Bible Study is not about Passing a Quiz

Open BibleWhen I was nine years old, my church gave me a Bible for my very own. A whole Bible. Just for me. Talk about proud! Up to that time, my only Bible was a New Testament my grandmother gave me when I was five. I loved it, but it was only part of the Bible. I was so excited about that new Bible that I almost floated away.

In the years after that moment, I pretty much wore out that Bible. I learned to say all the books in order. I learned every memory verse assigned for Sunday School. I could find a Bible verse in my new Bible faster than just about anybody could. I “knew” my Bible.

Unfortunately, Bible “knowledge” did not really translate into Bible behavior for a long time. I was really good at answering Bible questions. Where does the Jordan River end? Whose name was Saul before it was Paul? What amazing thing did Elijah do on Mount Carmel? I “knew” those answers, but I studied the Bible the same way I studied science; I wanted to learn the facts.

Do you have that problem? Do you perhaps think that it is not worthwhile for you to read the Bible, because you need to look in the table of contents to find the first page of Isaiah? Do you think that you do not know enough “about” the Bible to understand it?

Do not let this problem keep you from reading and learning from the Bible. God did not inspire and preserve the Bible in order for us to become professorial about it. God gave us the Bible as a guide for faith and life, and if you can read, you can learn from the Bible. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, you have access to the finest Bible teacher available, and you do not need an internet account. God provided the Bible, and God provided the best teacher, too—the Holy Spirit.

This is why prayer and Bible study go hand in hand. When you read the Bible, you do not need to read it alone. You can read it with understanding, as the Holy Spirit guides you. Jesus promised us this guidance on the night before his crucifixion.  He knew the horror that lay ahead of him that night and the next day, but before he endured it, he spent the evening with his disciples, comforting them and reassuring them in advance. He promised them that the Holy Spirit would come and that the Holy Spirit would teach them everything they needed to know. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth… the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things” (John 14:16-17, 26 ESV). Every believer who asks the Holy Spirit for help will receive the help he needs in order to understand what he reads in the Bible.

This does not mean that you should scorn Bible teacher, pastors, commentaries, maps and books on biblical backgrounds. The more informed your mind is, the more the Holy Spirit has to work with when you read the Bible. You will be blessed repeatedly as you participate in group studies, read devotions by faithful fellow Christians, worship and study in formal classes. All these forms of education are excellent, and you will grow as you engage in these studies. However, do not confuse them with the work God wants to do in your life when you read the Bible. It is the leadership of the Holy Spirit as you read that actually has the power to transform your life. “Book learning” does not transform you; answering all the questions in a Bible quiz does not transform you; the Holy Spirit transforms you.

You can make time to read the Bible.

You can understand the Bible.

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you can be transformed.

The daily chaos of life is stressful and maddening. The world often looks upside down. What is happening, and what can you do about it? You can make time to pray and read the Bible, and let the Holy Spirit transform you. That is what you can do.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at

Image: Open Bible
Attribution:  By Wnorbutas (Own work)
License:CC BY-SA 3.0