing it.) At the end of the month, you will know the book by heart without trying to memorize it. You will be able to quote off several verses, and if you glance at the next phrase, you will be able to go right on from there. Breaking up large books (like Romans) into chunks of four or five chapters, you can carry the process through to memorize those bigger books, too. Keep at that for a couple of years, and you can memorize a fair amount of the New Testament (it works for Old Testament material, too!).
Maybe you hesitate or you’re skeptical that these will work. Summer is coming. Why not challenge yourself to try one method? Include every day (or as close to that as you can get) a period of 15 or 20 minutes to read four chapters. Try to make it a regular part of your life this summer, a pattern that you can keep up over the next year. Try reading Philippians (or Colossians) every day for a month, then another book in the next month. Why not see if you can memorize a whole book of the Bible this way?
After all, you want to get to know the Bible better, so what do you have to lose? If these work – and I can testify personally that they do – you have a lot to gain.