We have seen that there are five things we are to do with the Bible if we are to enjoy its full medicinal properties in restoring our soul. The third is that we need to study it.
Studying is primarily a mental activity. Sadly the importance of the mind is often neglected these days. We have seen that the Bible must touch our hearts and wills, but it gets there through the mind. The Bible is food for thought, but when it comes to thinking many Christians are on hunger strike.
This is a life and death issue. Think or swim. In Hebrews we are introduced to a group of Christians who were in danger of going under. When you are up to your ears in trouble, you have to start using the part that isn’t submerged. So Hebrews 3:1 tells us “Fix your thoughts on Jesus!”
The word used here is a strong one. It means to thoroughly think about something so as to arrive at a full understanding of it. We need to understand Jesus to the point that whatever tests or examinations that life throws at us, we will have answers for the problem. What was going to stop the Hebrews defecting to their Jewish roots when life as a Christian got tough? Considering Jesus. Fixing their thoughts on him to the point that they understood that they had nowhere else they would rather go, for only he has the words of eternal life.
So Hebrews gives us a particular kind of medicine in God’s prescriptions for a healthy soul: the antidote for backsliding. It’s summed up in the simple phrase: “Fix your thoughts on Jesus!” Study him long and hard until you understand who he is and what he’s done – and then your heart will be drawn to him in love and your will will be activated with the desire that says “I never want to leave him!” So it’s time to get down to study!
Understanding is more important than most acknowledge in our contemporary experiential view of the Christian life. But Jesus knew that the ones who thrive and bear fruit are those in whom the Word of God falls like seed and they receive it as a person who “hears the word and understands it” (Mt 13:23). The person who doesn’t make it, in the Parable of the Sower, is the one who “does not understand it” (Mt 13:19). The difference between those who stand and fall is in the understanding.
Studying is different to reading. We don’t do it so often, and it requires more effort. Where reading requires flow, studying requires frequent stops. In particular, stopping to ask questions of the text. In the following links to a couple of audio resources you will find study aids to help you in your quest to understand: How to Read the Bible, and How to Study the Bible.